Dentist performs a tooth extraction on woman as hygienist watches

5 Reasons You Might Need a Tooth Extraction

Sometimes a dentist or other specialist of some kind will be able to identify an oral issue you’re having and correct it before it gets too bad. During those other times, you’re going to end up needing a tooth extraction.

Some of the things that will lead to a tooth extraction can be prevented, but there are a couple of instances where you just had a little bit of bad luck. Here are five of the most common reasons you might need a tooth pulled.


Overcrowding is one of those luck of the draw situations. This is when you don’t have enough room in your mouth to fit all of your teeth.

If you don’t get your overcrowding problem sorted out, it could lead to extremely crooked teeth, tooth decay, gum disease, pain, and difficulty chewing. Some of those issues are also more reasons that will end up with you getting a tooth extraction.

Sometimes crooked teeth can be fixed by an orthodontist, but oftentimes you’ll still have to get some teeth pulled to make a little extra room.

Tooth Decay

When left untreated, a cavity can get so bad it can’t be saved. This would be to a point where even a root canal can’t fix the damage that has been done by tooth decay.

Tooth decay is caused by harmful bacteria in your mouth. That bacteria interacts with food that you eat to form a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque reacts with the sugar and starch in the things you eat to form an acid. The acid slowly eats away at your enamel, which causes cavities.

If you don’t regularly brush and floss your teeth, the plaque will also form a brittle substance called tartar, which can lead to gum disease (we’ll talk about that later).

Your signs for tooth decay include tooth pain, sensitivity to hot or cold, white or brown stains on the tooth, or an infection (called an abscess).

Irreparable Tooth Damage

Broken or chipped teeth can be repaired with something like a crown or cap sometimes. If the injury is too bad, you’ll end up needing a tooth extraction instead.

Most of the time a dentist will be able to fix a chip or break. But if you end up breaking the tooth below the gum line, for instance, there’s just no way to save it. You’ll then need surgery to remove the pieces that remain below the gums.

Gum Disease

If you don’t take your oral health seriously, you could end up dealing with gum disease, also called periodontitis. It’s a severe gum infection that impacts the bone that supports your teeth.

Gum disease is basically what will happen if you leave tooth decay unattended for too long. Your teeth start getting worse due to plaque and tartar buildup, then the problem spreads down to your gums.

Periodontitis is very common, but it’s preventable. All you need to do is brush and floss twice daily along with seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings. Symptoms include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red or purple colored gums
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Blood when brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Gums receding from your teeth, making them look longer

If you start noticing any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you address the problem, the more likely you’ll be able to reverse the damage.

A dentist performs a tooth cleaning on a man to help prevent gum disease.

Wisdom Teeth Issues

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to come up in your mouth, usually between the ages of 17 and 25. While they will erupt normally for some people, many end up with impacted wisdom teeth. That’s when you don’t have enough room for the teeth to come up normally.

Those impacted teeth will either grow in at a forward or backward angle, stay laid down and grow in the jawbone, or grow straight up and down like normal but stay trapped in the jaw bone.

Some of the issues impacted wisdom teeth can cause are pain in the area, food getting stuck behind them, infection or gum disease, tooth decay, or damage to nearby teeth, just to name a few.

While some specialists don’t believe in removing impacted wisdom teeth that aren’t causing problems, others prefer to do a preventive extraction. The logic behind that is that even impacted wisdom teeth that don’t seem to be causing problems can still harbor disease, they’re hard to clean properly, and it’s better to remove them while you’re younger because older adults can see more complications from this surgery.

Preventing the Need for an Extraction

When it comes down to it, many of the issues that could lead to a tooth extraction are easy to prevent. There’s no miracle wash or spray to put on your teeth to get you off the hook for maintaining them. Brush and floss twice a day, and make sure to keep up with your regular cleanings. Developing good oral hygiene habits now can save you from running into bigger issues down the road.