A guide to tooth extractions – When a tooth should be removed, how it’s done, and what to expect

Dental extractions are typically a last resort procedure; however, removing a tooth may be necessary to restore health and well-being. Dr. Ryan Zhuoran Zhao and the team at Harmony Smile Dental in Sunnyvale, California partner with patients to prevent the unnecessary removal or extraction of a tooth. We do so by protecting the teeth from decay, gum disease, and other threats. Routine dental check-ups are a cornerstone of such preventive care. 

It is during these check-ups that Dr. Zhao may pinpoint severe damage to a tooth. Every effort will be made to preserve most teeth (except for wisdom teeth). Root canal therapy, for instance, can “save” even badly infected or deeply inflamed teeth. Extractions are primarily recommended for: 

  • Wisdom teeth that are not developing correctly (we monitor for this)
  • Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully “stuck” in the jaw 
  • Teeth that fail to heal properly after root canal therapy 
  • Teeth that have sustained repeated dental procedures
  • Patients whose badly damaged or deeply decayed teeth are not good candidates for root canal therapy
  • Badly broken or fractured teeth 

Tooth Extractions Q&A 

Why is preserving a tooth generally advised? 

Dental science and technology have evolved considerably. Yet, there is still no prosthetic tooth that is quite like a natural, healthy tooth in terms of appearance and function. So, we generally want to rebuild portions of a tooth to restore it to health.

Also, teeth both complete your beautiful, functional smile and keep your jawbone strong. Teeth that are extracted and not replaced promptly cause destructive bone loss. This process of bone deterioration makes existing problems with eating and speech worse and ages the face (producing a sunken or collapsed appearance due to a lack of structural support).

Do wisdom teeth always need to be extracted? 

No! In fact, some people never develop wisdom teeth. And not everyone has problems with these third molars. Issues typically arise as these are the last teeth to erupt through the gums. By the time they develop, usually in one’s late teens or early 20s, there is insufficient room for these molars to surface correctly at the back of the mouth. In turn, they may become impacted or trapped underneath the gums. The affected tooth can produce intense pressure, pain, and swelling when this happens. The tooth can also threaten the health of the neighboring teeth. It must be removed to resolve pain. Plus, unlike other teeth, wisdom teeth are not necessary for healthy function and structure. 

Is tooth removal painful? 

Absolutely not! The idea is to relieve pain and restore health – not to cause additional discomfort. At Harmony Smile Dental, we use gentle techniques, tools, products, and technologies to support a comfortable and efficient experience. In fact, an anesthetic is precisely applied to numb the affected area. So you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. We can also discuss options to help you stay as relaxed as possible throughout treatment. 

What does the process entail? 

The exact techniques used to remove a tooth differ based on factors such as how much of the tooth is visible in the mouth and is, thereby, accessible. Often, extractions are relatively straightforward. We can loosen the tooth in its socket and lift it gently from your mouth. Sometimes, the tooth may be sectioned and removed in smaller pieces for ease of extraction. 

How do I care for my mouth afterward?

Great question! We will cover after-care thoroughly. We provide clear instructions and always welcome any questions that you may have. Notably, it’s vital not to dislodge the blood clot that forms at the extraction site. Clots may be dislodged due to behaviors such as drinking beverages with straws. So, you will want to refrain from any habits that could disturb the treatment site as it heals. 

If you are concerned about a tooth, do not delay to call us at (408) 738-1000 today. We may be able to save and restore an aching, broken, or damaged tooth!

Dr. Zhao

Dr. Zhao

Dr. Ryan Zhao, DDS, PhD, the dental specialist at Harmony Smile Dental in Sunnyvale, California, prioritizes preventive care to optimize oral health. With a foundation of trust, compassion, and expertise, Dr. Zhao dedicates quality time to each patient, restoring smiles through state-of-the-art procedures. Holding a DDS from the University of California, San Francisco, and a PhD from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he remains at the forefront of dentistry as a member of professional organizations. Fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghainese, Dr. Zhao's commitment to personalized care and continuous learning is reflected in his authoritative and trustworthy approach.