Dental Health Blog

Should you pull your tooth or save it?

When a tooth is diseased or infected, most patients believe that it must be extracted. However, that’s not always the case. There are many benefits of saving your natural teeth, if and whenever possible.

When you seek emergency dental services, your dentist will provide you with options and ultimately, the choice is yours. You might be wondering, ‘how bad does a tooth need to be, to be extracted?’ We answer this question below and provide you with some valuable information should you ever be faced with the decision to pull your tooth or save it.

When a tooth needs to be extracted

There are certain instances when a tooth absolutely should be pulled. Some of the common scenarios that typically lead to a tooth extraction include:

  • A crack in the tooth around the gum line
  • When the tooth is too weak or damaged to be restored by a filling or crown
  • Extreme, consistent pain surrounding the tooth even after treatment
  • The tooth putting pressure on other teeth
  • Orthodontic treatment that requires extraction
  • Insufficient space that’s causing overcrowding

Benefits of saving your natural teeth

Even when a tooth becomes diseased or infected, it can still be saved with professional treatment. When you seek emergency dental services, your dental team will do as much as they can to save your natural teeth. This is because:

  • Natural teeth are stronger - Even with the advancements in technology for artificial teeth, natural teeth are stronger and function better.
  • Helps maintain alignment - When a tooth is pulled, the surrounding teeth will shift to accommodate for the gap. This can also change bite alignment over time and create other problems in the future.
  • Avoids extensive treatment - Unlike saving the tooth with a filling, crown, root canal or other treatment which may only take one appointment, tooth extraction may require other visits and treatments.

How to save your tooth

If you suspect that you have a cavity or you feel any sort of pain or discomfort, it’s important to act quickly and get to your dentist as soon as possible. The quicker your dentist can identify a diseased or decaying tooth, the quicker they can apply treatment and save your natural teeth.

Additionally, did you know that you can save a tooth even if it’s been completely knocked out of your mouth from trauma or injury? We hope this never happens but, if it does, it helps to remember these steps to save a knocked-out tooth:

  1. Carefully pick the tooth up by the crown, avoiding touching the root. Remember, the crown is the chewing surface.
  2. Gently and carefully rinse the tooth with water only. Don’t use soap or scrub the tooth. It’s important not to dry the tooth or wrap it in tissue or cloth.
  3. Try to put the tooth back in its socket immediately, again being careful not to touch the root.
  4. If it’s not possible to place the tooth back into your mouth, place it into a glass of milk and seek emergency dental services within 30 minutes.

As with many dental conditions, prevention is key. Reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease by brushing and flossing every day and seeing your dentist regularly.


Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grewal - a Registered Dentist on May 10, 2021

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