Extractions – More Popular Than We’d Like

Posted by: Charlie Burrows

The last thing any patient or indeed any dentist wants is to have to remove teeth. Wherever possible teeth should be saved, particularly in young adults, as the loss of multiple teeth over time can cause other issues further down the line including, sagging mouth and poor gum health. Obviously the effect it can have on eating and talking can be quite prominent but it can also impact the smile and shape of the mouth, which can directly affect confidence.

In most cases where the tooth can be saved, it is and extraction should only be considered if there is a long term impact on dental health or if the tooth is beyond saving. However, this is apparently not always the case as statistics show a large percentage of extractions are occurring in the UK.


Dental Claims for Extractions are High

According to Dentistry.co.uk and their recent article which you can see here: https://www.dentistry.co.uk/2019/03/01/top-five-reasons-dental-claims-extractions/ on dental claims, in 2017 the industry saw claims that represented about 24% of general practitioner claims to the DDU (Dental Defence Union) involving extraction treatments. This is a worrying figure and this comes from official figures but when you then take into account those people who are performing DIY extractions themselves due to the lack of NHS dentist availability in their areas, this figure is probably higher than we know.


DIY Dentistry

It’s hard to imagine someone performing a tooth extraction themselves but many in the UK have become desperate, as they struggle to find a suitable local dentist who will provide NHS treatment. (This was covered in our previous article here https://elizabethstreetdentist.co.uk/access-to-the-dentist/)

However, the fact is that there are cases of people who have been desperate enough to perform self-extraction of their own teeth. For instance, *David Woodhouse from Truro was unable to find a dentist in Cornwall who would perform NHS treatment and so he removed his loose tooth which was causing him pain, by using needle-nose pliers. The issue was in need of long term treatment because of his dental plate but that simply wasn’t available at the time for Mr Woodhouse and so, he removed the tooth. NHS England state there are more than 489,000 people on the wait-list in Devon and Cornwall which is a huge number when you consider the health implications.


Big Decision

Having a tooth extracted is a big decision, especially if it’s not necessary and perhaps mainly for aesthetic reasons but there are many considerations when removing a tooth. Whether it’s because you’re suffering from infection, crowded mouth or gum disease, pulling a tooth has an impact on your mouth. The impact after the extraction can also be challenging depending on the size of the tooth.

Generally it can take a few days to recover from an extraction. You can expect to feel soreness and to have to take care with hot and cold drinks or anything sharp or tough to bite for a few days so as to reduce the discomfort you’d feel. Things to avoid would be crisps, drinking from straws, smoking and rinsing or spitting hard. For 2-3 days it’s about taking care and letting your mouth relax as much as possible until the soreness has gone.

To alleviate the discomfort you should take paracetamol and use ice packs on the face and mouth to reduce any swelling. Of course, it’s advisable to continue brushing and cleaning as usual but to just take care and avoid brushing directly on the extraction site for a few days.

With all of this in mind, tooth extraction shouldn’t be a go-to solution for anyone except those who have no choice. Unfortunately, it seems it is becoming the common choice for a lot of people but for the wrong reasons.

*Source Material for the Mr Woodhouse story: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-47010049

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