Whilst many of us are prepared to undergo cosmetic dental treatment including orthodontics on our quest to achieve the perfect smile, the prospect of having a tooth or multiple teeth taken out can be somewhat daunting. However, in certain cases, such as if you have crowded teeth or an overbite or underbite, it can be essential to remove teeth in order for teeth straightening treatment to achieve a straight, fully aligned smile.
Here are just some of the reasons that you might need to have one or more teeth extracted as part of your treatment. Of course, every orthodontics case is completely different and you will need a thorough consultation with your dentist to see if extraction is necessary.
Crowded teeth straightening
If your teeth are extremely over-crowded, then you might need to have a tooth (or teeth) removed in order to create enough room to straighten the teeth properly. If you have less space available than is needed to properly align your teeth, then either the sizes of the arches need to be increased or the number of teeth needs to be reduced in order to make space.
Retracting protruded teeth
If your teeth stick out, or are at risk of sticking out as a result of teeth straightening treatment, it may be necessary to extract one or more in order to ensure that your smile stays looking its very best.
The position of your lips is determined by the teeth beneath them so, if your front teeth stick out, then removing teeth from further back in your mouth might provide enough space for the front teeth to move back into – improving not only your smile, but also the position of your lips. On the other hand, if your lips are already in a good position but the teeth underneath them are crooked, then teeth straightening cause your lips and teeth to stick out – removing certain teeth will prevent this from happening.
Correcting an underbite
Another reason why your dentist might suggest the extraction of a tooth or multiple teeth, is if you are suffering from an overbite or an underbite.
If this is caused by the upper and lower jaw sizes being mismatched, then you might need them to be surgically repositioned, however, in most cases of an underbite or an overbite, the problem can be resolved with orthodontics alone,by extracting and moving teeth.
Other teeth straightening treatments
There are, however, a number of other treatment methods, which can be used as an alternative to extraction to create extra space, including:
- Slenderizing the teeth – Also known as “stripping”, “thinning” or interproximal reduction (IPR), this involves removing a fraction of a millimetre of enamel from the surfaces of teeth at the point where they come into contact with the adjacent teeth. So, for example, by removing a quarter of a millimetre of enamel from both sides of all six lower front teeth, three millimetres of space can be created. And this can be enough to allow the crowding to be corrected without the need for extractions. Of course, there are limits to the amount of space that can be created in this way, and it is only usually recommended to treat mild overcrowding.
- Moving the molars back – This method can be used to create extra space at the front of the mouth, and can sometimes be completed with the simple use of a brace.
- Expanding the dental arches – It’s also possible to make more space in the mouth by increasing the perimeter of the dental arch. However, if you’re considering this type of orthodontic treatment, you should be aware that the teeth can spring back to their previous position and moving the teeth outwards can also thin the layer of bone over the root surface, potentially increasing the risk of the gum receding.
Orthodontics & Extractions FAQs
If you require an extraction as part of your dental treatment, it’s understandable that you will have a number of questions. Here are some commonly asked questions…
Will an extraction effect eating?
If you’ve had one or more teeth removed, then you’ll probably find that eating with several gaps in your mouth will feel strange.
Once you’ve had your teeth removed, try to eat taking small bites and make sure that you chew slowly and carefully. You will probably find that you need to change the way you chew for a while, until the gaps begin to close as food may get stuck in gaps between your teeth.
But don’t worry, it’s not forever – as the gaps close, however, this will become less of a problem!
How long will it take for the gaps to close?
The amount of time it takes for gaps to close in orthodontics will very much depend on your individual case and, of course, which teeth were taken out. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from four months to one year to close a gap, and you’ll usually find that gaps on the upper jaw often close faster than those on the lower jaw.
How do the gaps close?
The gaps left by extraction are usually closed using elastic chains or metal coils, which pull the teeth together. Sometimes small bends are made in the wire on your brace to move teeth together and close any gaps.