I loved that movie Castaway. It seemed like there was a stretch right there where Tom Hanks could do no wrong. I watch the movie any time I catch it on TV. Unless the Spurs are on. Or Anthony Bourdain. Or baseball. Or Batman. But it’s up there in my favorites, trust me.
At some point early in the movie, Tom Hank’s character reveals that he has a toothache. One of the most memorable scenes in the move is when he uses an ice skate and a rock to extract a tooth. I rewatched some video of this on YouTube several times, and let me just say, as someone who has taken out thousands of teeth, this technique would never work!
Banging on a tooth from the side is most likely just going to break the crown of the tooth off, while the roots remains below the gums in the bone.
When dentists extract teeth, we’re not really thinking about “pulling it” or “knocking it out”.
Teeth are held into the socket by very small ligaments called periodontal ligaments, and they are attached to the roots of teeth coming from all directions. The forces we apply to the tooth are with the intention of severing the connections of these ligaments.
When we use instruments to extract a tooth, we’re thinking more about lifting the tooth, or “elevating” it, sometimes even “rocking it” back it forth or in circular motions to tear periodontal ligaments.
Pulling and knocking? That’s how you break stuff. Elevating and rocking is what dentists think about when approaching an extraction of a tooth. Even when a case looks “simple”, complications can arise. Only dentists have the tools and training necessary to handle these complications.
Which brings me back to that ice skate. No way! There’s just no way you’re getting a tooth out like that. If you need a tooth taken out, call a dentist before you grab a rock and an ice skate. If you’re stranded on a deserted island with a volleyball, no dentist, and a bunch of FedEx packages, well, I guess you don’t have a lot of choices!
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