A dental extraction (also referred to as exodontia) is the removal of a tooth. Extractions are performed for a wide variety of reasons, including tooth decay that has destroyed enough tooth structure to render the tooth non-restorable. Extractions of impacted or problematic wisdom teeth are routinely performed, as are extractions of some permanent teeth to make space for orthodontic treatment.
Before the discovery of antibiotics, chronic tooth infections were often linked to a variety of health problems, and therefore removal of a diseased tooth was a common treatment for various medical conditions. Instruments used for dental extractions date back several centuries. In the 14th century, Guy de Chauliac invented the dental pelican, which was used through the late 18th century. The pelican was replaced by the dental key which, in turn, was replaced by modern forceps in the 20th century. As dental extractions can vary tremendously in difficulty, depending on the patient and the tooth, a wide variety of instruments exist to address specific situations.