What is tooth extraction?
Tooth extractions are dental procedures to remove teeth from their sockets. General dentists and oral surgeons perform tooth extractions as part of their core skills. When broken, damaged, or decayed teeth are beyond repair, removing them is the only option.
When is tooth extraction necessary?
- The tooth’s decay is beyond repair – This occurs when decay reaches the tooth’s pulp, or center. Bacteria in the decay can invade the pulp and cause an infection.
- The tooth is impacted, or blocked – Your dentist may recommend the extraction of a blocked tooth, such as wisdom teeth, to prevent it from damaging other teeth. Extracting a blocked tooth may also help lower the risk of infection and overcrowding.
- Eliminate overcrowding – The extraction of one or several teeth may be necessary to eliminate overcrowding in the mouth. It’s recommended when orthodontic treatment is needed, but overcrowding prevents the teeth from moving and realigning.
- To treat advanced gum disease – Periodontal disease is the advanced stage of gingivitis (gum disease). It affects the gums, surrounding ligaments and the bone containing the tooth sockets. It forms from bacteria in dental plaque, so regular brushing and visits to your dentist are good preventative measures.
- A necessity after an accident – When an accident occurs and the patient requires dental treatment, preserving their teeth is the first priority. Dental bonding, crowns, bridges, or veneers may be recommended. However, if the dental issues are not repairable, a tooth extraction may be necessary.
There Are Two Types of Extractions
- Simple Tooth Extractions – Simple tooth extractions are performed on teeth that are visible. Dentists use local anesthesia to numb the area before extracting the tooth.
- Surgical Tooth Extractions – Surgical tooth extractions are performed when the dentist or oral surgeon cannot easily access the tooth. They are also performed if the patient is nervous about the simple extraction and has a desire to be fully sedated. For this procedure, an oral surgeon uses a general anesthesia. The oral surgeon performs an incision to lift the soft tissues covering the tooth before extracting.
After Your Procedure
Once the tooth extraction is complete, the dentist or oral surgeon will place a gauze pad into the affected area to help stop the bleeding. Sometimes the dentist will place a few stitches, usually self-dissolving, to close the gum edges over the extraction site.
- Take painkillers as prescribed.
- Bite gently on the gauze pad to reduce bleeding and allow a clot to form.
- Change gauze pads so they don’t become blood-soaked for three to four hours after extraction.
- Apply an ice compress to the affected area 10 minutes at a time to prevent or aid with swelling.
- Relax for at least 24 hours after the extraction. Limit activity for the next day or two.
- Avoid rinsing or spitting for 24 hours after the extraction
- After 24 hours, rinse with your mouth with a solution made of 1/2 teaspoon salt and 8 ounces of warm water.
- Do not drink from a straw for the first 24 hours.
- Do not smoke, which can inhibit healing.
- Eat soft foods the day after the extraction. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as the extraction site heals.
- When lying down, prop your head with pillows. Lying flat may prolong bleeding.
- Continue to brush and floss your teeth, and your tongue, but be sure to avoid the extraction site.
When to Call the Dentist
It is normal to feel some pain after the anesthesia wears off. Expect swelling and minimal bleeding for 24 hours. However, if bleeding or pain seems severe after your tooth removal, call your dentist. Also call your dentist if you experience any of the following:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Redness, swelling, or discharge from the affected area
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
The healing period after tooth extraction usually takes about one to two weeks. New bone and gum tissue will begin to grow into the gap overtime. However, having a tooth (or teeth) missing can cause the remaining teeth to shift. Teeth shifting can affect your bite and making it difficult to chew. For that reason, your dentist may advise replacing the missing tooth with an implant, fixed bridge, or denture. For more information about dental services visit our blog.