The extraction of a tooth is a necessary step toward ensuring that your oral cavity remains the healthiest that it can be. Typically, if a tooth is broken or damaged by decay, we will attempt to fix it with such restorations as crowns or fillings. However, there are times when the damage can be too extensive for the natural tooth to be repaired. If this happens, the tooth will need to be extracted.
Why Tooth Extraction?
There are several issues that might result in the need for a tooth extraction aside from excessive decay or damage to a tooth. Some examples of these possibilities are as follows:
- The presence of extra teeth that block other teeth from coming in
- Those receiving radiation treatment to the head and neck may need the teeth in the area extracted
- Baby teeth don’t always fall out in time for permanent teeth to come in
- Those getting braces might need teeth removed to create room for the ones being moved in place
- The presence of wisdom teeth
During the procedure, gum tissue is at a risk for infection and harmful bacteria can enter the bloodstream, so if you have a condition that puts you at high-risk of developing an infection, you should let us know beforehand. You may need to take some antibiotics before and after extraction to help with these problems. You will also have to take antibiotics if you have an infection at the time of the surgery, if your immune system is weakened, if you will have a particularly lengthy surgery, or if you have a specific medical condition.
What to Expect
We may take an X-ray of the area before your appointment to determine the best way to remove the tooth. Again, divulging your entire medical history and the medicines/supplements you take, including prescription and over-the-counter, is crucial to avoid any complications. If the tooth you are having removed is a wisdom tooth, a panoramic X-ray may be needed to visualize the proximity and relationship of your wisdom teeth to other teeth, your upper teeth’s relationship to your sinuses, any infection, tumors, or bone disease that might be present, and your lower teeth’s orientation to the inferior alveolar nerve in your jawbone.
You will come into your prescheduled appointment and receive an injection of anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be extracted. If there are one or more teeth being pulled or if your tooth is impacted (a tooth that gets blocked as it is pushing through your gums), it may be necessary for us to use a stronger anesthetic.
The process for removing an impacted tooth involves cutting away the gum and bone tissue that cover the tooth and grabbing the tooth with what are called forceps. The tooth is then moved gently back and forth to loosen it from the jawbone and the ligaments that keep it in place. In addition, we may use a tool called an elevator to assist in loosening the tooth. If it becomes too difficult to ease out, it may be removed in separate pieces.
After a tooth is removed, a blood clot might form in the tooth socket. We will pack a gauze pad in the socket and have you gently bite down to assist in stopping the bleeding. We may need to place a few stitches, which are typically self-dissolving, to close the gum edges over where the tooth was extracted. A condition called dry socket can occur if the blood clot in the socket breaks loose and exposes bone. In the event that dry socket happens, we will dress the area with a sedative covering for a few days to offer protection as a new clot forms.
Once you are done with the tooth extraction, you will be sent home to recover. This typically takes a few days and there are measures you can take to keep down discomfort, reduce infection, and speed up your recovery.
It’s perfectly normal to feel some pain after anesthesia wears off and you should anticipate some swelling and bleeding to occur. If the bleeding or the pain is still serious after more than four hours past having the extraction, you should contact us. Additionally, if there are any signs of infection including chills and fevers, nausea or vomiting, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, redness, swelling, or excessive discharge from the area you should get ahold of us immediately.
The healing period after extraction takes somewhere between 1-2 weeks to allow for new bone and gum tissue to grow in.
Speak with us if you have any questions or concerns about dental extractions. We will always discuss with you what you should and shouldn’t do prior to these appointments, and after, but reach out if there’s anything else you’d like to know.