A tooth extraction is the permanent removal of a tooth from the bone socket. If you have a tooth that has been damaged by decay or broken, we will take every effort to save it with a filling, crown, and other treatment options. However, there are some cases where the damage is just too severe for the tooth to be repaired, and in order to maintain the health of your mouth, the tooth needs to be removed. A simple tooth extraction can be completed by a general dentist in our office. The wisdom teeth are the most common teeth to be extracted, but if you need to have other teeth removed, you should rest assured that there are a variety of great restorative options available to help you maintain your smile.
Reasons To Have A Tooth Extracted
There are a variety of reasons that our dentist may recommend that you have a tooth extracted:
- Severe decay
- Removal of the baby teeth so that permanent teeth can erupt
- Gum disease that has led to bone loss
- Teeth that are badly positioned (ie. impacted wisdom teeth)
- Teeth that have been badly infected and cannot be saved with a root canal or another procedure
- Tooth fractures that are impractical or impossible to repair
- Teeth that are non-functional and will be replaced with dentures, implants, or a dental bridge
The Tooth Extraction Procedure
Tooth extractions are classified in two ways: simple (or non-surgical) and surgical (which involves cutting into the gums and tooth). In our office, we most commonly perform simple tooth extractions after the tooth has been anesthetized by injecting a local anesthetic around the nerve. A topical numbing gel may be needed to minimize the discomfort of the injection.
During the extraction process, we will use tools to release the periodontal ligament that holds your tooth into place. The tooth will then be loosened within the socket by placing leverage onto it with an elevator. After the tooth has been loosened sufficiently, forceps will be used to remove the tooth from the jaw.
In some cases, if a tooth has several roots or if they are twisted, even a loose tooth may not be removable in one piece. In these situations, the dentist will need to section it into smaller pieces, and these extractions will be considered surgical rather than simple.
Post-Operative Care After An Extraction
It is common to experience certain symptoms after you have had a tooth extraction, and knowing how to handle them as they arise can minimize your discomfort.
- Bleeding- Bleeding is common after an extraction, but it should cease within eight to 12 hours after your procedure. You can control the bleeding by using pillows to elevate your head and placing pressure over the gums with clean gauze. Oozing of pink fluid for another day or two is also normal. If you experience heavy bleeding past this time frame, be sure to call our office right away.
- Pain- Mild to moderate pain is typical after the anesthesia wears off, and taking medications like Aleve or Tylenol will help to ease your discomfort. Make sure that you never take any pain medications on an empty stomach, as this can cause nausea.
- Swelling- Some swelling is also common after an extraction, especially within the first two days. Swelling can be reduced by applying an ice pack to the side of your face for 10-minute intervals in the first six hours following your extraction.
- Diet and nutrition After the anesthesia has worn off you can start drinking and eating right away. However, for the first 48 hours, you should limit your dietary choices to soft foods. Be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, and avoid drinking through a straw or consuming hot liquids.
- Oral hygiene After extraction, a clot will form over the site of the extraction. Therefore, you should avoid brushing over this area for the first 24 hours following your procedure. However, you should rinse with warm salt water or alcohol-free mouthwash.
If you have any additional questions about how to care for your mouth following a tooth extraction, or if you are experiencing symptoms that don’t seem to be normal, please contact our office.