About Tooth Extractions
A tooth extraction is a dental procedure in which one or more teeth are removed. There are various reasons why you might need to have a tooth extracted. Learn about what to expect throughout and after your dental treatment.
Reasons for Pulling Teeth
There are a number of reasons why you might need to have one or more teeth extracted. Some common reasons include:
If your mouth is too crowded with teeth, you may need to have a tooth or teeth removed to make room to straighten your teeth. This is often done in preparation for braces or other orthodontic treatment.
An infected tooth is a condition in which bacteria have invaded the root canal system of a tooth, leading to an abscess. This can cause pain, swelling, and drainage as well as make it difficult to eat or speak normally. In severe cases, an infected tooth may need to be extracted in order to prevent further damage and infection.
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a condition in which the gums and tissues around the teeth become inflamed and infected. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. In some cases, tooth extraction may be necessary to treat the infection and prevent further bone loss.
An impacted tooth is a tooth that has become trapped or stuck in the jawbone and cannot fully erupt into the mouth. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including overcrowding or unusual growth patterns in the jaw. Tooth sectioning is a procedure used to remove an impacted tooth, which involves cutting the tooth into smaller pieces so that it can be removed more easily.
The symptoms of an impacted tooth typically include pain, swelling, and inflammation in the affected area. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, speak with your dentist as soon as possible.
The procedure for having a tooth extracted typically involves making an incision in the gums and removing the tooth from the jawbone. There are 2 types of procedures:
A simple tooth extraction involves
- Numbing the area around the tooth with local anesthesia
- Using a tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth from it’s socket
- Using forceps to remove the tooth
A surgical tooth extraction is more complex and may involve
- Numbing the area with local anesthesia and/or IV sedation anesthesia
- Cutting through the gum tissue to expose the tooth
- Taking out bone that is blocking access to the tooth root
- Removing the tooth in pieces
- Suturing (stitching) the gums shut
Local Anesthesia or Sedation
Tooth extractions can be performed under local anesthesia but many patients prefer to be sedated for the procedure to make it a more comfortable experience. With local anesthesia, you will feel the dental injections but you should not feel any pain during the procedure, only some pressure.
Using nitrous oxide (also called “laughing gas”), on the other hand, induces an altered consciousness to help you relax and feel more at ease during your extraction. You will still be numbed with local anesthesia for the procedure.
IV sedation is the preferred method of anesthesia by most patients for tooth extraction. You can undergo IV Conscious sedation which is a light sedation or a General Anesthesia where you are totally asleep for the procedure.
Which option is right for you will depend on how complex the extraction will be. Talk to your oral surgeon about which approach might be best for you, and make sure to discuss any questions or concerns you may have about the procedure. With the right care and attention, you can feel confident that your tooth extraction will be a success.
Following extraction, your oral surgeon will send you home to rest. Recovery generally takes a few days. Follow these instructions to reduce discomfort, lower the risk of infection, and speed up the recovery process:
- Use a gauze pad over the extraction site to help stop bleeding. Replace the gauze every 30-45 minutes until bleeding subsides.
- Narcotic pain medications may be prescribed for postoperative discomfort. As an alternative for pain control, over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to reduce pain and inflammation. If you experience severe pain that is not relieved by pain medication, contact our office.
- You may experience some swelling or bruising in the days after your tooth extraction. Applying a cold pack or cold compress to the affected area can help to reduce swelling and pain.
- Avoid drinking alcoholic beverages, participating in intense physical activity, and consuming excess amounts of caffeine or sugar.
- Avoid drinking through a straw for the first 24 hours. This can cause a painful condition called dry socket. Dry socket happens when the blood clot in the tooth socket becomes dislodged.
- Eat soft foods like soup, yogurt, smoothies and oatmeal. Avoid chewy and crunchy foods like carrots, seeds, nuts and popcorn.
After having a tooth extracted, it is not uncommon for your dentist to place stitches in the extraction site. These stitches help close the wound, decrease bleeding and promote healing. In most cases, the stitches will dissolve on their own within a week or two and do not require any special care. It is important to avoid any foods and activities that may cause the stitches to get caught or pulled out.
Risks of Tooth Extraction
There are some risks involved when you have a tooth extracted. Some risks include
- Damage to the surrounding teeth and gums
- Nerve damage in the affected area
- Sinus opening in the upper back teeth
- Complications with anesthesia
Risks can be minimized by following the post-surgery instructions, maintaining good dental hygiene and attending follow-up appointments.