All About Tooth ExtractionsWhat You Need to Know for a Worry Free Appointment
by Dr. Scott Bolding
You’ve probably heard it a million times in your life. Brush and floss twice a day. Go see your dentist every year. Don’t eat too many sweets.
All of this is important for keeping your mouth clean and healthy. Unfortunately, as much as we try to stay on top of our oral health, sometimes infection and disease can set in. And in severe cases, one or more of your teeth need to be pulled. The procedure used to pull your adult teeth is called a tooth extraction.
During a tooth extraction, your tooth is completely removed from the socket. Then, in most cases, your dentist or oral surgeon will replace your teeth with dental implants. Of course, you want to avoid a tooth extraction if you can. But there are times when it’s necessary for your oral health.
The idea of getting a tooth extraction can be daunting. You might not know what to expect. What does the procedure look like? How long does recovery take? Are there any risks you need to be aware of?
We want to answer these questions and more for you here. In this post, we will cover everything you need to know about tooth extraction. Having even little knowledge of how tooth extraction works can put your mind at ease as you move toward your appointment date. If you have any questions about your specific case, we encourage you to reach out to your PRECiDENT oral surgeon for help.
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Why Are Tooth Extractions Necessary?
Needing to pull an adult tooth is not ideal. But there are times when a tooth extraction is necessary.
Some people need teeth pulled because their mouth is crowded. This is often done in preparation for orthodontic treatment. Injury or trauma to the face can also damage your teeth so much that they fracture or chip. In this case, the remaining pieces of the tooth need to be pulled.
Most of the time teeth need to be pulled because of disease or decay. If you don’t take care of your mouth, diseases like periodontal disease will set in. Periodontal disease can affect the tissue and bone supporting your teeth. Tooth extraction is part of treating the disease. Severe cavities also require pulling damaged teeth to help keep the rest of your mouth healthy.
What to Expect During a Tooth Extraction
The idea of getting a tooth extraction can be stressful. Any kind of dental work often seems scary. But knowing what to expect beforehand makes the process so much easier. Let’s take a look at what you can expect during a tooth extraction procedure.
Before the Procedure
Before scheduling the extraction, your oral surgeon will want to get an idea of what’s going on with your tooth. So, they’ll start by taking an X-ray. The X-ray shows them everything they need to know in order to plan the procedure. They’ll also ask about your medical and dental history. It’s important to tell them everything, even if you think it’s no big deal. Tell them about any medication or supplements you’re taking. This will help them know what kind of anesthesia to give you on the day of your procedure. Knowing about other medical conditions will also help them know what to be careful of during the extraction.
You may be prescribed antibiotics before your tooth is extracted. This usually happens when you have a weakened immune system or if your surgery is expected to take a long time.
In order to prepare for your tooth extraction, here are some quick tips:
- Wear short-sleeved, comfortable clothing
- Don’t smoke beforehand
- Arrange for someone to drive you home
- Stock up on soft foods
If you’re getting intravenous anesthesia remember not to eat or drink anything at least 6-8 hours before your procedure.
During the Procedure
There are two types of tooth extraction procedures.
For a simple tooth extraction, you’ll receive a local anesthetic, which numbs the area. Then, your oral surgeon will loosen the tooth with a tool called an elevator. Once the tooth is loose, they’ll remove it with forceps. Simple extractions are the most common procedure for pulling teeth.
A surgical extraction is necessary when your tooth is impacted or severely damaged. In these cases, the tooth is hard to get to with a simple extraction. So the surgeon needs to cut into the gum in order to access the tooth. In severe cases, they may need to remove the bone around the tooth as well. For a surgical extraction, you’ll get both a local and intravenous anesthetic. However, your surgeon may decide you need a general anesthetic in more serious cases.
Once the tooth is removed, you’ll get some gauze to bite down on so that a blood clot can form.
Recovering From Tooth Extraction
A great recovery is key to the success of any medical procedure. Tooth extractions are no exception. Your mouth will need time to heal. So make sure you listen to the instructions your surgeon gives you after the procedure. They may give you specific instructions based on your situation. But there are some general things to keep in mind for all tooth extractions.
The First 24 Hours
Recovery from a tooth extraction takes about 1-2 weeks. And the first 24 hours after your procedure are critical. You need to make sure you rest the day after your tooth is pulled. Don’t eat hard foods that require a lot of chewing. Stick to a liquid and soft food diet for the first 24 hours. Afterward, you can add other food as your mouth can tolerate it.
You can expect some pain and swelling once the anesthesia wears off. You can take over-the-counter pain medication or anything your surgeon prescribed you to help. Icing the area will also help reduce swelling.
The bleeding should also stop eventually as well. Your surgeon will give you gauze to bite on immediately after the procedure. This should help a blood clot form. Once the blood clot forms the bleeding should stop. But you should still be careful to make sure it doesn’t start bleeding again:
- Don’t drink from a straw
- Avoid rinsing
- Be gentle while brushing
After 24 hours
On day two of your recovery time, you’re able to start introducing normal food again. Of course, you might still feel some pain, so only eat what you can. You’ll still want to try to rest as much as you can.
After 24 hours, you can also rinse your mouth with saltwater. This rinse will help clean the extraction area. Continue to brush your teeth gently as well.
Risks of a Tooth Extraction
The tooth extraction procedure is very safe. There are only a few risks that your surgeon will discuss with you. But in most cases, you have very little to worry about.
The biggest risk is something called a dry socket. A dry socket happens when the blood clot that’s supposed to form in the extraction area is dislodged. You’ll need to see your oral surgeon if this happens.
You should also call your surgeon if you experience any of the following:
- Bleeding that lasts for longer than 12 hours
- Signs of infection, like fever and chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain
Most of these risks are rare, however. Most of the time the tooth extraction procedure is successful and you should heal within a week or two.
Replacing the Extracted Tooth
Once your tooth is extracted you need to replace it as soon as possible. The gap left by the tooth presents a serious risk to your oral health. That area of your mouth is more susceptible to infection and disease. And the other teeth will naturally shift in order to fill that gap, leading to issues with your bite. So, replacing an extracted tooth is essential.
The most common ways to replace one or more extracted teeth are:
- Dentures/partial dentures
- Dental implants
Dental implants are the most popular choice because they’re the only permanent option. However, your oral surgeon will discuss each of these options with you before your procedure. You’ll work together in order to come up with a plan.
Dunkin, M. A. (2009, November 12). Pulling a Tooth (Tooth Extraction). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/pulling-a-tooth-tooth-extraction
Gotter, A. (2018, September 18). What to Expect During a Tooth Extraction. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/tooth-extraction
Tooth Extraction: Procedure, Aftercare & Recovery. (n.d.). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22120-tooth-extraction
Do You Need a Tooth Extraction?
We’re Here to Help
Getting a tooth extraction isn’t something you want to do. But sometimes it’s what you need in order to keep your mouth healthy. And with the right team on your side, you’ll have a lot less to worry about.
Our team at PRECiDENT is here to help you through your tooth extraction and on to dental implants. We’ll work with you to make sure you’re comfortable every step of the way. We want to help you get a smile you can be proud of. Call us today to schedule a consultation so we can get started.