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Tooth Extraction: What You Need To Know

If you are facing a tooth extraction, it can seem a little daunting and nerve-wracking. But did you know that tooth extraction is a fairly standard dental procedure? This article will discuss tooth extraction and what you need to know. 

Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. If you are facing a tooth extraction, it can seem a little daunting and nerve-wracking. But did you know that tooth extraction is a relatively standard dental procedure? Let’s face the fear together. Take a look at our what’s-what guide on tooth extraction to help you prepare for your upcoming procedure.

When Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?

In many cases,  you can repair teeth that are broken or damaged by decay with a filling, crown, or other dental treatment. Sometimes, though, the damage is too severe to repair, so your dentist will recommend extraction.

Here are some other reasons tooth extraction might be necessary:

  • Decay or infection has reached deep into the tooth
  • Trauma or injury
  • There isn’t enough room for all the teeth in your mouth
  • Baby teeth don't fall out in time for the permanent teeth to come in
  • Orthodontic treatment might require tooth extraction to create room for the teeth as they move into place
  • Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are often extracted either before or after they come in

Preparation

Before removing a tooth, your dentist will thoroughly review your medical and dental history and take the appropriate X-rays. X-rays reveal the length, shape, and position of the tooth and surrounding bone. From this information, your dentist can determine the best way to remove the tooth or whether to refer you to an oral surgeon.

Before removal during a simple extraction, they will numb the area around your tooth using local anesthetic. However, during a more complicated removal, called a surgical extraction, your oral surgeon might administer intravenous (IV) anesthesia, which can range from conscious sedation to general anesthesia, which will put you to sleep. If this is the case, arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure and stay with you until the effects wear off.

Tooth Extraction Process

There are two types of extractions you might have:

  1. A simple extraction is the removal of a tooth that is visible in your mouth. It’s common for a general dentist to perform simple extractions. During a simple extraction, your dentist will numb the tooth and gum tissue and loosen the tooth with an instrument called an elevator before removing it with dental forceps.
  2. A surgical extraction is a more complex procedure used for a tooth that may have broken off at the gum line or has not come into the mouth yet. Oral surgeons usually perform surgical extractions; however, general dentists can perform them as well. During a surgical extraction, the doctor will make a small incision (cut) into your gum and remove the underlying tooth.

After the Extraction

The most important thing to keep up with after a tooth extraction, is keeping the area clean and preventing infection. Immediately following the procedure, your dentist might ask you to bite down gently on a piece of dry, sterile gauze, which you should keep in place for up to 30 to 45 minutes to limit bleeding, while clotting takes place. Your dentist will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions, but for 24 hours following your extraction, you shouldn't smoke, rinse your mouth vigorously, or clean the teeth next to the extraction site.

You can expect a certain amount of pain and discomfort following an extraction. In some cases, your dentist will recommend a pain killer or prescribe one for you. It might help to apply an ice pack to your cheek to reduce swelling. You should also limit strenuous activity, as well as avoid hot liquids and not drink through a straw. Under normal circumstances, discomfort should lessen within three days to two weeks. However, if you experience prolonged or severe pain, swelling, bleeding, or fever, call your dentist or oral surgeon immediately.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a tooth extraction newbie, your best bet for a successful and uncomplicated procedure is to follow your dentist’s recommendations carefully before and after the procedure. Tooth extraction makes room for something better and can help keep your smile healthy and confident.

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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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