Tooth Extractions: Procedure, Aftercare, and Recovery

No one wants to lose a tooth, but sometimes it’s necessary. In these cases, tooth extraction may be the best option. A tooth extraction, one of the most common dental procedures, is also necessary if your tooth is impacted (stuck and unable to erupt through the gum), if you have an infection, or if you need to make room for dental braces. 

There are several reasons why your dentist might recommend a tooth extraction. The most common reason is tooth decay which has damaged the tooth beyond repair.

What Is a Tooth Extraction?

A tooth extraction is a common dental procedure in which a tooth is removed from the mouth. The extracted tooth is no longer visible once the gums have healed. Thanks to advances in dental technology, most tooth extractions are relatively quick and painless.

When Is a Tooth Extraction Needed?

A tooth extraction is recommended when the tooth is severely decayed, when it’s causing pain, when it’s infected, or when it’s impacted. Generally, a tooth that needs to be extracted is causing an intense amount of pain. This also means the tooth has reached a point where it can no longer be repaired with a filling, root canal, or other dental procedure.

A tooth extraction may be needed if you have:

  • Severe tooth decay
  • Severe gum disease
  • An infection in the tooth
  • A broken tooth that can’t be repaired
  • A tooth that is blocking other teeth from coming in (impacted tooth)
  • Crowded teeth that need to be removed to make room for orthodontic treatment

How Is a Tooth Extraction Performed?

During your initial visit, your dentist will check the condition of your teeth and gums. X-rays will also be taken to help determine the best way to extract your tooth. The images will help your dentist determine the type of extraction needed. Surgical instruments will be used to loosen the tooth and pull it out. Local anesthesia will be used to numb the area around the tooth. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax. This will help minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

There are two types of tooth extractions: simple and surgical.

Simple Extraction

When a simple extraction is recommended, it means the tooth or teeth that need to be extracted is damaged but still visible, above the surface of the gum. Several tests can be performed to determine any visible damage. Dental X-rays are often taken to help assess any damage that may not be immediately apparent. With simple extractions, the dentist will grasp the tooth with forceps and then gently rock it back and forth until it loosens enough to be removed.

The healing time for a simple extraction is generally a few days. You may have some tenderness for a few days and you’ll need to take it easy for the first 24 hours.

Surgical Extraction

A surgical extraction is recommended when the tooth is too damaged to be removed with forceps or when it’s not visible because it’s impacted. With this type of extraction, your dentist will make an incision in the gum to expose the tooth and then remove it.

The healing time for a surgical extraction can be a few days. You may have some pain and swelling for the first few days. Pain medications are usually prescribed to help manage any discomfort.

Sedation Dentistry for Tooth Extractions

For some people, the thought of having a tooth extracted is enough to cause anxiety and fear. If you’re looking for a way to minimize discomfort and anxiety, you may want to ask your dentist about sedation dentistry. With sedation dentistry, medication is used to help you relax during the procedure. The level of sedation will be determined based on your needs and preferences. Three types of sedation that may be used include:

Nitrous oxide: Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a gas that’s inhaled through a mask. It’s the mildest form of sedation and you’ll be able to drive yourself home after the procedure.

Oral sedation: This involves taking a pill before the procedure. The pill will help you relax and may make you drowsy. You’ll need someone to drive you home after the procedure.

IV sedation: IV sedation is the strongest form of sedation and will make you feel sleepy. You will need to make arrangements for someone to drive you home after the procedure.

What Happens After a Tooth Extraction?

Tooth extraction aftercare is vital to ensure proper healing. After your tooth has been extracted, your dentist will place gauze over the extraction site to help stop the bleeding. You’ll need to bite down on the gauze for 30 to 45 minutes. Ice packs can also be used to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Place the ice pack on your cheek, closest to the extraction site. Use the ice pack for 15 minutes and then remove it for 15 minutes. Repeat this process for the first day or two after your extraction.

Tooth Extraction Aftercare

You’ll also be given specific instructions for caring for the extraction site as it heals. These may include:

  • Avoiding drinking from a straw for the first few days
  • Avoiding smoking for at least 24 hours
  • Eating soft foods for the first few days
  • Brushing your teeth gently and avoid the extraction site
  • Rinsing your mouth with a saltwater solution several times a day
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers as needed
  • Using a special mouthwash as directed by your dentist

There’s a small chance that you may experience complications after having a tooth extracted. These can include:

Dry socket: This is a condition that can occur when the blood clot that forms in the extraction site is dislodged. Dry socket symptoms may include pain, bad breath, and an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

Infection: Infection is a rare complication but it’s important to watch for signs, such as increased pain, swelling, redness, and fever.

Nerve damage: This is also a rare complication. Nerve damage may cause numbness, tingling, or pain in your teeth, gums, lips, or chin.

If you experience any complications after during your tooth extraction aftercare, be sure to contact your dentist. Most people will heal without any problems after having a tooth extracted. By following your dentist’s instructions and taking care of your mouth, you can help ensure a speedy and complication-free recovery.

The thought of having a tooth extracted can be daunting, but understanding the procedure and what to expect can help ease your anxiety. The procedure is usually quite straightforward and relatively pain-free. With the proper care, most people will heal without any problems.

If you have a tooth that needs to be extracted, West Richland Family Dental can help. We offer a full range of dental services, including tooth extractions. We make it easy for our patients without dental insurance to simplify their payments and get the care they need with our Membership Club. Visit our website to learn more.

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