Tooth Extractions

Whenever possible, Dentists always try to preserve teeth, but in some cases, a tooth may be so damaged that it must be removed in order to maintain overall dental health. When a tooth is removed it is important to ensure that remaining teeth are properly supported and receive appropriate care. Your dentist will discuss options for replacing a tooth if an extraction is necessary. Although it is upsetting to lose a tooth, your dentist will ensure that extraction process is relatively painless and that healing proceeds normally afterward.

Why Pull A Tooth?

In most cases, it is preferable to save a tooth that has been damaged. However, in a number of instances, a tooth must be removed in order to correct an unhealthy condition or make room for other teeth. Here are some common reasons why your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction:

  • The tooth has been damaged by accident or decay to a large extent.
  • If the tooth is severely infected, it may not respond to antibiotic treatment and must be removed.
  • The tooth has erupted from the gum in an unusual way that causes pain or problems with other teeth.
  • The tooth is crowding other teeth, causing misalignment, pressure or pain.

The Extraction Procedure

The dentist will first numb the tooth, gum and areas of the jaw that are affected. Once the site is fully numbed, the dentist will begin removing the tooth from the socket. Dental tools, such as forceps or elevator, may be used to loosen and pull the tooth. During the extraction, the patient may feel significant pressure as the tooth is loosened from the bone. The patient will also hear the sounds of the tooth being removed from its socket. Although, these sensations can be disturbing, the local anesthetic blocks pain, and it is generally over quickly.

Healing After A Tooth Extraction

Your dentist will provide post-extraction instructions for eating and drinking to help facilitate healing. The instructions generally include eating soft foods for several days after the extraction to allow tissues to heal properly. The dentist may also recommend avoiding very hot or very cold foods, as well as using a straw, which can dislodge the blood clots at the site that promote healing. If the extraction was difficult, the dentist may prescribe pain medications or antibiotics. Full recovery from a tooth extraction generally takes a few days to a few weeks.

Dry Socket Problem

In some cases, the blood clot that protects the tissues and open bone becomes dislodged, usually a day or two after the extraction procedure. When this occurs, it can cause significant pain and will require further treatment from your dentist. Only about 2 to 5 percent of extractions result in a dry socket problem. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help to manage the discomfort. The dentist may apply a medicated bandage to the site to help it heal faster. The bandages may need to be replaced several times, necessitating a number of visits to the dentist’s office. Full healing may take several weeks. Dry socket is more likely to occur in individuals who smoke, take birth control pills, have wisdom teeth that have been pulled or have a history of dry socket.

Options After Extraction

Generally, when an extraction is necessary, the dentist will discussed options for replacing the tooth or re-positioning other teeth before the extraction begins. Bridges and partial dentures can be used to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are another option that offers a secure replacement for teeth that have had to be extracted. In some cases, bone grafting may be necessary to prevent collapsing or shrinkage of the jaw bone that holds the implant. Your dentist can discuss with you the various advantages and disadvantages of each option.

An extraction is a relatively simple procedure that only takes a routine visit to perform and just a few days to heal. With today’s improvements in dentistry, an extraction does not have to be a traumatic experience. Your dentist will provide the instructions you need to make the extraction as quick and easy as possible.