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Tooth extractions are routine dental procedures used to remove decayed, damaged or otherwise problematic teeth. Dentists usually make every effort to preserve natural teeth, although sometimes an extraction is necessary. Although the procedure is performed in a dentist’s or oral surgeon’s office, it is considered surgery. Depending on which teeth are removed, they may be replaced with a dental implant or another oral prosthetic.
There are several reasons why you could need a tooth extraction.
The most common cause of tooth extractions is severe tooth decay and cavities. However, many patients also undergo extractions for impacted teeth – particularly wisdom teeth. Other causes for extraction include advanced periodontal disease, cracked teeth, and teeth that are severely malformed. Although many circumstances that require extraction are unavoidable, some could be prevented with regular visits to the dentist for exams and cleanings.
The process for extracting a tooth starts by applying a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and the areas that surround it. Once the patient is numb, the dentist will begin the actual extraction. During this time, the patient will likely feel some pressure in the area, but they should not experience pain. Larger teeth may need to be cut into multiple sections before they can be properly removed.
Once the extraction is complete, it is very important to form a blood clot at the site of the extraction. This allows the healing process to begin as quickly as possible. A blood clot is formed by having the patient bite down on a gauze pad for 30 to 45 minutes. Once the clot has properly formed, it must not be disturbed. Patients who have just had a tooth extracted are advised to refrain from using a straw, rinsing vigorously, smoking, intense exercise and drug and alcohol consumption for at least 24 hours after the procedure.
After the local anesthesia wears off, many patients experience some moderate pain at the extraction site. Our dentist will recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever or a prescription if necessary. This medication will greatly reduce discomfort and provide a soothing effect. Patients are also instructed to use an icepack on the outer cheek near the extraction site as a way of reducing swelling.
After 24 hours, the patient will be able to resume their normal activities of brushing and flossing. If the patient experiences severe pain or uncontrolled bleeding after the procedure, they should contact our office immediately.
Do I need a tooth extraction?
Only your dentist can tell you if you need a tooth extraction. However, you may be a candidate for the procedure if one or more of your teeth are decayed so severely that a filling or others restoration is not a possibility for treatment.
What should I expect during my tooth extraction appointment?
If you and your dentist decide to extract one or more teeth, you will be scheduled to return for oral surgery at a later date. You will be given a local anesthetic to prevent pain during the procedure, and you may be prescribed medications to help manage pain in the hours following your extraction. Depending on the nature of your extraction and other factors, such as whether your teeth are impacted, you may also be sedated or given general anesthesia during your procedure.
What type of post-treatment care will I need to follow?
Post-operative care following a tooth extraction is essential for healing and preventing complications. You will be instructed to avoid certain foods and also keep the surgical site clean at all times. If you are prescribed an antibiotic, it is important that you complete the course of treatment to prevent infection. Finally, you may be advised to avoid smoking or drinking through a straw, as doing so may delay the healing process and cause a condition known as ‘dry socket.’