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Tooth extractions sound intimidating, but they are a routine procedure performed by dentists and oral surgeons. Knowing what to expect makes the experience less stressful.
Your dentist determines if you need an extraction and whether he or she will do it or refer you to an oral surgeon.
You receive an injection of local anesthesia that keeps the area around the affected tooth numb during the extraction. There are instances in which you need a general anesthetic, but this isn’t common for simple extractions.
Although tooth extraction is sometimes called “having a tooth pulled,” extraction is a blend of rocking and pulling called luxation. The movement gradually opens the space in the bone where the tooth sits and breaks the small fibers that connect the tooth to the bone.
A simple extraction can take just a minute or so depending on the roots of the tooth. If the roots are spread out, or someone needs a surgical extraction, the procedure takes longer.
Sometimes impacted teeth need to be extracted, which involves cutting away gum and bone tissue before removing it.
Once cut, forceps grab the tooth and rock it back and forth until it loosens and comes out. Some hard-to-pull teeth come out in pieces.
After the tooth is out, the dentist or surgeon puts a piece of gauze on top of the socket to control the bleeding. A blood clot should form. Stitches might be needed to seal the gum over the site of the extraction.
Most tooth extractions heal quickly, and there are few complications.
However, it is possible to develop a dry socket. Dry socket is a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot that formed over the extraction dissolves or dislodges and exposes the bone. If this happens, you’ll need to return to the dentist for a protective dressing that allows the formation of a new clot.
There are several reasons why teeth need to be extracted. For example:
There are two different types of extractions. Your dentist will explain which type you need and let you know if you need to visit an oral surgeon.
Simple extractions are those performed without an incision or any other special tooth removal techniques. Most dentists perform simple extractions, but there are some simple extraction cases referred to oral surgeons.
Most simple extractions require only a local anesthetic to numb the area around the affected tooth, including the gum, jaw bone, and teeth. The process is not painful, but you’ll feel a lot of pressure during the removal process.
Some dentists refer patients in need of more complicated tooth extraction to an oral surgeon. For example, broken or decaying teeth, teeth that cannot be grabbed with forceps, and fragile teeth often require surgical removal. A tooth’s shape, size, and position also affect whether someone needs simple or surgical extraction.
There are rarely any serious complications from a simple extraction, and they tend to heal within ten days.
Teeth can be removed by an oral surgeon or a general dentist.
An oral surgeon has specialized knowledge and experience to perform this type of removal safely. General dentists are also qualified to perform tooth extractions. Surgical extractions tend to take longer, and the procedure may include the use of a general anesthetic.
Just how complicated a surgical extraction depends on several factors, including:
Removal of gum tissue and/or bone is needed in many surgical extractions.
Wisdom teeth are one of the most common reasons people have teeth extracted.
Wisdom teeth are the four adult teeth located at the back top and bottom of the mouth. It’s common for wisdom teeth to have difficulty erupting because there is not enough space in the mouth.
They often cause pain, infection, and other dental problems.
Many people have their wisdom teeth extracted as a precautionary measure to avoid future dental health problems. This is especially true for impacted wisdom teeth. The growth of a wisdom tooth is problematic if it is growing at an angle and affecting other teeth or if it is trapped in the jawbone.
Knowing how to prepare for a tooth extraction eases anxiety about the procedure and ensures the removal goes as smoothly as possible.
Keep in mind, like all medical procedures, the healthier you are, the better your odds at a full recovery with as few complications as possible. Eating healthy and getting enough exercise is the best way to prepare your body to heal from any procedure or trauma and fight off potential infections.
To prepare for tooth extraction, you’ll want to:
Tooth extractions are a standard dental procedure and usually occur without any significant complications. However, like all medical procedures, there are risks.
The most common risk of tooth extraction is a dry socket. Although dry socket is painful, if treated quickly, it’s rarely serious.
Some of the most serious risks associated with tooth extraction include:
It doesn’t take very long to recover from an extracted tooth. However, it’s important to ease back into your routine after extraction to avoid unnecessary risks and pain.
During the first and second days after an extraction, you might experience mild bleeding. This will stop once a blood clot forms.
During the first 24 to 48 hours after the extraction, it’s essential to:
It can take up to 2 weeks for the extraction site to heal, even if there were no complications. During this time, you’ll want to continue eating mostly soft foods and/or avoid biting and chewing on the extraction site.
You can return to brushing and flossing as usual, but avoid the area of the extracted tooth until you are sure it has completely healed. Instead, gently rinse with salt water once you know the blood clot has formed to reduce your risk for infection.
Your doctor might have additional instructions for you to follow.