The thought of going through a tooth extraction can be stressful. This can be especially true if you are experiencing dental issues for the first time. As with any dental treatment, it is important to discuss your questions or concerns with your dentist or oral surgeon before a tooth extraction. Learning more about the procedure will help you understand what to expect during treatment and can help you proceed more confidently.
Common Reasons for a Tooth Extraction
In some cases, crowns and fillings are sufficient to repair decayed or damaged teeth. However, if the damage is too extensive, your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction to help ease discomfort and avoid further complications. Dental issues that may require an extraction include:
- Tooth decay affecting the inner layers
- Traumatic dental injuries
- Failure of baby teeth to fall out, blocking the growth of permanent teeth
- Orthodontic treatments like braces, which may need more space to move teeth into position
Preparing for Treatment
Before performing a tooth extraction, your dentist or oral surgeon will review your dental and medical history. They may also order dental x-rays that check the position, length, and shape of your tooth. This helps determine the best way to remove the tooth with minimal discomfort and without affecting other teeth. Additionally, your dental team may use a local anesthetic to numb the area before treatment.
The Tooth Extraction Process
After preparing you for the procedure, the dentist or oral surgeon will loosen the tooth using a special tool known as an elevator. Once the tooth is loose, it is removed using dental forceps. If your tooth is impacted, meaning it has not fully emerged, the bone or gum tissue obscuring the tooth will be removed. After the tooth is loosened with a gentle rocking motion, it can be carefully extracted.
After the tooth is removed, your dentist or oral surgeon will place gauze over the socket to keep it from bleeding. They will recommend biting down on the gauze for 30-45 minutes to allow clotting. You might need a few self-dissolving stitches to close the gum edges on the extraction site.
After the Extraction
Keeping the extraction site clean after the procedure is essential to prevent infections. Your dentist may recommend gently rinsing your mouth with salt water to clean and soothe the extraction site. If you smoke, it is important not to do so for at least 24 hours after a tooth extraction.
You should also avoid hot liquids for the first 24 hours, in addition to limiting strenuous activity. You may experience some pain around the extraction site, however, your dental team can recommend medications to help relieve your discomfort.
While a tooth extraction is a common, safe, and effective dental procedure, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions before and after treatment to avoid complications. If you have concerns, talk to your dentist or oral surgeon about them to ease your anxieties before moving forward with treatment.