Written by Danica Lacson on September 28, 2018
What is Tooth Extraction?
Tooth extraction is a dental procedure which removes or pulls out a tooth from its alveolus or dental socket in the alveolar bone. When the risk of bacteria spreading and affecting other teeth turns high, the best option left to ensure oral health is a tooth extraction.
Types of Tooth Extraction
There are two kinds of tooth extraction – simple and surgical.
- A simple extraction is commonly performed by general dentists on a fully erupted or noticeably visible tooth in the mouth. The dentist uses an elevator to loosen the tooth and a forceps to remove it.
- On the one hand, oral surgeons often perform surgical extraction wherein a small incision is made into the gums to remove a tooth which has broken off at the gum line or has not come out. General dentists can also perform a surgical extraction.
Why do I need a Tooth Extraction?
There are various reasons why a tooth extraction may be needed including:
- To create space for the permanent teeth to come out especially when the baby teeth do not fall out
- To remove extra teeth that may be blocking other teeth
- To provide room for adjustments especially for those undergoing orthodontic treatment
- The tooth is too infected or decayed that restoring or saving it is impossible
- The risk of infection or bacteria spreading becomes high
- An impacted wisdom tooth
How is the tooth extracted?
Tooth extraction begins with a dental X-ray of the area to properly view the location of the tooth, circumstances surrounding it, and plan the most suited way to extract it.
Before undergoing an extraction, it is best to inform your dentist or oral surgeon about your dental and medical history, as well as, the medications you are currently taking. A full disclosure of your health history will help your dentist to create a treatment plan that is matched with your needs and condition without putting your health at risk.
Following an X-ray, anesthesia will be administered to relax you, numb you of the impending pain, make you sleep, or unconscious during the surgery. Local anesthesia is a medicine injected into the gums or inner cheek. The most common local anesthetic is Lidocaine.
Aside from a numbing drug, the liquid in an injection can also consist of a drug called a vasoconstrictor to narrow the blood vessel and prolong the numbness, a chemical to prevent a vasoconstrictor from breaking down, sodium hydroxide to help the numbing drug, and sodium chloride to assist the drugs from getting into the blood.
If you have a dental fear, you might consider undergoing sedation dentistry which uses medication to relax a patient while on a dental treatment like tooth extraction.
After a tooth extraction, your dentist will ask you to bite on a piece of gauze and give you instructions including some dos and don’ts.
What happens after my tooth got pulled out?
You might feel discomfort that can be reduced by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. You can consult your dentist for further information. Also, you can reduce swelling by putting ice packs on the area in a 20-minute interval.
Swelling and bleeding can last a day or two following the tooth extraction. Initial healing will then take two weeks at the very least. Wash your mouth with warm salt water 24 hours after the surgery to clean the area. The salt water rinse will consist of a half teaspoon of salt and a cup of warm water.
Be wary of problems like a dry socket which happens in about three to four percent of extractions. A dry socket arises when a blood clot does not form in the area of the extracted tooth or when it breaks down earlier than expected.
When a dry socket happens, the bone which lies beneath is exposed to air and food, causing pain and bad odor and taste.
Aside from a dry socket, you must also look out for other problems such as accidental damage to surrounding teeth, an incomplete extraction wherein a tooth root remains in the jaw, a fractured jaw, soreness, among others.
Also, when severe swelling, fever, chills, trouble swallowing, uncontrolled bleeding, or too much pain are experienced, consult with your dentist when such complications or problems arise.
What should I do after getting my tooth extracted?
- You can apply an ice pack to the area where you had your procedure to control the swelling. Do this for ten minutes at a time.
- Minimize your activities for a day or two especially in the first 24 hours following the extraction.
- Adjustments to your diet will have to be made. Eat soft and cool foods for several days, then slowly return your usual diet.
- Smoking is prohibited before, on the day, and at least 24 hours after the tooth extraction.
- Do not drink form a straw.
- Continue your basic oral hygiene routine, adding caution to the area where the tooth was extracted.
What are alternatives to Tooth Extraction?
While extraction may be the last resort for sever cases, there are still other dental procedures you can do to save your damaged teeth (if possible).
The pulp of a tooth is vital to keep the tooth healthy and alive. However, when the pulp is infected or damaged, this can pose a danger to the tooth as well as one’s general oral health, causing pain and potentially an abscess.
Infections of the pulp can be caused by tooth decay, cracks, chips, and other damage to the tooth itself. What happens in these cases is that the outer protection of the tooth is altered, exposing the root to several damages the mouth poses.
In a case such as this, a root canal may be necessary to remove the part of the pulp that is infected to ensure optimal health and nourishment for your at-risk tooth or teeth.
Different oral surgeries, such as root-end resection or apicoectomy, can keep the infection and inflammation from spreading in the mouth, even after the completion of a root canal.
Through endodontic surgery, the patient is typically put under local anesthesia. The surgeon will remove the infected area and seal it up with little to no risks for the patient post-surgery and a healing process within a few months.
Early periodontal disease treatment
Any gum-related problem can lead to tooth loss. Those with early or developing gum disease can seek treatment for their condition to reverse it before permanent, non-curable periodontal disease sets it.
Those with the early periodontal disease may also reduce their risks of developing a more severe form by reducing the number of sugars and acidic foods/beverages they consume and sticking to a stricter dental routine. Keeping the teeth healthy is more important than ever before. However, dental treatment is still necessary.
Some infections may be resolved with a round of antibiotics.
To deal with the pain itself from the oral infection or tooth-related problem, individuals can take prescribed or over-the-counter pain relievers, but please note that pain relievers do not assist with the actual issue at hand, except maybe temporarily with reducing slight swelling.
Please keep in mind that while there are alternatives to tooth extraction, extraction may not be able to be avoided with the above approaches.
Only a dental professional can decide what is best for you and your specific case. Call Hawaii Family Dental today to schedule an appointment.
It is essential to keep in mind that whether an extraction or extraction alternative takes place, this is ultimately up to a dental professional. As well as this, either method will provide better oral health after completion.
Even in cases of extraction, there are many tooth replacement options at hand from bridges to dental implants.
Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.