We may call them “permanent teeth,” but that doesn’t always mean they’ll last your entire life. Why might getting a tooth pulled be necessary? At Innovative Implant & Oral Surgery, we find the most common reason is when a tooth is too severely damaged from decay or trauma to be salvaged. But it’s far from the only reason; here are some others:
- Too many teeth. Your dentist may choose to pull teeth in preparation for orthodontia like braces if it’s too crowded in there. Also, if a tooth can’t break through the gum because there is not enough room in the mouth for it, your dentist may suggest extraction.
- Tooth damage or decay can sometimes extend to the pulp (the central area of the tooth which includes blood vessels and nerves), allowing bacteria from the mouth to enter, causing infection. This can often be rectified with root canal therapy (RCT). However, if the infection is so bad that RCT or antibiotics are not effective enough, pulling teeth may be necessary to keep the infection from spreading.
- Potential for infection.In you have a compromised immune system (for example, by chemotherapy, an organ transplant, or being HIV-positive), even the risk of infection in a single tooth may be reason enough to pull it as a preventive measure.
- Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease).Periodontal disease is an infection of the bones and tissues supporting and surrounding your teeth. If its presence has resulted in loosening of your teeth, an extraction may be in order.
What to Expect: Tooth Extraction Procedure
Prior to extracting the tooth, you will receive a local anesthetic to create numbness in the region around the tooth that is being removed. In some cases, your dentist may administer a general anesthetic to prevent pain and cause you to sleep through the procedure.
In the instance of an impacted tooth, the dentist will remove bone and gum tissue covering the tooth. Then, using a tool like forceps, they will take hold of the tooth and softly wiggle it back and forth, loosening it from the ligaments and jaw bone and ligaments secure it. Unfortunately, a particularly hard-to-extract tooth must be taken out in fragments.
Blood clots typically form in the tooth socket following tooth extraction. A gauze pad will be inserted into the socket, and the patient is asked to bite down to hold it in place and staunch the blood flow. In some cases, the dentist will place some stitches in the socket to close the gum over the extraction site. These stitches are usually self-dissolving.
In some painful cases, the blood clot in the socket may break loose and expose the bone. This condition is called dry socket. In cases of dry socket, your dentist may apply a sedative dressing to the socket for the few days it will take for a new blood clot to form.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare and Recovery
Following a surgical tooth extraction, your dental practitioner will send you home to recover, a process that usually takes a few days. The following tips can help reduce discomfort, lower your chances of infection, and expedite your recovery process.
- If applicable, take painkillers as they are prescribed.
- Bite down gently but firmly on the gauze pad placed in your mouth by your dentist to minimize bleeding and allow for the formation of blood clots. Be sure to replace gauze pads before they become saturated with blood. Otherwise, the pad should be kept in place for 3-4 hours following the procedure.
- Reduce swelling by applying an ice bag to the region right after the extraction. Hold it in place for 10 minutes each time.
- Rest for at least 24 hours after the procedure, limiting your activity for the next day or two.
- Avoid dislodging the clot by refraining from spitting or rinsing with force in the 24 hours following the extraction.
- Rinse your mouth with 1/2 teaspoon salt combined with 8 ounces of warm water after 24 hours.
- Don’t drink from a straw in the 24-hour period following surgery.
- Don’t smoke, as smoking can interfere with healing and clotting.
- The day after the procedure, only eat soft foods, like soup or pudding, then gradually introduce solid foods as the removal site starts to heal.
- Use pillows to keep your head propped up when lying down, as lying down flat can make the bleeding last longer than necessary.
- No free passes! Keep brushing your teeth and tongue, and continue to floss, but make sure to stay away from the extraction site. This will aid in the prevention of infection.
Don’t Put Off the Inevitable
When it comes to pulling teeth, it’s better not to prolong tooth extraction or risk a situation potentially worsening.
The oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Innovative Implant & Oral Surgery of Feasterville, PA are specialists in tooth extraction as well as follow-up procedures. For example, missing teeth could cause remaining teeth to shift over time, affecting your bite and ability to chew. For that reason, your dentist may recommend filling the gap with an implant, fixed bridge or denture. Contact us today to discuss all your options to maintain – and improve — your beautiful smile.
More Teeth Extraction Resources:
- Healthline, “Tooth Extraction: Costs, Procedure, Risks & Recovery,” https://www.healthline.com/health/tooth-extraction
- American Dental Association, “Extractions – Having a Tooth Removed,” https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/e/extractions