Tooth Extractions

Why are teeth extracted?

Your dentist will determine with you if you need a tooth extraction for any reason. Tooth extraction may become necessary if your teeth are decayed past the point of saving, have been fractured too intensely to repair, or in cases of advanced periodontal disease. Another reason that tooth extraction may be required is if the tooth is poorly positioned in the mouth, or is not growing in correctly, such as impacted teeth. In this case, your dentist will recommend the tooth be extracted  in order to prepare for further dental treatment.

However, the removal of a tooth can affect the overall health of the mouth, such as impairing your ability to chew, or causing a shift in teeth or jaw joint stability issues. These factors can cause dental issues down the road, and your dentist will make sure to discuss other options for dental treatment and replacement before committing to removing your tooth.

The Extraction Process

Your doctor will apply an anesthetic to the surrounding tissues and nerves of the jawbone and tooth in order to provide the most comfort during the procedure. With proper anesthetic, the patient should experience mild to moderate pressure as the tooth is prepared for extraction, as the tooth itself is rocked from side to side to help loosen it from the jawbone. This pressure is mild, however, due to the anesthetic itself, which prevents the patient from feeling pain throughout the process by inhibiting the nerves in the area of treatment. However, if the patient experiences pain during the procedure it is important to alert the dental staff to make sure the issue can be taken care of immediately.

Sectioning a tooth

In some cases, the tooth itself is either too firmly rooted or too decayed to be removed in a single extraction. In these cases, the dentist will use sectioning to split up the tooth itself, so as to cause minimal damage to the socket itself. Each portion of the tooth is sectioned out and removed by the dentist. This method is most often used in cases where the root of the tooth is curved.

After Extraction Home Care

Bleeding

After the procedure, it is not uncommon to experience some bleeding. Applying moist gauze to the location of the extraction can help stop the bleeding. It is best to keep the gauze over the socket for a minimum of 45 minutes to help stop the bleeding.

Blood clots that form in the empty socket.

Clotting is an important factor when it comes to healing the extraction site, and any clots that form should not be dislodged.

  • Spitting and rinsing of the mouth should be avoided for at least 24 hours
  • No hot liquids or drinks with a straw should be had as well

Swelling

Swelling can be abated with the use of an ice pack. It is important to alternate the ice pack on for 10 minutes and off for 20 in order to protect the delicate tissues of the face from damage, as well as to get the most out of your ice pack. This process can be repeated for up to 24 hours post procedure.

Pain and Medications

Any extensive discomfort or pain may be relieved through over the counter medications, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It is important to follow the dosing information on the packages themselves when taking over the counter medication.

Eating

In most cases, the patient may return to eating as normal after the procedure, as long as they avoid the location of the extraction itself. Alcohol and hotter liquids should be avoided for at least 24 hours after the extraction, to allow for the healing process to begin. In some cases, your dentist may require a diet of non-solid foods for 24 hours to allow for maximum healing.

Brushing and Cleaning

It is important not to brush the extraction site for at least one day after the procedure. After 24 hours, you may begin gently cleaning the area at the discretion of your dental office. However, you should avoid traditional mouth washes, as the alcohol content can irritate the site of the extraction. A homemade cleaning solution of ½ a teaspoon of salt in a cup of lukewarm water may be applied after 24 hours, to be used after meals and before bed.

Dry Socket

Dry socket can lead to a slow in the healing process. If a blood clot fails to form in the socket, or is dislodged, the healing process can be significantly delayed, increasing the risk of complications from the extraction. Making sure to listen to your dentist’s instructions on care after your procedure is crucial to ensuring the best healing possible for the extraction site. Dry socket results in a dull or throbbing pain between three to four days post extraction. The pain can range from mild to more severe, and can cause halitosis (bad breath) and a bad taste in the mouth. The extraction site itself may also appear dry or to not be healing correctly. If you experience these symptoms, contact your dentist. They will most likely treat the site with a medicated dressing in order to promote healing and ease the discomfort in the socket itself.

Healing

Post extraction, a hole will be left in your jawbone where the tooth used to be. However, eventually your jaw will heal itself, manifesting in a smooth surface. Bone growth is smaller than tissue growth, however, and the healing process of the bone can take up to a couple months. The site itself should not cause any problems after 2 weeks, however, as the bone growth is gradual and should not affect day to day activities.