One of the main goals of modern dentistry is to preserve your natural teeth for as long as possible — a lifetime, we hope. That’s why we’re always reminding you to brush, floss, and come in for regular examinations and cleanings. But sometimes, one or more of the teeth may need to be extracted (removed). This may become necessary for several reasons.
A sharp blow to the mouth in sports, for example — might cause a tooth to chip or crack. Your dentist would like to save the tooth via a crown, a root canal, or both. But sometimes, depending on the damage sustained, it just isn’t possible. Disease or decay may also make it impractical to save a natural tooth. Extraction may be the final step required to prevent a cracked or decayed tooth from causing further damage.
IMPACTED WISDOM OR BABY TEETH
There are other good reasons for extracting a tooth, in the case of crowding or an impacted wisdom tooth, or baby teeth that don’t fall out on their own, sometimes interfere with other nearby teeth, nerves or important structures in the mouth; they may need to be extracted to prevent trouble from occurring later.
During orthodontic treatment, one or more teeth may need to be removed to alleviate the condition known as crowding: That’s when the dental arches (jaws) simply don’t have enough space to accommodate all the teeth.
DIAGNOSIS AND ASSESSMENT
First, a radiographic (X-ray) examination allows your dentist to see the tooth’s exact position and anticipate any possible complications. Your medical and drug history is also evaluated, so your dentist can assess your general health and establish your options for anesthesia.
ANESTHESIA OR SEDATION
Simpler tooth extractions may be performed under local anesthesia such as a numbing shot, with or without additional sedation like nitrous oxide or oral medication. More complex (or multiple) extractions may require conscious sedation that’s administered intravenously (into the bloodstream).
Once you’ve been anesthetized, the tooth can be removed. You might think that teeth are set into the bone like a stone in concrete — but that’s not the case! They’re actually attached by a series of fibers called the periodontal ligament. By carefully manipulating these fibers, most teeth can be dislodged without too much difficulty. Afterwards, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and/or recommend over-the-counter pain medications for a few days.
STOP THE BLEEDING
After tooth extraction, it’s important for a blood clot to form to stop the bleeding and begin the healing process. That’s why we ask you to bite on a gauze pad for 30-45 minutes after the appointment. If the bleeding or oozing still persists, place another gauze pad and bite firmly for another 30 minutes. You may have to do this several times.
After the blood clot forms, it is important not to disturb or dislodge the clot as it aids healing. Do not rinse vigorously, suck on straws, smoke, drink alcohol or brush teeth next to the extraction site for 72 hours. These activities will dislodge or dissolve the clot and retard the healing process.
Limit vigorous exercise for the next 24 hours as this will increase blood pressure and may cause more bleeding from the extraction site.
2. PAIN RELIEF AFTER TOOTH EXTRACTION
After the tooth is extracted you may feel some pain and experience some swelling. An ice pack or an unopened bag of frozen peas or corn applied to the area will keep swelling to a minimum. Take pain medications as prescribed. The swelling usually subsides after 48 hours. Use the pain medication as directed. Call the office if the medication doesn’t seem to be working.
- ANTIBIOTICS AFTER TOOTH EXTRACTION
If antibiotics are prescribed, continue to take them for the indicated length of time, even if signs and symptoms of infection are gone. Drink lots of fluid and eat nutritious soft food on the day of the extraction. You can eat normally as soon as you are comfortable. It is important to resume your normal dental routine after 24 hours. This should include brushing and flossing your teeth at least once a day. This will speed healing and help keep your mouth fresh and clean.
After a few days you will feel fine and can resume your normal activities.
If you have heavy bleeding, severe pain, continued swelling for 2-3 days, or a reaction to the medication, call our office immediately.