Although having a permanent tooth extracted doesn’t sound like much fun, it is sometimes necessary to protect a patient’s dental health. A dentist or oral surgeon extracts teeth for a variety of reasons. One common reason is to remove problem wisdom teeth. Other patients need teeth extracted because of severe infection, tooth decay or damage.
Why would I need a tooth extraction?
Even though we expect our permanent teeth to last for a lifetime, there are many reasons why tooth extraction may be necessary:
- Tooth decay: If an untreated cavity is allowed to progress, it can result in irreversible decay and damage to the tooth root and dental pulp. If it cannot be repaired, it may need to be extracted.
- Trauma or injury: Sports injuries and vehicle accidents are common dental injuries that can damage a tooth root, preventing its restoration.
- Infection: Decay can enter the dental pulp, which kept the tooth alive. If root canal therapy or antibiotics cannot save the tooth, tooth extraction may be necessary to prevent the spread of infection.
- Wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth are the final adult teeth to emerge, but they often lack sufficient space in the jawbone to avoid damaging surrounding teeth. To treat problems, or to prevent them, wisdom teeth may require extraction.
The Tooth Extraction Process
There are two basic types of tooth extractions: simple and surgical.
Simple tooth extractions are used when there is sufficient tooth structure above the gum line. After the dentist or surgeon numbs the tooth and surrounding area, they will loosen the tooth from its socket. Then they use forceps to grip the tooth and extract it.
If insufficient tooth structure is visible above the gumline, a surgical extraction may be necessary. This is a more complicated procedure normally performed under general anesthesia.
To perform a surgical extraction, the dentist or oral surgeon will create an incision into the soft tissues surrounding the tooth, allowing for its extraction.
Sectioning a Tooth
Sometimes, a dentist or oral surgeon must cut a tooth into pieces to allow it to be removed more easily.
After Tooth Extraction
Once your tooth extraction is complete, you will return home to recover. The length of time it takes to recover depends upon whether you underwent a simple or surgical extraction. Recovering from a simple extraction is a brief process, while a surgical procedure can take several weeks.
No matter what method was used to extract your tooth, the main thing to remember is that you must take care to avoid dislodging the blood clot that should have formed within the first 24 hours after your extraction. You can think of the blood clot as a natural bandage that promote healing. If it is not present, it could result in significant pain and a setback in your recovery.
Most patients have no complications following a tooth extraction; however, if you should notice any of the following symptoms, contact your dentist or oral surgeon:
- Bad breath
- Increasing pain
- Severe tooth sensitivity
- Swollen neck glands
Make sure that you relax and rest as much as possible, particularly for the first 24 hours after your extraction. Don’t drink through a straw, and stick to softer foods and liquids for awhile.
If you are a smoker, avoid smoking for at least 48 hours. Smoking can dislodge the blood clot and increase your risk of developing complications.