When a tooth becomes infected, damaged or heavily decayed and cannot be restored, the best course of treatment is often a tooth extraction. A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket. If the tooth is impacted, as is the case with many wisdom teeth, the dentist will cut through the jaw bone and gum tissue to access the impacted tooth. This treatment is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon, and requires care afterwards to ensure proper healing. Read on to learn more about tooth extractions process, treatment and care.
Why would you need a tooth pulled?
Extractions are needed when a tooth is badly decayed, damaged, infected or has experienced trauma and cannot be repaired through a restorative procedure. A tooth cannot remain in the mouth if it is severely decayed, for risk of the infection worsening or spreading to other teeth. Other cases where a tooth may need to be removed include:
Orthodontists may opt for tooth extraction prior to treatment in cases where it is absolutely necessary to help patients achieve their healthiest smile. In some cases, patients may have extra teeth or tooth crowding that could cause issues with proper alignment. While it may seem daunting, having those teeth extracted is a perfectly safe way to ensure that braces and other alignment procedures are effective.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Some people have no issues with their wisdom teeth, however, there may be instances when a wisdom tooth doesn’t have enough room to break through the gum area, causing an impacted tooth. There are also partially impacted wisdom teeth, which occur when an impacted tooth tries to break through the gums, leaving part of the gum area exposed. Both examples can lead to infection, bad breath, or pain and swelling. Think your wisdom teeth may be impacted? A simple X-ray can give you an answer.
It’s important that every possible measure is taken to preserve baby teeth before extraction is considered to avoid complications when adult teeth begin to break through. However, serious damage from accidental injuries, such as cracked, impacted, or loose teeth, are perfect candidates for baby teeth extraction. The staff at our kid-friendly office will help make sure your little one is comfortable should they find themselves in need of a tooth extraction procedure.
According to the American Dental Association, trauma is among the most common reasons for tooth extraction. However, prior to removing a tooth that has suffered trauma, your dentist will gauge the severity of the damage to see if there’s a chance that it can be saved. If a fracture along the gumline is found, or the tooth is completely cracked, an extraction procedure will likely be the best option.
Read more: Root Canal Causes, Treatment and Care
Types of tooth extractions and what to expect
There are two types of tooth extractions: simple extraction and surgical extraction. For both types of extractions, the dentist will numb the area around the extraction site and the procedure is virtually painless, although many patient report feeling pressure during the treatment. Aftercare is extremely important for proper healing, pain management, and to reduce the risk of infection.
Simple tooth extraction is performed on a tooth that is visible above the gum line. The tooth is loosened using a tool called an elevator, and then the dentist pulls the tooth from the socket using forceps. A simple extraction is needed for a number of reasons, most commonly due to tooth decay, crowding or trauma.
Surgical tooth extraction is needed when teeth are impacted tooth (has not erupted above the gum line), a tooth is broken below the gum line or must be removed in pieces, or in case where a tooth is so severely decayed to the point that forceps cannot be used to remove the tooth from the socket. A surgical extraction is also needed in more complicated cases of entangled or curved roots, when the bone around a tooth is dense, or when the roots of a tooth are long.
Read more: Toothaches: What Causes Tooth Pain and How to Treat It
Preparing For A Tooth Extraction
Prior to your tooth extraction procedure, there will be a few steps you’ll want to consider to help make the procedure as stress-free as possible.
- Have a procedure Q&A: Prepare a handy list of questions about the surgery and bring them up during your visit. Your surgeon can answer them to help calm any fears that you may have before the big day. Also, be sure to ask about the sedation methods that will be used and how they may affect you once the operation is complete.
- Share your medical history: It will be important that you let the staff know of any specific medical conditions you may have, as certain conditions may cause you to be more prone to infection. Providing a list of your current medication will also be helpful, as some medications have a likelihood of causing an increase of bleeding during the procedure.
- Remember the 12-hour rule: Generally, eating is prohibited for 12 hour before tooth extraction to keep nausea at bay during and after the procedure. Smoking will also be prohibited 12 hours before surgery.
- Bring a friend: Since anesthesia will be used, patients will not be able to drive themselves home after surgery. Even local anesthesia has the ability to heavily impair reflexes and basic judgment, so after your tooth has been extracted, you’ll need a designated driver to get you home safely.
- Try to stay calm: Having surgery can be scary, and a tooth extraction procedure carries those same concerns, however, the JDO staff specializes in patient-first care and will do everything in their power to make sure your experience is a pleasurable one. Feel free to schedule a consultation to go over the full details of your procedure with your surgeon.
How much does a tooth extraction cost?
Jefferson Dental is one of the most affordable dentists for tooth extraction serving the DFW, Houston, San Antonio, Austin and Oklahoma City areas. Price varies based on the type of extraction needed, taking into consideration whether the extraction is simple or surgical, and how complex the case is.
Wisdom tooth extraction
Tens of thousands if not more wisdom teeth removal surgeries are performed each year. Wisdom teeth are removed often because they can cause damage to the other teeth, the mouth simply does not have enough room, or because they can push the other teeth out of alignment. Wisdom teeth can also cause pain and discomfort as they shift, push into the other teeth or begin to erupt in mouth, although many patients who need a wisdom tooth extraction may never feel any discomfort from the teeth.
Whether or not wisdom teeth removal is necessary depends on a patient’s particular case. The dentist will take a series of x-rays to determine the positioning and movement of the teeth. In cases where wisdom teeth are causing irritation, disruption of daily activities, or pain, it’s best to remove the teeth. Similarly, if a patient is experiencing changes in bite, alignment or impacts to other teeth, the dentist will likely remove the teeth.
Many adults and adolescents may never develop wisdom teeth, or the teeth may be impacted below the gum line and will not grow in. Oddly, not everyone is born with all 4 wisdom teeth, some people are born with only 2-3 and others never develop the teeth at all. In fact, 35% of people are born without wisdom teeth.
How long does pain from an extraction last?
It is not uncommon for pain from an extraction to last for several days up to a week or even lasting two weeks. Swelling, jaw pain, stiffness or soreness are also all common complaints from patients who’ve had one or more teeth extracted. Be wary of pain that worsens over several days, which can be a sign of infection or dry socket.
Proper care to ensure healing is important for reducing complications that can cause further pain. It’s recommended to stop smoking while healing from an extraction, as well as observing post-extraction care instructions that can keep the socket from developing dry socket or becoming infected. You may take over-the-counter pain relievers or your doctor may prescribe an anti-inflammatory pain medication to ease discomfort.
Potential Tooth Extraction Risks
Make no mistake, tooth extractions are surgical procedures. Therefore, as with any surgery, risks are involved. Pain, inflammation, and bruising near the extraction site are common post-surgery, and your surgeon will provide you with a list of medications to help until symptoms subside. Extended bleeding and infection, though less common, may also occur; in which case, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed as treatment.
What is dry socket?
Dry socket is a condition that only affects about 2%-5% of patients who have teeth extracted. Despite the low occurrence, pain and complications stemming from dry socket are serious and proper precautions must be observed to prevent the condition. In essence, dry socket occurs when the blood clot that forms in the socket where the tooth was removed becomes dislodged, exposing the raw bone and nerves. Dry socket can occur up to several days after an extraction.
Causes of dry socket include:
- Repeated spitting or rinsing
- Drinking through a straw
- Poor oral hygiene
- History of dry socket during previous extractions
Signs of a dry socket include severe or worsened pain several days after an extraction, visually the socket will appear whitish (indicating exposed bone) versus the dark blood clot, bad breath, unpleasant smell and taste in your mouth, and pain radiating to your ear.
Do teeth grow back or regenerate?
First things first, permanent (adult) teeth do not grow back once they have been removed, extracted or lost. Likewise, decayed teeth will not reestablish shape and function naturally without a treatment such as a filling, root canal, crown, filling, etc. performed by the dentist, and this is IF they are in the condition to be restored. Similarly, cavities and tooth decay need professional care, and cannot be healed through tooth brushing or flossing. If you are in need of a tooth extraction your dentist will work to alleviate pain.
Once a permanent tooth (such as a molar) has been extracted, the dentist will likely recommend a replacement such as an implant, bridge or dentures to fill the space left by the missing tooth. Spaces from missing teeth left unfilled can cause teeth to shift and misalign, hence the need for a dental restoration.
Recovery Period After Having A Tooth Extraction
Your oral surgeon will likely suggest strict rest for 2 – 3 days immediately following the procedure; this will allow pain to ease while the treatment area properly clots. Full recovery from your tooth extraction surgery will generally take approximately 3 – 4 weeks.
Aftercare: How to manage extraction recovery
Managing care after a tooth extraction is extremely important to ensure proper healing. Follow these important steps following a tooth extraction:
- Use pain relievers as prescribed by your doctor
- Bite firmly on the gauze pad placed by your dentist, and replace the gauze once it is soaked in blood.
- Apply an ice pack to the area to minimize swelling
- Relax and avoid strenuous activity for at least one or two days or longer, until you start to feel better
- Avoid spitting or rinsing for the first 24 hours, and also avoid drinking from straws to allow a blood clot to form in the socket.
- Resume normal dental care the day following an extraction, however avoid brushing over the extraction site.
- Avoid smoking, which can inhibit healing
- Eat soft foods and gradually add firmer foods once the site begins to heal
- Prop your head up when lying down
When to call the dentist:
- Severe bleeding for more than 4 hours after the removal
- Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swelling, redness or discharge from the area
- If the blood clot becomes dislodged
How long does it take for an extraction to heal?
Healing is dependent on several factors including the complexity of the extraction, poor oral health or infection, smoking, Generally, the gum tissue can take anywhere from 3-4 weeks to heal, and the bone can take up to 6 months.
What to eat after a tooth extraction
Soft, creamy or liquid (eaten without a straw) foods are best after an extraction. Avoid eating on the side where a tooth was extracted. Tip: Many patients report that cold foods such as ice cream are soothing on the extraction site.
Here is a list of recommended foods to eat after a tooth or wisdom tooth extraction:
- Ice cream
- Soup – cool or warm, not hot
- Smoothies – without a straw
- Scrambled eggs
- Apple sauce
- Mashed potatoes
- Soft cooked pasta
- Cool, flat drinks such as water, Gatorade, milk or juice
Foods to avoid for at least 1 week after an extraction or longer until proper healing has occurred:
- Spicy or acidic foods
- Crunchy or hard snacks
- Anything tough to chew such as meat
- Carbonated drinks
Can I smoke after an extraction?
For proper healing, do not smoke for at least 10 days after a tooth extraction or until the site is healed. Smoking can impede the healing process and also puts you at a higher risk for developing dry socket. For more details contact your dentist.