Professional Tooth Extractions
Professional extractions are the complete removal of the tooth from the jaw bone in a professional setting, not one that is conducted at home or elsewhere. Professional extractions are usually completed by your regular dentist in his or her office, but a dental surgeon may be required, depending on the nature of the tooth.
In most cases, your dentist will want to preserve the natural tooth. Only in circumstances like the following is your dentist likely to recommend extraction:
- Trauma, when the tooth cannot be repaired by another means, like a crown or root canal;
- Disease, when a disease has harmed the integrity of the jawbone and mouth and the tooth can no longer be supported;
- Crowding, when there’s simply not enough space for the tooth; or
- Infection, when an abscess and the tooth has not responded well to root canal therapy.
Type of Extraction
There are two basic ways your dentist will extract your tooth: simple extraction or surgical extraction. The method used is completely based on the condition of the tooth or teeth.
Simple extraction requires little preparation and can be completed relatively quickly. Local anesthesia is applied to numb the tooth area. The dentist uses an elevator, a specific dental tool, to loosen the tooth by rocking it back and forth until the periodontal ligament is broken. When the tooth is loose enough, the dentist uses a type of forceps to completely remove the tooth with slow, steady pressure.
Surgical extraction is required when the loosening and pulling out of the tooth is not practical. This could be for many reasons, but often it is because the tooth is broken under the gum. Local anesthesia is used to numb the tooth area when only one tooth is to be extracted. General anesthesia is used for the patient’s comfort, but it also allows the dentist to work more thoroughly without complication. This process is “surgical” because it requires an incision. The tooth may also be extracted in pieces.
Preparation for Tooth Extraction
Preparation for tooth extraction allows the dentist to understand the complete picture of the patient’s tooth in order to develop a plan for extraction. Preparation may include x-rays of the tooth (wisdom teeth requires a full mouth x-ray to confirm the exact positioning of the teeth and alignment with neighboring teeth).
Prior to the procedure, it is always important that the patient is healthy, especially since anesthesia will be used. If the patient has a cold or other cold or flu-like symptoms, the procedure should be postponed. Antibiotics may be required prior to the procedure if the dentist warrants it to prevent the risk of infection.
On the day of the procedure, any smokers must avoid the habit on the same day of the procedure to prevent complications related to smoking.
The procedure is generally similar for both simple and surgical extractions. The primary steps include:
- Application of anesthesia;
- Loosening of the targeted tooth or teeth;
- Removal of the tooth or teeth;
- Formation of a blood clot in the socket of the extracted tooth/teeth — the dentist will require you to bite down on gauze; the pressure will stop the bleeding; and
- Closure of the socket with resorbing stitches.
Post-Procedure Extraction Care
Taking care of your teeth generally and the extracted area specifically is extremely important after the procedure. Your dentist will provide you with a care plan, but below are some general aftercare tips that every patient of an extracted tooth should follow:
- Directly after the procedure, allow time to rest while the anesthesia wears off.
- Follow a proper and strict oral hygiene routine to keep the mouth clean and prevent infection.
- If you are a smoker, reduce or avoid smoking if at all possible — smoking (the nicotine specifically) can negatively impact the healing process.
- Take all medications as prescribed — your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and/or painkillers.
- Do not rinse your mouth out with water or any other liquid for the first 24 hours — using a straw or spitting can loosen the blood clot from the socket, due to the sucking and pressure in the mouth.
- Eat only soft foods directly after the procedure — anything hard, sharp, or chewy can affect the blood clot and/or the stitches, and thus, negatively affect the healing process. Gradually, as your mouth heals, you can begin to eat more foods.
If after the procedure, you experience severe pain or persistent bleeding for more than 24 hours, you should contact your dentist immediately.
And if you believe you have a tooth that may need to be extracted, contact us to learn more. We provide full dental services and will outline your options to you after an examination.