As dental professionals, our goal is to help you live a healthy life with all of your original teeth. However, there are times when we cannot save a tooth.
Sometimes it becomes necessary for a tooth to be removed because of crowding, disease or trauma. No matter the reason, we use a conservative approach with all tooth extractions. While the title of “oral surgery” sounds serious, most oral surgeries & extractions are routine procedures. Our experienced doctor will perform your procedure with expert skill to ensure the most comfortable recovery & the best possible result.
If not removed, a tooth that needs to be extracted can become problematic, resulting in pain, infection & other dental problems. But getting them removed doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
What Is A Tooth Extraction?
The kind of tooth extraction you are probably most familiar with is wisdom tooth removal. Because they often cause problems to nearby teeth & can get infected, wisdom teeth are often removed before or after they come in. Other causes for extractions include:
- Severe tooth decay
- Damaged, broken or infected teeth
- Teeth that do not come in correctly (or at all)
- Gum disease
- Making room for teeth to shift during orthodontic treatment
- Side effects from certain medications or treatments
Determining The Type Of Extraction You Need
We will determine which kind of extraction you need by taking x-rays beforehand. If the dentist decides that you need to have a tooth pulled, they will inject a local anesthetic drug to numb the tooth & the surrounding area. If you are anxious about this procedure, dental sedation can make you more comfortable. Please note that you will need someone to drive you home if you are given sedation.
If you need a simple extraction, the process is straightforward. The goal is to lift your whole tooth out of its socket. To do this, the dentist needs to widen the socket so the tooth can easily come out. Using a tool known as an elevator, they gently wiggle your tooth around to make a wider opening. When the tooth is loose enough, it can be pulled out with forceps (a tool similar to pliers or tweezers). You may feel some pressure as the tooth comes out of its socket. This surprises some patients, but there is no reason to worry about it; the local anesthesia ensures you will not feel pain. Once the tooth has been completely removed, the dentist will clean out the now-empty socket & apply medical gauze to stop any bleeding.
Surgical Extraction vs. Simple Extraction
There are two types of tooth extractions. The first is called a simple extraction. As you can probably tell from the name, this is a basic, minimally invasive procedure. When a tooth is entirely visible in the mouth, we can remove it without affecting the surrounding bone or gums.
The other type of extraction is known as a surgical extraction. Sometimes, a tooth or a piece of a tooth will be stuck below the gumline. In these cases, the dentist or oral surgeon has to move or remove gum or bone tissue in order to extract what is left of the tooth.
A surgical extraction is more complex. It differs from a simple extraction in two ways. First, your gums need to be moved away so the dentist or oral surgeon has direct access to the jawbone. The doctor will make a small incision & pull back your gums to make a “gum flap.” Second, they sometimes need to remove a small amount of bone from your jaw so they can remove stubborn tooth fragments that are stuck in the socket. Using a drill, they carefully remove as little bone as possible. This is surgery, so you will need stitches after undergoing a surgical tooth extraction. Your dentist or oral surgeon may also need to prescribe you pain medication for a few days following your procedure.
The most important part of tooth removal is the aftercare. Whether you have a simple or surgical extraction, you need to carefully follow your dentist’s or oral surgeon’s directions. Failing to properly care for the tooth socket makes it much more difficult to heal.
After you have a tooth removed, the empty socket eventually fills with a blood clot. Like a scab, a blood clot helps stop the bleeding. This is the beginning of the healing process, so your job is to make sure that nothing happens to that blood clot. Do not touch it!
For about three days after the extraction, you also need to avoid smoking, drinking out of straws, spitting or blowing your nose. All of these things create a level of pressure that can dislodge the blood clot & open the socket. If this happens, you will get what is known as a dry socket. Dry sockets are painful & require intervention. Please call us right away if you get one.
If you follow your instructions & avoid a dry socket, most of the major healing takes place within one or two weeks of the appointment.
After having a tooth removed, you may notice changes in your jaw. With a newly opened space, your teeth & jawbone can shift. Losing a tooth can have a major impact on your dental health & quality of life. If you want to prevent this, you can fill that space with a dental bridge or a dental implant. Contact us if you want to know more about your options for replacing a missing tooth.