What is a tooth extraction?
The removal of a tooth. This extraction is performed by either a dentist or oral surgeon and is typically a relatively quick procedure with local anesthesia. In most cases the patient will be awake for the procedure. There are sedation options available that range from feeling more relaxed to being asleep for the procedure if deemed necessary. Removing visible teeth can be a simple extraction. However, teeth that are broken, below the surface, or impacted require a more involved procedure.
Why a tooth extraction?
You want to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible. They are ideal for eating, biting, chewing, and helping support and maintain your jaw bone structure. However, in some cases, it is in your best interest to have an extraction done. Tooth extractions are done for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common ones:
- Extra teeth are blocking others from coming in.
- Infection has destroyed a large portion of the tooth or the bone around it.
- Decay has reached deep into the tooth.
- Baby teeth didn’t fall out in time for the permanent teeth to come in.
- People who are getting braces and need teeth extracted to create more room.
- Wisdom teeth(third molars) are coming in and need to be removed.
- Trauma or injury to the tooth or surrounding bone.
What are the different types of tooth extraction?
The type of extraction performed will depend not only on the tooth’s size, but the shape, position, and location in the mouth. The two main classifications of extractions are simple or surgical. A simple extraction is with a tooth that is visible and above the gums. And the dentist can remove it in one piece. A surgical extraction on the other hand, is more complicated and requires not only the removal of the tooth but the gum tissue, and bone. In instances like this the surgeon might have to remove the tooth in pieces. Other types of extractions are categorized based on the level of impaction of the tooth. Impaction means that they have not fully emerged from the gums. This mainly applies for wisdom teeth that have been recommended for removal because the impaction is causing harm to the adjacent teeth. The degree of impaction can range from being impacted in the soft tissue (gum) only to being completely impacted in the bone still. Wisdom teeth are usually the last to emerge and quite often people’s first required extraction because commonly are impacted.
What should I expect after the extraction?
The type of extraction you forgo will determine your recovery time and the different symptoms you may show after the fact. Not everyone will have the same exact recovery but a lot of things will be similar across the board. Here are some of the big things to look out for and be aware of after you have teeth extracted:
- A blood clot that naturally forms at the surgical site. Do not be alarmed, this is normal, it is your mouth’s way of working on closing the area and healing itself and protecting the bone that is underneath it. Having that blood clot form, prevents the bone from being exposed. However if you mess with it or are eating something sharp/hard that could pop that blood clot, there’s no protection over that socket and that is where the term “dry socket” comes into play. If that happens you will want to revisit your doctor so they can help put a dressing over it to allow a new clot to form.
- You can also expect to see some blood from the surgical site. Heavy bleeding can be expected for the first 1-2 hours after the extraction, and traces of bleeding in your saliva can be seen for the first 24 hours.
- Some swelling in the face and mouth area is to be expected, especially when doing a surgical extraction.
- Soreness, unable to chew food right away.
Other risks that might happen after extraction that should cause you to go back to your doctor are:
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 12 hours.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Chest pain or shortness of breath.
- Extreme swelling or redness at surgical site (and is getting worse rather than going away after time).
- Severe fever and chills (sign of infection).
- Drainage from the wound that smells or tastes foul.
Any time a tooth is extracted there will be some symptoms afterwards that might seem alarming. So it is important that you are aware of what to expect and know that some things may last for a little before getting better. As long as you are being careful and following the different directions prescribed to you from the doctor, they will help you get through it and be there for any questions or concerns you may have.
What is the recovery period like after having a tooth extracted?
After a tooth extraction, the proper aftercare is vital. Because it helps promote clotting and protect the extraction site during the healing process. Most simple extractions should heal within 7 to 10 days. Keep in mind that some procedures such as wisdom teeth extractions may take a little longer. However following these step should help ensure a timely recovery:
- Place an ice pack on your cheek directly after the procedure to help reduce swelling and hold for about 10 minutes at a time.
- Make sure there is gauze over the surgical site and you are slightly biting down on it for around 3 to 4 hours. This is to help reduce bleeding and aid in clot formation.
- Take the medications properly prescribed to you by your doctor.
- Do not use a straw, spit forcefully, or smoke for at least the first 24 hours
- Try your best to just rest and relax the 24 hours right after
- Do not rinse your mouth for 24 hours after the extraction
- Whenever you lie down, use pillows to help prop your head up
- When you go back to brushing and flossing your teeth, brush gently and avoid the extraction site
- The day after the extraction, eat soft foods like yogurt, applesauce, or pudding
We want you to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible. And sometimes in order to do that others may need to be removed to stop them from shifting, infecting, or ruining other healthy ones. Teeth extractions are normal and with the proper care can be taken care of smoothly.