Although we work hard to maintain our teeth, there are some instances when the removal of a tooth can help prevent damage or infection from spreading to other areas of the mouth. In these cases, teeth are extracted by a dentist or oral surgeon.
The Process for the Removal of a Tooth
Removing a tooth or multiple teeth typically takes several steps. After numbing the area with a local anesthetic or providing general anesthetic, the dentist will make an incision in the surrounding gums to expose the tooth and bone. Any bone that blocks access to the tooth’s root will be removed. Then, the tooth will be removed.
In some cases, a tooth may need to be broken apart and removed in pieces. Once the extraction site is fully cleaned out, the dentist may apply sutures to the wound (typically dissolvable) and place gauze over the area to control bleeding and promote the formation of a blood clot.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
The wisdom teeth are located at the back corners of your mouth and are the last of the permanent teeth to erupt. They typically develop later in adolescence or early in adulthood.
Often, wisdom teeth do not have ample room to develop normally. This can result in several outcomes, including pain and discomfort, and impacts to nearby teeth, infection and tooth decay, gum disease or periodontal disease, or the development of a cyst (a fluid-filled sac) around the affected wisdom tooth or teeth.
Your dentist may recommend that you have one, several, or all of your wisdom teeth removed. This will depend on several factors, including where and how each tooth erupts and whether they cause problems. In some cases, a dentist will recommend preventative removal before any issues develop.
Tooth Extraction FAQ
Do I need to have a tooth removed?
There are several reasons you may need to have a tooth removed, including the overcrowding of the teeth or infections in a tooth or several teeth (with a risk of the infection spreading to other healthy teeth). Tooth decay is another reason you may need to have teeth removed. Finally, you may need to have a wisdom tooth (or several wisdom teeth) removed.
Tooth extraction is not always necessary in these cases, but it may be an option. You can discuss your specific treatment options and potential outcomes with your dentist before making a decision about whether or not to have a tooth or teeth extracted.
Which type of dental professional removes teeth?
For simple extractions, your general dentist may perform the procedure in a general dentistry clinic using a local anesthetic. In other cases, you may need to visit an oral surgeon to have teeth removed in an outpatient procedure. A surgical approach may be necessary for impacted or broken teeth, teeth below the surface of the gums, or teeth that require bone removal.
What do I need to tell my dentist?
Your dentist will recommend treatment options and discuss the outcomes of proceeding with the treatment or not proceeding with the treatment. If you choose to proceed, be sure to make your dentist or surgeon aware of any medical conditions, medications, allergies, or other medical factors before your procedure.
How can I prepare?
There are several ways to prepare for an extraction. First, you will want to ask your dentist or surgeon questions about the procedure, including specific instructions about what to bring, whether you need to change your eating or drinking habits in preparation, and whether you should take prescribed or non-prescribed medications before the procedure. You’ll also want to arrange for someone to drive you home after, as you will most likely receive local or general anesthesia.
What happens after my surgery or procedure?
Once the tooth is removed, a blot clot forms in the socket (empty space) that is left. This helps stop the bleeding. Your dentist may also pack the area with gauze to prevent further bleeding. In other cases, your dentist may apply sutures (stitches) to the socket to prevent bleeding. These are typically dissolvable sutures that don’t need to be removed.
What are the risks?
Although most extractions do not result in complications, there are several risks associated with the procedure, including infection, which could spread through your body.
Another condition that may develop after a tooth extraction is known as dry socket. In this case, the blood clot breaks loose and exposes the bone in the socket. This can be painful, and you will likely need to return to your dentist, who will redress the socket to aid in healing and to protect the socket while a new clot forms.
Following aftercare instructions provided by your dentist or oral surgeon is one step you can take to minimize the risks of extraction.
Be sure to contact your dentist or surgeon if you begin experiencing symptoms such as fever, excessive bleeding, severe pain, difficulty breathing, excessive swelling, or difficulty swallowing after your procedure. This could be an indication of a serious complication.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare Steps
After a tooth is extracted from your mouth, there are several steps you can take to manage pain and discomfort, protect the extraction site from contaminants that may cause infection, and promote overall healing.
Always refer to your dentist or oral surgeon for specific aftercare steps to take. In most cases, the following steps will be recommended:
- Get lots of rest for the 24 hours after the extraction.
- Do not rinse, spit, or use a straw for 24 hours after your procedure, as this may dislodge the blood clot and cause bleeding.
- Once 24 hours have passed, create a salt rinse using half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water. Swish the rinse in your mouth and spit.
- Use an ice pack on the cheeks or jaw to reduce swelling and manage pain.
- Return to brushing your teeth and flossing as normal when your dentist approves it, but be careful to avoid the socket while it continues to heal.
- Take painkillers, antibiotics, and other medications as prescribed.
- Eat soft foods for the first few days, such as soup, Jell-O, pudding, and yogurt.
- If you regularly smoke or use tobacco products, do not use them for a few days after the procedure, as it can interfere with the healing process.
- Maintain good oral hygiene to care for your teeth, including any new implants or bridges that may be placed after your extraction.
After an extraction, healing should be your primary focus. Take the time you need to rest and recover and ask your dentist if you have any questions or concerns.
Find a Dentist Offering Tooth Extractions
The 123Dentist network of dentists has dental clinics and oral surgery clinics that provide tooth extractions and other general dentistry services. To learn more about your dental needs, book an appointment today.