Unfortunately, if one of your teeth is damaged through decay or if you suffer a severe abscess, then it may become necessary for your tooth to be extracted. Good dental hygiene can mitigate the risk of tooth decay, and if you suffer an abscess, your dentist may be able to prescribe other forms of treatment to cure the infection. If you want to understand what it means to have a tooth removed, learn more with these key tooth extraction facts.
Before the tooth is extracted
Tooth extraction is a very common procedure, and millions of people face having to have a damaged tooth removed. Only a trained dentist or dental surgeon can remove a tooth. Never have a tooth extraction on an empty stomach because you won't be able to eat for several hours after the procedure. Before the tooth is extracted, the dentist will administer a local anesthetic, which will numb the area around the tooth. In some cases, a second dose may be applied if the area is not fully numbed. If you are having several teeth removed, you may have a general anesthetic instead. If you have a local anesthetic, you will be conscious during the procedure, but with a general anesthetic you will be asleep.
During the procedure
The anesthetic will prevent the procedure from causing any pain. According to the location of the tooth and the nature of the problem, the dentist may need to try various different methods to remove the tooth. For a simple extraction, the dentist will use an instrument called an elevator, which first loosens the tooth. Then he will use a forceps to physically pull the tooth out. A surgical extraction is more complicated.This may be used where the tooth has broken at the gum line and cannot easily be pulled out, or where the tooth has not yet pushed through. Surgical extractions require a small incision in the gum, allowing access to the tooth. In some cases, some of the bone around the tooth may need to be removed too, or the tooth may need to be removed in several pieces.
What happens after the procedure
After surgical extraction, you will be asked to bite on a piece of gauze for 20 to 30 minutes. This is because any cut in the mouth cannot normally dry out and form a scab. A small amount of bleeding may continue for 24 hours or so after the procedure. You should take care not to knock or dislodge the clot that forms. It is likely that you may experience some discomfort after an extraction. For a simple extraction, this will probably be very mild, and can be addressed with basic anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen. You should not normally need to continue to take drugs for more than three days. After a full surgical extraction, you may experience stronger pain than a simple extraction. Ibuprofen may also help, or your dentist may prescribe a different pain medicine. An ice pack can also soothe the pain.
It is very important to keep the affected area clean after a tooth extraction. One-half teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water can be used to gently rinse the mouth. Initial healing will normally take at least two weeks. If you have stitches, the surgeon will normally use the kind that dissolve. This will take one or two weeks. It is important not to smoke or use a straw after surgery, as this can dislodge any blood clots that form. The cost of a tooth extraction will vary from one case to another, depending on the amount of surgery and aftercare required.