We have two sets of teeth, baby teeth and permanent adult teeth.
Those adult teeth are meant to last a lifetime. But there are numerous reasons why tooth extraction may be needed. Sometimes due to a dental 911 – a dental emergency. And sometimes, due to other dental injury or disease.
If a tooth becomes too badly damaged from trauma or decay and it’s too bad to repair, then it will need to be extracted. This may or may not be an emergency dental situation. Another reason it could be necessary to have a tooth pulled is due to a crowded mouth. For example, dentists will sometimes pull teeth to prepare the mouth for orthodontia.
Orthodontia is meant to align the teeth. However, this may be impossible if there isn’t enough room in your mouth for all the teeth you have. Furthermore, sometimes if the mouth is too crowded, a tooth will not be able to break through the gum. In such cases, your dentist may pull a tooth or teeth.
Tooth Extraction Details
Dentists and oral surgeons are specially trained to perform surgery and tooth extractions, even in the case of a dental emergency.
To begin the extraction process, they’ll start by giving you an injection of an anesthetic to numb the local area. In other cases, they’ll use a strong anesthetic to prevent pain. Then, they'll allow you to sleep through the procedure. They will try to do this even in the case of emergency dental care.
Next, the surgeon will use forceps to wiggle the tooth back and forth, loosening it from the jaw bone and ligaments. Once the tooth is pulled, the dentist will pack gauze into the bleeding socket to help stop the bleeding. In some cases, stitches are required to close the gum edges over the site of extraction. If the blood clot breaks loose from the socket, it can leave the bone exposed, which is called dry socket. If this happens, the dentist will place a sedative dressing over the socket for a few days as a new clot forms.
Having a tooth pulled is a very safe procedure, but it can also allow harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
The gum tissue can also be at risk of infection. If you are aware that you have a condition that puts you at a higher risk of infection from dental procedures, you may need to take antibiotics before and after the procedure.
Additionally, make sure your dentist is aware of any high-risk medical conditions before the extraction. Such conditions may include damaged heart valves, congenital heart defects, an impaired immune system, liver disease, artificial joints, or a history of bacterial endocarditis.
After an extraction, you will need to recover, which typically only takes a few days.
If you want to minimize discomfort, reduce the risk of infection, and have a speedy recovery, be sure to follow these steps:
- Take painkillers as prescribed
- Bite firmly on the gauze pad and change them before they are completely soaked.
- Use an ice pack on the affected area, in 10 minutes intervals, to reduce swelling.
- Limit activity for a day or two.
- Don’t smoke because it can inhibit healing.
- Eat soft foods, such as soup, pudding, and yogurt the day after the extraction.
- Be sure to continue to brush your teeth and tongue, avoiding the extraction site. This will help prevent infection.