What are tooth extractions?

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The process of getting a tooth pulled is known as a tooth extraction. Although adult teeth are meant to last a lifetime, having a tooth pulled is sometimes necessary.

Why would I need a tooth extraction?

There could be a number of reasons your dentist determines tooth extractions may be needed, but most often a tooth may be too damaged, from decay or trauma, to be repaired. Other reasons for tooth extractions may include:

  • A crowded mouth
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Infection
  • Risk of infection
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What to Expect with Tooth Extractions

After consulting with your dentist, they will schedule an appointment which may include taking x-rays to help determine the scope of damage to the tooth.  Before performing tooth extractions, your dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. Sometimes, a dentist may choose to use a general anesthetic, which will prevent pain and allow you to sleep during the procedure.

Your dentist will cut away gum and bone tissue that cover the tooth if it is impacted.  They will then grasp the tooth with forceps and gently rock it back and forth to loosen it from the jaw bone and ligaments that hold it in place. Sometimes, a hard-to-pull tooth must be removed in pieces.

After the tooth extraction, a blood clot will form in the socket. Your dentist will pack a gauze pad into the socket and have you bite down on it to help stop the bleeding. Your dentist may place a few self-dissolving stitches to close the gum edges over the extraction site.

Recovery After Tooth Extractions

Recovery from a tooth extraction may take a day or two, but will not require you to take any additional time off of work. The following can help minimize discomfort, reduce the risk of infection, and speed up recovery:

  • Take painkillers as prescribed
  • Allow a clot to form in the tooth socket by biting firmly on the gauze pad placed my your dentist. Make sure to change gauze pads before they become soaked with blood.
  • Apply an ice pack to the affected area immediately after the tooth extraction procedure to keep down swelling.
  • Avoid rinsing or spitting for 24 hours after the extraction to avoid dislodging the cloth that forms in the socket.
  • Do not drink from a straw for the first 24 hours.
  • Eat soft foods the day after the tooth extraction. Gradually add solid foods as the extraction site heals.

Prevent the need for future tooth extractions by following a good oral routine:

  • Floss your teeth once a day and brush twice a day
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash to reduce infectious bacteria
  • Maintain a healthy diet with low amounts of sugar and acidic foods
  • Visit your dentist twice yearly for preventative checkups – catching a potential problem early can be the difference between preventative treatment and a painful procedure.
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