What to Expect After a Tooth Extraction
A tooth extraction is sometimes necessary as a part of staying healthy. Keep your mouth healthy by visiting a dentist regularly. This helps prevent serious infections or conditions that affect your whole mouth and body.
Reasons for Tooth Extraction
In adulthood, there are reasons that they may need to be extracted, although our teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Dentists and oral surgeons recommend tooth extraction for a number of reasons.
Some the most common reasons for tooth extraction are:
- Damaged Tooth – A common reason for tooth extractions that the tooth is badly damaged or has suffered an injury. Getting it extracted may be the best course of action. Dentists evaluate to determine if the tooth is unsalvageable or is easily repaired. Your dentist will want it pulled so it doesn’t cause harm to your oral health.
- Crowded Mouth – Another reason to get a tooth extracted is in preparation for orthodontia. The goal of orthodontia (braces) is to perfectly align your teeth. Your teeth will not have room to align if your mouth is over-crowded. Dentists also pull teeth if there is not enough room in your mouth for a tooth, even before it’s broken through the gum. This is common in children after their “adult teeth” have come in, or as they are coming in.
- Infection – Tooth decay, if not caught early enough, causes significant damage to the pulp inside the tooth. Bacteria enters the decayed tooth and through the pulp, reaches the blood stream, causing infections that spread to the rest of the body. In some cases, antibiotics can kill the infections. Your dentists will most likely recommend extraction as a precaution against further infections. If you have a weakened immune system due to chemotherapy or an autoimmune disease, there is a greater risk for infection if you have an oral conditions.
- Gum Disease – Periodontal diseases, an infection the tissues and bones that surround teeth, can cause the gums to weaken around your teeth, making them loose. If gums decay because of an injection, it may be necessary to pull the affected teeth.
What to Expect During a Tooth Extraction
Dentists and oral surgeons perform tooth extractions. The severity of the affect tooth determines whether a dentist performs the surgery or if you are referred to an oral surgeon. There are two different types of tooth extractions: a simple extraction and a surgical extraction.
When the affected tooth is visible above your gum line and it can be easily removed with forceps, the procedure is called a simple extraction. If the tooth in question has yet to grow in and bone and gum tissue has to be removed in order to extract it, that’s called a surgical extraction. Surgical extractions require stitches and wound care for proper healing.
Your dentist will determine the type of extraction necessary by taking X-Rays of your mouth and examining the tooth and the structures around it. However, a simple extraction can turn into a surgical extraction if the tooth breaks during the procedure.
Before performing the surgery, your dentist will do a complete review of your medical history. This is to ensure your safety during the procedure. It will also determine the safest type of anesthetic for your procedure. In some cases, your dentist will perform local anesthetic to numb the area before pulling your tooth. Some types of extraction that are more complicated will use a strong general anesthetic. This helps prevent pain and makes your sleep throughout the process.
If a tooth is impacted, meaning they haven’t grown in completely, they will be surgically extracted. Your dentist will make tiny cuts in the gum tissue and bone surrounding your tooth and using forceps, gently the rock the tooth back and forth until it’s loosened from the bone and ligaments that keep it from moving.
Once the affected tooth is extracted, blood clots form in the empty tooth socket. A gauze pad is then pressed into the socket to help stop the bleeding. Oftentimes, the dentist will place a few dissolvable stitches at the extraction site to promote faster healing. If the blood clot breaks loose from the socket, it can be painful and cause dry socket.
Recovery Instructions After Tooth Extraction
It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for care after having a tooth extracted. This is to help heal you wound quickly and to prevent any complications.
- Leave the gauze pad on the extraction site for up to 4 hours after your surgery to allow a proper blood clot to form. If the gauze pad becomes soaked with blood, remove, and replace with a clean pad.
- Avoid unnecessary eating or drinking for the first 2 hours after surgery. Do not drink from a straw for the first 24 hours.
- Apply ice to help minimize swelling and to help reduce pain. Use ice compresses at 10 minute intervals.
- Limit physical activity for 2 days after the procedure.
- DO NOT smoke after your procedure. This increases post-operative pain and increases your risk for infection or complications.
Things to Look For After Tooth Extraction
It’s common to experience a minor fever and increase in pain in the hours following your procedure. Your dentist will likely prescribe some kind of pain medication to help alleviate your pain and make the recovery process more comfortable. Over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or Motrin are good to help minimize the fever. Always check with your doctor before taking any medicine that hasn’t been prescribed to avoid unwanted side effects.
If there is bleeding at the extraction site for longer than 4 hours post-surgery, that is a cause for concern and you should contact your dentist. Signs of infections, redness, swelling, or discharge around the extraction site, are also considered means for contacting you doctor. Those are issues that need to be addressed by a medical professional to minimize your chances for infection.
Healing from a tooth extraction procedure takes approximately 1 to 2 weeks. Depending on the tooth that was pulled, your dentist will recommend replacing the tooth with bridgework, dentures, or even dental implants.