What Is A Tooth Extraction?

A tooth extraction is a dental procedure in which your tooth is removed from the socket in your jawbone where it rests. Many people refer to this procedure as “pulling a tooth.”  A tooth extraction may be medically necessary for several reasons, such as severe dental trauma or decay. It’s one of the most common dental procedures and can improve your overall health when needed. 

Dentist using surgical pliers to remove a decaying tooth
Asian dentist adjust dental surgical light then starts examining tooth patient at dental clinic

Most dentists will handle a tooth extraction procedure and some will refer you to an oral surgeon depending on difficulty.

We will take an assessment of the tooth in question as well as the surrounding gums. We’ll also get X-rays to check for possible jawbone issues and check the extent of the damage.

After local anesthesia is administered to numb the area and the affected tooth, it will be loosened using specialized instruments. Then the dentist will carefully lift it from the socket.

Sometimes the tooth will need to be cut into smaller pieces and incisions will need to be made to remove the tooth in which case the wound would be stitched up after.  Once the tooth is out, the socket is cleaned, irrigated, and then packed with gauze to help it clot.

When Is A Tooth Extraction Necessary?

We strive to preserve your natural teeth whenever we can. However, sometimes other restorative measures such as fillings or crowns aren’t sufficient. If your tooth is severely damaged beyond repair or has decayed beyond saving, extraction may be our only option.

Some conditions that may require an extraction:

  • Severe tooth decay (cavities).
  • A fractured tooth.
  • An impacted tooth.
  • Crowded teeth.
  • Severe gum disease.
  • Tooth luxation or other dental trauma

Aftercare Is Critical

After the tooth extraction, the dentist will give you a stringent list of post-surgery instructions. DO NOT DEVIATE FROM THOSE. You could increase your odds of developing complications such as:

  • Post-surgical infection
  • Dry socket
  • Nerve injury
  • Perforation of your maxillary sinus
  • Delayed healing

Here are some general guidelines for a quick recovery:

  • Keep the extraction site clean. Gently rinse the area with an antimicrobial mouth rinse about two to three times daily. Do not brush over the extraction site until your dentist instructs you to do so. Continue to brush and floss all other teeth normally so as not to allow infection while your mouth is vulnerable with an open wound.
  • Take all medications as directed. Your dentist may give you a prescription for antibiotics and some pain relievers. Take only as directed and if your dentist allows, you may take OTC medicines such as Aleve as well.
  • Avoid strenuous activity for at least two days. Elevating your heart rate can cause post-surgical bleeding and more pain. No strenuous activity three days after the procedure, after that, consult with your dentist to be cleared.
  • Be careful what you eat. Hard and crunchy foods will agitate and possibly re-injure the surgery site. Keep plenty of soft foods on hand and do not drink through straws. Also, avoid very cold or hot beverages as the site will be sensitive.
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