Do you need to have a tooth (or several teeth) removed, but are unsure what to expect? If so, you’re not alone. It is estimated that over 20 million teeth are extracted each year. Although a majority of modern dentists practice minimally invasive dentistry, which focuses on retaining as much of the mouths natural structure as possible, there are some situations in which a tooth extraction may be necessary including:
- Infection of the pulp – The pulp is the nerve center of a tooth and when it becomes infected, tooth extraction may be needed to allow the infection to heal and prevent it from spreading.
- Severe gum disease – If left untreated, gum disease can lead to loose teeth and even infection that may require tooth extraction.
- Improper tooth eruption – Tooth eruption is the process of tooth development when the teeth erupt from the gums and become visible in the mouth. When this process occurs improperly, teeth can grow in crooked and interfere with other teeth or, in some cases, the tooth may even fail to erupt at all, resulting in an impacted tooth. When this occurs, the tooth may need to be extracted to prevent further issues.
- Major tooth damage – When a tooth is destroyed beyond repair due to decay, fracture or advanced gum disease with bone loss, the extraction of a tooth may be required.
- Supernumerary (extra) teeth – In some cases a person may have too many teeth to fit in their mouths and may need to have these extra teeth removed in order to make room.
For those unfamiliar with modern dental procedures, the thought of having a tooth extracted can conjure terrifying images of the days when tooth extraction was a very harsh, painful and potentially dangerous experience. In reality, modern tooth extraction is not only far safer than it has ever been, thanks to breakthroughs in modern dentistry, it is virtually painless in most cases.
General or local anesthesia
Your dentist will determine the best procedure to use to extract your tooth based on how complex the extraction may be and your medical history. They should also take into consideration your personal preferences as to whether you wish to be awake or asleep during the extraction. Often more complex extractions or patients with dental fear require the use of a general anesthetic, allowing the patient to sleep through the procedure. In most cases, however, a dentist can use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth so the patient can stay awake and alert during the procedure without experiencing any pain. Although the application of a local anesthetic involves the injection into the gums and tissue in the mouth, a growing number of dentists are using state of the art injection equipment, procedures and topical anesthetic s to help ensure the numbing process is as painless and comfortable as possible.
Post Extraction Care
After a tooth extraction, it is important for the blood to clot so it stops bleeding and can begin to heal. Your dentist will often ask you to bite down on gauze pads to help stop the bleeding and allow the blood clot to form. Your dentist will typically give you instructions to follow to allow your empty tooth socket to heal and prevent issues. These instructions typically include:
- No smoking or chewing tobacco for at least 24 hours
- No drinking alcohol until approved by your dentist
- No drinking through a straw until approved by your dentist
- No rinsing your mouth vigorously
- No brushing or flossing the teeth next to the extraction site for at least 24 hours
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Eat only soft foods for 24 to 48 hours after the extraction
- Avoid hot, crunchy and spicy foods for 24 to 48 hours after the extraction
It is a good idea to schedule a follow up with your dentist the day of your extraction to make sure no complications develop and the extraction site is healing properly. In rare cases, infection can form in the empty tooth socket if the blood fails to clot properly or the blood clot becomes dislodged, which can occur if patients don’t follow the dentists post extraction instructions.
Thanks to modern dentistry, tooth extraction doesn’t need to be a frightening or painful experience. If you are having dental issues or believe you need to have a tooth extracted don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your dentist to learn more about tooth extraction and just how safe, simple and painless it can be.
This article is written by Landon Blatter an expert in implant, cosmetic, restorative, and family dentistry. Our team members at Rocky Mountain Dental Partners are your partners in helping you achieve a bright, dazzling smile and the excellent oral health you deserve. We are here to answer your questions and help you overcome whatever obstacles may be preventing you from reaching your dental health goal.
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