When Should a Tooth Get Extracted?
Excessive tooth decay that cannot be fixed with dental fillings, inlays or onlays, or a root canal procedure could be cause for a tooth extraction. Some patients who are undergoing other medical procedures such as a transplant or chemotherapy may also need to have unhealthy teeth removed to keep their mouth healthy and prevent infections that may compromise their medical treatment. Healthy teeth may be removed in patients who have overcrowding and who are going to have orthodontic treatment.
Types of Tooth Extraction
Extractions may be simple or surgical. A simple extraction is when the tooth has emerged through the gums. These are carried out by a general dentist using a local anesthetic, where the area around the tooth is numbed. The tooth is loosened by gently rocking the tooth back and forth to enlarge the tooth socket and simply removed using forceps. A surgical extraction is required if the tooth has not erupted through the gums, or if it has and has partially broken underneath the gums. In these circumstances, a small incision is made into the gums so the dentist can access the tooth, and once the tooth has been removed the wound is stitched to promote healing.
Aftercare for Extractions
You will be given full instructions on how to care for your mouth following a tooth extraction in order to avoid complications and have a speedy, uneventful recovery. Immediately after the tooth extraction, a piece of gauze will be placed over the extraction site to stem any bleeding, and to help the formation of a blood clot. You may be required to bite down gently on the gauze for up to an hour after your procedure. You may be given antibiotics and pain medication, which you should take as prescribed. Do take things gently for at least 24 hours after your procedure and relax at home. Try not to disturb blood clots that form over the extraction sites as these provide valuable protection from infection.
You can apply ice packs to your face over the extraction site to help reduce swelling; this is only effective if you do it regularly in the first 48 hours. You may experience some bruising which will begin to dissipate after several days. Try to drink only water during the first day, limiting your food intake to soft food that doesn’t require any chewing. You should gently rinse your mouth with a lukewarm, salt water solution regularly over the next week, and refrain from brushing your teeth in the first 24 hours. Slowly introduce other foods into your diet over the following week. Depending on the nature of your tooth extraction, it may take a couple of weeks before you look and feel normal, although it could take a month-or-so before you have healed completely.
Find out more about tooth extractions, and other restorations we can provide, including dental implants faq and dental bridges. Contact the Dental Implant Center at Walnut Creek at (925) 266-3550.