General Dentistry 101: How the Tooth Extraction Procedure Works
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General Dentistry 101: How a Tooth Extraction Works

tooth extraction procedure

06 Aug General Dentistry 101: How a Tooth Extraction Works

You just received the news: One of your teeth needs to be extracted.

Your heart sinks, and feelings of fear begin to erupt. After all, you’ve heard a few not-so-pleasant stories about tooth extractions from family and friends in the past.

Getting your tooth pulled by a general dentist can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve compiled a guide to demystify the tooth extraction procedure.

Let’s get started!

Why Do You Need to Undergo the Tooth Extraction Procedure?

A tooth extraction may be necessary for a wide range of reasons.

One common reason to get a tooth pulled is if decay has damaged it so much that it is beyond the point of repair.

You may also have to have your tooth pulled if it is extremely loose. In this case, your tooth is likely beyond saving even with a bone graft — a surgery performed to replace bone.

In addition, an extraction might be necessary as part of orthodontic treatment, where you wear braces to straighten teeth.

Your dentist may furthermore recommend that you remove your wisdom teeth — your third molars — before they erupt or after they’ve come in. These teeth typically come in when someone is in his or her early 20s.

Preparing for Your Tooth Extraction

Before you get your tooth extracted, your general dentist will X-ray the tooth area to determine the best approach to removing the tooth.

If your wisdom teeth are the ones being pulled, your dentist may take a panoramic X-ray instead, as this type of X-ray displays all of the teeth together.

It’s critical that you also provide your dentist with your full dental and medical histories as well as a list of every supplement, vitamin, over-the-counter medicine and prescription medicine you take.

If you suffer from a particular medical condition or have an infection in your gums, jaw or tooth, your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic for you to take prior to and following the surgery.

Also, you should avoid smoking on your surgery day, as this may increase your chances of suffering a painful condition known as dry socket (more on that later).

Note that following your extraction procedure, somebody will have to take you home. Your dentist will provide you with post-operation instructions that you must follow to ensure proper healing following your extraction.

The Tooth Extraction

Dentists can perform two kinds of extractions: simple extractions and surgical extractions.

The first kind involves removing a tooth that your dentist can see in your mouth. Your general dentist will essentially loosen your tooth using an instrument known as an elevator. Afterward, he or she will remove your tooth using an instrument known as forceps.

With a simple extraction, you will receive a local anesthetic injection to numb the area being worked on. You might also receive drugs to help you to relax if you desire this.

A surgical extraction involves removing a tooth that hasn’t come into a patient’s mouth yet or that has broken off at his or her gum line. With this procedure, a general dentist/ oral surgeon makes a tiny cut in the patient’s gum and then removes the tooth. Sometimes a dentist has to cut a tooth into two halves to extract it.

This type of extraction requires the use of a local anesthetic as well. Some patients also receive intravenous anesthesia or even general anesthesia depending on their particular situations.

When you go to your general dentist for an extraction, you will feel pressure during the procedure, but you should not feel discomfort. If you end up feeing some pinching pain, let your dentist know immediately.

Following the Procedure

As we mentioned earlier, your dentist will provide you with instructions regarding what you can expect following your surgery.

Because a tooth extraction is surgery, some discomfort is much to be expected — even after a simple extraction. However, research shows that anti-inflammatory drugs known as NSAIDs can decrease pain following the removal of a tooth. These medications include the likes of Motrin and Advil.

A surgical extraction usually causes more discomfort following the procedure compared with a simple extraction. A patient’s discomfort level has a lot to do with how hard it was to extract the tooth.

Following a surgical extraction, pain medication may be necessary for the first few days following the extraction, followed by an NSAID. The bulk of a patient’s pain should disappear after about two days.

Additional Post-Op Instructions

Immediately following the procedure, your dentist will ask you to bite down on gauze for about half an hour, as this will enable a blood clot to form on your wound.

Although you’ll experience some bleeding during the 24 hours following the procedure, it should begin to taper off afterward.

Ice packs can be placed on your cheek/jaw area to decrease swelling (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off). In addition, your dentist will ask you to eat cool and soft foods for the first few days following your procedure.

You can also use a rinse containing salt and warm water (one cup of water and half a teaspoon of salt) a day following the surgery to keep your surgical site clean. Rinsing your mouth in this manner will help any dissolvable stitches placed in your mouth to dissolve as well.

Finally, avoid spitting, smoking or using a straw following your surgery. Any of these actions may remove your blood clot from your surgical site, thus causing a painful condition known as dry socket.

How We Can Help

We offer top-notch dental services designed to help you to look and feel your best.

In addition to performing tooth extraction procedures, we offer dental implants, crowns, bridges, root canal treatment, and veneers. We also offer teeth whitening and bleaching along with regular dental cleanings.

We additionally provide pediatric dentistry services, so we are prepared to take care of your entire household’s dental care needs.

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can keep your mouth in tip-top shape so that you can enjoy a healthy smile for years to come.

Dr. Daniel Allen

Daniel Allen, DDS has been involved in dentistry since 2003, starting his career as a dental hygienist before completing his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at UT Houston Dental Branch. Dr. Allen is a sixth generation Texan and was raised here in Central Texas. Learn more

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