Our dentists make every effort to preserve your natural teeth. However, extractions are necessary when decay has made the tooth unsalvageable or when you have an advanced periodontal disease. When a tooth is malformed, damaged, impacted or ingrown, different procedures are used, but all extractions are considered surgery. Depending on which tooth is removed, we can offer you a replacement in the form of a dental implant or oral prosthetic.
Do I need my tooth extracted?
Check for tooth decay. Tooth decay refers to any deterioration in the physical tooth surfaces — including cavities — often caused by plaque (bacteria feeding on substances leftover from eating, especially sugary or processed foods) eroding the enamel. This eventually causes inflammation of the inner pulp of the tooth. Decay, if left unchecked, can put deep holes in the tooth and cause infection, leading to extraction.
You can see signs of decay or damage by looking carefully in a mirror under good lighting.
Check for discoloration on the tooth surface.
Look for missing pieces or unusual marks on the tooth.
See if the gums around the tooth are red, swollen, tender, painful, and/or bleeding.
You may also notice a filling surrounded by black, which may be a secondary decay located at the margins of your filling.
There are many other reasons for an extraction, visit your dentist to get yours looked at.
What should I expect during an extraction procedure?
Dentists and oral surgeons (dentists with special training to perform surgery) perform tooth extractions. Before pulling the tooth, your dentist will give you an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. In some instances, your dentist may use a strong general anesthetic. This will prevent pain throughout your body and make you sleep through the procedure.
How long is the healing process?
Following an extraction, your dentist will send you home to recover. The following can help minimize discomfort, reduce the risk of infection, and speed recovery.
Take painkillers as prescribed.
Bite firmly but gently on the gauze pad placed by your dentist to reduce bleeding and allow a clot to form in the tooth socket. Change gauze pads before they become soaked with blood. Otherwise, leave the pad in place for three to four hours after the extraction.
Apply an ice bag to the affected area immediately after the procedure to keep down swelling. Apply ice for 10 minutes at a time.
Relax for at least 24 hours after the extraction. Limit activity for the next day or two.
Avoid rinsing or spitting forcefully for 24 hours after the extraction to avoid dislodging the clot that forms in the socket.
After 24 hours, rinse with your mouth with a solution made of 1/2 teaspoon salt and 8 ounces of warm water.
Do not drink from a straw for the first 24 hours.
Do not smoke, which can inhibit healing.
Eat soft foods, such as soup, pudding, yogurt, or applesauce the day after the extraction. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as the extraction site heals.
When lying down, prop your head with pillows. Lying flat may prolong bleeding.
Continue to brush and floss your teeth, and brush your tongue, but be sure to avoid the extraction site. Doing so will help prevent infection.