Why You May Need a Tooth Extraction
Some of the reasons for pulling a tooth include:
- severe decay or trauma
- to alleviate crowding
- to remove a baby tooth so the permanent tooth can emerge
- to remove problematic wisdom teeth
- periodontal (gum) disease
- to facilitate dentures
Severe dental decay is the most common.
Bacteria are ever present in the mouth, and some produce enamel-dissolving acids. They sometimes band together to form plaques. When the plaques are not removed, the acids go on to dissolve the tooth enamel creating a cavity.
If left unchecked, the bacteria dissolve the enamel down to tooth pulp. It is at this point patients report a toothache or sensitivity. The cavity weakens the tooth, causing it to crack, chip or break.
A damaged tooth can be salvaged with a root canal procedure and a crown. However, your dentist might recommend pulling the tooth if the damage is too severe.
What to Expect During Your Tooth Extraction
- Tooth extractions are a very common procedure in dentistry. Your dentist starts by discussing the possibility of taking an antibiotic before or after the extraction. He anesthetizes the area, so you don’t feel any pain.
- Then the dentist will remove the tooth. For an impacted tooth, they may have to remove any gum and bone tissue covering the tooth before separating the tooth from the jawbone and ligaments. The tooth is gently rocked with forceps to loosen and remove it.
- The dentist may stitch the gum over the extraction site. If required, a bone can be grafted to the site to preserve the socket and maintain the bone. The bone becomes necessary if you are to replace the teeth with an implant or to support a denture or partial denture.
What to do after a tooth extraction
After tooth extraction, your dentist will normally instruct you to:
- Keep your head elevated until the bleeding stops.
- Gently bite down on the gauze over the area to apply pressure and stop the bleeding.
- Place an ice pack to control swelling.
- Avoid vigorous exercise until the empty tooth socket is covered with a scab.
- Keep the mouth clean by brushing the areas around the tooth socket.
- Not touch or pick at the extraction site.
- Take your medication as prescribed and call your dentist if you notice anything unusual.
- Eat softer foods until the area has healed.
- Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
- Avoid any sucking motion to avoid dislodging the clot that has formed.
It normally takes a day or two to recover if the extracted tooth is a baby tooth and slightly longer if a permanent tooth.