Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone.
If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes, though, there's too much damage for the tooth to be repaired. In this case, the tooth needs to be extracted. A very loose tooth also will require extraction if it can't be saved, even with bone replacement surgery (bone graft).
Tooth extractions is relatively straight forward, and the vast majority can be usually performed quickly while the individual is awake by using local anaesthetic injections to eliminate painful sensations. Local anaesthetic blocks pain, but mechanical forces are still vaguely felt.
Immediately after the tooth is removed, a bite pack is used to apply pressure to the tooth socket to stop the bleeding. After a tooth extraction, we advise no vigorous rinsing of the mouth and avoiding strenuous activity, such as through a straw, is to be avoided. Smoking is to also be avoided for at least 24 hours as it impairs wound healing. We advise to use a rinse of hot salt-water baths to start after the extraction.
There are several reason why your dentist may recommend tooth extraction, such as:
- Tooth decay
- Gum Disease
- Broken or irreparable tooth
- Crowded teeth
- Impacted wisdom teeth
In situations where a tooth is beyond saving, tooth extraction may be recommended.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens after the extraction?
Once you've had a tooth extraction, taking the following steps can help you to avoid discomfort;
- Keep the area clean, brushing and flossing as normal, and avoid touching it with your tongue.
- If you experience discomfort, your dentist will have recommended painkillers to take as prescribed.
- To avoid swelling, use an ice pack for ten minutes at a time.
- Avoid smoking.
- Avoid any strenuous activities for the next 24 hours or so.
- Try not to eat hard foods while the area is healing.
- Avoid drinking through a straw.
- A blood clot will eventually form over the extraction site, so avoid rinsing your mouth or spitting so you don't dislodge it.
- Once 24 hours have passed, gently rinse your mouth with a salt water solution. About half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water should suffice.
- If you notice your extraction area bleeding persistently after 24 hours, get in touch with your dentist for advice.
How long does it take to recover from a tooth extraction?
The initial healing period usually takes about one to two weeks. New bone and gum tissue will grow into the gap. Over time, however, having a tooth (or teeth) missing can cause the remaining teeth to shift, affecting your bite and making it difficult to chew.