Fillings, crowns and other restorative procedures cannot always repair a damaged tooth, especially if the decay is extensive. To maintain a patient’s oral health, a dentist may request an extraction.
The tooth is no longer salvageable at this point, due to the amount of trauma, decay or other damage sustained. While not a solution in every case, an extraction may be ideal in the following situations.
A patient’s teeth may be too large for their mouth, making it more difficult for smaller teeth to properly emerge through the gums. In another scenario, the teeth may have adapted to the limited space by moving around and overlapping. In either case, a dentist may plan for a procedure that aligns the teeth called orthodontia. Ahead of the procedure, one or more teeth may need to be extracted.
Tooth decay is never uniform – and neither are the dental procedures to address it. In the early stages, common restoration methods may be ideal but decay that has been ignored for years might extend into the pulp, the soft tissue where the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels are found. At this point, infection is imminent and a doctor may recommend a root canal or antibiotics. If these treatments do not take effect, extraction becomes the only course of action.
Commonly known as gum disease, this infection spreads from the tissues to the surrounding bones and teeth. If the condition goes on for a number of years, the teeth may become loose and will need to be pulled to keep the mouth healthy.
What to Expect
Before a tooth extraction, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, especially if you have been living with gum disease. You will also discuss your medical history and any medications or supplements you currently take.
On the day of the procedure, most patients receive local anesthetic to numb the surrounding area. In certain instances, your dentist may recommend general anesthetic. From here:
- The dentist gently loosens the tooth in a slow rocking motion, to be taken out with forceps.
- If the tooth is impacted, the dentist may need to cut away gum and bone tissue to completely remove it from the jawbone and ligaments.
- If the tooth naturally sits below the gums, the dentist may perform a surgical extraction. Due to the tooth’s size, stitches may be needed after its removal.
- In all cases, a blood clot starts to form once the tooth is removed. The dentist will place a gauze pad on the open socket and may ask you to bite down or apply pressure to stop the bleeding.
- The blood clot could possibly break loose, exposing the bone below and leading to “dry socket.” If this occurs, a sedative dressing may be used in the area as a new clot forms.
- Patients typically recover in a few days. Your dentist will provide you care instructions to properly clean the area and reduce risk of infection.
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