Tooth extraction as the name implies, is simply the removal of the tooth from its socket in the bone. Usually in dentistry, broken or damaged tooth are fixed with dental filling, crown or other treatment. But in some cases, if the damages on the tooth are too large that the damaged tooth cannot be saved, tooth extraction will be required. The tooth extraction procedure is more likely to go quickly, it can last for about an hour or more. As a patient your cooperation really matters. Things like moaning, flinching and squirming during the procedure can make everything to be more difficult and drawn out.(1)
So, in this article I will give you an outline of tooth extraction process, you will learn some of the steps that dentist take in order to extract a tooth for a patient. This article will help you to know what to expect before you visit your dentist for tooth extraction. I will also give you some few tips to help minimize your discomfort and speed recovery after the extraction surgery.
Tooth Extraction Procedure
In preparation for the surgery, you should be prepared to present your full medical and dental history, as well as a list of all medications you take. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements as well as any medications that you are allergic to. The dentist will conduct proper evaluation on your affected tooth, in order to determine the best way to remove it. An x-ray is usually taken to get a better view of the tooth to be extracted. For some patients with special medical conditions, the dentist may recommend antibiotics which the patient should take before or after surgery. After making all the necessary preparations for the tooth extraction surgery, here are some of the things you should expect on the extraction day.
1. Numbing your tooth
At this point of the surgery, the dentist or surgeon will numb both your tooth, the bone and gum tissue surrounding it with a local anesthetic. During the whole extraction process you will not feel pain, but you will feel lots of pressure. The surgeon is likely to use his fingers to push firmly on your tooth from side to side , so as to loosen it for removal. You should try as much as possible to put your mind at ease. The pressure is normal, if you feel any pain you should not hesitate to notify your surgeon immediately. The surgeon can administer more numbing agent, an anti-anxiety medication or an intravenous sedative.
2. Tooth removal
This stage, involves the removal of the tooth by pulling. At this point it’s believed that the affected tooth has been loosened up enough that it’s free to come out. Dentists have a variety of tools that they use to grasp and apply pressure to teeth, some of these tools include extraction forceps and elevators. The tooth removal process is divided into two basic categories: simple and surgical extraction.
- Simple extraction: a simple extraction is very common in dentistry, the dentist loosens and pull the tooth out with specialized levers known as elevators and forceps.
- Surgical extraction: a surgical extraction procedure involves so many complex processes. It’s usually recommended if the tooth has not yet broken through the gum line, or has not yet fully grown into the mouth. If there is need for surgical extraction, your dentist can perform the surgery or he can refer you to a surgeon. During the surgery, your oral surgeon will make a small incision into your gum and the bones supporting the tooth in order to have proper access to the affected tooth. Sometimes, it will be necessary to cut the affected tooth into smaller pieces for easy removal.
3. After extraction surgery
After the extraction must have been completed, you will be asked to bite down on a piece of gauze for 20-30 minutes. The pressure generated from the bite will help to form a blood clot in the extraction site. The formation of blood clot over the wound is a crucial part of the healing process, be careful not to dislodge the clot. (2) A painful case of “Dry socket” can occur if blood clot fails to form over the extraction site. Dry socket may also occur if the blood clot breaks off too soon leaving the underlying hole and bone exposed. A medicated bandage can be used to promote the healing in the absence of blood clot.
Normally, after the extraction surgery, the surgeon will give you a detailed instructions on what to do and what to expect after your surgery. It is very common to have a small amount of bleeding for some few hours after the surgery. Ensure to seek for answers and proper explanation on some of the things that might be bothering you before you leave the office.
You are likely to experience pain and discomforts after the extraction surgery. The pain and discomfort usually depend on how long and complex it was to remove the tooth. Patients have confirmed that surgical extractions generally cause more pain after the procedure than simple extractions. If a blood clot has formed already over the extraction site, ensure not to disturb or dislodge the clot that formed over the wound.
It’s advisable that you should take only the recommended pain reliever that was prescribed by your oral surgeon. Certain anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Advil and Motrin (NSAIDs) have been proved to be very effective in decreasing pain after an extraction. Alternatively, you can reduce the swelling and pain by putting some ice packs on your face directly above the site for about 20 minutes. You can even try a warm press If your jaw is sore and stiff, after the swelling must have gone away.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Take only the recommended medication.
- Eat only soft and cool foods for the first few days after the surgery. It’s also advisable that you should avoid alcoholic or acidic drinks for the first 24 hours.
- Do not use a straw or spit after the surgery as they can dislodge the blood clot if there is any.
- Chew food at the other side of the teeth away from the extraction site for the first few days.
- Don’t brush your teeth, most especially around the extraction site for the first 24 hours.
- Make a solution with a glass of warm water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Ensure to rinse your mouth with warm salt water after each meal and before bedtime. Avoid antiseptic and commercial mouth rinses as they can irritate the extraction site.
Finally, you should go back and see your surgeon if the swelling and pain gets worse instead of better. Also if there is uncontrolled bleeding in the area after the first 24 hours, you should see your surgeon. However, complete healing after the surgery may take up to three months or more. The extraction site will heal completely and close up after about 2 weeks. The underlying bone and soft tissue may take longer than three months to regrow completely.