Even though our permanent teeth should last a lifetime, not everyone practices basic oral hygiene or has perfect dentures. At some point in time, they may need some teeth pulled out for their own health and well being by a licensed and experienced oral surgeon. Usually, a badly damaged tooth or a tooth that has decayed too much has to undergo this procedure. Some other reasons may include the following:
A Crowded Mouth
If your teeth are too big to fit in your mouth properly or if a tooth cannot break free from the gum since there is no room for it, the dentist may recommend that you have a few teeth pulled out from your mouth. The procedure will ensure that your teeth are properly aligned and new ones have a chance to emerge properly.
If the tooth decay is serious enough to reach the pulp or the center where all the nerves and blood vessels are located, the tooth has to be pulled out to prevent bacteria from entering. This can usually be treated with a root canal, but if not, then extraction may be necessary to prevent the infection from spreading. In fact, if your immune system is at risk, for instance when you are undergoing chemotherapy or getting a new organ, then even the slightest tooth infection may be reason enough to get the tooth pulled.
This is a serious infection of the bones and tissue that support our teeth. The disease may cause the teeth to loosen, making extraction a necessity.
What Happens During a Tooth Extraction
Before the tooth is pulled, the oral surgeon will give you local anesthesia to numb the area of the extraction. Depending on your pain threshold, a stronger general anesthetic may be used so that you can sleep throughout the procedure without waking up.
If the tooth is impacted, the gum and bone tissue that cover it may have to be cut away. After that, the surgeon will use forceps to grab the tooth and gently rock it back and forth to loosen it from the bone and ligaments that are holding it in place. If the tooth is difficult to remove, it may have to be broken in pieces first, and the pieces will have to be extracted one by one.
Once the tooth is pulled out, the socket develops a blood clot which the surgeon will clean up using a gauze pad. You will be asked to bite down on it to stop the bleeding. In some cases, the surgeon may have to place some organic and self-dissolving stitches to close the gum over the site of the extraction.
In some cases, the blood clot may break loose and expose the bone beneath. If this happens, the surgeon may place a sedative dressing over the socket to prevent more clots from forming.
- Get some rest after getting your tooth pulled out and don’t take part in rigorous activities for at least 24 hours. When you lie down, make sure your head is in an upright position at all times.
- Allow the extraction site to clot so that it can heal properly. Keep the piece of gauze that the doctor gave you in your mouth for at least an hour after the procedure. This will prevent the wound from bleeding, but don’t chew on it. If there is a lot of bleeding, replace the gauze after half an hour with a fresh one.
- Press an ice pack to the side of your face where the extraction took place to reduce the swelling. Even though simple extractions may not lead to swelling, in case of severe cheek retractions, you can expect some inflammation after the surgery. This can take a couple of days to go down, depending on the extent of the procedure. Apply the ice pack for 15 minutes on and off for a couple of hours.
- Take warm saline rinses 12 hours after the extraction to keep the area clean. The solution is less irritating than water since it mimics our natural tissue fluid.
- Whatever you do, do not smoke right after a tooth is pulled. The chemicals in the tobacco can affect the clot and prevent it from healing, which can lead to dry socket. Don’t smoke for at least 3 or 4 days after the procedure so that the extraction site has time to heal properly. You can also get a nasty infection otherwise.
- Don’t eat solids immediately after a tooth extraction and especially if you still feel numbness. When you feel like you can feel your jaw when you move it, take small bites of solid food and pair it with softer varieties such as mashed potatoes, smoothies, and yogurts. The site of the extraction may start bleeding otherwise or get infected.
- Don’t skip the medication that your dentist gave you such as antibiotics, pain killers, and an anti-inflammatory. These will reduce the pain and swelling, but only if they are taken regularly. If you still feel pain after two days of taking the medication and you see some bleeding, get in touch with your surgeon immediately.
- Don’t take aspirin for the pain. This medication is a blood thinner and it will prevent the clot from forming on the site of the extraction which, in turn, will prevent healing. Consult your dentist before taking any alternative pain medication.
- Don’t poke the hole that resulted from the extraction with your tongue or a toothpick. This can prevent healing and even break open the clot that is forming over the wound. It can also lead to dry socket.
A tooth extraction may seem scary, but it can literally save your life if you are undergoing other procedures or have a nasty tooth infection. Delaying the procedure can cause bacteria to enter your body that can wreak havoc on your immune system. The best defense in this case is to take action as quickly as possible.