Dentists would rather not extract teeth. But sometimes, tooth extraction is the only way to save a patient’s smile or health. You may need a tooth extraction if you have a severely damaged tooth, if the tooth is deeply impacted in the jawbone or gums, or if you have an infection that cannot be cured with antibiotics.
Your dentist will evaluate your individual situation and recommend the best course of treatment. In this blog post, we will discuss when tooth extraction is necessary and what patients can expect during and after the procedure.
Reasons for tooth extraction
Patients who require tooth extractions often have one or more of the following conditions:
- Severely damaged teeth: Some teeth are damaged to such a high degree from tooth decay or other damage (cracked/broken) there is simply no way to restore them. For example, advanced periodontal disease can destroy the bone around teeth, making them too loose to stay in place. In this case, extraction is necessary.
- Deeply impacted teeth: Sometimes teeth become “stuck” and fail to erupt through the gum line. Impacted teeth that are not causing problems can be left alone, but if they are causing pain or crowding other teeth, they will need to be extracted.
- Wisdom teeth: Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to erupt. They often become impacted and can crowd or damage other teeth. Wisdom teeth that are causing problems will need to be extracted.
- Orthodontic treatment: In some cases, orthodontic treatment (braces) can move teeth into the right position without extraction. However, in other cases, tooth extraction may be necessary to make room for crowded teeth.
- Radiation: If you are receiving radiation therapy to the head or neck area, your dentist may recommend tooth extraction to prevent infection.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can make teeth more susceptible to infection. In this case, tooth extraction may be necessary to prevent infection.
Types of Tooth Extractions
There are two types of extractions – simple and surgical. Simple extractions are performed on teeth that are visible and easily accessible. Surgical extractions are performed on teeth that are not visible or easily accessible, such as impacted teeth.
Most tooth extractions are simple and can be performed in your dentist’s office.
What to expect during simple extraction
Simple extractions are usually performed using local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth. Once you are numb, your dentist will use a tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth and then forceps to remove it. You may feel some pressure during the extraction, but you should not feel any pain.
What to expect during surgical extraction
Surgical extractions are usually performed using local anesthesia, but in some cases, general anesthesia may be necessary. During a surgical extraction, your dentist will make an incision in the gum to expose the tooth and then remove it. You should not feel any pain during the procedure, but you may feel some pressure.
What to expect after extraction
After the procedure, you will be given gauze to bite on to help stop the bleeding. You may also be given an ice pack to reduce swelling. Take it easy for the rest of the day and avoid strenuous activity. Your dentist will give you specific instructions on how to care for your mouth after the extraction.
Here is a list of things to avoid after the tooth extraction:
- Drinking alcohol for 24 hours after the procedure
- Smoking and using straws, as these can cause dry socket, a condition in which the blood clot that forms in the socket is dislodged
- Rinsing your mouth for 24 hours after the procedure
- Eating hard, crunchy or sticky foods for at least 24 hours after the procedure
- Brushing your teeth vigorously for 24 hours after the procedure
- Drinking hot beverages
- Doing anything that would agitate the extraction site
You will want to eat soft foods in the ensuing days. If you follow your dentist’s instructions, you should heal quickly and without any complications.
How long does it take to heal from a tooth extraction?
Most people heal from a simple tooth extraction within a week or so. For a surgical extraction, it may take a week or two for the incision to heal.
What are some complications from tooth extractions?
The most common complication from a tooth extraction is dry socket. This occurs when the blood clot that forms in the socket is dislodged, exposing the bone. Dry socket can be very painful. Other complications include infection, bleeding and damage to surrounding teeth.
Other complications include:
- damage to other teeth
- an incomplete extraction
- alignment problems
- jaw fracture
- nerve damage
Tooth extractions are generally safe procedures, but as with any surgery, there are risks involved. Be sure to discuss these risks with your dentist before having the procedure done.
What is the cost of a tooth extraction?
The cost of a tooth extraction will vary depending on the type of extraction, the location of the dentist and whether or not you have insurance. Extractions usually cost between $100 and $500 in most instances, for a single tooth.
If you have dental insurance, your plan may cover part or all of the cost of the procedure. Be sure to check with your insurance company before having the procedure done.
When to see a dentist
Tooth pain is not something that should be ignored. If you are experiencing tooth pain, it’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible.
Your dentist will be able to determine the cause of your pain and recommend the best course of treatment.
In some cases, tooth extraction may be necessary to relieve your pain. However, in many cases, other treatments such as fillings or crowns can be used to restore your tooth and relieve your pain.
If you are experiencing tooth pain, don’t wait to see a dentist. Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.