Not everyone considers going to the dentist as a pleasurable experience. Whenever I need to or have to though, I imagine pain and suffering. No kidding. I hate having things poked inside my mouth and I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way. It’s a good thing that dental appointments don’t have to be so often, right? But what about tooth extraction procedures? Not all of us will need it but, at some point, we might have to undergo one. I believe having wisdom teeth that causes pain and swelling alone may need a tooth extraction or two. So, the chances of you or your children having teeth pulled are not so slim. What should you know about the tooth extraction procedure? How does it exactly go? No need to run and hide. After reading this article, your anxiety will go away, hopefully.
There are a number of reasons why tooth extraction may be needed. A very common reason involves a tooth that is too badly damaged from trauma or decay. Sometimes dentists pull teeth to prepare the mouth for orthodontia which aligns the teeth. Proper alignment may not be possible if your teeth are too big for your mouth. Another possible indication for tooth extraction is if the tooth decay or damage has already extended to the pulp. In this case, bacteria in the mouth can enter the pulp, leading to more complicated infection. We also mentioned that your wisdom teeth may be pulled in cases where there is pain, swelling, and damage to adjacent teeth.
Your dentist will take an X-ray of the area to help plan the best way to remove the tooth. Be sure to provide your full medical and dental history and a list of all medications you are currently taking. If you have co-morbid conditions like diabetes and hypertension, you might need a go signal from your primary care or attending physician first. Also, do not fail to report to your dentist any blood thinners you are taking such as aspirin or clopidogrel. Vitamins and supplements should also be included in that list. Some dentists prescribe antibiotics to be taken before the surgery while some do so afterwards.
There are generally two types: simple and surgical. In a simple extraction, the dentist loosens the tooth with an instrument called an elevator. Then the dentist uses an instrument called a forceps to remove the tooth. A surgical extraction is a little bit more complicated. To do this, the doctor makes a small incision into your gum and, sometimes, he or she may opt to remove some of the bone around the tooth or to cut the tooth in half in order to extract it. Most simple extractions can be done using just a local anesthetic to numb the area. For a surgical extraction though, you will need to receive a local anesthetic, and, in addition, intravenous anesthesia too. In rare cases, general anesthesia is required.
Following an extraction, your dentist will send you home for the recovery process. Recovery typically takes just a few days in simple cases. The following can help minimize discomfort, reduce the risk of infection, and speed up the recovery:
- Taking the prescribed painkillers
- Apply an ice bag to the affected area immediately after the procedure to keep down swelling
- Do not drink from a straw for the first 24 hours
- A mechanically soft diet which includes soup, pudding, yogurt, or applesauce the day after the extraction. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as the extraction site heal.
Finally, follow-up with your dentist after a week or so. For surgical extractions, sutures may need to be removed. In other cases though, a follow up is still necessary just to check if everything is A-Okay.