Do you need to have a tooth pulled? Sure, this may sound scary, but it’s pretty common. By age 50, Americans have lost an average of 12 adult teeth including wisdom teeth.
If you are wondering about the tooth extraction procedure, we’ve got you covered. We will talk about what happens so you know what to expect.
Why Have a Tooth Extracted
Permanent teeth were meant to last, but there are several reasons your dentist may want to remove your tooth. The most common reason is that your tooth is so badly damaged that it is unrepairable. Other reasons include:
- Severe tooth decay
- Impacted wisdom teeth
- Crowded teeth
- Broken tooth
- Gum disease
- An abscess around your teeth or gums
Your dentist typically removes your tooth for your surgery, but there are times an oral surgeon may complete the procedure when the extraction is more complicated. You can usually go home the same day of the procedure.
Preparing for Getting a Tooth Pulled
Your dentist should go over your painless tooth extraction. They will want to know your medical history, so you should let them know if you have any medical conditions, allergies, or any recent surgeries. Be sure to take your list of medications (and also supplements) with you.
Your dentist will also discuss any pain you may have afterward. Be sure to ask any questions you have. There is no question that is too small—you will feel more at ease with all your questions answered.
What to Expect With Tooth Extraction
The dentist or oral surgeon will give you a local anesthetic so you are numb. Depending on the procedure, your dentist may use a stronger general anesthetic. This prevents pain throughout your body and makes you sleep during the procedure.
If the tooth is impacted, your dentist will need to cut away bone and gum tissues that cover the tooth. Then, they will use forceps to grab the tooth. They will gently rock the tooth back and forth to loosen it from your jaw and also the ligaments holding it in place. There are times when the tooth may need to be removed in pieces.
After the tooth is pulled, a blood cot forms in the empty space (or socket). Your dentist will pack that area with a gauze pad for you to bite down on to stop the bleeding. You may need a few stitches, which are self-dissolving.
Anesthesia for Tooth Removal
Most of the time, you will get a local anesthetic that completely blocks the pain in your gums. During the procedure, you will only feel pressure.
If you are extremely anxious, you may want to talk to your dentist about getting a sedative to help relieve anxiety. This medication will make you feel sleepy and help you relax.
Having a general anesthetic is usually the only option for children. However, if your procedure is more complex and you need to have several teeth removed, you may need to go to the hospital for your procedure so they can give you anesthesia and put you to sleep for the procedure.
After the Procedure
After your extraction, you will go home probably the same day to recover. It will take you a few days to recover. Remember to take your painkillers. Here are some other ways to help you recover more quickly and reduce the risk of infection:
- Limit activity for a day or two
- Use ice immediately to reduce swelling
- Eat soft foods like soup, yogurt, and applesauce
- Do not smoke because it can impact healing
- Rinse your mouth out with salt and warm water 24 hours after the procedure
- Do not use a straw for 24 hours
- Avoid rinsing or spitting for 24 hours to avoid dislodging the clot
- Prop your head up when lying down
- Continue to brush and floss your other teeth but just avoid the surgery area
- If your gum bleeds, bite down on a gauze pad
You may need to use an antibacterial wash to prevent infection. Follow the instructions and make sure you don’t spit forcefully. Be sure to take any oral antibiotics as directed so you don’t get an infection.
You may not need a follow-up appointment after you get a tooth pulled. If you have a complicated procedure, your dentist may want to see you to make sure you are healing properly.
When to Call the Dentist
It is common to have some pain after your surgery. You may also get some swelling and residual bleeding 24 hours after your procedure. However, if you have bleeding that is still severe four hours later, you should call your dentist. You should also call your dentist if you have any of these signs:
- Fever and chills (or any other signs of infection)
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Vomiting or nausea
- Excessive discharge, redness, or swelling from the surgery site
Your initial healing period takes about one to two weeks. New gum tissue and bone grow into the gap.
Your other teeth may shift to fill in that space as well. If the shift makes it difficult to chew, your dentist will talk about replacing that missing tooth with either a denture, fixed bridge, or implant.
If you had stitches, they dissolve within a week, so you don’t need them removed.
Healing After Tooth Extraction
Having a tooth pulled may sound scary, but it is a routine procedure. Be sure to follow this guide to help minimize your pain and your risk for infection. Talk to your dentist about all your questions and follow their directions for recovery, and remember to take it easy for a few days and to be gentle when brushing your teeth, especially around the surgical site.
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