Various reasons can result in tooth extraction, such as a damaged tooth, incoming wisdom teeth, or overcrowding. The removal should be uneventful, but if you follow your dentist’s instructions carefully, recovery will be very smooth. At the Downey Dentist, we have expert dentists who will take you through the extraction process until you fully recover. Get in touch with us if you are looking for reliable dentists to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. The information below will help you understand the extraction process.

What is Tooth Extraction?

Tooth extraction or pulling a tooth is the removal of a tooth from its socket with minimum pain to enable the wound to heal without any complications. After your tooth is extracted, you have to follow the dentist’s instructions to reduce the chances of a dry socket and infections. The following are the things you should do or avoid doing after your tooth has been extracted:

Do’s After a Tooth Extraction

  1. Have enough rest - After your tooth has been removed, try and get enough rest and do not exercise or get involved in much activity in less than 24 hours. Rest with your head upright on a pillow.
  2. Let the wound clot - The clot enables the wound to heal. The dentist should give you some gauze cloth to bite on after extracting your tooth. The biting will exert pressure on the wound, which will help stop the bleeding. Leave the gauze for three to four hours or until it’s soaked with blood.
  3. Apply ice packs on your face area where the tooth was extracted - This will help reduce the swelling. The ice pack is effective if applied on the extraction day. Use the ice packs for 10 minutes each time.
  4. Rinse your mouth with warm saline water since you cannot brush the area. The rinsing helps to clean and maintain the hygiene of the area.
  5. Take all the medicines that are prescribed by the dentist as they help reduce the swelling and the pain.

Don’ts After a Tooth Extraction

  1. Don’t smoke immediately after your tooth has been extracted as the chemicals found in the cigarette might affect the clot and increase the chances of a dry socket.
  2. Avoid eating solid foods immediately after an extraction when you are still numb as you might chew the sides of your mouth without knowing.
  3. Avoid taking aspirin as it’s known to thin the blood; it might delay clot formation, therefore, preventing healing.
  4. Avoid any sucking, which includes sipping and smoking. Also, avoid eating hard vegetables after an extraction.
  5. Avoid poking the gap left after extraction with your tongue or a toothpick as it might cause a dry socket, provoke bleeding, or delay healing.

Types of Tooth Extractions

Tooth extraction is classified into two:

  1. Simple extraction - This is carried out on a tooth that is visible in the mouth. General dentists commonly do it. In a simple extraction, the dentist will use an instrument known as an elevator to loosen the tooth and forceps to extract the tooth.
  2. Surgical extraction - This procedure is more complicated as it involves teeth that can’t be easily seen or reached in the mouth. The process is used on a tooth that has broken off at the gum or hasn’t erupted in the mouth yet. Oral surgeons commonly perform surgical extractions, but general dentists can also do them. The dentist will make a small cut into your gum. Sometimes they’ll remove some of the bone surrounding the tooth to extract it, or they’ll cut the tooth into half.

For most simple extractions, you may or may not be given drugs to help you relax. They can be done with just a local anesthetic. For surgical extractions, you’ll be given local anesthetic. You might also be given anesthesia through a vein. Young children and patients with certain behavioral or medical conditions may require general anesthesia. General anesthesia will make you unconscious throughout the procedure. You can expect to feel pressure during the extraction but not pain. In case you feel any pain, you should alert the doctor.

In some cases, the dentist might need to put stitches and add a synthetic or natural bone in the extraction site after the procedure. Some stitches are self-absorbent, and they’ll disintegrate on their own while others will need to be removed by the dentist after about seven days after the surgery.

Teeth That are Commonly Extracted

One of the most common categories of tooth extraction is the removal of wisdom teeth. Most dentists will recommend the extraction of wisdom teeth before they fully develop, to get rid of potential problems. One of the issues that might occur is the development of an impacted tooth that has surfaced and does not have space in the mouth to grow. Gum disease, infection, bite interference, and decay of adjacent teeth are other problems related to impacted teeth.

Some permanent teeth like canines that haven’t erupted might be removed to create room for orthodontic treatment.

Reasons That May Lead to a Tooth Extraction

Depending on your case, if your tooth is broken, cracked or it’s damaged by extensive decay, the dentist will try and fix it with a crown, a filling, or any other suitable treatment. However, if the damage is too much that the tooth needs to be repaired, or if the tooth is very loose and can’t be saved even with a bone graft, then extraction is necessary.  Other reasons why your tooth can be extracted include:

If your baby teeth don’t fall out in time to enable your permanent teeth to grow, then the baby teeth are extracted.

The following are reasons why your teeth can be extracted:

  1. Extra teeth - They are also known as supernumerary teeth. If you have an extra tooth that is blocking other teeth from growing, the extra new will be extracted.
  2. Radiation - If you are receiving radiation on your head and neck, then the teeth on the radiation field might need the extraction to avoid infections.
  3. Chemotherapy - Some drugs, for example, cancer drugs, might infect your teeth and weaken your immune system. This might lead to the extraction of infected teeth.
  4. Orthodontic treatment - If you are getting braces, individual teeth might need to be extracted to give room to the teeth which are being aligned.
  5. Organ transplant - Immunosuppressive drugs prescribed after an organ transplant can increase the risk of teeth infections. As a result, some teeth may need to be removed before the organ transplant.
  6. Non-functioning or teeth that are not positioned correctly - Your dentist might recommend extracting malaligned teeth to avoid complications that may result in a negative impact on oral health.
  7. Wisdom teeth might get impacted in your jaw and fail to erupt. This may cause gum irritation, swelling, and pain, which may result in the teeth getting extracted.
  8. Patients with medical conditions that require treatment using intravenous drugs known as bisphosphonates should see a dentist first and have their teeth extracted before they begin their drug treatment. Having your teeth extracted after a bisphosphonate treatment will increase the chances of avascular necrosis.

How to Prepare Yourself Before a Tooth Extraction

The dentist will take an x-ray of the affected area to enable him/her plan the best way of removing the tooth. You’ll be required to provide your medical history, dental history, and a list of all drugs you are taking if any.

If your wisdom tooth is being removed, the dentist will take a panoramic x-ray which takes a picture of all your teeth at once. It helps guide the extraction as it shows the following:

  • The relationship of the upper teeth to your sinuses
  • Any bone disease, tumors or infections that you may have
  • The relationship between your wisdom teeth and your other teeth
  • The relationship between your lower teeth and the inferior alveolar nerve

A dentist can also prescribe that you take antibiotics before and after the surgery. Antibiotics are most likely to be recommended if:

  • Your immune system is weak
  • Your surgery will take long
  • You have an infection at the time of the surgery
  • You have certain medical conditions

Your doctor will instruct you on what to follow in case you’ll have intravenous anesthesia. It is not advisable to eat or drink anything six or eight hours before the procedure.

You should inform your doctor if you have a stuffy nose, a cold or cough a week before the surgery to avoid anesthesia until the cold clears. If you feel nauseated or vomit the night before the procedure, you should call the doctor and inform him or her. Additionally, it would be best if you did not smoke on the surgery day as smoking increases the risk of a dry socket. You should follow the doctor’s instructions after the surgery.

Modern Ways of Tooth Extraction

As much as traditional surgical instruments like dental drills and scalpels are still widely used in surgical extractions, the use of electrosurgery and dental lasers in the procedure is rapidly growing. Electrosurgery uses controlled heat, whereas lasers use high-energy light beams to cut. The benefits of using these modern instruments in extraction include less discomfort, less bleeding, fewer chances of damaging adjacent structures, higher precision, and quick healing time. The disadvantages of using the devices include incapability of using them directly to extract teeth, higher costs incurred, and the smell of burning flesh during the procedure.

Potential Risks After a Tooth Extraction

  1. Dry socket - This happens when a blood clot does not appear in the gap left after the tooth has been extracted or when the blood clot breaks down or breaks off too early. When it occurs, the underlying socket bone is exposed to air and food, causing excruciating pain, bad taste, or bad odor. A dry socket is treated by putting a sedative dressing over the socket to protect the area and allow it to heal.
  2. Infections - Infections mainly occur if your immune system is compromised due to certain medicines.
  3. Soreness of the jaw joint or jaw muscles - This might happen due to injections, a lot of pushing on your jaw and keeping your mouth open, and it may make it difficult for you to open your mouth wide after the extraction.
  4. Fractured jaw - This is caused by putting pressure on the jaw during the extraction process. It is common in older people who have osteoporosis (thinning) of the jaw bone.
  5. Accidentally causing damage to nearby teeth, for example, fracturing teeth or fillings.
  6. Enduring numbness in the lower lip and chin - This occurs as a result of injuring the inferior dental nerve of your lower jaw. It rarely happens; complete healing usually takes three to six months. The numbness may be permanent in rare cases.
  7. Incomplete extraction - This is where a tooth root remains in the jaw. The dentist will remove the root to prevent infections.
  8. A hole in the sinuses during the removal of a molar - The hole should close up by itself in a few weeks, and if not, surgery may be required to fix it.

When Should You Call the Doctor?

For 24 hours after a tooth extraction, you should expect swelling, residual bleeding, and some pain after the anesthesia wears off. However, if you experience severe pain and bleeding after the first 24 hours, then you need to contact your dentist. You should also call your dentist if you experience the following:

  • Redness, chills or fever as it may be a sign of infection
  • If the swelling worsens instead of reducing
  • If your lip, chin or tongue feels numb more than four hours after the procedure
  • If you feel extreme pain at the extraction area as this may be a sign that you are developing a dry socket
  • If you have trouble swallowing
  • Nausea or vomiting

Usually, healing takes one or two weeks after extraction. Gum tissue and a new bone will grow in the gap. Over time, having a missing tooth might affect your bite, make it difficult to chew and cause a shift in the remaining teeth. Hence, your dentist might advise you to replace the missing tooth with a fixed bridge, a denture, or an implant.

Extracting Baby Teeth

Baby teeth or primary teeth are supposed to fall out on their own to give room for permanent teeth or secondary teeth. This usually occurs at six or seven years of age. It is prevalent for parents and their children to make games out of pulling loose baby teeth. However, it is advisable not to pull out baby teeth too early as they assist in guiding permanent teeth in and help facial structures like the jaw to develop.

The baby teeth may delay to fall out on their own, leaving no room for permanent teeth to grow. As a result, the permanent teeth may start growing while the baby teeth are still in position. In these cases, you need to visit a dentist to extract the baby teeth and help align the teeth.

As an adult, you should never pull out your tooth even if it is loose. Adult teeth are deeply rooted in the jaw, and they are surrounded by gums, blood vessels, and nerves. Pulling out a tooth yourself may cause permanent damage on the tooth or leave part of the tooth in the jawbone. Instead, visit your dentist to extract the loose tooth. A dentist will use special instruments to pull the tooth out. Common complications as a result of pulling out your teeth include:

  • Facial collapse
  • Receding gum line
  • Bone deterioration
  • Trench mouth
  • Tooth decay in the surrounding teeth
  • Swollen or bleeding gums

Ways to Care for Your Teeth

Routine dental hygiene is the best way to maintain healthy teeth, prevent long-term health problems and complications related to your gums, teeth, and mouth. Taking good care of your teeth will prevent tooth extraction. Here are some tips on how to keep your teeth strong and healthy:

  • Reduce or avoid the intake of sugary food and drinks as they increase the chances of tooth decay.
  • Avoid smoking as it can lead to gum disease and tooth loss.
  • Drink fluoridated water as it helps protect your teeth from decay.
  • Use a fluoride-based toothpaste and mouthwash every morning and evening after your meals.
  • Floss your teeth daily to remove food particles from spaces between your teeth and near your gums.
  • Visit your dentist after every six months for a routine check-up, cleaning, and any other necessary procedure.

Contact a Dentist Near Me

Regular dental visits are an essential part of maintaining strong and healthy teeth. The best dental option is to keep all your teeth intact. Tooth extraction may be the last option to be considered as a dental solution. However, there are specific reasons why tooth extraction may be necessary for adulthood. Thus, consulting a dentist can help you understand why there’s a need for a tooth extraction.

At the Downey Dentist, we have a team of highly-skilled and experienced dentists to perform dental extractions. Our goal is to ensure that the procedure is as painless as possible. We value our patients, and therefore, patient comfort is our first concern. Contact us at 562-746-0350 for the most comfortable, painless, and safe tooth extraction.

We have other convenient locations near you: Los Angeles Dentist, Lomita Dentist, Carson Dentist, Hawthorne Dentist