Tooth Extraction

It is sometimes necessary to have a tooth extracted.  Although permanent teeth are meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons that an extraction might be necessary.  One of the most common reason to have a tooth extracted occurs when a tooth is badly damaged from trauma or decay and cannot be repaired through any other means.  Other reasons to have a tooth extracted are:

  • A crowded mouth – Sometimes your dentist will pull teeth to prepare your mouth for orthodontia, where the teeth will be properly aligned through appliances such as braces.  In other instances, a tooth may not be able to break through the gum because there is no room in your mouth.
  • Infection – If tooth damage or decay extends into the pulp of the tooth, bacteria in the mouth will generally enter the pulp, resulting in infection.  Most times this can be corrected with a root canal but if the infection is severe, the tooth may need to be extracted to prevent the spread of the infection.
  • Risk of Infection – If you suffer from a compromised immune system, even the risk of infection may make it necessary to pull a tooth.  Additionally, if there is periodontal (gum) disease that affects the tissues and bones that support teeth have resulted in loosening of the teeth, it may be necessary to have an extraction.

Extractions require your dentist to give you an injection of local anesthetic.  This will numb the area where the tooth will be removed.  If the tooth is impacted, your dentist may have to cut away gum and bone tissue before proceeding with the removal.  Using forceps, the dentist will grab the tooth and gently rock it back and forth, pulling the tooth away from the jaw bone and ligaments that hold it in place.  If the tooth is particularly hard to remove, your dentist may opt to remove it in pieces.

Once the tooth is removed, a blood clot will form in the socket.  Your dentist will pack a guaze pad into the socket and have you bite down to stop the bleeding.  If required, your dentist may place a few self-dissolving stitches to close the gum.

Recovery from an extraction usually takes a few days.  During this time, take any pain medication prescribed by your dentist, apply an ice bag to the affected area to reduce swelling, avoid rinsing or spitting forcefully for at least 24 hours after the extraction and after 24 hours, rinse your mouth with a solution of 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 8 ounces of warm water.  It is important that you continue to brush and floss your teeth but be sure to avoid the extraction site.