Although your dentist will do everything possible to save your natural tooth, sometimes tooth extractions are necessary due to things like gum disease, mouth trauma or tooth decay. Extractions are actually a very common dental procedure, which is typically a simple and fast process. After your tooth has been extracted, your dentist will explore your restoration options with you.
The two basic types of extractions:
- Common extractions
- Surgical extractions
If you must have a tooth extracted, your dentist will make the procedure as comfortable as possible by giving you an anesthetic so that you do not experience any pain during the extraction process.
After the area around your tooth is completely numb, your dentist will loosen and elevate the tooth and release the ligaments connecting it to your jawbone. They will grasp the tooth using forceps and rock the tooth back and forth to loosen it. The most that you should feel is a sense of pressure at this time.
Finally, your dentist will extract the tooth and provide you with post-operative instructions. You should be able to manage your pain with over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribed medications when necessary.
If you have an impacted or severely broken tooth, you may need a more complicated type of extraction involving surgery. When you undergo a surgical extraction, your dentist will cut into the gum tissue, allowing access to the tooth. If your tooth is quite large, they may section it into smaller pieces so that it can be more easily removed.
Some surgical extractions are performed under general anesthesia, meaning that you would be asleep the whole time.
After the extraction of your tooth, your dentist will completely clean the empty socket so that no tissue or bone fragments remain. Then they will stitch up your gums, assuming you underwent a surgical extraction. If stitches were placed, they should dissolve on their own in about one week.
The important thing to remember about having a tooth extracted is that a blood clot should have formed inside the empty socket. You will be given instructions to ensure that this blood clot remains intact so that you heal properly. Failure to follow instructions could lead to a condition known as dry socket, which can be quite painful.
To ensure that this blood clot is not disturbed, avoid using drinking straws, as the suction effect can dislodge the clot, leading to dry socket.
If you are a smoker, you should stop smoking while you are recovering, as smoking is known to increase the odds of developing dry socket. Smokers actually experience dry socket at a three times higher rate than normal.
You may also want to stick to eating only soft foods for 24 hours after your tooth has been extracted. Foods like applesauce, mashed potatoes, and yogurt are acceptable. After a day or two, you can begin transitioning to more solid foods if you are not having any pain.