There are many reasons why a dental patient would need to have a tooth pulled. Having wisdom teeth removed is probably the most common, but there are many other reasons why tooth extraction may be necessary. Overcrowding is a valid reason for having a tooth pulled out. For instance a patient that is getting braces put on may need to have a tooth or two removed so that their other teeth shift into proper alignment. Tooth infections or tooth decay may also require a tooth extraction. Also, a patient about to undergo chemotherapy or receive an organ replacement may need to have weak teeth removed to ensure their mouth stays healthy. A tooth extraction is performed by a general dentist or oral surgeon. Most tooth extractions are pretty quick and uncomplicated, which means the procedure is an outpatient one. However, an impacted tooth, a broken tooth or damaged tooth, or a tooth below the gum tissue might require a more involved tooth removal procedure.
Simple Extraction Versus Surgical Extraction
As mentioned above, your tooth extraction will either be a simple or surgical procedure. The deciding factor is whether your tooth is visible (above the gum line) or impacted. For a simple tooth extraction, you will receive a local anesthesia that numbs the area. The patient may feel a little pressure during the procedure, but not any pain. Your general dentist or oral surgeon will then use an instrument called an elevator to loosen the tooth. Then, the dentist or oral surgeon will use a forceps to remove the tooth. For a surgical tooth extraction, you may receive both a local anesthesia and intravenous medicine. The local anesthesia will numb the area around the tooth. The intravenous medicine will help you stay calm during the procedure. In some cases a general anesthesia may be administered. This will make you unconscious during the surgical extraction. Then, the dentist or oral surgeon will make a small incision into your gums. From here, they may have to also remove bone around the tooth or cut the tooth before it can be extracted. Using a forceps, the dentist or oral surgeon will grasp the tooth and rock it back and forth gently to loosen it. If it is a hard to remove tooth, it may have to be removed in pieces. Although the patient should feel no pain during the procedure, only pressure, there may be loud noises during a tooth extraction. Having a tooth removed is a loud procedure, and it may sound as if something is breaking or the patient may hear a grinding sound. While these noises may be distressing, especially if the patient suffers with dental anxiety, the loud noises are normal. It should be mentioned here so the patient knows everything that could happen during a tooth extraction. Having knowledge about how the process works may help a nervous patient to stay calm during an extraction. After the affected tooth is pulled, the dentist or oral surgeon will place gauze into the empty socket. The dentist or oral surgeon will then have the patient bite down which stops the bleeding. In some cases, a few stitches may be required to close the gums up.
Common Complications Of a Tooth Extraction
Although most tooth extractions are a simple procedure, there are a few common complications a patient should be on the lookout for…
-dry socket: When the blood clot is lost in the extraction site a dry socket forms. It is not dangerous, but very painful. A dry socket forms 3-5 days after the tooth is pulled. It can heal on its own within a week, or your dentist can place medicine in the socket to reduce the pain.
-tooth or bone fragments: This happens when small pieces of bone or tooth get dislodged. A patient might notice a small, hard piece in the area where the tooth was extracted. Your dentist can help by removing the pieces.
-swelling: Swelling is a very common complication when the extraction is difficult. A patient may experience swelling at the extraction site and along their face. Use ice to reduce swelling.
-a root tip not retrieved: If a patient has teeth with curved and skinny root tips, it may make it difficult for the dentist to remove. If it is too risky, the dentist may keep these root tips in place. They should not cause any pain or problems long term.
-infection: This is very unlikely to occur, but it may happen if the teeth pulled were abscessed before the procedure. The dentist may prescribe an antibiotic and drain the area if need be.