When A Tooth Can’t Be Fixed…
It needs to be removed. Your dentist may recommend extracting a tooth if:
- Your tooth is too damaged by a fracture or deep cavity to repair.
- You have a sizable infection that cannot be resolved by a root canal alone.
- You have teeth that are blocking other teeth from coming in. These may be extra teeth or baby teeth that have not fallen out yet.
- You are getting braces and need to get rid of a tooth that is crowding others.
Wisdom teeth, which typically come in during your teens or twenties, may need to be extracted if they are decayed, infected, or causing pain. They may get impacted—stuck underneath other teeth—which also requires extraction.
TYPES OF EXTRACTION
Most visible teeth can be removed with a simple extraction, where your dentist loosens the tooth, then removes it carefully with forceps. This procedure typically requires just a local anesthetic (an injection).
A surgical extraction may be needed if:
- The tooth has broken off at the gum line.
- The tooth hasn’t come in yet (wisdom teeth, for example)
- The tooth has especially large or curved roots
During a surgical extraction, you may have a local anesthetic along with an IV or general anesthetic.
Both procedures are virtually painless. You might feel pressure or pulling, but no pain.
Tip: Don’t smoke on the day of surgery, as it can increase the chance of dry socket, a painful condition that occurs when a blood clot doesn’t form in the hole, breaks off, or breaks down too early.
Directly after the extraction, you’ll be asked to keep gauze on the extraction site to help the blood clot. It’s important to protect this clot as the wound heals. Eat soft foods, and don’t smoke, use a straw or spit, as these actions can dislodge the clot.
Most people feel some discomfort after having a tooth extracted. You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to help relieve the pain. Your dentist can recommend the dosage that’s right for you.
You can also use icepacks to decrease any swelling. If your jaw is still stiff after any swelling has subsided, try warm compresses.
In general, swelling and bleeding last only a day or two after the extraction, and any pain should go away after a few days.