We are open - safety is our top priority!
Posted on: November 4, 2021
What to Expect With a Tooth Extraction
If going to the dentist for a tooth extraction fills you with dread at the least and absolute terror at best, you’re not alone. The term is odontophobia, and it afflicts more than 75 percent of adults. It’s understandable: The dentist’s office is filled with very sharp instruments and very noisy power tools. However, knowing why you need the procedure, what will happen while you’re in the dentist’s chair, and how long it will take to recover can alleviate much of the angst you feel about the situation.
By definition, a tooth extraction is simply removing a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. This isn’t a horrific procedure, and it’s one of the most common dental procedures performed. It’s also one of the most dreaded. If your dentist says you need it, though, there’s no alternative. When a tooth is left in, especially if infection or decay is present, it can abscess which can become a life-threatening condition.
Generally, dentists try to save a natural tooth when at all possible. If you need an extraction, it can be due to a broken, cracked, damaged, impacted, or loosened tooth that can’t be salvaged, so it needs to be removed. Your tooth extraction will begin with an x-ray so that your dentist can determine the best method for removal and any complications that may arise. They’ll ask about your medical history and the prescriptions you take as well as over-the-counter supplements. You’ll also discuss your preference for sedation since a tooth extraction requires at least local anesthetic.
If you develop a cold, nasal congestion, nausea, or vomiting during the week preceding your extraction, you should notify your dentist’s office because the procedure may need to be rescheduled.
What to Know Before Your Tooth Extraction Procedure
Your dentist will specifically need to know if any of the following apply to you, either currently or in the past:
- Bacterial endocarditis
- Man-made or damaged heart valves
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Congenital heart defect
- Compromised immune system
- Knee or hip replacement or any other joint replacement
Don’t be alarmed at the need for this information. It’s necessary to ensure the best outcome for your procedure.
Simple Extractions vs Surgical Extractions
A simple extraction involves removing a tooth from its socket in your jawbone and letting the site heal. A surgical extraction requires a small incision in the gum in order to remove a tooth that’s below the gum line. Both types of extraction require a local anesthetic, and a surgical extraction may require an intravenous anesthetic. You shouldn’t feel any pain during either procedure. It’s normal to feel some pressure, but if you feel pinching or pain, then tell your dentist.
What to Expect After Your Extraction Procedure
When your extraction is over, your dentist may use self-dissolving sutures to close the incision and will pack the site with gauze. You’ll be asked to bite down firmly on the gauze until the bleeding stops, which may take up to three hours. When you get home, you’ll need to follow these aftercare instructions:
- Maintain firm pressure on the gauze until the bleeding stops. Replace the gauze as needed.
- Keep your head elevated for 24 hours, even while you sleep.
- Apply ice packs to the outside of the jaw where the site is located, but don’t apply ice directly to the site.
- Rest for 24 hours and don’t engage in strenuous activity.
- Don’t drink through a straw, smoke, spit forcibly, or rinse your mouth for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, rinse with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt to eight ounces of warm water.
- Maintain good oral hygiene but avoid the site until it’s healed.
- Eat soft foods or cold foods for several days, such as yogurt, soups, applesauce, and mashed potatoes.
- Take pain medications as you need them and as directed by your dentist.
After most dental procedures, some bleeding, pain, or swelling are not uncommon, but they shouldn’t last beyond four hours. If they do, notify your dentist because you may have developed complications.
The following symptoms may indicate a serious complication, so notify your dentist’s office immediately if you develop:
- Chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath
- Chills, fever, signs of infection
- Excessive discharge, swelling, redness
- Excessive bleeding, pain, swelling
- Nausea or vomiting
Any of these symptoms can indicate a serious problem, so don’t delay contacting your dentist.
Maintain your soft-food diet for several days, but you can begin adding other foods as your site heals. You should continue to avoid smoking, drinking through a straw, and spitting until your site has completely healed. Otherwise, you can dislodge your clot and you’ll need to start the healing process all over. Your site should be completely healed within one to two weeks, and then you can resume your regular lifestyle and eating habits. Be sure to resume your good oral hygiene regimen as well.
Wisdom Teeth Extractions
Your wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to erupt in your mouth. Usually, they start to come in between the ages of 17 and 25 years. Sometimes, they erupt straight and cause no problems to the surrounding teeth. Other times, they erupt crooked and cause misalignment of surrounding teeth, or the wisdom teeth may become impacted and not erupt at all. When this happens, they’ll need to be extracted. Similarly, if they are crowding other teeth, they may need to be extracted.
Dentists are divided on the subject of wisdom teeth removal. Many feel that wisdom teeth should be removed as a precautionary measure and to prevent the possibility of future issues. Others feel that wisdom teeth should be left in unless they are causing a problem or they’re crowding the other teeth. There are valid arguments on both sides of the issue, but the decision is ultimately up to the patient. The American Dental Association recommends removal of the wisdom teeth for the following reasons:
- Damage to nearby teeth
- Development of a cyst or tumor
- Onset of gum disease
- Pain or discomfort
- Tooth decay
Although your wisdom teeth may not be problematic at the present, they may become so. Find an affordable and caring Bradenton dentist and discuss your issues with them. Usually, dentists recommend removal of the wisdom teeth for the following reasons:
- Wisdom teeth can be diseased but show no evidence of it.
- It’s not possible to predict if wisdom teeth will become impacted, so it’s best to remove them preemptively.
- Removing wisdom teeth at a younger age precludes some of the problems that can arise with tooth extraction among older adults.
No matter your opinion, find a dentist who resonates with you and get the pros and cons of the matter so that you can make the most informed decision possible.