How Dentists Remove Teeth
If you are facing having a tooth extraction, you likely wonder how dentists remove teeth. This necessary procedure is generally the result of tooth decay or oral trauma. Because the tooth cannot be restored through cavity filling, a crown or root canal, your dentist must extract it.
Reasons Why Dentists Remove Teeth
Permanent teeth are meant to last your lifetime. But sometimes, one or more teeth become badly damaged and cannot remain in place. Some of the reasons for tooth extraction include:
- Serious tooth decay
- Oral trauma
- Overcrowding of teeth, such as for orthodontic care
- Infection, typically affecting the pulp and not treatable using antibiotics or root canal therapy
- Infection risk, if you have a compromised immune system
- Periodontal disease, infecting tissues and bones around your tooth
How Teeth Are Extracted
Your dentist or oral surgeon will perform your tooth extraction. This process starts with local anesthesia injected around your damaged tooth. If a local anesthetic is not sufficient, general anesthetic is an alternative. If you receive general anesthesia, you will sleep throughout your procedure.
If your tooth is impacted, meaning it has not emerged through your gums, your dentist must cut into your gum and bone tissue to remove it from the jaw bone. This usually involves the use of forceps to loosen and pull the tooth. If the tooth will not come out easily, it may be removed in pieces.
After your tooth is out of the socket, a blood clot should form in its place. To stop the bleeding, your dentist packs gauze into the surgical site and you bite down on it. Some extractions require a few stitches for proper gum healing. These stitches usually dissolve on their own over time.
Having a blood clot in the socket is usually an important part of healing from your surgery. If this clot breaks loose, it exposes your bone. Dry socket, as this problem is called, usually requires placement of a sedative dressing on the socket for several days to enable a new clot to form.
Healing from Tooth Extraction at Home
After completion of your tooth extraction, your dentist sends you home for recovery. This process usually takes several days. It is important to follow your dentist's instructions to minimize your discomfort and risk of infection. Their recommendations also speed up your recovery.
Some of these recommendations include:
- Use your prescribed painkillers only as directed
- Bite firmly yet gently on the gauze pad placed over the socket after surgery to stop your bleeding and enable the formation of a blood clot in the tooth's place
- After leaving the post-surgical gauze in place for three to four hours, change gauze pads frequently before they are blood-soaked
- Immediately following your procedure and for 10 minutes at a time, apply an ice bag on your cheek to reduce swelling
- Limit your activity and relax for the 24 to 48 hours after your tooth extraction
- Do not rinse your mouth or spit forcefully for 24 hours following your dental procedure to ensure the blood clot remains in the socket
- 24 hours after your procedure, rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution made up of 1/2 teaspoon salt and eight ounces of warm water
- Do not use a drinking straw for at least 24 hours after your extraction
- Do not smoke because this inhibits your healing
- Eat only soft foods like soup, yogurt, pudding and applesauce for the first 24 hours and gradually add solid foods to your diet as you heal
- Prop your head up with pillows when reclining to prevent prolonged bleeding
- Brush and floss your teeth twice daily as you typically would, avoiding your surgical site to prevent infection
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