Your dentist may determine that you require a tooth extraction for a variety of reasons. Tooth extraction is recommended when a tooth becomes loose from gum disease, is badly broken or damaged or has such extensive decay that root canal therapy would be ineffective. Other teeth may need to be removed because they are preventing teeth from erupting, are impacted or in preparation for orthodontic treatment.
Missing teeth can cause dental health problems ranging from tooth shifting to difficulty chewing to stress on your jaw joint. To avoid these complications, your dentist may explore alternatives to extractions as well as restorative procedures following the extraction.
The Extraction Process
The extraction procedure will be performed under local anesthesia in order to numb the tooth as well as surrounding bone and gums. The process involves rocking the tooth back and forth to ease it out of its socket for removal. You will feel considerable pressure, but no pain thanks to the anesthetic. If you begin to experience any pain during the extraction, please let us know immediately.
Sectioning a Tooth
Some teeth require sectioning for an extracting. This is a common technique used when a tooth is stubbornly anchored or the root is curved and the socket can’t expand enough to allow for removal. The dentist will simply cut the tooth into sections, which are then removed one at a time.
Some bleeding may occur after an extraction. Place a piece of clean, moistened gauze over the empty tooth socket and bite down upon it for 45 minutes to bring an end to the bleeding.
Blood clots may form in the empty socket. Don’t be alarmed, as this is part of the normal healing process. Use care not to dislodge the clot.
Avoid rinsing or spitting for 24 hours after the extraction.
Do not use a straw, smoke or drink hot liquids for 24 hours after the extraction.
If swelling occurs, rest an ice pack against your face for alternating intervals of 10 minutes on and 20 minutes off. Repeat as necessary for up to 24 hours.
Pain and Medications
If you experience pain, you may use over-the-counter pain relief medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
For most patients, you can eat normally but do not chew near the extraction site. Avoid hot liquids and alcoholic beverages for 24 hours. For some people, a liquid diet may be recommended for 24 hours.
Brushing and Cleaning
Do not brush the teeth near the extraction site for one day following the procedure. After that you may resume gentle cleaning. Avoid commercial mouth rinses, which might irritate the site.
Beginning 24 hours after the extraction you can rinse with a salt water solution (1/2 teaspoon of salt in a cup of water) after meals and before bed.
When a blood clot fails to form in the socket of the extracted tooth or the clot has been dislodged, it is known as dry socket. This condition can seriously delay healing.
Carefully following all post-extraction instructions will reduce your chance of developing dry socket. Patients with dry socket experience a dull throbbing pain that begins three to four days after the extraction. The pain, which radiates from the extraction site, can be moderate to severe. Other symptoms of dry socket include a bad taste in the mouth, bad breath and a dry extraction site.
Your dentist will apply medication to the dry socket to soothe the pain.
After a tooth has been extracted, there will be a hole in your jawbone where the tooth existed. Over the subsequent weeks or months, the hole will smooth over and fill in with bone. It will most likely no longer be noticeable to you one to two weeks after the procedure, though.
For more information on replacing missing teeth, see our sections on: