Good oral health and hygiene can help you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime, but there may come a time where your dentist will recommend a tooth extraction as your only option.
This means there is no other way to save your tooth and the only way to prevent further health issues is to completely remove the tooth.
Here’s why the dentist has recommended a tooth extraction.
When should a tooth be extracted?
When a tooth becomes infected, damaged or decayed beyond repair.
If a tooth cannot be repaired with a crown or dental filling because of trauma caused by an accident or extensive decay, tooth extraction may be your only option.
A tooth that is severely decayed or damaged can no longer remain in the mouth, prolonging its removal can risk the infection worsening that may cause general health issue.
Similarly, impacted wisdom teeth occur when there is a lack of room for the wisdom teeth to erupt, which causes them to grow sideways and damage other teeth. This can result in jaw pain, discomfort, overcrowding, tooth decay and gum infection.
Other reasons teeth need to be extracted can include:
- Extra teeth that are blocking other teeth from coming in.
- If baby teeth do not fall out in time to allow permanent teeth to come through.
- To create room for the teeth that are being moved into place with braces.
What is the procedure for a tooth extraction?
There are two types of tooth extractions: simple extraction and surgical extraction. Your tooth extraction will depend on whether your tooth is visible or impacted.
This method of extraction is performed when the tooth is visible above the gumline and is a procedure using local anaesthetic to numb the extraction site. Simple tooth extraction is a fairly common procedure which involves loosening the tooth before being removed from the socket using forceps.
This method of extraction is a little more complicated and usually means the dentist will need to make a small incision into the gum, and sometimes remove gum tissue or bone in order to extract the tooth. Thankfully, you can opt for general anaesthetic or known as ‘sleep dentistry’, which means you’ll be asleep for the whole dental procedure and won’t feel a thing. Surgical extraction is usually required when removing impacted wisdom teeth.
How to prepare for a tooth extraction?
Before any sort of dental treatment is conducted, your dentist will sit down with you in a personalised consultation to discuss your concerns and if there are any personal conditions they need to know about.
This is the time to inform your dentist about any of the following conditions:
- Liver disease
- Heart disease
- Thyroid disease
- Artificial joint
- Impaired immune system
- History of bacterial endocarditis
- Renal disease
What to prepare for the day of extraction?
- Please consult anaesthetist for procedures performed under general anaesthetic
- Don’t smoke beforehand or after
- Inform your dentist if you have the flu prior to your appointment, as you may need to reschedule
- Let your dentist know if you had nausea or vomiting the night before, as you may need to reschedule or require different anaesthesia
- If you are receiving general anaesthetic you will need to organise a lift home, as you will not be driving
What to do after having your teeth extracted?
Your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions on what to do and what to expect after having your teeth extracted. Managing post-surgery care is crucial to ensure proper healing, so if you have any questions or concerns, make sure to ask your dentist before leaving the clinic.
Like any surgery, you can expect to feel some mild discomfort. If your dentist has prescribed some medication to help deal with discomfort and inflammation, it is important to take the recommended dose and to continue taking them as instructed.
Here are some helpful tips to manage extraction recovery:
- Bite down on a gauze pad for 30 minutes after surgery to help stop the bleeding. If heavy bleeding occurs, bite down on a cotton pad for another 10 minutes and if bleeding persists, contact your dentist immediately.
- Apply an ice pack on your cheeks for 20 minutes, remove for 20 and apply again for 20 minutes to reduce swelling.
- Stick to soft foods for a few days.
- Relax and avoid strenuous activity for a couple of days, until you start to feel better.
- Avoid spitting, rinsing, and using a straw for the first 24 hours to allow a blood clot to form.
- Do not smoke for 72 hours after having a tooth extracted.
- Gently rinse with warm salt water after 24 hours of surgery to keep the area clean.