What to Expect During a Tooth Extraction

Tooth extractions can seem incredibly intimidating and tend to create a lot of stress for patients because they are afraid that it will hurt or that something bad will happen. As modern technology evolves, dental procedures, like tooth extractions, become less of a burden meaning they are quicker, easier to perform and create less discomfort for patients. This article will give you an idea of why tooth extractions are needed and what to expect in hopes of settling your nerves.

What are the common reasons for tooth extractions?

The most common reasons for tooth extractions include:

  • Tooth Decay
  • Gum Disease
  • Overcrowded Teeth
  • Impacted Teeth

Many reasons for tooth extractions are easily avoidable by visiting the dentist regularly. However, even if a patient has great oral hygiene and health, sometimes a tooth extraction is necessary to fix overcrowded or impacted teeth.

Tooth Decay

When a tooth needs to be removed because of decay, it is often because a patient does not visit the dentist regularly. Tooth decay starts by deteriorating the enamel of the tooth and then works its way deeper until a hole, or cavity is formed. This hole allows bacteria to enter into the center of the tooth causing an infection in the root that is typically treated by a root canal. The longer tooth decay goes without treatment, the lower the chances are of saving the tooth leaving extraction as the only option.

Gum Disease

Untreated gum disease is just as damaging as tooth decay. When plaque builds upon the surface of a tooth it eventually spreads below the gum line where a toothbrush cannot reach. The plaque buildup under the gums will start to become inflamed, infected, and start to spread deeper. As gum disease continues to go untreated, the gums will get more swollen creating a space between the tooth and gum line. This area of space promotes further plaque buildup and the bacteria will eventually reach the tooth’s supporting structures, destroying the ligaments and bone. This deterioration will cause the tooth to become loose where it will either fall out on its own or need to be extracted.

Overcrowded Teeth

Children, more so than adults, commonly experience extraction due to overcrowded teeth. When a patient’s mouth is not large enough to accommodate all of the teeth that are growing in, the permanent teeth will grow in unaligned from pressing against each other. Once a child starts to consider braces, their orthodontist might deem extraction necessary if the overcrowding is preventing orthodontic treatment from being effective. Extracting adult teeth will create more space in the mouth for the rest of the teeth to move and align properly.

Impacted Teeth

When a tooth partially grows in or does not grow in at all, it is considered impacted. There are several reasons why a tooth may become impacted including overcrowding or teeth that just grow incorrectly. The most frequent cause of impacted teeth, however, is wisdom teeth. They often get impacted because the jaw is not able to accommodate them, especially because wisdom teeth grow in much later than the rest of the adult teeth. Impacted teeth are usually discovered through x-rays and need to be extracted to prevent damage to the jawbone and adjacent teeth.

How long does it take to get a tooth pulled?

The entire tooth extraction process is fairly quick and generally takes 20-40 minutes. The surgery will be longer or shorter depending on the complexity of the removal and number of teeth being removed. Your dentist should be able to give you a rough estimate of how long it will take just by examining your x-rays. At the beginning of your surgery, an anesthetic will be administered to limit discomfort during the procedure. After you are anesthetized, the tooth will be pulled and the area will be cleaned. The surgeon will either place gauze in the socket where the tooth was or use a few stitches to stop the bleeding.

Are you put to sleep for wisdom teeth removal?

The level of anesthetic for a tooth extraction depends on a few factors. In most cases, a local anesthetic will numb the area plenty to prevent discomfort during the removal. Other situations, like severely impacted teeth or the removal of multiple teeth, will present the need for a general anesthetic to put the patient to sleep. Feel free to ask your dentist or surgeon what type of anesthetic they plan on using for your procedure so you can feel prepared.

How long does it take to heal from getting your teeth pulled?

On average it takes somewhere between 7 and 10 days to heal from getting a tooth pulled. As the extraction site is healing, you will want to eat soft foods like apple sauce, soup, and yogurt so that the healing is not disturbed. Your dentist or surgeon will be able to provide a more individualized healing plan as it could take longer or be more complex depending on your procedure.

How common are dry sockets after a tooth extraction?

Dry sockets seem to be talked about a lot for how infrequently they occur. When you consider tooth extractions as a whole, only about 2% of patients develop dry socket after an extraction. The occurrence increases to about 20%, however, when wisdom teeth are involved.

After a tooth is extracted and healing starts, a blood clot will form to protect the jawbone. A dry socket happens if the blood clot does not form or gets removed, exposing the jawbone. Sometimes the blood clot may not form or may break down due to preexisting bacteria in the mouth. Other factors like smoking, using straws, spitting, hormones, and blood supply can hinder the formation of the blood clot. Dry socket can prolong healing and create infections if they go untreated but they are generally easy to catch.

What are the symptoms of a dry socket?

The symptoms of dry socket are easily recognizable which allows patients to get treatment quickly. The most obvious symptom is if you can see that your socket does not have a blood clot or only partially does. If the blood clot is missing, the tissue in the area of the socket may appear gray signaling a healing disturbance and your jawbone may even be visible. Other symptoms include an increase in pain or swelling a few days after the extraction, pus, and bad breath. Any pain or discomfort should gradually decrease after the extraction, and if it starts to get worse it is important to contact your dentist or surgeon.

One of the best ways to ease the stress of procedures is by going to a dentist you can trust and where you can ask questions and express your concerns. At Cavanaugh Dental we try to make procedures, like tooth extractions, as comfortable as possible for our patients by making sure they know exactly what to expect.

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