One of the main goals of modern dentistry is to save teeth whenever possible. But in some situations, it may be better to remove (extract) a tooth instead or there may be no other choice but to remove a tooth to alleviate pain or infection. Sometimes, the “wisdom teeth,” large molars (back teeth) that usually start coming in around age 17-25, require removal because they cannot fully come into the mouth or they cause infection, pain or other problems. In other cases, tooth removal is recommended as part of orthodontic treatment to make room to alleviate crowding.
No matter why it may be needed, tooth extraction is nothing to fear when performed by an experienced dentist. In fact, it’s a routine procedure that is done every day. Contrary to what many people think, teeth are not set solidly in the jawbone—instead, they are held in their bony sockets by a network of fibers (ligaments). By carefully manipulating the tooth, we can usually displace these fibers and remove the tooth without too much difficulty.
Tooth Removal Procedure
When a tooth needs to be extracted, the first step is to take an x-ray, so we can see the position of the tooth’s roots under the gum line, and the condition of the bone that surrounds them. This will help us to plan the procedure and foresee any potential difficulties. Before we begin, we will make sure you won’t feel any discomfort by giving you a local anesthetic to numb the mouth, or using another type of anesthesia.
As the tooth is being gently removed, we will be careful not to damage the bone around it. Sometimes, we may place a small amount of bone grafting material into the tooth socket to help your body build up new bone. Bone grafts can prevent shrinking of the bone that often follows extractions and that can give the sides of the face a sunken appearance.
Gauze pads will be used to control any bleeding, and we may also place a few stitches to close up the gums and help them heal.
Tooth Removal Recovery
It is normal to feel some soreness for a few days after a tooth is removed. Any discomfort can usually be relieved by taking an over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You should also hold an ice pack on the outside of the cheek: Place it on for 5 minutes, then take it off for 5 minutes, and repeat as needed for one hour to reduce the potential for swelling in the first 24 hours.
After the first 24 hours, rinse the mouth with warm salt water two or three times a day and start eating soft foods. As you feel better start eating a more normal diet. Within a short time, everything should be back to normal. If you have any difficulties, contact your dentist. We will be happy to help you get back on the road to recovery.
So if you ever have a tooth that needs to be removed (extracted), you can rest assured that we will take care of it as gently and carefully as possible. Please contact our office if you have any further questions about tooth extraction.