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Posted on: December 29, 2021
What to Expect with a Tooth Extraction
Are you nervous about getting a tooth pulled? It’s only natural if you’ve never had a tooth extraction before. Never avoid making a dental appointment if you’re in severe pain because you are afraid you’ll hear that you will lose the tooth. Remember that the procedure will fix the problem you’re having right now. Thanks to advances in modern dentistry, the discomfort you will feel afterward is nothing compared to the pain you are feeling right now. Additionally, the procedure is virtually painless.
Your dentist in Arlington may recommend an extraction if you have a broken or badly decayed tooth that they can’t save. Dentists also pull teeth you if you’re experiencing overcrowding because you have too many teeth in your mouth. These are usually simple extractions where the tooth is visible in the mouth. If your dentist tells you that need a simple extraction, don’t worry. They will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area and wait until you’re numb before proceeding. Next, your dentist will loosen the tooth with a special tool and then take forceps and pull it out. It usually takes longer for the anesthetic to numb the area than it does for the dentist to pull the tooth; the procedure is very quick. You may feel some pressure, but a tooth extraction is virtually painless. Afterwards, you’ll still be numb from the from the local anesthetic for a few hours; Your dentist will likely suggest over-the-counter medications to control any discomfort you feel afterward.
A surgical extraction is different, but you won’t feel pain either. A dentist will have to cut the gum to reach the tooth, either because the tooth is impacted or it broke off at the gumline. Once they have the tooth out, you might need stitches to close the site. They are usually dissolvable. Your dentist may suggest a sedation option, like nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or IV sedation as well as numbing the area. This is because the procedure usually takes longer than a simple extraction and you may hear the tooth crack as it’s removed or broken up into pieces. While you won’t feel pain, the noise can be disconcerting.
Some patients worry about having a gap in their smile after having a tooth extracted. Unless you’re having wisdom teeth extracted or a tooth pulled to relieve overcrowding, you will want to replace it. A missing tooth can not only affect your smile, it can cause your other teeth to shift and make chewing more difficult. Your dentist can go over tooth replacement options with you.
What to Know Before a Tooth Extraction
Before you have an extraction, your dentist needs information from you to gauge your risk of developing an infection or having other complications. They will need:
- Your complete medical history, including whether you have any artificial joints, a history of bacterial endocarditis or liver disease
- A list of all prescription medications and supplements you take
- Whether you feel nauseous or have been vomiting recently
- Whether you have a cold or basal congestion
- If you have a compromised immune system
Your dentist may want to start you off with an antibiotic before your extraction as they increase your chance of developing an infection afterward.
You may also want to ask about the cost of your extraction and check with your dental insurance provider to see if your extraction would be covered.
What About After Having a Tooth Extraction?
If you have a simple extraction, where the dentist just pulls the tooth out, it should heal within seven to ten days. If you’re young and a nonsmoker, you’ll heal more quickly than an older person who smokes.
When you go home, you’ll be biting down on gauze to stop the bleeding. It should lessen and then stop in an hour or two, but may continue for up to a day. You’ll notice some swelling, which you can control with an ice pack. A package of frozen peas will also work as an ice pack. Once the anesthetic wears off, you may feel mild pain; an over-the-counter pain reliever is usually enough to ease your discomfort.
You’ll receive a list of things you should and shouldn’t do. Most are related to not disturbing the blood clot that will form in the hole, including:
- Rest and avoid any vigorous activity for 24 hours
- Don’t spit or rinse your mouth for 24 hours
- Don’t drink through a straw
- Don’t smoke
- Lie with your head elevated for a day or two
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water the day after the extraction
- Eat soft foods and avoid chewing on the side where the tooth was extracted
Get in touch with your dentist in Arlington right away if your swelling or bleeding becomes uncontrollable. If you’re experiencing severe pain a four or more hours after your extraction, you may have dislodged the clot. This is a condition known as dry socket and the pain is far more extreme than the normal discomfort you would feel otherwise. Also tell your dentist if you have any signs of infection, vomiting, chest pains or shortness of breath.
What If I Need My Wisdom Teeth Extracted?
Wisdom teeth are also known as third molars. They normally emerge when a person is between 17 and 24 years old, hence the name. Some people have problems with them as our jaws are smaller than they were when our ancestors needed these extra molars to chew tough meat. The teeth may grow in crooked and press against the other molars or they just don’t have any room to emerge and stay inside the gum.
Your dentist can access your wisdom teeth with x-rays if they haven’t emerged yet. They may suggest a surgical extraction if the teeth are likely to cause problems when they do come in. With surgical extractions, your dentist or oral surgeon will make a small slit in the gum to reach the tooth. You can choose local anesthesia with laughing gas, but most people prefer to sleep during the surgery. There is IV sedation, where you’ll most likely drift off and sleep. With IV sedation, you’ll need to arrange a ride home and have someone stay with you for the rest of the day.
If you had a surgical extraction, you’ll normally have dissolvable stitches. Healing completely can take three or four weeks. The aftercare instructions are basically the same as for a simple extraction.
Some dentists suggest removing wisdom teeth before they can cause problems. Since the teeth are so far back in the mouth, they are hard to brush and floss. However, if they come in straight and you can easily keep them clean, there isn’t usually a reason to remove them. Talk to your dentist in Arlington about the pros and cons of removing wisdom teeth while you are young and will heal quickly, even if they are not causing you problems right now.