What is Tooth Extraction?
Tooth extraction is the removal of a diseased or decaying tooth. Removing a tooth is often the last resort for many dentists. In most cases, a dentist can save a decayed or dysfunctional tooth. DeStefano Dentistry recommends that patients get a full examination before assuming their circumstances call for tooth extraction. After all, our focus is to always save and maintain a healthy and full set of teeth. But there are certain circumstances where tooth extractions are necessary to avoid future oral health problems.
Am I a Candidate for Tooth Extraction?
If a patient experiences one of the following conditions Dr. DeStefano may need to perform a tooth extraction.
- Wisdom teeth
- Decayed teeth
- Broken teeth
- Loose teeth
- Preparation for Braces
The Tooth Extraction Process
Though the process is often simple, it is still important to seek a dentist with proper training in the safe removal of teeth. As Pittsford’s Top-Rated Local® dentist, Dr. DeStefano uses gentle precision and expertise to remove teeth when it is necessary and safe for his patients. First, x-rays will be done to evaluate the tooth. Next, the patient will be under local or general anesthesia to minimize pain and discomfort. In addition to removing the tooth, Dr. DeStefano may use a dental bridge, dental implant, or denture to replace the missing tooth.
The first type of extraction process is simple extraction. Dr. DeStefano will choose a simple extraction when the tooth is visible in the mouth and will use forceps to remove the tooth. The procedure requires no surgical techniques and is typically the cheaper removal option.
The second extraction process is the surgical extraction. This extraction is performed on teeth that have a broken gum line or if they have not descended into the mouth. For example, wisdom teeth removal. The procedure is more complex so an oral surgeon and anesthesia may be necessary.
Tooth Extraction Recovery
After tooth extraction, patients may experience a certain amount of pain. They can relieve the pain by applying ice to the external area, rinsing with warm salt water, or anti-inflammatory medicine. Antibiotics can be prescribed to the patient in order to fight infection. Patients may not be able to eat certain foods and hot liquids for up to 24 hours after the extraction. If stitches are placed, a follow-up appointment is necessary to remove stitches. Patients typically take a week or two to recover.
Your initial healing and recovery period usually takes about one to two weeks. Gradually, new bone and gum tissue will grow into the gap. Your gums will heal and you won’t have any pain. But now you have a gap in your teeth (unless the tooth was extracted to address crowding). While not a problem by itself, a gap in your teeth can cause problems with your other teeth. The teeth on each side of the missing tooth tend to slide over into the gap because they no longer have any pressure on them from each side. This can start various problems with your alignment, bite, and other issues. That’s why Dr. DeStefano recommends replacing your missing tooth with a dental implant or a fixed bridge.
What options to I have after a tooth extraction?
Now that the heavily decayed or damaged tooth has been removed, your danger of infection is gone. But now you have a gap in your teeth that can cause alignment problems, is aesthetically unappealing, and may affect what you eat (depending on the location).
While you can choose not to replace the extracted tooth, Dr. DeStefano wouldn’t advise that, for reasons described above. He recommends replacing an extracted tooth with either a dental implant, a fixed bridge, or, if you had a few teeth pulled, a partial denture. All of these tooth replacements keep your other teeth in place, so they don’t migrate and affect your overall bite. Plus, replacing the extracted tooth allows you to eat normal foods, and it prevents possible whistling sounds when speaking. And your smile is complete once again.
tooth extraction Risks
The main risk with a tooth extraction is what is known as “dry socket.” This occurs when a blood clot doesn’t form in the hole or the blood clot breaks off or breaks down too early. This happens in about 3-4 percent of all extractions, although the occurrence is higher after difficult extractions, particularly with impacted wisdom teeth.
Dry socket is a problem because without the blood clot, the underlying bone is exposed to air and food. This is usually very painful, and it will likely create a bad odor and a bad taste in your mouth.
Beyond dry socket, there is also a risk of infection after extraction. This is rare in patients with healthy immune systems. There are slight risks of damage to other adjacent teeth, a fractured jaw caused by pressure during extraction (usually only possible with patients with osteoporosis), and a hole in the sinus when an upper back molar is extracted.
Generally, the main risk/complication after extraction is soreness in the jaw muscles and jaw joint. This is due to your anesthetic injections and having your mouth open for a long period of time.
How is post-operative bleeding treated?
Once your tooth has been extracted, the cut in the gums tends to bleed more than a cut on the skin. This is because the area cannot dry out and form a scab. To stem the blood flow, Dr. DeStefano will have you bite down on a piece of gauze in the extraction site for 20 to 30 minutes. This usually allows a clot to form. You may have a continuing small amount of bleeding for the next 24 hours, but it should taper off. It’s important to leave the blood clot alone to avoid developing dry socket.
maintaining oral health after a tooth extraction
One key to a fast recovery is to take it easy for at least 24 hours. This keeps blood pressure to the facial area down. You’ll need to avoid rinsing or spitting forcefully for 24 hours after the extraction to not dislodge the blood clot that has formed in the socket. Do not use a straw for the first 24 hours.
After 24 hours, you can rinse your mouth with a solution made of ½ teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Don’t get carried away with aggressive swishing.
You can’t smoke during your recovery, and you should eat soft foods to not disturb the extraction site. You should prop your head up when lying down. You continue to brush and floss your teeth, and brush your tongue, but simply avoid the extraction site. Even limited brushing will help keep your mouth clean and minimize the possibility of infection.