Tooth extraction is usually relatively straightforward, and the vast majority can be usually performed quickly while the individual is awake by using local anesthetic injections to eliminate painful sensations. Local anesthetic blocks pain, but mechanical forces are still vaguely felt. Some teeth are more difficult to remove for several reasons, especially related to the tooth’s position, the shape of the tooth roots and the integrity of the tooth. Dental Phobia is an issue for some individuals, and tooth extraction tends to be fearsome more than other dental treatments like fillings. The branch of dentistry that deals primarily with extractions is oral dentistry.
Why tooth extraction?
Tooth extractions are performed for a wide variety of reasons, but most commonly to remove teeth which have become unrestorable through tooth decay, periodontal disease or dental trauma especially when they are associated with toothache. Sometimes wisdom teeth are impacted (stuck and unable to grow normally into the mouth) and may cause recurrent infections of the gum called pericoronitis. In Orthodontics if the teeth are crowded, sound teeth may be extracted (often bicuspids) to create space so the rest of the teeth can be straightened.
Surgical Vs Simple Extraction
Extractions are often categorized as “simple” or “surgical”.
- Simple extractionsare performed on teeth that are visible in the mouth, usually under local anesthetic, and require only the use of instruments to elevate and/or grasp the visible portion of the tooth. The tooth is lifted using an elevator, and using dental forceps, rocked back and forth until the periodontal ligament has been sufficiently broken and the supporting alveolar bone has been adequately widened to make the tooth loose enough to remove. Typically when teeth are removed with forceps, slow & steady pressure is applied with controlled force.
- Surgical extractionsinvolve the removal of teeth that cannot be easily accessed, either because they have broken under the gum line or because they have not erupted fully. Surgical extractions almost always require an incision. In a surgical extraction the doctor may elevate the soft tissues covering the tooth and bone and may also remove some of the overlying and/or surrounding jaw bone tissue with a drill or osteotome. Frequently, the tooth may be split into multiple pieces to facilitate its removal. Surgical extractions are usually performed under a general anesthetic.
Post extraction Comfort and Care
It is always important to closely follow your dentist’s after-care instructions to speed recovery.
- You can put ice packs on your face to reduce swelling. Alternate 20 minute on and 20 minutes off.
- Eat soft and cool foods for a few days. Starting 24 hours after surgery, swish with warm salt water. Use one-half teaspoon of salt in a cup of water.
- You should not smoke, use a straw or spit after surgery. These actions can pull the blood clot out of the hole where the tooth was.
The surgical extraction of teeth may sound a bit daunting, but with today’s modern procedures and anesthesia, you have nothing to worry about. Afterwards, you and your dentist can discuss tooth replacement options to restore the function and beauty to your smile.