Why are teeth
While many teens and some adults get their wisdom teeth removed, there are other reasons why tooth extraction may be necessary in adulthood.
Excessive tooth decay, tooth infection, and crowding can all require a tooth extraction. Those who get braces may need one or two teeth removed to provide room for their other teeth as they shift into place. Additionally, those who are undergoing chemotherapy or are about to have an organ transplant may need compromised teeth removed in order to keep their mouth healthy.
Tooth extraction is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon and is a relatively quick outpatient procedure with either local, general, intravenous anesthesia, or a combination. Removing visible teeth is a simple extraction. Teeth that are broken, below the surface, or impacted require a more involved procedure.
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Procedure for a
Your tooth extraction will either be simple or surgical, depending on whether your tooth is visible or impacted.
You will receive a local anesthetic, which numbs the area around your tooth so you’ll feel only pressure, not pain, during the procedure. The dentist then uses an instrument called an elevator to loosen the tooth and forceps to remove it.
You will likely receive both local anesthesia and intravenous anesthesia, the latter of which makes you calm and relaxed. You may also receive general anesthesia, depending on any medical conditions. With general anesthesia, you will remain unconscious during the procedure.
Risks of a tooth extraction
There are a few risks for undergoing a tooth extraction; however, if your dentist recommends the procedure, the benefits likely outweigh the small chance of complications.
Usually after a tooth extraction, a blood clot naturally forms in the socket — the hole in the bone where the tooth has been extracted. However, if the blood clot does not form or dislodges, the bone inside the socket can be exposed — referred to as “dry socket.” If this happens, the dentist will protect the area by putting a sedative dressing over it for a few days. During this time, a new clot will form.
Other risks include:
- bleeding that lasts longer than 12 hours
- severe fever and chills, signaling an infection
- nausea or vomiting
- chest pain and shortness of breath
- swelling and redness at the surgical site
Recovery after tooth extraction
It normally takes a few days to recover after a tooth extraction. The following steps help ensure that your recovery goes smoothly.
- Apply an ice pack to your cheek directly after the procedure to reduce swelling. Use the ice pack for 10 minutes each time.
- After the dentist places the gauze pad over the affected area, bite down to reduce bleeding and to aid in clot formation. Leave the gauze on for three to four hours, or until the pad is soaked with blood.
- Take any medications as prescribed, including over-the-counter painkillers.
- Rest and relax for the first 24 hours. Do not jump immediately into your regular routine the following day.
- Don’t use a straw for the first 24 hours.
- Don’t smoke.
- Don’t rinse for 24 hours after the tooth extraction, and spit only gently.
- Use pillows to prop your head up when you lie down.
- Brush and floss your teeth like normal, but avoid the extraction site.
- The day after the procedure, eat soft foods, such as yogurt, pudding, and applesauce.
- As you heal over the next few days, you can slowly reintroduce other foods into your diet.