Getting the news that your dentist is suggesting a tooth extraction can be jarring news. For those who are not a fan of medical procedures, a tooth extraction may be intimidating. However, there are many valid medical reasons that explain why a tooth extraction is indeed important to resolve underlying dental issues and prevent future concerns.
What medical concerns do tooth extractions resolve?
Having a trusted Billings, MO dentist is important, especially when you are told you need a tooth extraction. Be sure to keep the communication open with your dental team and ask the right questions. Do not be afraid to ask your dental team to explain to you why the extraction is necessary, and ask for clarity if you do not understand. Here are some examples of questions to ask:
- Why is this tooth extraction required?
- How will the tooth extraction benefit my health in the future and prevent other problems?
- How can I avoid getting another tooth extraction?
- Will I be receiving anesthesia?
Rest assured that a tooth extraction is a standard dental procedure that rarely causes problems. Tooth extractions are necessary for teeth that may be rotting or decaying, or teeth that are partially broken and may cause further issues. Extractions typically occur when there is too much damage for the tooth to be saved. Here are a few more common medical reasons for tooth extractions:
- Extra teeth are blocking other teeth from coming in
- Decay is too deep into the bone for the tooth to be saved
- Emerging teeth may interfere with orthodontic procedures (for example, wisdom teeth are removed before they emerge to avoid reversing the correction that braces/headgear has provided).
Once the tooth extraction has occurred, it is common that a dental implant is the necessary next step. This is dependent on the type of tooth extraction that is occurring. Implants are important not only for functional purposes (cutting/tearing food), but also for aesthetic purposes as well. The type of implant and its function depends on the location of the tooth extraction, as teeth located in various places in the mouth serve different roles. Dentists insert implants by making small incisions and drilling a small hole into the jawbone. This is painless for the patient not only because the area is anesthetized, but also because the jawbone does not contain any nerves.
Ask your dentist about the next steps after your surgery and be sure that you are clear about the plan.
Simple vs. Surgical Extractions
A simple extraction means that the tooth being extracted is visible in the mouth. The patient may receive a local anesthetic for this procedure. The dentist uses an elevator tool to loosen the tooth, then pulls it using a forceps.
A surgical extraction is a bit more involved. This typically occurs for teeth that are broken (below the gum line) or teeth that haven’t yet pushed through the gums. Wisdom tooth extraction is a common example of this procedure, and typically happens in late adolescence/early adulthood. This may involve the patient being “put under” using an anesthetic delivered through an IV. However, surgical extractions vary from person to person. To ease anxiety, be sure to ask your surgeon about the plan for the surgery so that expectations are clear.
There may also be pre-surgery care that is involved for a surgical extraction. For example, the surgeon may ask that you do not eat or drink anything for a few hours prior to the surgery. This is why communication with the surgeon is not only essential for your own comfort and stress levels, but also for the success of the surgery.
Post-tooth extraction care: Dos and Don’ts
Post-tooth Extraction Do’s:
- Brush and floss with care around the surgical area
- Closely follow your dentist’s instructions
- Take pain medications (over the counter or as prescribed) as needed
- Flush out your extraction site after eating. Food particles may get stuck in the site and cause infection. It is important to make sure your mouth is properly rinsed each time after eating until the wound starts to close up and heal.
Post-tooth Extraction Don’ts:
- Engage in heavy exercise (such as weight lifting or intense workouts)
- Remove gauze from the mouth immediately following the surgery, as it may disrupt the clotting process
- Drink from a straw – again, this may disrupt the clotting process
- Eat too soon after the procedure. Doing so may cause food particles to get stuck. It also may delay/disrupt the healing process. Soft foods, like apple sauce, smoothies, or mashed potatoes, may be suitable a few hours after the procedure.
Overall, tooth extractions are simple procedures that should not cause a patient any issues or distress. Most tooth extractions are a good thing, since they are able to prevent more serious medical concerns that may arise if the problem is not resolved. As always, speak with your dentists if you have any concerns or questions about these procedures.