Tooth extractions/removals are a dental procedure whereby one or more teeth are simply or surgically removed.
Once the teeth are removed/extracted, dental implants, dental bridges or dentures can be used to replace the missing teeth.
Teeth are usually extracted to treat an infection due to periodontal disease or because of complications related to overcrowding. Wisdom teeth removal is another common reason for tooth removals/extractions.
When does a tooth extraction become necessary?
Tooth removals become necessary when one or more teeth have been broken, due to an accident or injury, or so seriously damaged by decay that they can’t be repaired with the help of a dental filling or dental crown.
Once teeth are damaged beyond repair, they need to be surgically removed from the socket, located in the jaw bone, to protect the rest of the mouth.
What are the reasons for having a tooth extracted/removed?
Sustaining severe injury or trauma to one or more teeth
Having tooth decay that can’t be repaired
An infection that’s damaging your teeth, gums and/or bones
An impacted tooth
Wisdom teeth removal – Most people have their wisdom teeth removed between the ages of 17 and 25
What are the signs that you may need to have a tooth extracted/removed?
If you’re in pain, experiencing swelling or tenderness, bleeding or displaying other signs of dental infection, you should consult your dentist as soon as possible for diagnosis and effective treatment.
How are teeth extracted?
Teeth can be extracted one of two ways: either through a simple or surgical extraction.
A simple extraction is done on a tooth that’s fully formed and visible in the mouth. Instead of an incision, a simple extraction uses what’s called an “elevator” to help loosen the tooth from the socket before removing it.
A surgical extraction is necessary when a tooth isn’t fully formed and/or visible, as is the case with wisdom teeth and teeth that have broken at the gum line or just below it.
For surgical tooth extractions, a small cut is made in the gum before the tooth is removed.
In order to determine what extraction method is best, digital X-rays of your mouth will be taken, showing the length, shape and position of the tooth/teeth that need to be removed.
These X-rays will also help determine the type of anesthesia/sedation that would be best.
What happens after a tooth is extracted/removed?
Immediately after the procedure, your dentist will have you bite down on a piece of gauze to help stop the bleeding before clotting takes place. You should keep the gauze in place for around 45 minutes.
It’s extremely important to avoid activities such as spitting, using a straw, rinsing your mouth or smoking for 24 hours after extraction/removal.
What are dry sockets?
Dry sockets can occur during the first few days after a tooth is extracted/removed and are caused by spitting, using a straw, rinsing your mouth or smoking, which makes the natural blood clots that have formed in your mouth dislodge, leaving the nerves and/or bones exposed and open to infection.
Dry sockets are very painful and you should consult your dentist immediately if you think you have them.
To keep the site of the extraction clean and free of infection post-treatment, after 24 hours swish your mouth regularly — very gently — with warm salt water.
How can pain from a tooth extraction/removal be reduced?
To minimize any discomfort or pain, you can apply ice packs to the area to reduce inflammation. If the pain persists, consult your dentist.