What Is Tooth Extraction?

Tooth extraction is perhaps more commonly known by the term “getting your teeth pulled.” In this procedure, the dentist removes one or more teeth from the patient’s mouth for good. Most of these procedures are performed while the patient is awake but under the influence of a local anesthetic so that they do not feel any pain.

Why Is Tooth Extraction Used?

There are several reasons why your dentist might consider extracting a tooth. A few of these reasons are:

  • To make room in a patient’s mouth for orthodontic treatments like braces to do their work and move the patient’s teeth around.
  • To get rid of teeth that are so badly damaged from tooth decay or fracture that they cannot be repaired using fillings or crowns.
  • To remove baby teeth in order to make room for a patient’s permanent teeth to come in.
  • To rid a cancer or organ transplant patient of teeth that have become infected as a result of a weakened immune system, or are extremely vulnerable to infection as a result of these conditions.

What Happens When You Need A Tooth Extraction?

If the tooth that is to be extracted has already erupted (emerged from the gum line), the extraction process is relatively easy. First, the dentist will use a tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth from its position, and then forceps will be used to pull the tooth out of the mouth.

In cases where the tooth in question either has not yet erupted and become fully visible or has been broken off while still lodged inside the gum, the dentist must cut into the patient’s gum in order to extract the tooth.

In the vast majority of cases, the patient is fully awake for the tooth extraction procedure, though they are usually numbed using a local anesthetic. Some patients experience extreme anxiety when undergoing dental procedures or have hyperactive gag reflexes. These patients are sometimes “put to sleep,” or are fully sedated using general anesthesia.

Your dentist will evaluate your situation prior to performing an extraction and will recommend the best way to complete the procedure.

What Is the Tooth Extraction Recovery Process?

Here are the basics of recovering from a tooth extraction:

  • After the procedure, you should bite down on a piece of gauze for 20-30 minutes or so to encourage the wound to clot and stop bleeding. Bleeding should cease within 24 hours of the procedure.
  • You must refrain from smoking, spitting, or using a straw following the procedure.
  • If you are experiencing pain, over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin/Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help alleviate these symptoms.
  • To reduce swelling, try holding a cold compress or ice pack on your face for 20 minutes, then keeping it off of your face for 20 minutes, repeating as necessary until the swelling has diminished.
  • You may need to rinse your mouth with a mixture of warm salt water (one half-teaspoon of salt to one cup water) to help keep the surgical site clean.
  • Consuming soft, cool foods such as applesauce and ice cream will probably be the most comfortable way for you to eat for the first few days after your extraction.
  • The healing process can take up to two weeks, but do not hesitate to call your dentist immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as continued bleeding after the first 24 hours or so, difficulty swallowing or breathing, fever, redness, chills, numbness, worsening pain, etc.

If you think you are a candidate for tooth extraction or would like to set up an appointment at one of our convenient Toronto or North York locations, call Empress Walk Dental today at 416-250-8000!

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