If you’re reading this right now, there’s a good chance that you or someone you care about are experiencing tooth pain or another dental issue. Many people aren’t thrilled at the thought of having a tooth removed, but if it’s necessary, an extraction is often an excellent way to relieve pain and prevent further problems with your teeth. At Great Care Family Dentistry, we perform dental extractions when needed to address a variety of oral health issues. Here’s what you need to know about tooth extraction:
What is a Dental Extraction, and Why Would You Need One?
A dental extraction is a procedure to totally remove a damaged or diseased tooth from its socket. We will ensure you’re completely numb before we begin and offer sedation if needed. You should not feel any pain during the procedure, but you may feel a slight pulling sensation. Once the tooth is removed, we will clean out the socket to remove any diseased tissue. We may place a few stitches in the gums if necessary, then we’ll ask you to bite down on a piece of gauze to slow the bleeding.
Isn’t it Better to Fix a Tooth Than Remove It?
This is a common question, and the answer is yes in many instances. We always prefer to save the tooth by performing restorative work, like a filling, a crown, or a root canal. Removing a tooth can cause changes to your bite, and if the tooth is close to the front of your mouth, you might have cosmetic concerns. We will attempt to restore the tooth before extracting it.
However, this is only sometimes possible. Sometimes the tooth is simply too damaged or diseased to be saved. In other cases, it may not be damaged so much as in the way – for example, an impacted tooth can crowd other teeth or even push them out of alignment, damaging the other teeth in the process. In these situations, extraction is the only option that makes sense.
Here are some common situations where we may recommend an extraction rather than other treatments:
- Advanced decay that can’t be treated successfully with fillings or a root canal.
- A fractured tooth, particularly one where the crack reaches below the gum line.
- An impacted tooth. This is a tooth that remains completely or partially submerged below the gum line even after it should have “erupted,” often due to a lack of space. Frequently impacted teeth cause infections if they have partially erupted, but even if they don’t, they can wreak havoc by putting pressure on other teeth in the area.
- Crowded teeth. Sometimes a tooth may “erupt” but there isn’t much space for it outside the gums, so it puts pressure on surrounding teeth.
- Severe gum disease.
- Dental subluxation or other tooth injuries. For example, many people suffer dental damage if they have an injury to the face for any reason.
What Happens When You Visit an Extraction Dental Office?
The first step we’ll take is to correctly diagnose the cause of your pain or discomfort. As mentioned above, you may not need an extraction but some other treatment. To get an idea of what’s wrong and how best to treat it, we will take X-rays and examine the tooth and the surrounding area. In some cases, we find that the patient was suffering from referred pain, meaning the pain is actually coming from a different tooth than the one that hurts.
After reaching a firm diagnosis, we will discuss treatment options with you. If an extraction is the best choice, we will schedule an appointment for the extraction.
What If You Need an Emergency Dental Extractor?
Sometimes patients insist that they must have their tooth removed the same day. When patients come to see us for an extraction, we understand that they are usually in pain and want the tooth removed as quickly as possible. However, except in emergency cases, it is usually better to wait if the tooth is infected. After your initial appointment, we will prescribe an antibiotic to get the infection under control. Not only does this reduce the risk of complications such as the infection spreading, it also reduces inflammation and swelling around the tooth. As a result, extracting the tooth is easier, and you will have less pain afterward.
What Happens After a Tooth Extraction?
We will send you home with instructions, and in some cases, we may prescribe pain medication or more antibiotics. For the next few days, try to eat soft foods like ice cream or soup, and avoid hard or crunchy foods as these may cause irritation. You should keep your mouth clean and brush your teeth, but skip the area around the extraction site until it’s healed. We may give you an antibacterial mouthwash to use by gently swishing it around the extraction site.
Many people go back to work or school within a day or two of a tooth extraction, but you should avoid doing any strenuous exercise for 48-72 hours afterward, as this might increase bleeding.
What Are the Potential Complications After a Tooth is Removed?
Most extractions go smoothly, and patients are often relieved to have a source of pain removed. But in some cases, patients do experience complications or difficulties afterward. These include:
- Infection. We do our best to avoid infections by thoroughly cleaning the socket after removal and prescribing antibiotics as needed. But if you have symptoms of an infection – such as bad breath or a foul smell coming from the empty socket, continued pain that doesn’t resolve after a few days, or pus or discharge in the area around the socket – please contact us right away. You may need a stronger antibiotic or further treatment.
- Dry socket. This is a very painful condition caused by the lack of a blood clot in the empty socket. Normally a clot forms in this area, protecting the bone and nerves and promoting healing and new bone growth. Unfortunately, in some cases, the clot either doesn’t form or dissolves or becomes dislodged, leaving the bone and nerves exposed. To further complicate matters, food particles may drift into the empty socket, adding more irritation. The most common symptom of a dry socket is intense pain that may radiate into the jaw and face, far beyond the treatment area. You may also have bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth as you might with an infection. These symptoms typically happen within 1-3 days after an extraction, and if they occur, you should call us immediately so we can treat your pain.
- Nerve injury. This is a less common complication than a dry socket, but there is a small risk that you may have nerve damage after an extraction. Patients with impacted or difficult-to-remove teeth may be slightly more likely to suffer nerve injuries, which can cause pain, burning, numbness, or tingling in the jaw or face. There are some medications that may help with nerve pain.
Complications are usually treatable and occur only in a small number of patients. If you have any problems after your extraction, please call us so we can evaluate your symptoms and treat the issue.
Contact a Gwinnett County Dental Extraction Office
If you have questions or concerns about dental extraction or need to book an appointment for tooth pain, please call us at Great Care Family Dentistry. Our staff is eager to assist you.