Having a tooth extracted can happen for a variety of reasons. In some cases, even healthy teeth need to be removed. A dental extraction is a common dental practice that involves the removal of a tooth from its socket. The tooth in its entirety, including root and crown, are removed. There are a few variations of the types of extractions you can expect to find at your dentist’s office. Teeth that have fully erupted are called a simple extraction which is quite easy – you’ll dentist will simply use a specialized tool to pull the tooth from its socket. However teeth that have not yet erupted and will require surgery to be removed. This can either be performed by a dentist or a qualified oral surgeon. If necessary, an extracted tooth can be replaced with a bridge or dental implant.
Dentists will do everything they can to save your natural tooth. However, when your dentist recommends an extraction it’s usually because the tooth is too damaged to be saved or leaving the tooth in will cause more harm than good. Here are a few reasons why your tooth needs to be extracted:
Patients tend to fear tooth extractions, but with modern technology you won’t feel anything at the dentist office during your extraction. There are two types of extractions which will change processes depending on its type. An easy way to think about it is a simple extraction will remove a tooth that’s already erupted through the gums, and a surgical extraction will remove a tooth that remains under the gum line.
What is a simple extraction?
A simple extraction removes a tooth that lays above the gum line. Your dentist will first apply a local anesthetic to your gums surrounding the tooth that’s being removed. You shouldn’t be able to feel anything after the area goes numb. If you do, tell your dentist so they can apply more anesthetic. Afterwards, your dentist may also provide you with laughing gas or an oral sedative to help calm your nerves and make the process much smoother.
Once you are completely numb, your dentist will use a tool called an elevator to lift the tooth up, exposing the ligament that holds it into place. They will rock the tooth back and forth, wiggling it free from the socket. Once it is fairly loose, they’ll use forceps to extract the tooth from the socket. If your tooth was exceptionally large, your dentist may apply a few stitches to hold the socket closed. This can also help stop the bleeding. They will also apply a pack of gauze to help absorb any excess blood. Simple extractions are a fairly quick and easy process, and patients can drive themselves home once the bleeding has stopped. If you have taken an oral sedative, you’ll have to have a ride home arranged prior to your appointment.
What is a surgical extraction?
When a tooth hasn’t erupted your dentist or oral surgeon will perform a surgical extraction. For this type of procedure, you will need to be put under with an IV anesthetic so that you are unconscious during the whole process. Once you are completely out, your dentist will start to cut away the bone and connective tissue that are responsible for holding your tooth in place. If the tooth is particularly large, it may need to be broken into chunks and removed one piece at a time. The socket will be stitched closed to stop the bleeding and speed up the healing process. After the procedure, you’ll wake up and will need to have someone to drive you home, as well as listen to your oral surgeon about any aftercare instructions. The anesthesia should wear off within a few hours.
To help with any pain or discomfort, your dentist will typically prescribe you pain medication that you can take following your extraction. The extraction site will be vulnerable to any hard foods or substances, so you’ll want to stick to eating soft foods. Once you start to feel stronger in that region of your mouth, you can start to introduce harder foods into your diet, being careful when you chew. Most patients can resume their normal diet after a few weeks.
How to Care For Your Extraction Site
It’s important to keep the extraction site where your tooth has been removed as clean as possible. One way to do this is to regularly rinse your mouth with salt water a few times a day. This helps reduce swelling, and will help kill any bacteria lingering around. You should continue to brush your teeth as you normally would, but be gentle where your empty socket is. To help alleviate pain and swelling, you can place a cold compress on the outside of your cheek or sip chilled beverages throughout the day. It’s also good to sleep with your head elevated to reduce inflammation.
It’s important not to drink from a straw or smoke when you are recovering from a tooth extraction. Performing any kind of suction action will dislodge the clot that’s formed in the empty socket which can lead to a painful condition known as dry socket. Having dry socket will slow down the healing process, and you’ll need to return to your dentist to apply dressing and ensure further infection doesn’t happen.
If it’s an abscessed tooth or severe tooth decay that’s led to your tooth extraction, you may be prescribed antibiotics to help you recover. The antibiotics will fight of infection in both the extraction site and any surrounding tissues. If you are prescribed antibiotics, be sure to finish the full treatment.
Replacing Your Extracted Tooth
With some extractions, you’ll want a replacement to restore both appearance and function to the area. However, in other cases a tooth replacement is not necessary. For example, if you’ve had wisdom teeth removed or other teeth that have caused crowding or misalignment, you won’t need to have a false tooth made to replace it.
However, if you have suffered from decay, abscess, or an accident you’ll want to have your tooth replace once your socket has healed. One option patients can use is what’s called a dental implant. Due to advancements in dental technology, dental implants allow your dentist or oral surgeon to surgically implant a metal screw into your jaw bone where your tooth once was. A porcelain crown will be placed over the screw that looks and feels like a real tooth. Having a dental implant will help prevent your socket from deteriorating and will act just like a natural tooth does. You’ll also be able to eat and drink with it just as you normally would.
Another option patients can choose is a dental bridge. A dental bridge works in the same way, but no screws are placed into your jaw line. A crown is placed on the tooth or teeth that have been extracted to give you function of a normal tooth. Generally dental bridges use dental cement to hold your false tooth in place.
The cost of your tooth extraction will depend on the reasons behind the need for an extraction and the type of extraction required to heal your teeth. A simple extraction is fairly affordable, costing around $75 to $300. A surgical extraction will cost you more, depending on the severity of the tooth. Dental insurance will generally cover the tooth extraction cost, but the cost of paying for sedatives or IV anesthesia may be placed upon the patients. If you don’t have dental insurance, you can pay out of pocket with payment plans and dental financing offered by Castle Dental.
If you are having symptoms of a toothache, have an abscessed or decayed tooth, you’ll want to have a dentist assess if you’ll need an extraction. They may refer you to an oral surgeon should you need a surgical extraction. Simply use a “dentist near me” zip search tool and schedule an appointment online or by calling 1-800-867-6453. An extraction could potentially save your oral and overall health.