It is natural for us to want to keep all our natural teeth for a lifetime. However, circumstances do not always allow this to happen. A toothache, throbbing gums, jaw pain, even a headache could all be indications of dental issues requiring immediate attention. It isn’t uncommon for patients to visit their dentist thinking there is absolutely nothing wrong, only to find out there is an issue that requires immediate attention. Sometimes situations arise that prompt your dentist to recommend a tooth extraction to help maintain good oral health and prevent further damage. Keep reading our blog post to learn (pretty much) everything you need to know about tooth extractions.
What You Should Know About Tooth Extractions
- Signs You Might Need an Extraction
People generally know how to take care of their teeth, with daily brushing and flossing. Additionally, we make frequent visits to the dentist to monitor our oral health and take part in preventative dental care. It is during these visits that the dentist might recommend having a tooth (or teeth) extracted due to one of the following reasons:
- Tooth Decay – Cavities are caused by plaque, and, when caught early, can be filled. Smaller cavities generally don’t cause trouble but, when left untreated, can get larger. They still might not cause you any pain until the decay gets to the nerves. While not all large cavities require the tooth to be pulled, an extraction may be necessary if it is beyond repair.
- Gum Disease – When the space between teeth becomes infected with bacteria, it can cause gum irritation, which can lead to red, swollen and bleeding gums. This could be the first sign of a gum disease known as gingivitis. Dentists can diagnose the condition and recommend suitable treatment, but, if left untreated, gingivitis may reach an advanced stage known as periodontitis. In this situation the gum starts receding and small holes or pockets begin to appear on the gum surface. This, in turn, exposes the tooth and nerves to further decay. When the infection becomes irreversible, the dentist recommends an extraction.
- Overcrowding or Impaction – Teeth that don’t grow properly or which have shifted into the wrong position need to be extracted as they can cause issues in the surrounding areas. Similarly, if the tooth or teeth are too large to fit comfortably in the mouth, this overcrowding prevents other teeth from fully erupting. In such cases the dentist may remove a tooth to make room for others to grow comfortably.
- Types of Tooth Extraction
There are two types of tooth extractions: simple and surgical. The dentist will numb the area for both types to make the procedure painless. Read about the two in detail.
- Simple Extraction – This type of extraction is generally performed on a tooth that is visible above the gumline. The dentist will use a tool known as an elevator to loosen and elevate it, then use forceps to pull it out of its socket.
- Surgical Extraction – A surgical extraction is needed when the tooth hasn’t erupted properly above the gumline or in cases where decay has caused it to break below the gumline. It might also need to be done when the tooth must be removed in pieces and in complicated cases of entangled or curved teeth, where the root of the tooth is long and the bone surrounding the tooth is dense.
- Things to Expect Before an Extraction
Your dentist will first perform a thorough examination, most likely with X-rays, before the extraction. In case they are dealing with an impacted tooth, they might have to cut the gum tissue to expose the teeth completely. In other cases, your dentist may choose to cut the teeth into sections to make it easier to extract. They will then use forceps to coax the tooth gently out of the gum. Once the procedure is complete, they will place a gauze pad in the hole and, if needed, stitch it shut.
- Ways to Prepare for the Extraction
Before you schedule an appointment with your dentist, make sure you get an X-ray to allow them to fully assess your condition. Tell your dentist about any medications, supplements, over-the-counter drugs or vitamins you might be taking, along with any treatments you may be undergoing. This way they will not prescribe any medications that are contraindicated. Also, make it a point to inform them about the following conditions:
- Congenital heart disease
- Renal disease
- Artificial joints
- Adrenal disease
- Damaged heart valves
- History of bacterial endocarditis
- Impaired immune system
This needs to be done so your dentist can see that you and your conditions are stable enough for them to operate. They will probably prescribe antibiotics before the procedure if:
- You have a specific medical condition
- You have a weakened immune system or an infection
- Your surgery is expected to last a while
- Risks Associated with Extractions
Although nothing you need to worry about, there are minor risks associated with extractions. But if your dentist has recommended the procedure, the advantages will outweigh the complications.
Usually after the procedure a blood clot forms naturally in the hole present in the bone. However, if the clot dislodges or fails to form in the first place, the bone can become exposed, a condition commonly referred to as “dry socket.” If this does happen, the dentist can protect the area by applying the dressing with a sedative for a few days. A new clot will form during this time. Some other risks associated with tooth extractions are:
- Vomiting or nausea
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 12 hours
- Severe chills and fever (signalling an infection)
- Redness and swelling
- Shortness of breath and chest pain
Having a tooth extracted may seem like a daunting experience, but it should not be. If you think you have a tooth that needs to be removed, do it for the betterment of your oral health. With modern technology and medicines, dental procedures have become easier. After your extraction you can discuss methods of tooth replacement to restore your smile.