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What to Expect With a Tooth Extraction

Many adults dread their trips to the dentist, and it’s completely understandable. A dental office is rife with very sharp instruments and noisy tools, not the least of which is the high-speed drill. Not only that, but most don’t understand why they need a tooth extraction or other procedure, so they delay their dental trips for way too long.

A tooth extraction is one of the most common dental procedures as well as one of the most dreaded. However, if you have a broken, cracked, decayed, or abscessed tooth, it may be your only option. Generally, extractions are performed only when there’s no chance of salvaging the tooth. Saving a tooth is always a dentist’s first option, but sometimes it’s just not possible.

Your tooth extraction procedure will begin with an x-ray so the dentist can plan the best extraction method and be aware of any complications that might arise. They’ll discuss your medical history and want to know all the medications you currently take, both prescriptions and over-the-counter supplements. They’ll also discuss sedation methods with you to determine the best sedation method for your procedure.

If you develop a cold or nasal congestion, nausea, or vomiting the week before your procedure, be sure to notify your dentist’s office because the procedure may need to be rescheduled. This precaution is to ensure the best outcome for your extraction.

Before Your Tooth Extraction Procedure

In addition to the medications and supplements you take, your dentist will want to know specifics about the following:

  • Any joint replacements such as hip or knee
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Congenital heart defect
  • Compromised immune system
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Man-made or damaged heart valves

This is necessary and normal so don’t be alarmed at disclosing your medical history to your dentist.

Types of Tooth Extractions

There are two different types of tooth extraction: simple and surgical. A simple extraction is performed when a tooth is visible but beyond saving. A surgical extraction is used for impacted teeth or those that haven’t fully erupted. Both types require local anesthetic, but a surgical extraction may also require an intravenous anesthetic. You shouldn’t feel any pain during your procedure, although you may experience some pressure. If you feel pain or pinching, let your dentist know immediately.

How to Care for Your Teeth After Your Extraction Procedure

After your procedure is complete, your dentist may use a few self-dissolving sutures and then pack the site with gauze. You’ll be asked to bite down firmly on the gauze and maintain the pressure until the bleeding stops, which can take up to three hours.

When you get home, you’ll need to follow these aftercare instructions:
Maintain pressure on the gauze until the bleeding stops, replacing the gauze as necessary. It may take up to three hours for a clot to form.

  • Rest for 24 hours and avoid strenuous activity.
  • Apply an ice pack to the outside of the jaw where the extraction was performed, but be sure not to apply ice directly to the extraction site.
  • After 24 hours, rinse with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt and eight ounces of warm water.
  • Avoid drinking through a straw, smoking, spitting forcefully, and rinsing for the first 24 hours.
  • Keep your head elevated for 24 hours, even while sleeping.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene but avoid the extraction site.
  • Eat soft foods such as yogurt, soup, and applesauce until your site heals.
  • Take pain medications as you need them and as directed by your dentist.

Some bleeding, pain, and swelling are normal with many types of dental procedures, but they shouldn’t persist for more than the first four hours. If they do, contact your dentist’s office. If you experience any of the following, call your dentist immediately:

  • Chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath
  • Chills, fever, signs of infection
  • Severe bleeding, pain, or swelling after four hours
  • Excessive discharge, redness, or swelling
  • Vomiting or nausea

Any of the above can indicate a complication, so notify your dentist promptly. Maintain a soft food diet for several days.

When your site has healed, you can resume your usual lifestyle, diet, and activities, but give the extraction site time to fully heal. Typically, complete healing occurs within one to two weeks. If you’re too hasty about resuming your diet and activities, you can dislodge the clot, and you’ll have to restart the healing process.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Your wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to appear. They’re located at the far back of your mouth, behind your other teeth, and on both upper and lower jaws. Although many times the wisdom teeth erupt straight and without affecting the alignment of the other teeth, sometimes they don’t. They erupt at an angle and disrupt the proper alignment of the other teeth. Sometimes, they don’t erupt at all, which causes an impacted molar. When a molar becomes impacted, the only solution is a surgical extraction.

Some dentists prefer preemptive wisdom teeth extraction to eliminate the potential for problems to arise. Others, however, prefer to let wisdom teeth remain as long as they aren’t problematic. There are valid arguments for both viewpoints and there are reputable dentists on both sides of the debate. Ultimately, the choice is up to the patient, and the American Dental Association recommends wisdom teeth extraction for the following reasons:

  • Cyst or tumor development
  • Development of gum disease
  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Infection
  • Tooth decay

Even though your wisdom teeth may not be problematic at present, they may become so in the future. Of course, this is true of all your teeth. Dentists who adhere to the philosophy of preemptive wisdom teeth extraction use the following logic:

  • Wisdom teeth can harbor disease asymptomatically, so eliminating the wisdom teeth eliminates the potential for problems.
  • It’s difficult to predict if or when wisdom teeth will develop disease or problems, so removing them solves the dilemma.
  • Removing wisdom teeth at a younger age eliminates the health complications that can arise in older adults when they have an extraction.

No matter which side of the issue you’re on, you can find a caring and compassionate Florida dentist to help you make the right decision. Overall, be sure to find a dentist who’s compatible with your outlook so you can learn the pros and cons of tooth extraction and make the most informed decision possible.

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