A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. There are many reasons your dentist may recommend that an extraction be performed.
Reasons for tooth extraction:
- When fracture or decay has damaged a tooth beyond repair.
- When extra teeth block new teeth from erupting.
- To make room for the other teeth to be moved in preparation for orthodontic treatment (braces).
- When wisdom teeth become impacted (stuck in the jaw), when their eruption will disturb neighboring teeth or when they become painful due to incomplete eruption or infection.
- When severe gum disease threatens the supporting tissues and bone structure.
- To remove compromised teeth in the field of radiation for those who must receive radiation therapy to the head and neck.
- When decaying teeth present an infection risk to people who have a compromised immune system due to chemotherapy treatment or other health conditions.
Extractions range from simple to complex. When the tooth that needs to be removed is visible in the mouth, a simple extraction is called for. This can usually be performed with local anesthesia with or without anti-anxiety medication. In this type of procedure, your dentist grasps the tooth with forceps, moving it back and forth to loosen it prior to removal. Sometimes a special instrument is used to help loosen the tooth before it is pulled out.
When the tooth that needs to be removed is still under the gum or has broken off at the gum line, a surgical extraction is indicated. This procedure is commonly performed by an oral surgeon under local anesthesia or conscious sedation. Occasionally, general anesthesia will be used—for example, when certain medical conditions are present. In order to remove the tooth, your oral surgeon will make an incision in the gum. Depending on the degree of complexity of the case—the specific position of the tooth and the reason for extraction—the tooth may be removed whole or broken into sections to facilitate removal. The incision is usually closed with dissolvable stitches.
Since most simple extractions do not cause much discomfort afterwards, an over-the-counter pain reliever is usually all that is needed. For pain control following surgical extractions, your oral surgeon may prescribe prescription pain medication. In most cases, post-surgical pain and discomfort subsides after a couple of days and full healing takes one to two weeks.
As with most surgical procedures, there are potential complications to an extraction procedure, such as damage to adjacent teeth, sustained numbness and incomplete extraction. Your dentist can describe these risks in greater detail.
Two to three appointments are required for an extraction procedure. During your first visit, your dentist or oral surgeon will take x-rays and obtain a detailed medical history. Sometimes, antibiotics will be prescribed prior to the procedure. He or she will explain the reason for your extraction, the type of procedure required and what you can expect during and after the procedure.
During the second visit the extraction will be performed. The procedure will vary depending on the specifics of your case.
A follow-up visit may be scheduled to remove stitches, if necessary, and check on healing.
Skill and technique on the part of the dentist/oral surgeon are critical for comfort during a tooth extraction. At South Shore Dental Group our doctors are specialists with years of experience performing tooth extractions. We will give you care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the health of your remaining teeth following this procedure.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about tooth extractions or to schedule an oral health consultation with one of our doctors.