Oral health is an essential part of your health. Your teeth do more than chew food, making it easy for digestion. Teeth give the face a beautiful contour and make smiling, laughing, and taking a natural thing to do.
However, at times one of two of your permanent teeth may need extraction. Many reasons inform the dentist’s decision to pull your tooth out. Like teenagers and children, adults feel visiting the dentist because of the pain associated with tooth extraction. Others complain that their throat is hurting after a tooth extraction and fear consulting the dentist.
Why teeth extraction may be necessary
Permanent teeth are meant to remain intact for a lifetime. However, various conditions and reasons can necessitate their extraction. If you have a toothache, it is critical to visit the dentist for further diagnosis and treatment. The doctor will physically examine your teeth and, if need be, request further procedures.
Some of the reasons for tooth extraction include
- Tooth decay
A tooth with a cavity may reach the root of the tooth, making it painful. Severe tooth decay exposes the nerves, causing sharp, unbearable pain. Therefore, pulling out a decayed tooth may be the lasting solution.
A patient who has been involved in an accident can expose their teeth to damage. After examination, the dentist may recommend a tooth extraction.
- A crowded mouth.
Sometimes dentists pull out teeth to make room for orthodontia. Orthodontia helps in aligning the teeth in the mouth. However, the procedure may be impossible if the teeth are too large for the mouth. On the other hand, the dentist may opt for tooth extraction if a tooth fails to erupt because there’s no room in the mouth.
Infection on a tooth occurs when decay penetrates the nerves and blood vessels. If the condition remains untreated for a long time, the bacteria in the mouth “eats up” the root, making it weak and painful. The doctor may recommend antibiotics, followed by a root canal. If the two interventions don’t suffice, a patient may need extraction to stop the infection from spreading.
- Risk of infection
A patient undergoing chemotherapy is at risk of infection because the immune system is compromised. A doctor may recommend the extraction of a tooth to lower the risk of developing opportunistic infections during chemotherapy or organ transplant.
- Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue and the bones around the teeth. Gum disease weakens the support around the teeth, making the teeth loose. A doctor may recommend tooth extraction if tissues and bones are severely affected.
A dentist or an oral health surgeon is authorized to pull teeth. Expect the following in the dentist clinic;
- The dentist will inject you with local anesthesia. The anesthesia numbs the tissues around the tooth to be extracted. An oral surgeon may sometimes use general anesthesia because it is stronger than the former injection. General anesthesia prevents pain in the body and sends you to sleep throughout the procedure.
- The dentist grasps it with forceps and gently loosens the tooth by rocking it back and forth. Gradually, the tooth detaches from the bone, gum tissues, and ligaments that hold it. If the tooth is hard to extract, the dentist may remove it in phases until the tooth is out.
- It is common to have a blood clot in the socket after tooth extraction. The dentist will place gauze and ask you to bite it to prevent bleeding. If need be, the doctor can make a few self-dissolving stitches to close up the open edges.
- Often the socket will heal in a day or two. The patient soon gets accustomed to the new feeling in the mouth and eating, chewing, and smiling resumes as before extraction.
Pre-extraction details to tell your dentist
Tooth extraction is a safe procedure. However, it is necessary to tell the doctor critical information before treatment begins.
- Give the doctor your medical history to help him determine any condition that can complicate the procedure.
- Inform the doctor about any medication or supplements you may be using. Here are some important medical details a patient should share with the oral surgeon before extraction:
- Congenital heart disease
- Damaged or artificial heart valves
- Impaired or compromised immune system
- Liver cirrhosis
- Man-made body joints such as hip replacement
- History of bacterial endocarditis
What next after the tooth extraction?
- The doctor may give you antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection. However, healing takes a few days, even without medication of any kind. Take painkillers and other drugs as prescribed.
- Bite on the gauze to minimize blood clots on the tooth’s socket. You can change the gauze if it’s soaked with blood.
- You can keep down swelling by applying an ice bag to the affected region.
- Avoid vigorous activities for the first 48 hours after the extraction. Relaxing and keeping it low facilitates healing and stops blood clots.
- Do not spit, chew or rinse the mouth forcefully 24 hours after tooth extraction; because you can quickly dislodge the blood clot in the socket.
- While at home, you can gargle some warm salty water; the extraction site will heal faster and stop blood clots.
- Avoid smoking cigars because it inhibits healing.
- Take your drinks with a straw for the first 24 hours after the procedure.
- Eat soups, puree, yogurt, sauce and soft foods, then, gradually add hard foods until the extraction site is healed.
- Use a pillow to prop your head to prevent bleeding.
- Remember to brush and floss your teeth, especially at night, to prevent infection.
- Over time, new gum tissue, bone, and ligament will grow in the extraction site. You may realize a shift in the remaining teeth. Consequently, you may experience an open bite, which affects chewing. The doctor may advise you to replace the missing tooth with a denture, implant, or fixed bridge in such a case.
Tooth extraction is a simple procedure done at a dentist’s clinic. It takes 24 to 48 hours to heal and up to two weeks to get used to the ‘new feeling’ in the mouth. Visit an oral surgeon or a dentist if you think you have a tooth issue that needs attention.