Tooth extraction

Tooth extraction is often a necessary procedure in adults, especially if there is an infection. The procedure might also be recommended in case of excessive tooth decay and crowding. If a person is about to get braces, one or two teeth might be removed, in order to accommodate the others as they rearrange. To prevent oral health complications in those undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant surgery, damaged teeth might be removed as well. Naturally, there is also the extraction of wisdom teeth, which has different considerations. Tooth extraction procedure is handled by dentists or oral surgeons, under anesthesia. If you are interested in discovering more information on the topic, all you have to do is keep on reading.

What is tooth extraction?

As the name clearly points out, the procedure involves the extraction of one or several teeth. While both children and teenagers might need an emergency tooth extraction procedure, this is something that often regards adults. Common reasons for the tooth extraction procedure include infection, crowding, and tooth decay. As stated above, there might be additional reasons for which the procedure is recommended. For instance, periodontal disease might cause the teeth to become infected and loose, with removal being the only option left.

The dentist or oral surgeon will perform an initial examination, in order to determine if extraction is necessary or not. Depending on the patient, the procedure might be performed with local or general anesthesia. With visible teeth, the procedure should be straightforward. However, if the respective teeth are broken or impacted, a more complex intervention will be necessary. The same goes for teeth that are damaged below the surface.

Before the actual procedure, the dentist will take an X-ray of your mouth, with focus on the affected teeth. You might discuss other treatments you are taking and coexisting health issues. Specific treatments can increase the risk of oral health complications, so you need to tell your dentist if you are treated for other medical conditions. These might include: diabetes, liver disease, thyroid disease, renal disease, hypertension, heart disease, adrenal disease, impaired immunity, etc. You should present a stable state of health for the tooth extraction to be performed, with antibiotics being prescribed to reduce the risk of infection.

Depending on the state of the tooth, the procedure can be simple or surgical. A simple tooth extraction is usually performed under local anesthesia, so you will only feel the pressure and not the pain. The surgical extraction, on the other hand, may require both local and intravenous anesthesia. General anesthesia is generally offered to anxious patients, with consideration to their medical history. The first type of anesthesia will eliminate the painful sensations, helping you feel calm and relaxed. The latter will mean that you will be unconscious for the entire procedure. It might be necessary to remove the bone around the tooth or cut the respective tooth.

It is also important to be aware of the risks that come with a tooth extraction, which the dentist or oral surgeon will most likely explain in detail. However, you should not be worried; if the dentist has advised this procedure, it is certain that the benefits outweigh the risk of complications. After a tooth has been extracted, a blood clot will form in the respective socket. If this does not happen, the bone might be exposed, leading to what is known as a dry socket. To prevent this from occurring, the dentist will apply a sedative dressing, to protect the respective area. The new clot will form in that period. Other potential complications include: prolonged bleeding, fever and chills (possible infection), nausea or vomiting, cough, chest pain and shortness of breath, inflammation and redness at the extraction site. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to contact your dentist.

Wisdom tooth extraction

The wisdom teeth are the four permanent teeth adults have in the back corners of their mouths. If a wisdom tooth does not have enough room to grow, becoming impacted, one might suffer from pain and infection. Additional dental problems might occur as well. The wisdom tooth extraction is a procedure performed by a dentist or an oral surgeon. It often happens that such extractions are recommended, even if the respective teeth aren’t causing any problems at the moment (preventative care).

It is a known fact that the wisdom teeth are the last permanent teeth to appear in our mouths. If they do not have enough room to grow and develop, dental issues might occur. The impacted teeth might grow at abnormal angles, leading to jawbone pain or crowding, which in turn will affect the health of the other teeth. Because of these issues, food might become trapped behind the wisdom tooth, with a definite risk of infection or gum disease. Tooth decay, bone damage, and fluid-filled sacs represent additional complications.

Preventive extraction is recommended when the respective teeth present signs of potential damage. Also, if there is not enough space for the tooth to erupt or if the person in question has trouble cleaning it. Like any other tooth extraction, there are complications associated with this intervention, especially with the surgical approach. These might include the painful dry socket, bone exposure, infection, and damage to nearby structures, including teeth and nerves. An oral surgeon might perform the procedure if the extraction is more difficult, with sedation to ensure your comfort and relaxation.

Before the actual procedure, it might be a good idea to discuss what will happen with your oral surgeon. Inquire how many wisdom teeth need to be removed, about the type of anesthesia that will be administered, potential complications, how long the procedure is going to last, the risk of nerve damage, further dental treatments that might be necessary, how long does it to take to heal, when can you return to your normal routine. The surgeon might also offer tips on how to prepare for the surgery, which can be quite useful.

How much does it cost?

Your oral health is the main factor influencing the cost of such procedures. As a general rule, it is more difficult to extract impacted teeth, which means the respective procedure will cost more. Simple extractions vary between $75 and $200 per tooth, and the overall cost might increase, in accordance with the type of anesthesia used. Impacted teeth have a cost varying between $800 and $4,000. Additional factors influencing the overall costs include the experience and training of the dentist, respective dentist office, local rates, local cost of living, etc.

What can I eat after the tooth extraction?

In the day after the procedure, you might be instructed to eat only soft foods. Recommended choices include yogurt, pureed fruit, and pudding. As you slowly begin to heal over the course of the next few days, you might be allowed to add other foods to your daily diet. Ask your doctor about the gradual addition of solid foods and visit him/her if you are worried that the extraction site has not healed properly.

After the surgery, you might be encouraged to drink plenty of water. Attention, you should not drink alcohol, caffeine-based beverages, or sodas in the first 24 hours. Hot beverages should be avoided as well. As stated, do not use straws to drink, for at least one week, as the sucking can actually cause the blood clot to become dislodged from the socket. Once you can tolerate more solid foods, pay attention to several things, such as their texture and flavor. It is recommended to avoid foods that are hard to chew or those too spicy, as these can either get stuck in the socket or irritate the extraction site.

How long does pain last after the tooth extraction?

The pain after a tooth extraction will go away after a few days, but it can be adequately managed with just a few simple measures. Directly after the procedure, you might want to apply an ice pack to your cheek. This will reduce swelling and it might help with the pain as well. Take breaks between applications, as the prolonged cold can cause more harm than good. Once the dentist has placed the gauze pad over the respective socket, it might help to bite down. This will reduce the bleeding and facilitate the clot formation. The gauze should be kept in place for several hours.

Pain-relieving medication might be prescribed, so make sure to take it as instructed. You should rest and relax for the first day, avoiding your regular routine. The dentist might advise you to not use a straw, to avoid smoking, and to not rinse your mouth for 24 hours after the tooth extraction. You should avoid bending and the head should be propped up on pillows when in bed; avoid lying flat, as this can lead to prolonged bleeding and other complications. Even though you are allowed to brush and floss your teeth, the extraction site should be avoided. After 24 hours have passed, you might prepare a mixture of warm water and salt, using the respective solution to rinse your mouth.

If you have received sedation or general anesthesia, you might stay in the respective clinic for a couple of hours to recover. With local anesthesia, the recovery time is brief. More powerful pain medication might be prescribed if the procedure also involved the removal of bone. Strenuous physical activities should be avoided at all costs, in order to reduce the risk of losing the blood clot from the socket.

Smokers are advised to refrain from smoking for at least 72 hours after surgery and even longer if possible. Chewing tobacco is even more harmful, so you should avoid this habit for at least a week. What happens is that tobacco products can actually prolong the healing process, with an increased risk of complications. The same goes for alcohol, which can irritate the oral mucosa.

Some procedures require stitches, which increase the risk of potential complications. Talk to the doctor about the best methods to protect the extract site. Keep in mind that some stitches dissolve on their own, while others require removal. With the latter, you might want to schedule an appointment to have them taken out, as recommended by the oral surgeon.

Note: if you are still experiencing intense pain after several days or you have noticed signs of a potential infection, call your dentist and schedule an emergency appointment. Common signs of infection are: fever and/or chills, pain that does not go away with medication, pus or drainage from the respective incision.

What type of anesthesia is used during tooth extractions?

Of course, this depends on each patient and his/her individual situation. The dentist or oral surgeon might choose between local, sedation, and intravenous anesthesia, depending on the expected complexity of the procedure and desired comfort level. Anxious patients, as stated, benefit the most from general anesthesia.

The local anesthesia will be administered at the site of each extraction, with one or more injections being necessary. With this type of anesthesia, you will be awake, feeling the pressure and movement, but no pain. Sedation anesthesia is administered intravenously, and you will not be fully conscious during the procedure. You will not feel the pain caused by the tooth extraction and your memory of the procedure will be limited. Local anesthesia might be administered to numb the gums. Last, but not least, general anesthesia might be given either as inhalation or IV. You will be completely under, with your vital signs monitored. Medication might be given to ease the postoperative discomfort.

As you have seen, the tooth extraction is a procedure that is necessary in specific cases, such as tooth decay, infection, or crowding. The wisdom tooth extraction might be beneficial for the other teeth, preventing dental issues later on. The procedure is performed by the dentist or oral surgeon, and it can be done under local, sedation, or general anesthesia. After the extraction, you might be prescribed pain medication and be advised to take it easy. You might have to eat soft foods and avoid exertion for a couple of days, until the extraction site heals.

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