Tooth extraction – what is it?

Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from the bone inside the mouth.

Why do we do it?

Many times, when a tooth has been broken or damaged by a cavity, it can be fixed with a filling, crown or root canal. However, sometime, the damage is so extensive that the tooth cannot be repaired. This is the most common reason for extracting a tooth.

Here are some other reasons:

  • Some people have extra teeth that can block other teeth from coming into the mouth.
  • People getting braces have to remove some teeth in order to make room for the teeth that are being straightened.
  • Before receiving radiation treatment to the head and neck, some teeth may need to be extracted to avoid future complications.
  • Wisdom teeth are commonly extracted in young adults because they can easily become stuck in the bone (impacted) and will create an area in the mouth that is very difficult to keep clean. This can irritate the gum and the other teeth causing pain and swelling.

Before taking a tooth out our dentist will review your medical and dental history and get x-rays of the area to prepare for the removal of the teeth.

If you are having multiple teeth removed or all of your wisdom teeth removed, you may need a panoramic x-ray. This x-ray takes a picture of all your teeth at once and can help with locating wisdom teeth that cannot be seen in other x-rays. The panoramic x-ray will also show the relationship of your teeth to the sinuses, nerves and other structures within your mouth.

Sometimes, you may need antibiotics before an extraction if any of the following are present:

  • An infection in the area of the tooth.
  • If you have a weak immune system.
  • If you have specific medical conditions such as heart problems.

How do you take out a tooth?

We loosen it slowly by applying pressure in the areas surrounding the tooth. This can be done with various instruments at the time of the extraction. The “pulling out” is the final step in the extraction when the tooth is loose enough inside the bone.

In some cases, the tooth may be too broken down or may be below the gum and the bone. In these instances, we may cut the gum and the bone to be able to access the tooth and loosen it. This is called a surgical extraction. Most of the time, after a simple extraction, you will not feel much discomfort. You can take some anti inflammatory medication for several days. You may experience some swelling for a day or two that will subside quickly. Some of our patients do not have any pain at all and do not need any medication after their extractions.

To minimize swelling, you can put some ice on your face on the area of the extraction. Also, it is best to stick with soft foods for the first day and do regular rinses with warm salt water starting 24 hours after the surgery.

For Surgical extractions, however, there is typically more post-operative discomfort. We typically prescribe antibiotics as well as pain medications to minimize the chance of an infection.

Some of the most common reasons for delayed healing of the extraction site are smoking and excessive spitting after surgery. Also, you should avoid drinking through a straw and chewing on hard foods for a day or two.