Tooth extraction is a standard dental procedure. A dentist may need to remove a tooth that’s badly damaged or when the mouth needs orthodontic work and is too crowded. Tooth extraction may sound scary and painful, but we’re here to answer your most frequently asked questions like why it’s important, how it’s done and most importantly: Does it hurt?
Your dentist may need to take out a tooth for many reasons. He or she may try to fix a damaged or broken tooth with a filling or a crown. However, there are some cases where treatment isn’t enough and the tooth needs extracting because it’s
- fractured due to an accident and cannot be repaired
- has advanced periodontal disease without bone support.
There are some other times a tooth may be removed, like if
- a person’s teeth are too crowded, which block a new tooth coming in
- there are medical reasons, such as a person receiving a cancer drug or following an infection after an organ transplant that’s caused the teeth to become infected.
So what happens during tooth extraction? Well, there are two types of tooth extraction:
- General extraction. A dentist will remove teeth that are visible in the mouth. First, the dentist will loosen the tooth with a dental instrument called an elevator and then use forceps to extract it.
- Surgical extraction. Removing a tooth that is broken off at the gum or has not broken through the gum (like a wisdom tooth) is known as surgical extraction. It’s a more complex procedure and usually done by an oral surgeon (although sometimes a dentist can do less complex surgical extractions, like some wisdom tooth removals). Surgical extraction involves a small incision into the gum to remove the tooth. In some cases, the surgeon may need to remove some of the bone around the tooth or even cut the tooth to remove it.
No. You will feel a little pressure during a tooth extraction during the procedure but no pain. Simple extractions use a local anesthetic to manage the pain. The most you’ll feel is a prick from the needle, but this lasts a second.
More invasive extractions may involve general anesthesia (when you’re put to sleep) or will give you medication to help you relax. For complex surgical extractions, you may get painkillers intravenously, and your surgeon or dentist may give you steroids in your IV line to help reduce any swelling and keep the pain away after the operation.
However, you may experience some discomfort after any extraction. Your dentist or surgeon may recommend painkillers like ibuprofen to manage any pain, especially in the first few days.
Not all tooth extraction means you’ll have to wear dentures, but if you’ve had teeth removed due to gum disease or decay, your dentist may give you temporary or immediate dentures. These dentures are designed to be worn in the first two to three months after you’ve had teeth removed. These dentures allow the gums to heal and takes the pressure off any remaining teeth. Getting permanent dentures takes time, so these immediate dentures help the transition.
Just like any medical procedure, there is a period of healing and recovery after tooth extraction. You may be wondering how long does pain last after a tooth extraction? You won’t feel a sharp pain, but you may feel sore or uncomfortable, especially if you’re swollen after tooth removal. Most swelling and bleeding will go away within a day or two following the extraction, but the healing process may take at least two weeks. The good news is there are a few measures you can take to make your life easier:
- Follow your dentist’s advice. Your dentist will give you specific advice for extraction aftercare you should follow. Always consult your dentist for any advice on aftercare. The below list should only be followed if your dentist recommends it.
- Take anti-inflammatories. Your dentist may recommend taking some pain medication like ibuprofen can help decrease any pain and discomfort after tooth extraction. Consult your healthcare provider for complete instructions and recommendations.
- Use ice packs to reduce swelling. Your dentist may advise using an ice pack on your face for 20 minutes at a time and remove for 20 minutes to help ease any swelling you may have. Use a warm compress if your jaw is stiff and sore once the swelling is gone.
- Rinse your mouth out with salt water. If your dentist gives it the OK, you may find that a solution of a cup of warm water mixed with half a teaspoon of salt can help keep your mouth clean a day after the surgery. Just swish it around your mouth and spit it out.
- Eat soft and cool foods. If you’re wondering what to eat after a tooth extraction, go for soft and cool foods. In the first few days, this will be the most comfortable for you and safest for your mouth. Gently ease other foods in, as you feel more comfortable. Talk to your dentist about what food you can eat.
Taking proper care of your mouth after a tooth extraction is the surest way to full healing and recovery. Always follow your dentist’s advice, but to give you an idea of what you can expect, here’s a few dos and don’ts your dentist may recommend you follow.
- Brush and floss your teeth. You should still brush your teeth but avoid the extraction site.
- Relax. Avoid any activity for the first few days; give yourself time to recover.
- Prop your head when lying down. If you lie flat, you may prolong bleeding so pile up the pillows under your head and neck to stay comfortable.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water 24 hours after the procedure.
- Call your dentist if a problem occurs.
- Smoke. Cigarettes can inhibit healing.
- Rinse or spit for 24 hours. This can dislodge the clot in the socket of your gums, wait 24 hours until you rinse.
- Drink from a straw. Avoid using a straw for the first 24 hours. It may cause suction in the mouth, which could loosen the clot and delay healing.
Dental extraction is no walk in the park, but the good news is it’s not as bad as you may think. There is no tooth extraction pain during the procedure, and recovery is usually smooth and allows you to eat ice cream. Just follow your dentist’s advice, take it easy, and everything will be fine.