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What Happens During a Tooth Extraction?

When you think of the worst potential outcomes of going to the dentist, you may think about having to have a tooth pulled. Perhaps your dentist has recommended the removal of one of your teeth. Or maybe you are just curious about the tooth extraction process.

Removing a tooth sounds like it would be a painful, complicated experience. While there may be some pain involved, tooth extraction can be a relatively simple procedure.

The recommendation of having a tooth extracted is usually one of the last options when it comes to caring for your teeth. Many people are familiar with having to have wisdom teeth removed during their late teens or early 20s.

If your mouth doesn’t have enough room for all of your teeth, a dentist will need to pull one or more. A significantly decayed tooth may need to be pulled if fillings or crowns are not enough to fix the issue, especially if it may lead to an infection. Trauma or injury to the face and teeth can also create a need for a tooth extraction.

If you do end up having to have a tooth removed, there is not much to worry about. Your dentist has skills and expertise and will make sure that you feel comfortable and prepared during and after the procedure.

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What Is the Procedure?

Before your procedure, your dentist will carefully review both your dental and medical history. If you have to have a surgical extraction, your dentist will need to know if you are sensitive to anesthesia. They will also check if you have any medical conditions that would complicate your procedure.

They will also take a series of x-rays to create a plan of action for your extraction. Taking x-rays ensures that your dentist has a full scope of your teeth and possibly determines whether you will have a simple or surgical extraction.

During a simple extraction, your dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Using a tool called an “elevator,” your dentist will loosen your tooth and then remove it with forceps.

With surgical extraction, you will need a local anesthetic or may need to undergo general anesthesia. Your dentist will make a small incision in your gums in order to fully remove the tooth below your gum line.

What Do I Do After My Extraction?

After your extraction, you will need to keep your extraction site clean to prevent infections. To do this, you will need to gently bite down on clean gauze until the bleeding stops; be sure that you change the gauze about every 30 minutes. You don’t want it to grow saturated with blood.

While you recover, you should ice your face to keep the swelling down as much as possible. Minimizing swelling will not only help with pain, but it will aid in speeding your recovery time. Your dentist will either advise you to take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication or prescribe you painkillers for your recovery.

Until your extraction site heals, you should avoid any hot food or liquids. You will be more sensitive to hot temperatures. But if your extraction site has not fully recovered yet, you may begin bleeding again.

It is also very important to avoid using a straw or imitating a sucking motion. You may accidentally remove the blood clot that formed over your wound, causing dry socket—an extremely painful condition. Within a few days to a couple of weeks, you should be feeling back to normal and back to your regular activities.