Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. Although permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why tooth extraction may be needed. A very common reason involves a tooth that is too badly damaged, from trauma or decay to be repaired.
Reasons for tooth extraction:
- A crowded mouth. Dentists may pull teeth in preparation for orthodontia to properly align teeth.
- If tooth decay or damage extends to the pulp – the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels—bacteria in the mouth can enter the pulp leading to infection. Even the risk of infection prior to receiving chemotherapy or organ transplant, an extraction may be needed.
- Periodontal (Gum) Disease. If periodontal disease – an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support teeth—have caused loosening of the teeth, it may be necessary to pull the tooth or teeth.
- Baby teeth that don’t fall out in time to allow permanent teeth to come in.
- Wisdom teeth are often extracted either before or after they come in. These teeth often get stuck in the jaw (impacted) and do not come out. This can irritate gum, causing pain and swelling.
Before the tooth extraction, your dentist or oral surgeon will give you an injection of a local anesthetic to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. If the tooth is impacted, the dentist will cut away the gum and bone tissue that cover the tooth and using forceps, grasp the tooth and gently rock it back and forth to loosen it from the jaw ligaments that hold it in place.
Once the tooth has been pulled, a blood clot usually forms in the socket. The dentist will pack a gauze pad into the socket and will have you bite down on it to help stop the bleeding. Sometimes, usually self-dissolving, stitches will need to be placed.
Following an extraction, your dentist will send you home to recover. Taking pain killers, applying ice bag to the affected area for 10 minute at a time, biting gently on the gauze pad, relaxing for at least 24 hours will minimize discomfort, reduce risk of infection and speed the recovery. Your dentist will advise other general information and precautions to take.
Contact your dentist immediately if you experience signs of infection such as fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, or swelling.