If you have recently visited your local dentist and discovered that you need a tooth removed or you have been delaying an ongoing toothache and know the tooth will need to be pulled, don’t be alarmed. Though the reasons why a tooth needs to be removed are usually not good, getting a tooth extracted has gotten easier. So before you head into the dental office, here are a few things to know about your upcoming visit.
Reasons For a Tooth Extraction
1. Tooth Decay
Decay can develop when plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) sits on the out layer of your tooth and combines with sugar to make an acid that breaks down tooth enamel. Tooth decay can progress quickly when it reaches the second layer of your tooth called dentin. If the decay continues to advance, an infection can develop, causing pain, swelling, and redness. Otherwise known as an abscess. Once a tooth reaches this point, it may be necessary to remove the tooth entirely and replace it with a dental implant or bridge.
A tooth can become impacted when the growth of one tooth pushes directly against another. The teeth involved are usually susceptible to infection that causes red, tender, swollen, or bleeding gums. This is often the reason why wisdom teeth are recommended to be removed because they are impacted, and Dr. Feng wants to prevent the symptoms associated with impacted teeth.
3. Periodontal or Gum Disease
When the gums supporting your teeth are not healthy, it can lead to bone loss or periodontal disease. When left untreated, the bone supporting your teeth’ roots will deteriorate, causing the tooth to lose its strong foundation and, over time, become mobile. This is why going to the dentist every six months is so important so that Dr. Feng can monitor the health of your gums and bone supporting your teeth and prevent early tooth loss.
Accidents happen, and unfortunately, our mouths tend to be an easy target. Depending on how severe the trauma is, sometimes the tooth affected may not be saveable. So the best option may be to extract (remove) the whole tooth and plan for a dental implant to replace the missing tooth.
Another reason a tooth or teeth may need to be extracted is due to crowding. It is very common for people to have small jaws and big teeth, so making room may become necessary to have a functioning set of teeth and a straight smile. Sometimes crowding can be so severe that teeth are even blocked out and don’t have any room to come in. To avoid damaging other teeth and to create extra space, Dr. Feng may recommend extracting a tooth to treat the overcrowding.
Just remember some of these reasons are in your control like having good oral hygiene and some are not. Your teeth are such an essential part of your mouth, not only for chewing and speaking. Make sure to talk to Dr. Feng about your tooth replacement options because missing a significant tooth can impact your other teeth around it.
Common Dental Extraction Questions
Once it is determined why you need a tooth extracted, you probably have other questions you’d like to ask Dr. Feng. Below we’ll answer some of those common questions you probably have about your upcoming appointment to extract your tooth to help put your mind at ease.
A: It Shouldn’t Be
During the procedure itself; it should not be painful. You will be numbed for the extraction, and the dentist will make sure you are comfortable and do not feel any pain. The only thing you will likely experience is pressure during the procedure. Some patients tend to experience pain after the procedure is completed when the numbness has worn off, but at Sloan Creek Dental, Dr. Feng uses photobiomodulation or PBM therapy to assist with wound healing, pain reduction, and inflammation. This helps prevent discomfort and promote healing following the procedure.
A: Everyone is Different When it Comes to Recovery.
If you have underlying health conditions that could affect wound healing, so it may take longer to recover from a tooth extraction. For most people, you can expect the normal healing process to take up to 10 days. But since Dr. Feng uses laser therapy to promote healing, your recovery time will probably be reduced.
A: Jaw or Joint Pain, Dry Sockets, Infection, and in Extreme Cases, Nerve Damage or Jaw Fracture.
Jaw or joint pain is caused by having your mouth open for the procedure and inflammation in the jaw muscles from analgesic injections. In most cases, jaw pain will subside on its own.
A dry socket occurs when a blood clot either fails to form in the hole or becomes dislodged from the void left by the tooth extraction. Side effects of a dry socket would include pain and a bad odor or taste in the mouth. For the dry socket to heal, a medical dressing must be placed by Dr. Feng.
Infection may be caused by trapped food particles or bacteria getting into the hole left by the extraction. Signs of an infection include increased pain in the mouth or jaw, fever, draining/bleeding from the extraction site, or increased swelling around the extraction area. To treat the infection, you will need antibiotics.
Nerve damage can occur, which causes long-lasting numbness in the lower lip or chin. The numbness may be due to nerve damage done during the extraction. Nerve damage may take three to six months to heal. In rare cases, numbness may be permanent.
Jaw fracture is another possible side effect of a tooth extraction. A jaw fracture may be caused by the pressure put on the jaw during the procedure. Jaw fractures are more common in older patients and patients who have osteoporosis or thinning of bone tissue.
Do’s and Don’ts After A Tooth Extraction
Following your tooth extraction procedure, there are some do’s and don’ts that will help your healing and prevent side effects of a tooth extraction like a dry socket. Check out our list of do’s and don’ts that you should follow to help make your procedure a success.
Rest- Make sure to get some rest after your tooth extraction. Even though you may feel great, you probably shouldn’t exercise or do much activity for at least 24 hours. While you’re resting, make sure to keep your head slightly upright.
Let a Clot Form- Don’t interfere with the clot formation in the extraction site. This clot covers the area and allows it to heal. After the procedure, Dr. Feng will give you a piece of gauze to put near the extraction site. Keeping pressure on the gauze for at least an hour afterward will help stop the bleeding. Don’t chew on the gauze piece. Make sure to change the gauze out every half hour depending on the amount of bleeding you’re experiencing. If the bleeding continues a few hours after the procedure, then try putting a wet tea bag on the site. The tannic acid in black tea helps to aid in the clotting process.
Ice Packs- Do apply ice packs to the side of your face where the extraction was performed. This will help reduce swelling. For simple extractions, usually swelling isn’t immediate, but with a more involved extraction, you may have swelling right after the procedure. Though swelling after a simple extraction may not occur right away, it can last for a few days after the appointment. Applying an ice pack is the best way to reduce swelling and is most effective on the day of the extraction. The ice pack should be applied for 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for 1-2 hour periods for the first 24 hours following the procedure.
Don’t Smoke- Avoid smoking for at least 48 hours after your tooth extraction. The chemicals in smoke can affect the blood clot, and your risk of developing a dry socket 3-4 days after the extraction will increase.
Avoid Solid Food Immediately After- While you’re numb, it would be best to avoid solid foods that would require you to chew a lot. Try to stick to eating soft or liquid foods like soup, yogurt, smoothies, milkshakes, mashed potatoes, at least until the numbness wears off. Also, to allow for healing, avoid hot drinks, spicy foods, and sodas, those can aggravate the gum tissue around your extraction site
Avoid Smoking and Sipping Out of a Straw- Sucking can dislodge the blood clot out of the socket, so make sure to avoid using straws and smoking for the next couple days.
Don’t Mess with the Extraction Site- For the next few days, the space will feel awkward; avoid poking the area with a toothpick or messing with the area with your tongue. It will only delay healing, cause bleeding, and possibly a dry socket.
How to Schedule a Tooth Extraction
If you’re concerned about a tooth, experiencing tooth pain, dealing with crowding, or were involved in a dental emergency- call Sloan Creek Dental today to schedule an appointment. Dr. Feng and her team would be happy to go over your restorative options and determine if extracting your tooth is the best treatment for you.
Dr. Feng, is a general and cosmetic dentist located in the Fairview, TX area. She specializes in laser dentistry and provides her patients with top of the line care.
Call today to schedule an initial visit at (972) 468-1440 or visit her website to find out more about this Fairview dental office and the services offered.