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Extractions

Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone.

 

When is it time to extract a tooth?

 

If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes there is too much damage for the tooth to be repaired. This is the most common reason for extracting a tooth.

 

Here are other reasons:

 

  • Some people have extra teeth that block other teeth from coming in.
  • People getting braces may need teeth extracted to create room for the teeth that are being moved into place.
  • People receiving radiation to the head and neck may need to have teeth in the field of radiation extracted.
  • People receiving cancer drugs may develop infected teeth. These drugs weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of infection. Infected teeth may need to be extracted.
  • People receiving an organ transplant may need some teeth extracted if the teeth could become sources of infection after the transplant. People with organ transplants have a high risk of infection because they must take drugs that decrease or suppress the immune system.
  • Wisdom teeth,  also called third molars, are often extracted either before or after they come in. They commonly come in during the late teens or early 20's. These teeth often get stuck in the jaw (impacted) and do not come in. They need to be removed if they are decayed or cause pain. Some wisdom teeth are blocked by other teeth or may not have enough room to come in completely. This can irritate the gum, causing pain and swelling. In this case, the tooth must be removed.

 

Dr. Simone will ask about your medical and dental histories. He will take an X-ray of the area to help plan the best way to remove the tooth.  The X-ray will allow him to see:

 

  • The relationship of your wisdom teeth to your other teeth
  • The upper teeth's relationship to your sinuses
  • The lower teeth's relationship to a nerve in the jawbone that gives feeling to your lower jaw, lower teeth, lower lip and chin. This nerve is called the inferior alveolar nerve.
  • Any infections, tumors or bone disease that may be present

 

Follow Up:

 

Because surgical extractions are more complicated, they generally cause more pain after the procedure. The level of discomfort and how long it lasts will depend on the difficulty of the extraction. Your dentist may prescribe pain medicine for a few days and then suggest an NSAID. Most pain disappears after a couple of days.

 

Most simple extractions do not cause much discomfort after the procedure. You may take an over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin and other brand names) for several days. You may not need any pain medicine at all.

 

A cut in the mouth tends to bleed more than a cut on the skin because it cannot dry out and form a scab. After an extraction, you'll be asked to bite on a piece of gauze for about 20 to 30 minutes. This will put pressure on the area and allow the blood to clot. It still may bleed a small amount for the next 24 hours or so and taper off after that. Don't disturb the clot that forms on the wound.

 

You can put ice packs on your face to reduce swelling after the operation. If your jaw is sore and stiff after the swelling goes away, try warm compresses. Eat soft and cool foods for a few days. Then try other food as you feel comfortable. A gentle rinse with warm salt water, started 24 hours after the surgery, can help to keep the area clean. Use one-half teaspoon of salt in a cup of water. Most swelling and bleeding should end within a day or two after the surgery. Initial healing takes at least two weeks.

 

If you need stitches, they usually disappear (dissolve) on their own. They should disappear within one to two weeks. Rinsing with warm salt water will help the stitches to dissolve.

 

A common complication called a dry socket occurs when a blood clot doesn't form in the hole or the blood clot breaks off or breaks down too early. 

 

You should not smoke, use a straw or spit after surgery. These actions can pull the blood clot out of the hole where the tooth was. That causes more bleeding and can lead to a dry socket, which occurs in about 3% to 4% of all extractions. Dry socket occurs 20% to 30% of the time when impacted teeth are removed. It happens more often in smokers and women who take birth control pills. It is also more likely after difficult extractions. Infection can set in after an extraction, although you probably won't get an infection if you have a healthy immune system.

If you are having all of your wisdom teeth removed, you may have a panoramic X-ray. This X-ray takes a picture of all of your teeth at once. It can show several things that help to guide an extraction.