If you’re like most people, you would prefer to keep your natural teeth for as long as possible. And you’re not the only one – dentists feel the same way. But there are times, for a variety of reasons, when extracting a tooth is the best choice. If you have just found out that you need to have a tooth pulled by a dentist here in Cedar Park, Texas, you may be wondering what’s involved in the tooth extraction process. We’ve compiled the following information so you know what to expect.
Types of Tooth Extractions
If you need to have a tooth pulled, we have some good news for you. Although the thought of having to go through a tooth extraction may be frightening, the fact is that having a tooth pulled is an extremely common procedure that typically takes very little time in the dentist’s chair. And, thanks to modern dental procedures and sedation techniques, the tooth extraction process is virtually painless. While it is true that you might experience some discomfort afterwards during the healing process, your dentist can provide you with a full set of instructions on the best ways to heal quickly and minimize any discomfort you may feel while you go through recovery.
Generally speaking, there are two different types of tooth extractions that your dentist can perform:
- Simple extraction – This type of procedure is necessary for patients who need to have a tooth pulled that has already fully erupted through the gum tissue. The process consists of the dentist completely numbing the area around the affected tooth (as well as providing some other type of dental sedation, if requested to do so), loosening the tooth using a dental instrument called an elevator, then removing the tooth with forceps.
- Surgical extraction – If you need to have a tooth pulled that hasn’t fully erupted through the surface of the gum tissue, your dentist will need to perform a surgical extraction. In this procedure, the dentist completely numbs the area surrounding the affected tooth and provides whatever other form of sedation the patient may request. Following that, the dentist makes a small incision in the gum tissue located directly above the tooth. Once the tooth is exposed, it is removed in much the same way as in a simple extraction. Surgical extractions are common when a wisdom tooth becomes impacted or when a tooth is broken, for example.
The Tooth Extraction Process
The procedures involved in having a tooth pulled are quite similar, whether you’re having a simple extraction or a surgical extraction, with the obvious difference being the incision that needs to be made in the gum tissue prior to a surgical extraction. What follows are the usual steps involved in most tooth extractions:
- Anaesthetic and dental sedation – If you are particularly nervous about the procedure, and/or if your dentist anticipates that the process may take longer than usual, you may be given some type of dental sedation prior to the procedure. There are a variety of types available – from simple laughing gas to IV sedation – and your dentist can help you decide whether or not you will require some form of sedation and which type would work best for you. After that, your dentist will numb the area around the affected tooth using anaesthetic administered with a needle. Although most patients feel a bit of a sting from the insertion of the needle, the anaesthetic itself usually works quite quickly, and within a few minutes the entire area of the mouth around the affected tooth will be totally numb.
- Preparing the tooth for removal – Removing a tooth requires separating the tooth from its socket. Although that may sound painful, thanks to anaesthetic and dental sedation (if used), the patient rarely feels anything during this process. If it’s a surgical extraction, the dentist will make a small incision in the gum tissue, just large enough to expose the tooth and remove it.
- Extracting the tooth — Once the tooth is exposed, the dentist will need to enlarge the tooth socket and loosen it from the ligament that holds it in place. The dentist will do this using a dental instrument called an elevator, which is inserted between the tooth and the surrounding bone tissue. Using the elevator, the dentist will gently rock the tooth back and forth until it is separated from the ligament. Once the tooth is sufficiently loosened, your dentist will remove it with forceps.
- Closing the extraction site – In some instances, your dentist may need to use sutures to close the extraction site. But in many cases, the dentist simply cleans the extraction site and gently stuffs it with gauze to stop the bleeding. Once the gauze is in place, your dentist will have you bite down gently with firm pressure for an hour or so, which will help to control the bleeding.
Recovering from Tooth Extraction
Your dentist will likely provide you with a full set of instructions on post-extraction care tips after you return home. This will include some or all of the following steps:
- Change blood-soaked gauze as needed.
- Take pain medicine as prescribed by your dentist.
- Rest for 24 hours after the procedure.
- Avoid rinsing out your mouth too vigorously for the first 24 hours or so.
- Eat only soft foods for the first day after the procedure, then introduce solid foods gradually and avoid chewing on the extraction site.
- Rinse out your mouth with warm salt water periodically during the first 24 hours after the procedure.
- Avoid contact with the extraction site when you brush and floss.
While it’s true that nobody really wants to have a tooth pulled, you should know that this is a commonly performed dental service that is usually done quickly and is relatively pain-free. If you do need to have a tooth pulled, it will help to know what will be involved in the tooth extraction process ahead of time. For more information about the tooth extraction process, contact your Cedar Park, Texas, dentist.