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You may require a tooth extraction for various reasons, including tooth decay and wisdom tooth pain. While the procedure is quite simple, it is important to take post-treatment measures to aid in healing.
These self-care measures include making dietary changes to prevent complications. This article discusses the tooth extraction procedure and post-surgical care.
Types of Tooth Extraction
A tooth extraction procedure is generally performed by a dental surgeon. Tooth extractions can be of two types:
- Simple/routine extraction: A routine dental extraction is also known as a simple extraction. Simple extractions are done when visible teeth are removed.
- Surgical extraction: A surgical extraction is more complicated. It is the extraction of a tooth in the jaw and requires an incision to remove the tooth.
Reasons for a Tooth Extraction
The procedure of pulling a tooth is called an extraction. Teeth need to be extracted for a variety of reasons:
- If there is gum disease (periodontal disease) and the bone is lost around the tooth. Gum disease is responsible for almost 40% of the extractions in Japan. (1)
- If there is a lot of decay in the tooth (dental caries) and it cannot be restored. Over 50% of the teeth that have been pulled were removed because they were very decayed. (2)
- If there is trauma to the face or mouth that affects the teeth.
- To have a successful orthodontic treatment (such as braces to straighten teeth) to get the best result possible. (2)
- Baby teeth can require extraction when they are remaining too long in the mouth.
- Wisdom teeth need to be removed if there is no space for them to erupt, they are damaging nearby teeth, or they become infected.
The Tooth Extraction Procedure
The right procedure for tooth extraction is the one that is the safest for the patient and the least invasive possible.
When permanent adult teeth need to be removed, the bone should be preserved as much as possible. (3) Bone preservation creates a good environment for the placement of a dental implant later.
Typically, the oral surgeon or dentist doing the extraction will numb the tooth using local anesthesia. Intravenous sedation can be used to make the patient calm and relaxed during the surgery.
When the tooth is numb, the dentist doing the extraction will use forceps, which look like pliers, on the tooth, and rock it back and forth until it comes out. Other tools may also be used to help the tooth loosen and come out. Occasionally, the surgeon has to cut the tooth into pieces and remove some of the gum tissue to remove the entire tooth.
Foods That Can Be Eaten
Soft foods that are not very hot are the best foods to eat after tooth extraction. Mashed potatoes, smoothies, eggs, pasta, applesauce, and soups that are not very hot are some examples of foods that are safe to have.
Foods to Be Avoided
Before having your first meal after a tooth extraction, make sure any gauze that was placed to stop the bleeding is out of your mouth.
- Avoid hot foods and drinks, as well as spicy and hard foods.
- Avoid sucking liquids through a straw.
- Avoid alcohol. It seems that alcohol depresses the immune system and can make the patient more susceptible to infection. (4)
The clot that is supposed to form in the area where the tooth was removed should not be disturbed so that proper healing can take place. About 25% of the cases that develop dry sockets due to improper healing were in patients that smoked or consumed alcohol or both. (5)
The goal after a tooth extraction is for the area to heal completely with the least amount of complications as possible.
- After the tooth is removed, the surgeon may place stitches to keep the area closed.
- Sometimes, the surgeon will have you bite down on a thick cotton square to help stop the bleeding.
- If you were put to sleep for the procedure, you might be taken to a recovery room so you can fully wake up before you go home.
- Avoid smoking as it has been found to have a negative effect on the healing of extractions. (6) Smoking on the day of the tooth extraction has been seen to increase the likelihood of a dry socket. (7)
- You should not eat anything until the numbness wears off.
- You may need to make dietary changes to ensure proper recovery and prevent complications.
Complications of Tooth Extraction
Tooth extraction, if performed properly, does not cause pain. Generally, people experience pain due to anxiety during the procedure. (8) Pain may also be experienced if the tooth was inflamed for a long time before the procedure.
A study revealed that women claimed to have pain more frequently than men did, and non-smokers seemed to experience more pain than smokers. (9)
Besides pain, the following complications may arise:
- Dry socket
- Inability to open the mouth wide
- Numbness in the lips (paresthesia), which happens when the dental nerve is damaged during the surgery (10)
The rate of infection after a tooth extraction is low, but antibiotics are often prescribed to prevent complications. (11) Antibiotics are also prescribed when the surgery was complicated and in patients that have medical conditions such as a compromised immune system, diabetes, or cancer. (11)
It is best to keep your teeth clean and healthy to avoid dental decay and periodontal disease. If it becomes necessary to have a tooth extracted, the procedure is usually uncomplicated and safe.
Listen to the advice of the dentist who performed the tooth extraction and healing should be uneventful.