A tooth extraction is a common dental procedure that consists of extracting a tooth from its socket. Both the crown and the tooth roots are removed. Fully erupted teeth are generally removed through a process called simple extraction, which includes utilizing specialized devices to lift or pull the damaged tooth from its socket. Teeth that have not yet erupted are surgically removed, often with the patient under IV anesthesia. If required, the extracted tooth can later be restored with a dental implant or bridge.
When Do I Need Tooth Extraction?
A dental extraction is generally performed as a last option when teeth are too critically damaged to be preserved. There are four principal reasons why you might need to have a tooth extraction.
Tooth decay is erosion of the tooth by acids discharged from oral bacteria. Decay starts as a tiny cavity. If you choose to have the cavity filled at this early stage, the tooth decay usually stops developing, enabling you to keep your tooth in your mouth. Nevertheless, if you do not recognize and treat a cavity soon after it develops, the decay can quickly grow more extensive. Depending on what stage of decay the tooth is in, there might not be enough healthy tooth remaining to sustain a filling or dental crown. In this instance, to relieve pain and prevent the cavity from spreading to neighboring teeth, your dentist may advise having the tooth removed.
Teeth that are slightly cracked, chipped, or damaged in an accident can usually be repaired with dental bonding or a crown. However, if the chip or crack reaches into the tooth pulp, the innermost part of the tooth, the dentist may not be able to fix the tooth. Extraction may be the best option. There are times your dentist may attempt to restore a badly damaged tooth. Still, infection or decay will set in afterward, making tooth extraction inevitable.
A dental abscess is an infection in the tooth root and the gum tissue surrounding it. Often, dentists can preserve an abscessed tooth. By performing a root canal, a procedure in which the infected material is removed from within your tooth roots, dentists can save many teeth. However, the most stubborn abscesses can cause widespread damage to the tooth roots, making it ill-advised to leave the tooth in the jaw. To prevent infection from spreading into your jaw bone, extracting the tooth may be your best choice.
Misalignment or Crowding
Having crowded or severely misaligned teeth are other reasons to have a dental extraction performed. Some people have jawbone structures that aren’t big enough to support all of their teeth. In this situation, a dentist may extract one or multiple teeth before transferring the patient to an orthodontist for braces. This is usually done during a person’s teen years.
To prevent crowding, many people also have their wisdom teeth extracted. Often the jawbone is not big enough to support the wisdom teeth. Upon erupting, at an angle, wisdom teeth that impact in the jaw bone will need to be extracted surgically.
The Tooth Extraction Process
Patients often fear to have a tooth extracted. Still, modern anesthetic methods make the procedure much more comfortable than you may assume. There are two kinds of tooth extractions. Simple tooth extraction is performed when a tooth erupts through the gums. A surgical extraction is performed when a tooth requires removal but has not yet erupted.
Simple Tooth Extraction
A simple-tooth extraction begins with the dentist injecting a local anesthetic into your gums. During the next few minutes, the gum tissues surrounding the tooth being removed will go numb. Patients with anxiety should ask their dentist about oral sedatives. Your dentist may have you inhale laughing gas or may even prescribe an oral sedative for you to take before your procedure.
Once your gums are numb, the dentist will use a dental tool called an elevator which lifts the tooth up, revealing the ligament holding it in place. He or she may sway the tooth back and forth to make more room in the socket. Next, forceps, which look like tweezers, are used to pull the tooth from the socket. Your dentist may apply a few stitches to the socket to close and speed up clotting. You are usually permitted to drive home once the bleeding has slowed. If you were given an oral sedative, you would need to have a friend drive you home.
Surgical Tooth Extraction
If you need a surgical extraction, the oral surgeon may provide an IV anesthetic, so you are unconscious during the procedure. He or she will then begin to cut away the bone and connective tissue holding the tooth in place. Your tooth may need to be broken into chunks and removed one piece at a time. When awake, your cheeks will be packed with gauze to absorb the blood.
What to Expect After a Tooth Extraction
Your dentist will most likely prescribe you pain medicine to help with any pain in the days following your tooth extraction. You should eat only soft foods for a few days after the procedure. Still, as you heal and can chew comfortably again, you can slowly start introducing harder and chewier foods into your diet. Most patients can resume eating their regular diet within one to two weeks.
Caring For the Extraction Site
To encourage the extraction site to heal correctly, you may be advised to rinse your mouth with saltwater throughout the day. Salt helps to kill bacteria, and it also reduces inflammation and pain in the extraction site. Clean your teeth, as usual, after your tooth extraction. Be gentle with the area surrounding the empty socket. To relieve pain, you can hold a cold compress against your cheek or sip chilled water throughout the day. When sleeping, make sure to elevate your head to diminish inflammation and pain.
Do not drink with straws or smoke anything while you are recovering from a tooth extraction procedure. These activities create suction that can dislodge the blood clot that forms in the empty tooth socket. If the clot is dislodged you will experience a good amount of discomfort.
Tooth Replacement Options
If your tooth is extracted to address crowding issues, it will not be necessary to replace the extracted tooth. However, if your tooth was removed due to decay or other oral issues, your dentist may want to discuss a tooth replacement option for you.
Dental implants are the preferred tooth replacement option for most patients. They consist of a titanium metal screw that is surgically implanted in the jaw to replace the tooth root. A porcelain crown replaces the visible portion of your tooth. Implants help prevent the bone around the empty tooth socket from deteriorating because they place pressure on this bone in the same way a natural tooth would. Once you heal from implant surgery, the implanted tooth will look and function just like a natural tooth.
If you are not a candidate for dental implants, your dentist may recommend replacing the missing tooth with a dental bridge. This restoration replaces only the visible crown portion of your tooth. It is fixed to the teeth on either side of the extraction site with dental cement.
Cost of Tooth Extraction
Simple tooth extraction is an affordable dental treatment, usually costing between $75 and $300. Surgical tooth extraction under anesthesia may cost significantly more, depending on the degree to which the tooth is impacted. Nowadays, dental insurance usually covers the cost of dental extractions. However, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for sedatives or IV anesthesia.
Tooth Extraction from a Dentist Near Me
If you have a decayed or infected tooth, or if you need your wisdom teeth extracted, use our “Dentist Near Me” zip search tool and schedule your appointment for an affordable extraction procedure. Removing a badly decayed or damaged tooth is sometimes the safest option for your overall health.