Although adult humans are meant to have 32 teeth, in many cases, there just isn’t enough room. Sometimes, a person will have all of his or her teeth, but will need to have one pulled because it’s not in good shape. While few people want to have oral surgery or to have their wisdom teeth removed, in some cases, it’s the best option for them and for the health of their mouth.
Reasons for Extraction
While you might think of the wisdom teeth when you think of having teeth removed, in reality, any tooth can be pulled or extracted from the mouth. The reason for extraction varies, based on the condition of the tooth and mouth.
One common reason to have a tooth pulled or surgically removed from the gums is if it is impacted. An impacted tooth is one that isn’t able to come in fully. Instead, it gets lodged in the gums or bone. The wisdom teeth are commonly associated with impaction, but it can happen to any tooth in the mouth, if there isn’t enough space for it or if the tooth moves out of position as it emerges.
In some cases, a dentist might remove a tooth if there is overcrowding, even if the tooth isn’t impacted. For example, if a patient needs braces, one of the first things a dentist might do is pull a tooth to create space in the mouth for the remaining teeth.
An overcrowded mouth isn’t the only reason for dental extractions. While it is often the last resort, a dentist may remove a tooth if it is very decayed or infected. Other options, such as cleaning the tooth and filling in areas of decay or performing a root canal, might be considered first. But, if other options don’t clear the infection or if the tooth is so decayed that it can’t be restored, pulling it can be the only option.
Gum disease can be another reason for extracting a tooth. Advanced stages of periodontal disease often cause the teeth to become loose. If the gum tissue and bone surrounding the tooth are infected so much that the tooth is loose, an oral surgeon may pull it.
When people think of having a tooth pulled, they might picture classic cartoons that feature a parent tying a piece of string around a tooth, tying the other end of the string to a doorknob, then slamming the door shut. Fortunately, modern methods of oral surgery and tooth extraction are a bit more advanced than that.
Depending on the status of the tooth, the oral surgeon may use a local anesthetic, to numb the area, or a general anesthetic, so that a patient is completely out for the procedure. If the tooth is completely erupted, the process of removing it is generally a bit simpler than if the tooth is still lodged in the gum or bone.
If the tooth is fully erupted, the dentist will use a tool to gently elevate it from its position. Since the gums are numb, you won’t feel anything during this. The oral surgeon will then use a forceps to pull the loosened tooth out of the gum.
Teeth that are still in the gums require a bit more work when it comes to removing them. The dentist or oral surgeon will have to cut into the gums and perhaps the bone to get to the tooth. Depending on the state of the tooth, he or she might have to break it into smaller pieces to remove it from the gums.
Recovery and Healing
Recovery can be relatively quick after a tooth is pulled or surgically removed. A blood clot will form in the socket left behind, which protects the bone and reduces the risk for infection. Usually, the surgeon will pack the socket with gauze to absorb any blood. It’s often recommended that you put ice on the area to keep swelling down after the extraction and that you change the gauze as needed.
Resting is important after an extraction. Your surgeon will most likely recommend taking at least a full 24 hours to rest. When resting, make sure you keep your head elevated to keep any blood from pooling and to keep swelling down.
Brush your teeth gently while healing and avoid using any rinses until your surgeon gives you the all clear. Eating soft foods or consuming liquids for a few days after the surgery is usually recommended, too.
While getting teeth pulled might not sound exciting, in some cases, it’s the best option. In the Miami area, the practice of Dr. John Paul Gallardo and Dr. William Lamas now offers tooth extraction, whether it’s removing wisdom teeth or removing teeth severely affected by gum disease. If your teeth have been bothering you and you want to get to the bottom of it, call (305) 447-1447 to learn more about your options today.