Gallardo Periodontics and Implant Dentistry of Miami, FL, provides a wide range of dental care procedures including tooth extractions. A tooth removal procedure may be required in the cases of severely damaged teeth that are beyond repair or impacted teeth as well. If your dentist recommends tooth extraction as the best option for your dental care needs, Dr. Gallardo wants you to have all the necessary information regarding the tooth extraction process.
What are Tooth Extractions?
Tooth extraction is the surgical removal or mechanical pulling of a tooth from its socket in the jaw. When dentists are unable to save a tooth because it has been severely damaged by injury or decay, or if it is impacted, they usually extract the tooth as a last resort. This is done either by simple extraction or surgical extraction. The method depends on the position of the tooth, the type of damage, and other factors that dentists take into consideration.
A simple extraction is done when the affected tooth is easy to access. The dentist applies a local anesthetic and pulls out the tooth using special hand tools. A surgical extraction is done when the affected tooth is more difficult to access. Examples include wisdom teeth that have not come through the gum. In most cases, oral surgeons perform surgical extractions while the patient is under general anesthesia or intravenous sedation.
Reasons for Tooth Extraction
While dentists do their best to save a tooth that has been injured or has tooth decay, there are instances when extraction must be done as the best option for a patient’s dental care.
The five most common reasons for tooth extraction are:
- Excessive tooth decay is the most common reason for surgical removal of a tooth. A general dentist can treat tooth decay by cleaning and filling the tooth or performing a root canal in many instances. However, if the tooth decay reaches the pulp of the tooth and causes severe infection, the tooth should be removed.
- Severe periodontal disease occurs when the gum tissue becomes infected by bacteria found in dental plaque. If a patient does not brush and floss properly, gum disease affects supporting tissue and bone structure leading to loss of tooth support. If the tooth is unstable, it may be extracted.
- Having overcrowded teeth is another reason for tooth extraction. By strategically removing a tooth, this allows proper alignment of the teeth left in the mouth. It is also done for orthodontic treatment.
- If a tooth is unable to break through the gum, it is impacted. This commonly occurs with a wisdom tooth. Impaction can cause discomfort, infection, or damage to other teeth because of overcrowding.
- If a tooth is broken by injury or by biting on something hard, the dentist may have to remove the tooth.
What To Expect During A Consultation
During your initial visit, your dentist or oral surgeon will get your medical and dental care history, discuss any medical condition you may have, check your teeth, take x-rays, plan your treatment, and get your consent for the procedure. During the consultation, you have the opportunity to ask questions, and your dentist or oral surgeon will explain the treatment plan and procedure, what you should and should not do afterward, and if there are any potential risks.
The Tooth Removal Procedure
If your tooth is easily accessible, your dentist may perform a simple extraction. The procedure for a simple extraction involves the following steps:
- Application of a local anesthetic to numb the area and reduce discomfort
- Loosening the tooth by moving it back and forth
- Using extraction forceps, the dentist grips the tooth close to the root and applies pressure while moving the tooth until it can be pulled free of the socket
- Application of a sterile gauze over the open socket. The dentist will ask that you apply pressure to stop the bleeding and to help a clot form. An intact blood clot over the empty socket is necessary to prevent a dry socket which may leave nerves exposed, resulting in pain
A surgical extraction is done when the affected tooth is still below the gum line, or the tooth cannot be easily accessed. This is a common procedure for wisdom teeth extractions. Here are the steps your oral surgeon takes for surgical extractions:
- You receive a general anesthetic or IV sedation
- The oral surgeon makes an incision in the gum above the tooth
- The tooth is removed either by cutting it into pieces or by pulling it out with forceps
- A suture is placed to close the incision in the gum tissue
Dental Extraction Recovery Process
Immediately after a tooth is pulled, the patient should gently put pressure on the gauze placed on the extraction site. The bleeding should stop in about 45 minutes. If bleeding persists, replace the gauze and keep pressure on it.
For the first two days following the extraction you should:
- Avoid smoking and using a straw to drink. Drawing in smoke or liquid creates pressure in your mouth which could dislodge the blood clot that is necessary to avoid a dry socket.
- Avoid working out or doing other vigorous activities that may cause a rise in your blood pressure.
- Keep your head elevated when lying down.
Dr. Gallardo may prescribe pain medication which you should take only as directed if you need relief from discomfort. Also, if you get a prescription for preventive antibiotics, take them as directed.
How long it takes to get back to normal depends on which procedure you had and your healing process. It is wise to eat soft foods for at least a week. While you heal, apply cold compresses to the area to help keep swelling down.
After your extraction, it is essential to follow your daily dental care routine. Within 24 hours you should begin to brush and floss your teeth taking care around the extraction site so you do not harm the protective blood clot.
Your dentist will discuss options for a tooth replacement if you have lost a tooth for reasons other than overcrowding or wisdom tooth extraction. A dental implant may be an ideal option because it is a permanent replacement that looks and feels like a natural tooth.
Potential Risks of Surgery
Your dentist will not recommend a tooth extraction if the benefits are not greater than the risks. Some of the risks involved are:
- A blood clot does not form or becomes dislodged resulting in a dry socket. Your dentist can treat the dry socket so a new clot can form.
- Bleeding lasting more than 12 hours
- Severe fever accompanied by chills, symptoms of infection
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Swelling, redness, pain centralized at the extraction site
FAQs about Tooth Extraction
Do teeth shift after an extraction?
If the space left by the extraction is not filled by a replacement tooth, the neighboring teeth may shift up, down, or towards the space.
How should I prepare for a tooth extraction?
For surgical extractions involving general anesthesia or IV sedation, do not eat or drink for six to eight hours beforehand. Do not smoke before an extraction. Inform your dentist of any health issues you have such as a cold, flu, or if you have recently experienced nausea or vomiting. You should also make arrangements for a driver to take you home.
How long does it take to heal after a tooth extraction?
The length of your healing process depends on the procedure, but it should take between 7 and 10 days.
What should I avoid doing after an extraction?
You should avoid doing the following:
- Rinsing your mouth out forcefully
- Vigorous exercise
- Lying down with your head flat
- Drinking carbonated beverages
- Drinking with a straw
- Do not forget to maintain good oral health practices
Schedule your Tooth Extraction in Miami Today
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami and South Floria area who performs tooth extractions. If you would like to learn more about the tooth removal procedure or schedule an appointment, call our dental offices at 305-447-1447. Or, fill out our contact form online and we will get back to you promptly.