Whether you need a tooth extraction to remove your wisdom teeth or prepare for orthodontic treatment, we’re here to show you why having a tooth removed isn’t a scary or complex procedure.
With modern dentistry practices, most tooth extractions are simple procedures performed in the comfort of your local dental practice - plus, the use of anaesthetic means you won’t feel any pain during your treatment.
In this article, we explain what you need to know before, during and after your tooth removal procedure, to help you receive the treatment you need and enjoy a smooth recovery.
Why might I need a tooth extraction?
In many cases, wisdom tooth extraction is required for wisdom teeth that have become impacted, which means there isn’t enough space for them to grow. If an impacted wisdom tooth is causing pain, discomfort, or other oral health issues, your dentist may recommend you have it removed. Removal may even be necessary, even if you have no symptoms.
However, there are other reasons why you might need to have a tooth removed in adulthood. Reasons for tooth extraction include:
- Severe tooth decay
- Tooth infection
- Prior to orthodontic treatment to make room for other teeth to shift into position
- To remove compromised teeth in chemotherapy or organ transplant patients
What happens before my tooth extraction procedure?
Prior to making the recommendation for tooth extraction, your dentist will examine your teeth and mouth and take x-rays to assess the situation.
You’ll need to follow any pre-appointment instructions and will be asked to tell your dentist about any medications you take, as well as pre-existing health conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, liver or kidney disease, or an impaired immune system.
In some cases, you may need to take a round of antibiotics to remove any infection from the tooth prior to the extraction.
Your dentist will discuss the procedure with you and answer any questions you may have.
What does a tooth extraction procedure involve?
Tooth extraction is performed by a dentist or oral surgeon. In the majority of cases, tooth extraction is a relatively quick procedure and you’ll be able to return home the same day.
Your tooth extraction will either be a simple extraction or a surgical extraction.
Simple extraction: This type of tooth extraction is for removal of a tooth that’s visible. The procedure is performed under local anaesthetic, which numbs the area around the tooth while you remain awake. Your dentist will remove the tooth and you won’t feel any pain during the procedure.
Surgical extraction: A surgical tooth extraction occurs when the tooth is broken, below the surface, or impacted. You’re likely to receive a local and sometimes even an intravenous anaesthetic, to both numb the area and make you feel calm and relaxed. Some people will receive a general anaesthetic, in which case you won’t be awake during the procedure.
After the tooth is removed, your oral surgeon or dentist may put stitches in place to help the site heal. These are usually dissolving stitches, which means they will slowly dissolve on their own over the following week or so, avoiding the need for you to return to have them removed.
What is the recovery period after a tooth extraction procedure?
Most people take no more than a few days to recover after a tooth extraction. Here are some tips for recovering as quickly as possible after your tooth removal:
- Apply an ice pack to your cheek after the procedure to reduce swelling.
- Take over-the-counter pain medications to alleviate any pain.
- Don’t jump straight back into your routine for the first 24 hours - take it easy and get some rest. In particular, avoid vigorous exercise.
- Avoid using a straw for 24 hours after your tooth extraction.
- Don’t rinse your mouth for 24 hours after the procedure.
- Brush and floss your teeth as normal, but avoid the extraction area.
- The day after your tooth extraction, eat soft foods.
- Don’t smoke for at least 24 hours after your extraction.
- Follow all guidance from your oral surgeon or dentist. This may include taking antibiotics to prevent infection, or swilling warm salty water to help the area heal.
For advice on having a tooth removed, contact your local National Dental Care practice today - you can find your nearest practice online.