What You Need to Know about Having a Tooth Removed

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Permanent teeth are supposed to last forever. But sometimes, it’s better to part ways with a troublesome permanent tooth than keep it around. Here’s a look at why we may recommend removing a tooth and what you can expect during your tooth extraction appointment.

Why We Might Recommend Removing a Tooth

Damage from trauma or tooth decay is the most common reason we recommend removing a tooth. Sports injuries, falls, and other accidents can cause irreparable damage to teeth. So can severe tooth decay that affects the root of the tooth.

An infection or risk of infection may also cause enough damage to cause us to recommend an extraction. Severe gum disease is another reason we pull teeth. Sometimes, the gum tissue that supports the tooth becomes so infected that the tooth becomes loose and needs to be pulled.

Other times, we may recommend removing a tooth if it is crowding its neighbors. This is especially common for patients who are getting braces. Pulling a tooth may be the best option for properly aligning your smile or allowing other teeth to erupt.

What to Expect during Your Tooth Extraction Procedure

After a consultation with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, we’ll help you decide if the tooth should be extracted at our office or with the oral surgeon. Sometimes a local anesthetic is enough to numb the area and safely and completely remove the tooth. Other times, you may decide that undergoing IV sedation is best for you.

Once the anesthetic kicks in, we’ll remove your tooth. This can be as simple as using forceps to pull the tooth out of its socket. But sometimes, we have to cut away gum and bone tissue to better expose the tooth so we can remove it more easily.

Once the tooth is removed, we’ll pack gauze into the socket to stop the bleeding. Sometimes, we’ll add a few dissolvable stiches to close the gum edges. During the healing process, a blood clot forms in the socket. If it becomes loose after your extraction, it causes a painful condition called dry socket. If you experience pain in the area of your pulled tooth, come back to see us. We’ll add a dressing over the socket to reduce the pain as a new blood clot forms.

What to Expect after Your Tooth Removal

After your procedure is complete, we’ll share your at-home recovery plan with you. You can expect some discomfort at the site of the extraction for a few days. We’ll recommend over-the-counter painkillers or prescribe a painkiller depending on the extent of the procedure. Applying ice to the site after the procedure can reduce swelling. Avoid spitting or rinsing your mouth for 24 hours after your procedure. This will allow the clot to form and avoid a painful dry socket.

It’s okay to continue to brush and floss your teeth. Just avoid the extraction site. We also recommend patients stick to liquid or soft foods for the first few days to promote healing.

What We Need to Know from You before Removing a Tooth

Removing a tooth is one of the most common and safest dental procedures we perform. But sometimes, patients have an underlying medical condition that may complicate the extraction. If you’re prone to infection, are immunocompromised, have liver disease, have a heart defect, or have an artificial joint or heart valve, please let us know so we can refine our treatment plan.

If you’re experiencing pain from a damaged tooth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff. We’ll perform a thorough exam and recommend your appropriate next steps.

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