As a child, you likely remember losing your baby teeth. But once your permanent chompers came in, you probably never envisioned losing those. However, tooth extractions are sometimes necessary, even in adulthood, and for good reason.
To better understand why having a tooth pulled is common in adulthood, what the process looks like, and why you should not be concerned about the routine procedure, we’ve written this article on some of the most frequently asked questions regarding tooth extraction.
For more information on general dentistry or inquiries about oral surgery in the Baltimore area, please contact Federal Hill Smiles today!
What is a tooth extraction?
A tooth extraction, commonly referred to as a tooth pulling, is a minor oral surgery procedure that results in the removal of a permanent tooth from its cavity.
Why is a tooth extraction necessary?
In adulthood, a tooth extraction procedure may be necessary for a number of reasons. If a tooth has been irreparably damaged by trauma (e.g. cracking, chipping) or decay (rotting), an extraction may become necessary. In other instances, teeth may need to be pulled to prepare the mouth for orthodontic treatment, to eliminate an infection, or to prevent future infection in those with compromised immune systems.
What should you expect from tooth extraction?
Your tooth extraction will be performed by a dentist or an oral surgeon. Prior to beginning the surgery, your dentist will apply a localized anesthetic to numb the area of operation. In addition to numbing the area, the anesthetic may make you temporarily lose consciousness or feel “out of sorts.” This is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. You should not feel any pain or serious discomfort during the procedure.
If the tooth is impacted, your oral surgeon may need to cut away excess periodontal tissue or bone tissue. Some teeth are harder to pull and must be extracted in multiple pieces, but this does not diminish the efficacy of the procedure.
Following the successful extraction of the tooth, a blood clot will form. Your dentist will have you bite down on a piece of cotton or absorbent gauze in order to halt the bleeding and stimulate immediate recovery. If necessary, dissolving stitches will be administered to seal the gum wound and protect it from infection.
On rare occasions, the blood clot will not heal properly and demonstrate signs of dryness. This condition is called “dry socket” but should not concern you greatly. Your dentist or oral surgeon will merely place a supplementary moisturizing, sedative dressing over the extraction site, and this issue should resolve in several days.
What should you ask your dentist?
If you suspect you have a condition that may make you more susceptible to infections, or you take medications that compromise your immune system, you should ask your dentist about how to minimize risks. Both surrounding tooth integrity and gum health are put at risk after a tooth extraction, so it is vital that your dentist understands your past medical history and current health status.
Conditions that may impact your ability to effectively recover from a tooth extraction include, but are not limited to: congenital heart defect, artificial joints and internal prostheses, liver disease, and immune system diseases and disorders.
What should you do after the procedure?
Following your tooth extraction, leave the gauze or cotton absorbent pad in place for three to four hours. Take pain medication as prescribed by your doctor or oral surgeon. If swelling occurs, apply a cold compress or ice bag to the inflamed area. Do not use mouthwash or antibacterial rinses for at least 24 hours following the procedure. After one day, you can resume your normal oral hygiene habits, but take care not to overwork or irritate the site of surgery. When you lie down to sleep, elevate your neck to minimize blood loss and to keep the extraction area free of as much bacteria-stimulating moisture as possible.
Should you call the dentist to follow up?
You should call your dentist or oral surgeon if you notice any signs of infection, such as chills and fever. Other concerning signs may include nausea, vomiting, redness, excessive discharge, cough and shortness of breath. Even if you don’t suspect that your symptoms are related to the procedure, it’s better to be safe than sorry and to contact your dental specialist as soon as you can.
Federal Hill Smiles is proud to offer professional services in tooth extractions and dental surgery. We provide the Baltimore area with unparalleled performance in general, cosmetic, and sedation dentistry. If you are in need of a tooth extraction or any other dental procedure, please contact us at your earliest convenience.