There are many reasons your dentist may choose to extract one or more of your teeth. Most tooth extractions are a result of severely damaged teeth or an overcrowded mouth with misaligned teeth; wisdom tooth extractions also account for a large portion of all tooth extractions.
You may require a tooth extraction if you:
- Have impacted teeth, or teeth that are growing in on top of each other
- Have large teeth or a small mouth, with little room for teeth to fit comfortably
- Develop any foreseeable issues with your wisdom teeth
- Have severely damaged, rotted, or loose teeth
The tooth extraction procedure begins with your dentist applying a local anesthetic to the gums around the targeted tooth. If your tooth is deeply rooted or partially under your gums, your dentist may then apply a stronger anesthetic in the form of a shot, or a general anesthetic through an IV. Your dentist will then pull the tooth out, or break parts of the tooth, to extract it.
Recovering from Tooth Extraction
Tooth extraction typically takes less than an hour, and recovery depends on the severity of the case and the type of tooth that was removed. For baby teeth, or teeth that were already rotted or loose, you may be able to resume normal eating habits within a few days. However, for deeply rooted teeth, wisdom teeth, or multiple tooth extractions, your dentist may apply stitches, and your recovery may take a few days more.
Your dentist will provide you with detailed instructions on keeping your mouth clean to allow your wounds to heal; in most cases, there are a few important steps to a speedy recovery.
- Take painkillers as prescribed by your dentist, and use an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling
- Avoid physical activity; even light labor can cause heavier bleeding, rupture your stitches, or lead to headaches
- Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco
- Avoid hard foods, and don’t use a straw; the sucking motion from a straw can lead to a dry socket, a painful consequence of tooth extraction
- Keep your mouth clean by brushing your tongue and other teeth, and rinse your mouth with warm salt water to prevent bacteria buildup
If your dentist recommends a tooth extraction, be sure to make an appointment for the procedure right away. Allowing an infected or impacted tooth to go untreated can cause severe health problems, such as the spread of infection or excruciating mouth pain. If you feel you may need a tooth extracted, call your dentist to discuss your treatment options.
You and our dentists may decide that removing the wisdom teeth is the best way to address any pain, discomfort, bite misalignment or inability to clean the third molars. Teens and young adults may have these teeth removed, as the teeth can be easier to remove and the recovery can be tolerated quite well at this age. Many adults undergo the procedure as well, particularly if they begin to experience any issues related to their wisdom teeth.
The extraction procedure involves removing one or more of the third molars. Some people choose to have all four removed at once, even if they are currently experiencing problems with only one of the teeth. Doing so means avoiding the need for any repeat wisdom tooth extractions in the future.