As dentists, we must admit, we love teeth, and we love your teeth. However, no matter how hard we try to protect our patients’ smiles, occasionally, a tooth does need to be extracted. This can be for a wide variety of reasons, but if we here at State Street Dental advise a tooth extraction, it is because the tooth could not be saved with any other interventions. Fortunately for you, we are extremely careful and gentle when performing a dental extraction on our patients. Not only do we want you to be comfortable, but we also want you to be educated and empowered about this procedure.
Why Would a Tooth Need To be Extracted?
There are several reasons why a tooth may need to be extracted. One common reason is due to severe tooth decay. If a cavity has gotten to the point that restoration options (such as a root canal, a filling, or an inlay or onlay) do not treat it, then the tooth may require extraction. Another cause for extraction is due to a serious infection in the tooth or along the gumline. An impacted wisdom tooth may need an extraction, too. Finally, injury to the tooth may damage it to the point that it cannot be saved, and extraction may, therefore, be necessary.
Types of Dental Extractions
There are two main types of dental extractions. Simple dental extractions can normally be completed with the aid of local anesthetic (typically lidocaine). Once the tooth and the site are numb, we will then loosen the tooth with a tool called an “elevator”. When the tooth is adequately loosened, we will then reach into the patient's mouth with our forceps to grip the tooth and gently pull it out.
Sometimes a simple extraction may not be enough. In this case, we may need to perform a surgical extraction. This could occur if the tooth has broken off beneath the gums. We may also need to perform a surgical extraction if a tooth has not erupted through the gum line. With surgical extraction, we may need to use a combination of local anesthetic and inhaled sedative (such as nitrous oxide or laughing gas). We will place an incision into the gums to expose the tooth, then gently work the tooth out with our elevator before removing it with our forceps.
Aftercare for an Extraction
After your extraction, we will carefully pack the site with gauze. This will encourage a clot to form. This clot is necessary, and you want to avoid accidentally dislodging it. Doing so can lead to a painful condition called “dry socket”. To help prevent complications, avoid using a drinking straw. Eat soft foods and abstain from tobacco products. If you start to notice any signs of infection (such as a fever or swollen lymph nodes), or the bleeding does not stop, contact us immediately.
Being told that you may need a dental extraction can be admittedly a little bit unnerving, but we want to assure you that this procedure is entirely safe and routine. If you follow our aftercare advice, you can help minimize any discomfort that may occur after your extraction. To learn more about extractions, or to set up an appointment with us here at State Street Dental, please give us a call at today!