What is a dental extraction?

A dental extraction, also known as tooth extraction, is the removal of one or more teeth from the mouth.

Why would a tooth need to be extracted?

There are many reasons a tooth may need to be removed. Most commonly, the need arises because of damage to the tooth, through injury or decay. Repair is always recommended before extraction, however in some cases the tooth is too damaged to fix. In these cases, it becomes necessary to remove the tooth. Other reasons for a dental extraction include:

  • Malposition – The tooth is not growing in properly, such as an impacted wisdom tooth.
  • Overcrowding – In some cases there may not be enough room for all of your teeth. Wisdom teeth are usually removed due to lack of space.
  • Cosmetic – Teeth may sometimes be removed to enhance appearance. It is most commonly done in preparation for orthodontic treatment.
  • Extra – On occasion individuals will experience the growth of extra teeth. These are usually removed to allow adequate positioning and function of the regular teeth.

How are teeth extracted?

There are two different procedures for removing a tooth. Depending on how the tooth is positioned, it can be removed with one of the following techniques.

  • Simple extraction – This procedure is done when the tooth to be extracted is visible above the gum line. Before any dental work is performed, a local anesthetic is administered to the area around the surgical site. Once this has taken effect the extraction can begin. The tooth will be loosened by rocking it back and forth in the socket, until it can be pulled out. Gauze will be placed on the extraction site and you will be instructed to keep pressure on the area for the next 30 minutes or so until a blood clot forms.
  • Surgical extraction – When the tooth is still below the gums and has not yet erupted. Depending on the angle of the tooth sometimes it cannot push through the gums, this is called an impacted tooth.  The procedure to remove a tooth in this condition is very similar to a simple extraction, with only three differences. First, in addition to a local anesthetic, you will also have the option of oral sedation. Second, before the tooth is extracted an incision must be made in the gums to allow access to the tooth. Third, if the tooth is in a particularly awkward position, instead of pulling the entire tooth, it will be broken into pieces for easier removal.

What can I expect after a dental extraction?

Immediately following your dental extraction, it is common to experience swelling and discomfort. The following suggestions, in addition to your post-operative instructions, will help your body heal properly and minimize discomfort.

  • You may take an over the counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, as directed, to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  • An ice pack can be placed on the outside of the surgical site for 15 minutes at a time to further reduce swelling.
  • During the first 24 hours you should not smoke, drink through a straw or partake in any strenuous activity as these actions can dislodge the blood clot. This will cause bleeding to start again.
  • Avoid very hot or cold foods and liquids as well as hard foods. Eat only soft foods such as gelatin, pudding, oatmeal, soup, bananas, etc. until it is comfortable to chew more solid foods.

Please Note:
In some cases, when it is needed, some bone grafting will be necessary after a tooth extraction to help healing for a future tooth replacement. Dr. Hawkins is able to perform this minor bone grafting when it becomes necessary.

If you have any questions about tooth extractions, or bone grafting after an extraction, please feel free to give us a call. We are always happy to help you.