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What to Expect With a Tooth Extraction

Fear of the unknown is nowhere more evident than in the usual reaction to a dental visit. Although it’s understandable given the abundance and variety of very sharp instruments and noisy tools next to the dentist’s chair, the fear can be conquered by understanding the reason it’s needed and the details of your procedure, including the cost.

Tooth extractions are among the most prevalent procedures and they’re also among the most feared. However, a tooth extraction is simply removing a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. The need for an extraction can arise from several causes, including trauma, decay, a cracked or broken tooth, or a tooth that has loosened from its socket. No matter the reason, if you have a damaged tooth that can’t be repaired, then you’ll need to have it removed if you’re to retain good oral health.

Your tooth extraction will begin with an x-ray that will show the dentist the best method for removing the tooth as well as indicate any complications that may arise. Your dentist will need information about your medical history as well as any medications you’re currently taking, both over-the-counter supplements and prescriptions. Your dentist will discuss your options for sedation and the two of you will decide the best method for your unique needs.

If you develop a cold or nasal congestion, nausea, or vomiting the week before your scheduled extraction, the procedure may need to be rescheduled. If you develop any of these, be sure to promptly notify your dentist’s office.

What to Know Before Your Tooth Extraction Procedure

Your dentist will specifically want to know if you have or have had in the past any of the following:

  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Hip or knee joint replacement
  • Congenital heart defect
  • Impaired immunity
  • Artificial or damaged heart valves
  • Cirrhosis of the liver

Are There Different Types of Extractions?

There are two types of tooth extractions: simple and surgical, both of which require a local anesthetic. If you have a simple extraction, your dentist will loosen the tooth and remove it. If you need a surgical extraction, your dentist will make a small incision in your gum and remove the tooth, and you may need an intravenous anesthetic if you have a surgical extraction. You shouldn’t feel any pain with either procedure, although you may feel some pressure against your gum. If you experience pain or pinching, let your dentist know without delay.

How to Care for Your Mouth After an Extraction Procedure

When your extraction is complete, your dentist may close the site with a few self-dissolving sutures and then pack it with gauze. You’ll be asked to bite down firmly and maintain the pressure until a clot forms and the bleeding stops. Once you get home, you’ll need to adhere to the following aftercare guidelines:

  • Avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours.
  • Continue to bite down on the gauze until the bleeding stops, which will probably take at least three hours. Replace the gauze as needed.
  • Apply an ice-pack to the outside of the jaw at the extraction site at ten-minute intervals. Don’t apply ice directly to the site, however.
  • Avoid drinking through a straw, smoking, spitting forcefully, or rinsing your mouth for 24 hours.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene, but avoid the extraction site until it heals.
    Keep your head elevated for 24 hours, including while you’re sleeping.
  • After 24 hours, rinse with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt and eight ounces of warm water.
  • Stick to a soft-food diet until the site heals. Eat only soft foods such as yogurt, soup, applesauce, or mashed potatoes.
  • Take painkillers as you need them and as directed by your dentist.

Any tooth extraction may be accompanied by minor bleeding, pain, or swelling, but it shouldn’t be excessive. If you notice any of the following, contact your dentist without delay:

  • Excessive bleeding, pain, or swelling after four hours
  • Chills, fever, or any sign of infection
  • Chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath
  • Excessive discharge from the site, redness, or swelling
  • Vomiting or nausea

If you experience any of the above symptoms or complications, then immediately contact your dentist.

Typically, your tooth extraction site will completely heal within one to two weeks, and after that, you can resume your normal diet and lifestyle. You can also resume your regular oral hygiene regimen.

Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to erupt. They’re in the far back of the mouth on both sides of the upper and lower jaw. Since they’re the last teeth to appear, sometimes there’s not enough room for them without erupting crooked or causing the other teeth to become misaligned. When that happens, they’re usually removed.

Sometimes, however, wisdom teeth erupt straight and cause no issues for the surrounding teeth. If they’re not causing a problem, some dentists won’t remove them. The topic of preventive wisdom teeth removal is hotly debated among dentists, and there are valid arguments on both sides. Some feel that the wisdom teeth should be preemptively extracted as a matter of course, others think they should only be removed if there’s a problem.

The American Dental Association recommends removal of the wisdom teeth for the following reasons:

  • Development of a cyst or tumor
  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Infection
  • Development of gum disease
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Tooth decay

Even when your wisdom teeth aren’t problematic, many dentists think they should be removed for the following reasons:

  • Risk reduction: Removing wisdom teeth when a person is younger removes the risk of health complications that often develop in older adults who have a tooth extraction.
  • Safety: Many dentists think it’s difficult to predict accurately whether wisdom teeth will cause an issue, so they prefer to remove them to eliminate the possibility.
  • Disease prevention: Wisdom teeth can harbor disease but have no symptoms, so removing them will prevent the possibility of disease developing.

No matter which side you agree with, you’ll find a reputable Hudson Valley dentist willing to help you make the right decision. The important thing is to find a compatible and compassionate dentist you like and to learn the pros and cons of the wisdom teeth extraction procedure so that you can have the best oral health possible.

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