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Tooth extraction is perhaps more commonly known by the term “getting your teeth pulled.” In this procedure, the dentist removes one or more teeth from the patient’s mouth for good. Most of these procedures are performed while the patient is awake but under the influence of a local anesthetic so that they do not feel any pai

Why Is Tooth Extraction Used?

There are several reasons why your dentist might consider extracting a tooth. A few of these reasons are:

  • As part of orthodontic treatment, when the teeth present need more space than the available in the mouth. Braces will do their work and move the patient’s teeth around to the proper position, closing the gap.
  • To get rid of teeth that are so badly damaged from tooth decay or fracture that they cannot be repaired using fillings or crowns.
  • To remove baby teeth to make room for the permanent teeth to come in.
  • To rid a cancer or organ transplant patient of teeth that have become infected due to a weakened immune system, or are extremely vulnerable to infection as a result of these conditions.

What Happens When You Need A Tooth Extraction?

If the tooth to be extracted has already erupted (emerged from the gum line), the extraction process is relatively easy. First, the dentist will numb you in the area. Then, they will use a tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth from its position, and then special forceps will be used to pull the tooth out of the mouth.

In cases where the tooth in question either has not yet erupted and becomes fully visible or has been broken off while still lodged inside the gum, the dentist must cut into the patient’s gum to extract the tooth.

In the vast majority of cases, the patient is fully awake for the tooth extraction procedure. Some patients experience extreme anxiety when undergoing dental procedures or have a hyperactive gag reflex. These patients are sometimes better treated in conjunction with sedatives, such as nitrous (laughing gas), oral sedation (prescription pill), or conscious sedation (IV sedation). Your dentist will evaluate your situation before performing an extraction and will recommend the best way to complete the procedure.

What Is the Tooth Extraction Recovery Process?

Here are the basics of recovering from a tooth extraction:

  • After the procedure, you should bite down on a piece of gauze for 20-30 minutes or so to encourage the wound to clot and stop bleeding. Bleeding should cease within 24 hours of the procedure.
  • You must refrain from smoking, spitting, or using a straw following the procedure.
  • If you are experiencing pain, over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) can help alleviate these symptoms.
  • To reduce swelling, try holding a cold compress or ice pack on your face for 15 minutes, then keeping it off of your face for 15 minutes, repeating as necessary until the swelling has diminished.
  • Consuming soft, cool foods such as applesauce and ice cream will probably be the most comfortable way for you to eat for the first few days after your extraction.
  • The healing process can take up to two weeks. But do not hesitate to call your dentist immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as continued bleeding after the first 24 hours, difficulty swallowing or breathing, fever, redness, chills, numbness, worsening pain, etc.

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