Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes, though, there’s too much damage for the tooth to be repaired. In this case, the tooth needs to be extracted. A very loose tooth also will require extraction if it can’t be saved, even with bone replacement surgery (bone graft).
Here are other reasons:
- Some people have extra teeth that block other teeth from coming in.
- Sometimes baby teeth don’t fall out in time to allow the permanent teeth to come in.
- People getting braces may need teeth extracted to create room for the teeth that are being moved into place.
- People receiving radiation to the head and neck may need to have teeth in the field of radiation extracted.
- People receiving cancer drugs may develop infected teeth because these drugs weaken the immune system. Infected teeth may need to be extracted.
- Some teeth may need to be extracted if they could become a source of infection after an organ transplant. People with organ transplants have a high risk of infection because they must take drugs that decrease or suppress the immune system.
- Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are often extracted either before or after they come in. They commonly come in during the late teens or early 20s. They need to be removed if they are decayed, cause pain or have a cyst or infection. These teeth often get stuck in the jaw (impacted) and do not come in. This can irritate the gum, causing pain and swelling. In this case, the tooth must be removed. If you need all four wisdom teeth removed, they are usually taken out at the same time.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will take an X-ray of the area to help plan the best way to remove the tooth. Be sure to provide your full medical and dental history and a list of all medicines you take. This should include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements. If you are having wisdom teeth removed, you may have a panoramic X-ray. This X-ray takes a picture of all of your teeth at once. It can show several things that help to guide an extraction.
It normally takes a few days to recover after a tooth extraction. The following steps help ensure that your recovery goes smoothly.
- Apply an ice pack to your cheek directly after the procedure to reduce swelling. Use the ice pack for 10 minutes each time.
- After the dentist places the gauze pad over the affected area, bite down to reduce bleeding and to aid in clot formation. Leave the gauze on for three to four hours, or until the pad is soaked with blood.
- Take any medications as prescribed, including over-the-counter painkillers.
- Rest and relax for the first 24 hours. Do not jump immediately into your regular routine the following day.
- Don’t rinse for 24 hours after the tooth extraction, and spit only gently.
- As you heal over the next few days, you can slowly reintroduce other foods into your diet.