Dental Extractions

Obviously not one of the most appealing aspects of dentistry, tooth extractions must be performed only under the most extreme circumstances when there is no other alternative.  Both patients and doctors often avoid removing a tooth if possible and hence, it is only performed for special circumstances.

Reasons for Tooth Extractions:

Commonly Extracted Wisdom Teeth:

In order to eliminate future potential problems, many dental professionals would recommend remove the wisdom teeth.  Because of this, wisdom teeth are commonly extracted today.   Wisdom teeth are the 3rd molars that usually erupt during adolescence.  In most cases, the emergence of this tooth causes crowding of the tooth.  Impacted teeth can cause infection, decay of adjacent teeth, bite interference and gum recession/disease - all of which is not worth the additional benefits of the 3rd molar.


Two Types of Tooth Extractions

Simple Extractions: This extraction is performed on teeth that are visible in the mouth.  General dentists commonly perform these extractions and are done merely with local anesthetic and with the option of anti-anxiety medications and sedation.

Surgical Extractions: This extraction is much more complicated then simple extractions.  These involve teeth that cannot be easily reached or seen in the mouth.  Surgical extractions are performed with many surgical procedures: bone removal, lifting and folding of gum tissue, and tooth sectioning.  Surgical extractions, like simple extractions, are performed with anesthesia and/or conscious sedation.



Post-Operation Instructions

Following tooth extractions, the dentist will have placed a piece of gauze in the area for about 45 minutes.  It is not uncommon for minor swelling and discomfort to arise.  In order to decrease both pain and swelling, an OTC medication, 400 mg ibuprofen and 400 mg acetominophen, is prescribed and should be taken ever 8-12 hours. Ice packs can greatly decrease swelling and relieve minor discomforts.  If the jaw is sore and stiff after the swelling dissipates, apply warm compresses.  Sleep with the head facing upward in order to relieve jaw pressure - elevating the head with extra pillows would also be a recommended addition.  

Do not rinse your mouth for the first 24 hours following the tooth extraction as this could agitate the fresh wound, preventing healing.  After the first 24 hours, gently rinse the socket with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of water) after meals and before sleeping.  The salt solution minimizes trauma to the wound as it is similar to the body's saliva content, using other solutions such as mouth rinse would do more harm then good.  For the next week, stick to a soft or liquid diet.  Milk, mashed potatoes, and other blended foods are highly recommended as they would minimize further agitation to the wound.  Chew with areas away from the extraction sight.  Brush and floss areas away from the extraction socket. You may think of the extraction area as you would a cut on your arm.  You must keep it clean from infection and you must not play with it or it will leave a scar.  Smoking and alcohol is also highly ill advised during the healing process.