In a perfect world, we would all be able to keep the teeth we were born with for our whole lives. Unfortunately, sometimes teeth become so damaged or overcrowded that an extraction is the only option for restoring oral health. While a tooth extraction is almost never your dentist’s first option, they will do their utmost to ensure the procedure is as comfortable as possible. Keep reading below to learn what to expect at every step of the tooth extraction process.
Step 1: Numbing Your Mouth
Before the procedure begins, your dentist will make sure your mouth is numb enough to not feel pain during the extraction. Typically, the dentist will apply a topical numbing gel to the gums surrounding the tooth before injecting a potent local anesthetic into the area.
Step 2: Extracting the Tooth
Once the area is numb, the dentist can begin extracting the tooth. In many cases, the tooth can simply be gently rocked back and forth with a pair of forceps until it slides out of the socket. However, if the tooth is impacted (stuck in the gum line), which is common with wisdom teeth, the dentist might need to make a tiny incision in your gums and remove the tooth in smaller pieces.
While you shouldn’t experience pain, you may feel a slight pressure as the tooth is being loosened and extracted. You might also hear a snapping or creaking sound. This is perfectly normal, as the tooth and its socket are both hard tissues.
Step 3: Closing the Gap
After washing out the socket to remove any lingering tooth or bone fragments, the dentist must close the gap left behind by the extracted tooth. The area might be stitched up if the tooth was impacted or several teeth were removed at once. Gauze will be placed over the site, and you’ll be asked to firmly bite down on it for about an hour to minimize bleeding. An ice pack may also be put against your cheek to prevent swelling.
Step 4: Caring for the Extraction Site
Recovering from a tooth extraction usually takes a few days. During this time, a blood clot should form over the extraction site. Certain activities, like rinsing or spitting forcefully, smoking, blowing your nose, or drinking through a straw, could dislodge the clot and delay healing, which can be quite painful.
For the next few days, stick to soft foods like yogurt, applesauce, and soup. Avoid strenuous physical activity and take your prescribed pain medication as needed. You can still brush and floss as normal, but stay away from the extraction site until it has finished healing, which should be within a week.
While tooth extractions aren’t exactly anyone’s idea of fun, they are essential for many people’s ongoing oral health. Thankfully, the procedure is virtually painless these days thanks to modern technology and techniques. Follow their suggestions and you should have nothing to worry about!
About the Author
Dr. Hector Carlos Tijerina obtained his doctorate degree at the Baylor College of Dentistry. He currently practices at Parkfield Family Dental in Austin, where he has helped countless patients get out of pain and restore their health with tooth extractions. He always prioritizes his patients’ comfort and safety above everything else. To learn more about the tooth extraction process, contact Dr. Tijerina’s office at (512) 213-6778.