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Having a Tooth Removed? Here’s What to Know

Getting a tooth extracted might sound scary, but it’s a common procedure that can improve your oral health in the long run. This guide will answer your questions about tooth extraction and why it might be necessary.

Why Extractions Are Needed

Our goal is always trying to save your natural teeth, but sometimes extraction is the best course of action. Tooth decay, infection, or injury can leave a tooth beyond repair. Extraction prevents further problems and protects surrounding teeth. For instance, a deep cavity that reaches the tooth pulp (the inner part containing nerves and blood vessels) might be too far gone for a filling or crown.

In such cases, extraction is needed to prevent the infection from spreading and causing an abscess (a pus-filled pocket at the tooth root).

Wisdom teeth or other impacted teeth can cause pain, crowding, and infection. Removing them is often recommended. Wisdom teeth are the four permanent adult teeth at the back of your mouth that typically erupt between ages 17 and 25. There often isn’t enough space for them to erupt fully, leading to impaction.

Impacted teeth can push on other teeth, causing misalignment and pain. They can also be more prone to infection if they only partially emerge through the gums.

Advanced gum disease loosens teeth and promotes infection. Extraction may be needed to save surrounding teeth and bone. Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar. In severe cases, the gums and bone supporting the teeth can deteriorate. If a tooth becomes loose due to gum disease, extraction may be necessary to prevent further bone loss and infection.

For some orthodontic treatments, removing specific teeth can create space for proper alignment, improving your smile’s function and appearance. In some cases, orthodontic treatment plans might involve removing premolars (the bicuspids behind your canine teeth) to create space for crowded front teeth. This allows for better alignment and a more balanced smile.

Types of Tooth Extraction

There are two main types of extractions:

Simple Extraction

This is the preferred method for teeth visible above the gum line. It involves numbing the area with local anesthesia, loosening the tooth with an instrument called an elevator, and removing it with forceps. Simple extractions are typically performed by your dentist.

Surgical Extraction

This is needed for impacted teeth or complex cases where the tooth is broken below the gum line or has a complex root structure. It may involve making an incision in the gum or removing some bone tissue. Surgical extractions are usually performed by an oral surgeon, a dentist with additional training in surgery.

Recovery After Extraction

Following your extraction, here’s how to promote healing and prevent infection: Control the bleeding by biting firmly on gauze for 30-45 minutes after surgery. Avoid rinsing vigorously, using straws, smoking, or drinking alcohol for 72 hours. These activities can dislodge the blood clot that forms naturally to stop bleeding and aid healing.

You can manage pain and swelling with ice packs to your cheek near the extraction site to minimize swelling. Take prescribed pain medication as directed by your dentist or oral surgeon.

Stick to soft foods on the day of extraction and gradually return to your normal diet as comfortable. Avoid very hot or spicy foods that can irritate the extraction site.

Resume brushing and flossing gently after 24 hours, avoiding the extraction site initially. It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene to prevent infection, but be gentle around the extraction site while it heals.

Call your dentist or oral surgeon immediately if you experience:

  • Heavy bleeding that doesn’t subside with gauze application
  • Severe pain that is not relieved by medication
  • Persistent swelling that worsens or doesn’t improve after 2-3 days
  • Reaction to medication, such as hives, rash, or difficulty breathing

Contact Our Oral Surgery Office

If you require a surgical tooth extraction, choosing a qualified and experienced oral surgeon is important. At Oral & Facial Reconstructive Surgeons of Utah, we prioritize your comfort above all else. Your well-being is not just a checkbox for us; it’s our steadfast commitment. We invest in cutting-edge technology to ensure efficient and optimal outcomes. Our dedication to leading rather than following sets us apart from the rest.

Our elite team is continuously enhancing patient care through ongoing education, staying at the forefront of oral surgery advancements. Choose us for a pain-free, healthier, and happier smile. Schedule your consultation today.

Meet Our Oral Surgeons

Dr. Nathan Adams, MD, DMD, FACS

Dr. Adams is a board-certified oral & maxillofacial surgeon who received his surgical training at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Adams has interests in sleep apnea, oral pathology, orthognathic surgery (correcting jaw deformities), facial trauma, dental implants, bone grafting, and office-based anesthesia.

Dr. Michael Gladwell, MD, DMD, FACS

Dr. Gladwell is a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon with training from the Mayo Clinic. He holds degrees in health administration and dentistry and is a member of several professional associations. Dr. Gladwell offers a full range of oral and maxillofacial surgery services, including wisdom tooth removal, implants, and surgery for sleep apnea and facial trauma.