No one wants to lose a tooth, but sometimes we outlive our teeth due to trauma or decay. Perhaps there is a need to make room for orthodontic treatment or you have an impacted wisdom tooth that’s becoming a problem. Children can often have a baby tooth that won’t come out naturally. Regardless of the reason, sometimes it becomes necessary to have a tooth removed or “extracted.”
Most extractions are very simple. Careful manipulation by an experienced hand detaches the tooth from the periodontal ligament, which attaches it to the bone, and out it comes. If a tooth is impacted (not yet fully erupted from the bone), broken off below the gum line, or extremely brittle due to decay, then its removal becomes more tricky, but nothing to get all wound up about.
If it becomes necessary to have a tooth extracted, you will be given a local anesthetic which will numb the teeth and the surrounding bone and gum tissue. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is also often used in combination with the local to help our patients relax for the procedure.
After the tooth is removed, the dentist will place sterile gauze over the socket. 10-20 minutes of gentle pressure is usually all that’s required to control any bleeding. Sometimes small sutures may also be used; it just depends on the case. It is normal to experience discomfort and swelling after an extraction, but it should be mild or moderate and controllable by taking anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or aspirin. Ice packs on the outside of your jaw, and sticking to a diet of softer foods for a while can also be helpful until you’re back to normal in a few days.