General – Extractions
Sometimes in life you just need to remove a problem. Luckily, if that problem is a tooth, the friendly team of professionals at Super Smiles dentistry, conveniently located near you in Burlington, Massachusetts, can help.
Why Would I Need a Tooth Extraction?
A tooth extraction is when a tooth is removed, or pulled, from your jaw. Many people, perhaps even yourself, have had their wisdom teeth extracted as young adults or perhaps later in life when they became a problem. There are five main reasons for extracting teeth:
- If your tooth has become too damaged or decayed to the point where it can’t be saved or repaired with a filling or crown.
- If your tooth has become infected and a root canal treatment didn’t fix it, the infection could spread, and it isn’t responding to antibiotics.
- If you have a high risk of infection due to your immune system being compromised from illness, or if you’re receiving an organ transplant soon.
- Periodontal gum disease, which is an infection of the tissues which support and hold your teeth in place, can cause them to become loose or even fall out.
- If your mouth is too crowded for your teeth and keeping one or more from being able to erupt through the gums or for the purposes of orthodontia (braces).
What’s Involved in a Tooth Extraction?
There are two types of tooth extractions, surgical and simple (non-surgical). Simple extractions are far more common and pretty straight forward.
Dr. Miller and her highly trained team of caring professionals will first numb the area around the tooth that’s going to be extracted by giving you a series of shots containing a local anesthetic. Next, she’ll use a special tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth. After the tooth has been sufficiently loosened, she’ll reach in with a tool called forceps to grab the tooth and pull it out of the socket.
After the tooth has been extracted a blood clot should form naturally with the help of some gauze which will be put in the area where the tooth used to be and you’ll be told to bite down on it which will put pressure on the wound and help the blood clot to form. Occasionally, Dr. Miller may use a few dissolvable stitches, or sutures, to close up the gums a bit.
Sometimes a condition called dry socket can occur when the blood clot is loosened and falls out, exposing the jawbone and can cause pain and discomfort. If this occurs, Dr. Miller will put a protective dressing over it which will help a new one form and relieve the discomfort.
In some instances, surgery may be required to extract your tooth. Generally, surgery is only required if your tooth is impacted, or hiding under your gums. If surgery is required, you will likely be put under anesthesia for the operation due to its invasive nature and the need for you to remain perfectly still.
The surgical extraction is the same process as a simple extraction, but a small incision is made in your gums to reveal the tooth hiding inside and is then extracted. Sometimes a tooth may have to be removed in pieces if it’s impacted too deeply. Otherwise, aside from the anesthesia and the incision, the process is identical.
Precautions to Take Before Having a Tooth Extraction
A tooth extraction is a very safe and routine procedure but even still, certain precautions should be made if you have certain conditions. When a tooth is extracted, bacteria could enter your bloodstream and cause complications. If you have a suppressed immune system, artificial joints, liver disease, issues with your heart, or a history of bacterial endocarditis, you’ll need to take antibiotics before and likely after the surgery. Even if you’re unaware of any of these issues, be sure to share your entire medical history and any medications and supplements you may be taking with Dr. Miller and her staff to avoid any complications.
Aftercare for a Tooth Extraction
After you’ve had your tooth extracted, you’ll be sent home to recover. Recovery generally takes a few days and you should follow Dr. Miller’s care instructions closely as to not aggravate the recovering tissue, risk infection, and increase discomfort. These tips will help ensure a speedy recovery:
- Change your gauze pad before it becomes soaked by blood and be sure to keep it firmly in place to help with clotting
- Take your prescribed painkillers and any other medications as directed
- Applying a cold compress to the site of the extraction in ten-minute intervals can help reduce swelling
- Plan on taking it easy for the rest of the day and avoid any strenuous activity in the next couple of days to follow
- Stick to soft foods for the first few days and slowly start reintroducing harder foods as time goes on
- Don’t use straws for the first 24 hours after the extraction
- Don’t smoke
- Continue brushing your teeth (and tongue) and flossing but be sure to avoid the extraction site
- Don’t rinse or spit aggressively for the first 24 hours
- After 24 hours, rinse with a solution of a half teaspoon of salt to eight ounces of water
- When resting, be sure to prop your head up with pillows to help with clotting
When to Call Dr. Miller
If you follow your aftercare instructions closely, you should have no issues but sometimes things arise that no one could see coming. If you have any of the following issues present themselves, call Dr. Miller immediately or seek other emergency medical attention:
- Bleeding more than four hours after your extraction
- Severe pain more than four hours after your extraction
- Nausea or vomiting
- Signs of infection
- Redness or swelling
- Discharge from the affected area
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain