A dentist will make every effort to save a broken or damaged tooth with a filling, crown or other dental treatment. However, in some cases – such as for impacted wisdom teeth – a tooth extraction is the best choice. At Marsden Park Dental Centre in Logan, we offer this solution for badly broken, infected or decayed teeth.
Tooth Extraction Procedures
Extractions may be simple or surgical. The first is used for a tooth that is decayed or broken but can still be seen above the gum line. The dentist uses a tool called an elevator to loosen the tooth from the jawbone. Once the tooth has been loosened, it is removed with forceps. A surgical extraction is a more complex procedure, used when a tooth breaks off at or below the gum line. This procedure is also used for impacted wisdom teeth – a physical barrier such as another tooth or improper alignment prevents third molar from erupting. An incision into the gum is required to remove the part or the tooth below the gum line.
Reasons for Tooth Extraction
Teeth may need to be extracted for a variety of reasons. Impacted wisdom teeth are one of the most common reasons for tooth extraction. You may have an extra tooth or a small jaw, making the teeth excessively crowded. Baby teeth may not fall out when they should. If you need braces, a tooth extraction may be required to create room for teeth being straightened. Cancer radiation treatments can damage teeth, so an extraction may be required. Drugs used for chemotherapy and organ transplants can increase the risk of decay and infection that cannot be cured except with an extraction.
About the Procedure
The first steps for tooth extraction are an examination and dental X-rays. The X-ray may involve only a single tooth, or may be a panoramic X-ray, which shows the relationship of your teeth to each other, the sinuses and the jaw itself. Panoramic X-rays also help identify infections or tumors. A local anesthetic is always used for a simple extraction. General anesthesia or intravenous medications that make you drowsy are used for surgical extractions (they may also be used in children or those who have high anxiety). Once the tooth is removed, the dentist will have you bite on a gauze packing for 20 to 30 minutes to stop bleeding and allow a clot to form.
Aftercare for Tooth Extraction
The goals of aftercare are to reduce pain and prevent a dry socket, bleeding or infection. Ices packs and over the counter pain medications are used to manage pain. A prescription pain medication is not usually necessary, but may also be used in some cases. Instead of brushing your teeth, use one-half teaspoon of salt in warm water to swish your mouth according to your dentist’s instructions. You must not smoke, spit or use a straw until the area is healed to ensure the clot remains in place. Eat soft, cool foods until the area is completely healed.
Although not common, infection and a condition known as dry socket can occur after a tooth extraction. A dry socket occurs when the blood clot doesn’t form or is dislodged. The jaw bone is exposed and can become painful. A dry socket is more common after the removal of impacted wisdom teeth and requires a special medicated dressing. Infection can occur as a result of the dry socket or simply because of the surgical procedure itself – antibiotics are usually required. Notify us immediately if you develop increased pain, mouth odor or fever.