There is a number of reasons why your teeth may need to be extracted.
Some of the most common reasons include:
- severe gum disease (periodontal disease) – when bacteria build up on your teeth and damage the bone that holds them in place, the teeth may become loose
- tooth decay – if a tooth is very rotten, its nerves and blood vessels can die, leading to a painful abscess
- a broken tooth that can’t be repaired
- crowded teeth – if you have a small jaw or lost your milk (baby) teeth early, your teeth may be crooked and you may need to have one or more removed so that the rest can be straightened
- wisdom tooth problems – if there isn’t enough space in your mouth for your wisdom teeth they may become impacted (stuck behind the tooth in front) and need to be removed
There are two types of extractions
- A simple extraction is performed on a tooth that can be seen in the mouth. General dentists commonly do simple extractions. Most of these can be done using just an injection (a local anesthetic), with or without anti-anxiety drugs. In a simple extraction, the dentist will grasp the tooth with forceps and loosen it by moving the forceps back and forth. Then the tooth will be pulled out. Sometimes the dentist will use a dental “elevator” to help loosen the tooth. This is an instrument that fits between the tooth and the gum.
- A surgical extraction involves teeth that cannot be seen easily in the mouth. They may have broken off at the gum line or they may not have come in yet. To see and remove the tooth, the dentist or oral surgeon must cut and pull back the gums. Pulling back the gum “flap” provides access to remove bone and/or a piece of the tooth. Surgical extractions commonly are done by oral surgeons. They are done with injections (local anesthesia), and you can also have conscious sedation. Patients with special medical conditions and young children may be given general anesthesia.
What to expect after surgery
In most cases, the recovery period lasts only a few days. The following will help speed recovery:
- Take painkillers as prescribed by your dentist or oral surgeon
- After 24 hours, rinse your mouth gently with warm salt water several times a day to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Make your own salt water by mixing 1 tsp (5 g) of salt in a medium-sized glass [8 fl oz (237 mL)] of warm water.
- Change gauze pads before they become soaked with blood
- Relax after surgery. Physical activity may increase bleeding
- Avoid smoking
- Eat soft foods, such as gelatin, pudding, or a thin soup. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as healing progresses.
- Do not lie flat. This may prolong bleeding. Prop up your head with pillows
- Avoid rubbing the area with your tongue
- Continue to carefully brush your teeth and tongue