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What to Expect with a Tooth Extraction

Being afraid of going to the dentist is a real fear affecting many Americans. They are often afraid of the unknown; the instruments, the needles, and pain from procedures like tooth extractions. Knowing what happens during a tooth extraction will help your anxiety, especially since the procedure is not painful when performed properly. In fact, it will stop the pain from an infected or decayed tooth that is beyond repair.

During a simple extraction, the only thing you’ll feel is pressure from your dentist loosening the tooth so they can pull it out. A local anesthetic will block all pain sensations. In addition, most experienced dentists in Northern Virginia can get the tooth out quickly without you even noticing they have started the procedure. A surgical extraction is different. It’s used when the tooth has to be extracted from underneath the gum. Your dental professional will make a slight cut in the gum to reach the tooth which is typically impacted or broken off at the gumline.

Knowing what’s going to happen before your dentist begins, during the extraction and afterwards will do a lot to ease your anxiety. Extractions have a bad reputation, but they don’t deserve it. With modern dentistry, the experience is nothing like it’s depicted in old movies. You might have minor discomfort afterward, but an OTC anti-inflammatory pain reliever will take care of the pain.

What Goes on Before a Tooth Extraction?

Your dentist will perform an exam and take an x-ray of the area. He is she will explain why an extraction is necessary. Common reasons include severe decay or damage that a root canal and a crown can’t solve as there isn’t enough tooth structure left. Overly crowded teeth and impacted teeth also usually have to be extracted. It’s important that you understand why the extraction has to occur so you can ensure you do not have to deal with the same problem again.

Many times your dentist can give you advice and suggestions for taking care of your teeth better at home or provide different signs to look out for if you have teeth susceptible to decay or another type of condition affecting the health of your teeth.

You’ll learn about the procedure and what to expect in terms in recovery and cost. Before agreeing to the procedure, your dentist will go over your costs. If the tooth needs to be extracted for medical reasons, as most teeth do, it should be covered by your insurance. However, you will need to check with your insurance provider to be certain it will be covered.

Your dentist will ask you about any prescription or over-the-counter drugs you take, in addition to any nutritional supplements or vitamins you take. Be prepared to give a full medical history, including any:

  • Instances of liver disease
  • Artificial joints
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Mechanical heart valves
  • A compromised immune system
  • Present or past bacterial endocarditis

What’s a Tooth Extraction Recovery Like?

If you follow your dentist’s instructions, most extraction sites heal within a week. If you have a molar pulled or a surgical extraction, it can take up to 10 days for the site to heal.

When you leave the office, you’ll have minor bleeding from the site. Take some tepid water and change the gauze pad as needed. The bleeding should stop shortly. Your dentist will also explain how often you can use an ice pack to control the swelling. Once the local anesthesia wears off, you’ll feel minor pain. An over-the-counter pain reliever recommended by your dentist is typically enough to ease any discomfort.

To aid in healing, a blood clot will form in the socket. It is essential not to dislodge it. Avoid:

  • Any strenuous activity for 24 hours after the extraction
  • Chewing on the side of your mouth where the tooth was pulled
  • Any foods or drinks that are boiling hot or ice cold
  • Using a straw
  • Smoking
  • Spitting

If you disturb the blood clot, a painful condition, called dry socket, can occur. If you feel almost unbearable pain after your extraction, call your dental office right away. You should also call if you experience chills, fever, uncontrolled bleeding or excessive swelling.

Are Wisdom Teeth Extractions Necessary?

All four wisdom teeth usually start appearing in people in their late teens or early 20s. While not everyone gets their third set of molars, those that do often experience problems. Our jaws are often too small to hold the teeth. Wisdom teeth may get trapped inside the gum with nowhere to go or they can emerge at an angle and press against the other molars. Some people only have a few wisdom teeth which can also cause the teeth to push unevenly on other teeth.

In some people, their wisdom teeth come in straight, but other people have trouble with them. Typical problems include infections in the gum tissue when the tooth can’t fully emerge and damage to other teeth. Your dentist can advise you to have a surgical extraction or a simple one if the teeth already emerged. Your dentist will help you choose the anesthesia which is best for you. It often depends on the type of extraction you’re having.

Some dentists recommend proactively removing wisdom teeth that have the potential to cause problems since it is easier to remove them when the jawbone isn’t fully developed. While this might not be the least painful approach it can often prevent infections or dislodged teeth to occur. On the other hand, there are dentists that don’t think this measure is necessary and they prefer to wait until the problems present themselves before taking any action. While this is an okay strategy, you will need to have regular check ups with your dentist to ensure that they aren’t going to cause problems or an infection, catching it before it creates big problems.

Either way, be sure to discuss your situation with your dentist who will be able to provide more guidance around the decision. Since younger people tend to have fewer complications with extractions than older patients, it may be something to take into account. However, the decision should not be taken lightly or without the help of a professional.

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