The idea of losing a tooth is a frightening one for many people, and it’s natural for people to want to keep all of their original teeth for as long as possible. In many instances, having a tooth extracted, though, prevents future issues, so it shouldn’t always be a last resort option.
When to Extract
There are many instances in which an extraction can save you future trouble. If you have extra teeth, or your children have baby teeth that aren’t falling out early enough for permanent teeth to come in, you’ll do your teeth a service by having those problem teeth removed. Extra teeth can cause shifting, which can result in crooked teeth and the need for braces.
Wisdom teeth can also cause shifting, and sometimes pain and infections, so are often removed to avoid issues.
If you have a tooth that decays and cannot be filled or crowned, your dentist will also extract to prevent the spread of the infection.
Before a tooth is extracted, the dentist will generally inject an anesthetic to numb the area, and remove the tooth manually. Two main instruments are involved in extracting a tooth – the elevator that loosens the tooth and the forceps that pull it out.
During a tooth extraction, you should expect to feel some pressure, but no pain, and a standard extraction does not require stitches.
After the Extraction
A patient should expect some bleeding following a tooth extraction, but blood will typically clot within 30 minutes. The dentist will insert gauze over the cavity, which will stop the blood flow and keep the cavity clean. At home, ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to keep swelling down and reduce pain. For the first few days, soft foods are generally recommended.
A tooth extraction is considered minor surgery, so you should expect some discomfort following the procedure. For those issues for which the procedure is recommended, though, the discomfort from an extraction will generally spare the patient greater future pain and expense.