The main goal of dentistry is to preserve your natural teeth and keep them healthy for as long as possible. There are times, however, when it is in your best interest to have a tooth extracted, or removed.

Tooth extraction is usually a very routine procedure. The prognosis of the surgery depends on where the tooth is located in the mouth and what its roots are like. For example, a front tooth with a single square root is easier to remove than a single molar with multiple roots. This is especially true when that molar is a wisdom tooth that is impacted, meaning it is below the surface and surrounded by gum tissue and bone. Often, a wisdom tooth is blocked from fully growing in by other teeth in its path.

Tooth extraction is nothing to be feared when done by somebody who is experienced. A tooth is not rigidly fixed in its surrounding bone. Rather, it is attached to the bone via a network of fibers that form what’s known as the periodontal ligament. By carefully manipulating the tooth, these fibers can be detached and the tooth freed without much trouble.

Reasons for Extracting a Tooth

When visiting a dental center, ask questions about the pros and cons of any dental treatment, including extraction.

Cracked tooth, trauma, or disease: There are several ways to try and save the tooth. The damaged tooth may need a full-coverage crown, a root canal treatment, or both. Sometimes, though, removing the tooth and replacing it with an implant is a better option.

Orthodontic Treatment: Sometimes, teeth are extracted when there are too many of them for the size of the dental arches, or jaws; a situation known as crowding. After an adequate amount of space is opened up through the extraction of one or more teeth, the remaining teeth can align properly. The teeth frequently removed for orthodontic reasons are the first premolars, which are right next to the eyeteeth, or canines.

Impacted wisdom tooth: Removing impacted wisdom teeth early can prevent damage to neighboring healthy teeth, bones, gum tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. If an impacted wisdom tooth is in a bad position, it’s best to remove it before its roots are fully formed.

Baby Teeth: If a baby tooth is out of position or not lost in the right sequence, the permanent tooth underneath it might not erupt normally. In this case, removing the baby tooth could prevent a need for orthodontic treatment later on.

The Process of Extracting a Tooth

The first step in any extraction is a radiographic (x-ray) examination to assess the position of the tooth roots and the condition of the surrounding bone. A thorough medical and drug history  test is given to ensure that you are healthy enough to undergo the procedure, and your options for anesthesia will be discussed.

Tooth extraction is usually carried out with local anesthesia, which will numb the teeth to be removed as well as the surrounding bone and gum tissues. We may also use an additional sedative, including oral sedatives (taken in pill form), nitrous oxide (which is inhaled), and/or conscious sedation, which is given intravenously (into a vein). The latter is usually required for more complicated (or multiple) tooth extractions. By the time the sedation medication has worn off, you won’t even be aware that the surgery was done.

As we remove your tooth, we take steps to ensure the bone that surrounds it isn’t damaged. Sometimes, in the process of removing a tooth, a small amount of lab-processed bone-grafting material is placed into the socket to help preserve the bone volume there. This is particularly important when the extraction is going to be followed at some point by the placement of a dental implant. That needs to fuse to existing bone, or orthodontics, which gently moves teeth through bone.

What to Expect After Tooth Extraction

Immediately after your tooth is extracted, the socket will be covered with sterile gauze; gentle pressure will be applied for 10-20 minutes to control any bleeding. Small sutures (stitches) might also be used for this purpose. It’s normal to experience some mild to moderate post-operative discomfort and/or swelling. Taking non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and/or aspirin the day of surgery should control most symptoms. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to ensure infection-free healing. Using ice packs on the outside of your jaw, and eating softer foods until you feel more comfortable can also be helpful. Within a few days, all should be back to normal

After visiting our cosmetic dental clinic in Egg Harbor, Dr. Santos will give you thorough instructions regarding any tooth extraction. Stop in today if you’re in need of this procedure.