Tooth extractions are typically performed when all other options for tooth problems have been exhausted. Among the reasons for tooth extraction are the following:
- Mouth crowding – if teeth are too crowded extraction may be needed, especially in preparation for orthodontia
- Risk of infection – if your immune system is compromised due to chemotherapy or prep for an organ transplant, extraction may be required to avoid risk of infection
- Infection – should infection be ineffectively treated with antibiotics or root canal therapy, extraction may be needed to prevent spread of infection
- Gum Disease – if gum disease has loosened a tooth severely, your dentist may recommend extraction
Tooth extraction is done by a dentist or oral surgeon, and typically begins with numbing the area around the tooth or, if you’re having more than one tooth removed, general anesthetic is administered, which prevents pain throughout your body, and may put you to sleep.
After your tooth is removed, gauze is placed over the gum to curtail bleeding. A clot should form in the socket, which is important for healing. It’s vital that you not dislodge the clot, but keep replace gauze should it become blood-soaked. Gauze should be kept in place for 3-4 hours after a tooth is removed.
Once home, take it easy for a couple of days and only eat soft foods like soup or yogurt. As healing continues, you can add regular food to your meals. Continue to brush your teeth and tongue, but leave the empty socket alone. Don’t spit or rinse forcefully in the first 24 hours after extraction.
Call your dentist or oral surgeon if:
- The swelling gets worse instead of better
- You have fever, chills or redness
- You have trouble swallowing
- You have uncontrolled bleeding in the area
- The area continues to ooze or bleed after the first 24 hours
- Your tongue, chin, or lip feels numb more than 3 to 4 hours after the procedure
- The extraction site becomes very painful — this may be a sign that you have developed a dry socket.
- If you have an infection, your dentist usually prescribes antibiotics.