One of your dentist’s primary goals is to preserve the structure of your mouth by repairing damaged or decayed teeth. However, there are circumstances that require a tooth extraction. When a tooth is beyond repair because it’s severely damaged or decayed, having the tooth pulled may be the only option.
Common Reasons for Tooth Extraction
The tooth or gums can become infected with bacteria that cause an abscess to form around it. Periodontal disease could cause the tooth to become loose. This infection of the tissues and bones supporting the teeth may require the dentist to pull the tooth.
Tooth decay is another reason your dentist may want to remove a tooth. If you have an infected tooth that has not been treated, it can cause pain and swelling in the area around the tooth. The infection could spread to other parts of the mouth or compromise your immune system. If the infection can’t be treated with a root canal, the dentist may opt to pull the tooth.
Your dentist may also recommend pulling a tooth if your mouth is too crowded or your tooth is unable to erupt through the gums because there isn’t enough room in the mouth, as in the case of wisdom tooth removal. This scenario is also common when preparing the mouth for orthodontic treatment.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
After you have your tooth pulled, you’ll want to follow a few aftercare tips to promote healing of the gums. Recovery can take a few days, and you’ll want to minimize the discomfort and reduce the risk of infection and dry socket.
- Gently but firmly bite down on the gauze pad provided by your dentist to stop the bleeding. This will also help the blood clot form. Change gauze pads when they become soaked with blood and replace as needed. Persistent bleeding may need to be controlled by wrapping gauze around a moistened tea bag and biting down on that.
- To minimize swelling, apply an ice bag to the area after the procedure for 10 minutes at a time.
- Do not rinse for the first 24 hours to prevent the blood clot from dislodging.
- Keeping your mouth clean is vital to the healing process. Rinse gently with warm salt water 24 hours after surgery. Resume your regular dental routine, including brushing and flossing after 24 hours.
- Eat soft foods and drink lukewarm beverages.
- Take pain medication as prescribed.
Post Tooth Extraction Symptoms
You may experience the following conditions after a tooth extraction procedure.
Bleeding – After you have your tooth pulled, it’s normal to experience bleeding. Keep pressure on the area by biting down on a dampened piece of gauze pad or moistened tea bag for 30 minutes. If bleeding isn’t reduced after 48 hours, contact your dentist.
Dry socket – A dry tooth socket occurs when the blood clot becomes dislodged before the are is completely healed. It can cause severe pain in the jaw that radiates towards the ear. You should contact your dentist if you think you have a dry socket.
Numbness – Feeling numb is normal and can last up to 12 hours after surgery.
Swelling – Swelling is normal following a tooth extraction. Immediately following the extraction and for the next 36 hours, swelling may be treated with an ice pack. After that, moist heat should be used to decrease swelling.
Lightheadedness – Low blood sugar levels may cause lightheadedness post-extraction. Drink or eat something soft and sugary to restore your sugar level. Stay in a relaxed position with your head at a lower elevation than your body to help ease the lightheaded feeling. When you stand, do so slowly.
Sore jaw – You may experience sore jaw joints or chewing muscles for a few days after surgery. This will eventually subside.
Dental Care After Tooth Extraction
After having a tooth pulled, it’s essential to resume regular oral hygiene and preventive dental care to maintain the health of your teeth and gums. If you’re missing one or more teeth, you may need a bridge, dentures, or dental implants. Dental implants look like natural teeth and provide support for your remaining teeth or dentures.