A tooth extraction is the removal of the tooth from its socket in the bone. This is also known as a dental extraction, tooth pulling, exodontia or exodontics. If one’s tooth is broken or damaged by decay, the dentist might try fixing it using crown, fillings or other treatments. In some cases though there is too much damage that it cant be repaired and this is when the tooth needs to be removed. This procedure can be carried out by a dentist or a surgeon who specializes in surgeries of the mouth (oral an maxillofaciaal surgeon).
Just like any other surgical procedure, a tooth extraction also requires thorough medical evaluation before carrying out the procedure. Individuals with diabetes, hypertension, renal diseases and other organ diseases should have them controlled before the tooth extraction. This is mainly because the mouth is full of microorganisms and any surgery in this area may give rise to infections especially in immuno-compromised individuals.
Reasons for Tooth Extractions
Teeth are very important for maintaining the masticatory function and also the aesthetic purpose. It is therefore imperative that all efforts to avoid tooth removal be exhausted before considering its removal. Nevertheless, in some circumstances its so clear that the tooth must be removed such as the following:
- Tooth decay. It occurs when the bacteria begins to break down the surface of the tooth. In more advanced and severe cases it leaves cavities in the tooth which can easily affect the neighbouring teeth.
- Gum disease also known as periodontal disease or gingivitis. It occurs when the bacteria releases toxins that irritate the gum making it painful, red and swollen. This can also affect the surrounding teeth and bone.
- Pericoronitis – It occurs when the bacteria causes an infection to the soft tissues surrounding the tooth.
- A mobile tooth with severe periapical abscesses, pulp necrosis or periodontal disease and the patient can not afford root canal treatment or underwent a failed endodontic treatment.
- Overcrowding of teeth in the dental arch resulting into a dental deformity.
Other conditions that can lead to tooth extraction include:
- Aesthetic consideration (e.g stained teeth)
- Economical reasons e.g when the patient cannot afford root canal treatment
- Malposed teeth causing trauma to the soft issues or cracked teeth resulting from trauma
- Teeth in line of fracture or teeth neighbouring a lesion that must be removed
Types of Tooth Extractions
There are two main types of tooth extractions:
Simple Tooth Extraction
Also known as closed extraction is whereby tooth removal can be achieved above the gums using an elevator and the forceps. The best candidates for this procedure are teeth with straight roots and solid tooth structure that extends into the gums to help hold and manipulate the instruments. This is done under local anesthesia.
Surgical Tooth Extraction
It is whereby an incision is made and mainly its because the tooth cannot be fully accessed due to not being fully erupted or being broken under the gums. This is done under general anesthesia.
The Tooth Extraction Procedure
Before the procedure, one will be given a local or general anesthetic injection depending on the type of tooth extraction. This is generally to numb the area around the tooth for local anesthesia and the whole body for general anesthesia. Some pressure will be felt because the surgeon needs to widen the mouth.
For simple extraction, the elevator is used to lift the teeth and using the forceps, the teeth is rocked back and forth until the periodontal ligament is broken and the tooth lose enough to be removed.
For surgical extraction, the soft tissues covering the tooth and bone are elevated while removing the surrounding jawbone tissue. An incision is made in the gum and the tooth broken into several fragments. Afterwards the gum is stitched to enable it bounce back to its original shape.
The time to remove the tooth generally varies. While for some it takes just few minutes, for others the procedure might go for 20 minutes and above. After teeth removal, one will experience pain, discomfort and swelling which persists for 3 days though for others it can go up to two weeks.
After Your Tooth Extraction Procedure
- Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water after 24 hours to relieve pain and reduce on the swelling.
- Avoid physical exercise after surgery for it aggravates bleeding.
- Eat soft foods e.g pudding and thin soup then gradually incorporate in solid foods as healing progresses.
- Avoid smoking and rubbing the area with the tongue.
- Prop up your head with pillows for lying flat prolongs bleeding.
- Carefully continue brushing your teeth and tongue.
- Most importantly keep taking the medicine prescribed to you by the dentist. Analgesics will generally relieve you from pain while the antibiotics will prevent some of the complications arising from surgery like the spread of an infection.
Tooth extraction should be done soon enough to prevent the spread of infections and also other problems. In case root canal treatment cannot save a tooth’s life its beyond doubt the dentist will recommend its extraction. Remember, there are so many modern procedures and follow-up care that are so beneficial and comfortable.