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Although permanent teeth were meant to last a lifetime, there are a number of reasons why tooth extraction may be needed. A very common reason involves a tooth that is too badly damaged, from trauma or decay, to be repaired.

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Extractions Overview

A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth for health or cosmetic purposes. Teeth that are broken, impacted, or trapped below the gum line are prime candidates for extraction.

What cases require tooth extraction?

Your dentist has several treatments at his disposal for repairing traumatized teeth, including the use of fillings and crowns. However, if the tooth is too compromised, your dentist may recommend extraction to prevent further complications. In addition, extractions can be used to assist other medical procedures and achieve cosmetic goals. Cases that call for tooth extraction include:

  • Impacted wisdom teeth
  • Excessive crowding
  • Extreme tooth decay
  • Infection
  • Preparation for orthodontic treatment

What are the benefits of undergoing a tooth extraction?

There are several notable advantages to undergoing tooth extraction. Not only does this procedure help prevent the spread of tooth decay and infection, but it also improves issues with overcrowding and allows braces and aligners to reposition teeth unencumbered. Wisdom tooth extraction is particularly beneficial and helps reduce headaches, prevent orofacial pain and reduce the risk of cysts and tumors.

What does the extraction process entail?

To prepare for an extraction, your dentist will take X-rays to assess the state of the tooth in question. They will then decide on 1 of 2 extraction methods based on the prominence of the tooth. If your tooth is fully visible, they will perform what’s known as a simple extraction. If the tooth is obscured or hidden below the gum line, you will most likely undergo surgical extraction. Neither extraction method should produce any pain. If you start to experience anything more than light pressure, alert your physician immediately.

How does a simple extraction work?

This procedure begins with the application of a local anesthetic to the gum line below the tooth. Once the area is sufficiently numb, he/she will loosen the tooth with a device known as an elevator and then complete the extraction with forceps.

How does a surgical extraction work?

Your physician will begin the process by administering local and intravenous anesthesia (general anesthesia may also be used on small children or patients with specific conditions). Once the agents have taken affect, your doctor will cut a small incision along the gum line to remove the tooth, extricating surrounding bone or cutting the tooth in half if necessary.

Is my medical history relevant to the procedure?

In order to ensure a complication-free procedure, it’s crucial that you discuss your complete medical history with your dentist or oral surgeon prior to treatment. Provide a list of current medications, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. Account for all known conditions, including diabetes, thyroid disease, and an impaired immune system, as these issues, must be stabilized before treatment and may require the use of additional antibiotics.

It’s also imperative to indicate if you’re suffering from any current illnesses. If you have a cold leading up to surgery, your doctor may avoid the use of anesthesia. If you experienced nausea the night before your procedure, your doctor will likely postpone treatment to prevent complications.

What are some precautions I should take before undergoing an extraction?

In addition to discussing your medical history, there are best practices you should follow to ensure a seamless procedure. Leading up to your procedure, be sure to:

  • No smoking beforehand- this can lead to a complication known as a dry socket, which produces a blood clot at the site of the extracted tooth.
  • Wear a short-sleeved shirt that provides easy access to your veins (if your doctor is administering IV fluids)
  • Arrange for a ride home (If you’re receiving general anesthesia)
  • Not eat or drink for 6-8 hours before the procedure (If your doctor is administering IV fluids)
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