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What to Expect With a Tooth Extraction

Most people consider a visit to the dentist one of the last things they’d like to do. Since a dental office is full of very sharp instruments, noisy and strange-looking tools, and the dreaded drill, it’s no wonder that many have odontophobia, which is fear of the dental office. However, learning about the procedures and what to expect during them can significantly reduce your anxiety about your upcoming dental procedure.

A tooth extraction is one of the most dreaded procedures that dentists perform, and it’s also one of the most common. Familiarizing yourself with the tooth extraction procedure so that you know the reasons they’re needed, the costs involved, and the recovery process can allay many of your anxieties and reduce your stress.

The definition of tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. The procedure begins with an x-ray of the tooth and jawbone so that the dentist knows the scope of work that’s needed and how best to extract the tooth. Your dentist will discuss your medical history and the best type of sedation for your unique needs. You need to be open about your health, both currently and in the past. If you develop a cold, become congested, or have nausea or vomiting up to a week before your procedure, you may need to postpone it.

Before Your Tooth Extraction Procedure

Although there are not any preparations that you need to make before an extraction, you should prepare a list of all your prescription medications and over-the-counter supplements and provide it to your dentist. They’ll want to know about items such as the following:

  • Artificial joints, such as knee or hip replacements
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Impaired immunity
  • Man-made or damaged heart valves

The Two Types of Tooth Extractions Available

There are two types of tooth extractions, simple and surgical. A simple extraction involves loosening the tooth and removing it carefully. A surgical extraction is more complex and usually requires the dentist to make a small incision in the gum line to facilitate removing the tooth. The incision is usually sealed with a few self-dissolving sutures. Both procedures usually require local anesthesia, but a surgical extraction may require IV anesthesia. Your dentist will discuss this with you before the procedure and then make a recommendation. You may feel pressure during the extraction, but you shouldn’t feel pain or pinching. If you do, then notify your dentist immediately.

What to Expect After Your Extraction Procedure

When your extraction has been completed, your dentist will pack the socket with gauze and request that you bite down. This will lessen the bleeding, which may take a few hours to completely stop. When you get home, the following guidelines will provide the fastest and most comfortable healing.

  • Avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours. Rest and relax.
  • Continue to bite down on the gauze for at least three hours, and change it as needed. This enables a clot to form.
  • Every 10 minutes, apply an ice-pack to the outside of the jaw where the tooth was extracted. Be sure to use an ice pack, don’t place ice directly on the site.
  • After 24 hours have elapsed, rinse your mouth with saltwater. Use ½ teaspoon salt to eight ounces of warm water.
  • Avoid drinking through a straw for 24 hours, and don’t smoke, spit forcibly, or rinse your mouth because this can disrupt your clot formation.
  • Take painkillers as you need them and your dentist recommends.
  • Eat only soft foods such as yogurt and soup or applesauce. As your site heals, you can begin to add solid foods.
  • Brush and floss your other teeth, but avoid the extraction site.
  • Don’t lie flat. Keep your head elevated with pillows for the first couple of days, and sleep on your side for a few days.

Moderate swelling, pain, and bleeding are normal for a couple of days, but if any of these persist, then contact your Atlanta dentist. If you have any of the following, notify your Atlanta dentist immediately:

  • Chest pain, coughing, or shortness of breath
  • Chills, fever, or other signs of an infection
  • Excessive discharge from the site, or redness or swelling
  • Severe pain, bleeding or swelling after four hours
  • Vomiting or nausea

Don’t delay in contacting your dentist if you have any of the above, these could be signs of a severe reaction, so they shouldn’t be ignored.

Be sure to eat only soft foods until your site completely heals. Avoid smoking, forceful spitting, and drinking through a straw for several days because these activities can dislodge the clot and start the bleeding process again. It usually takes from one to two weeks for the site to completely heal, and then you can resume your normal lifestyle.

Do You Need Your Wisdom Teeth Extracted?

Some dentists routinely pull wisdom teeth as a matter of preventive maintenance. Others, however, think this practice is unnecessary. There are risks and benefits to consider on both sides of this equation, so if your dentist recommends removing your wisdom teeth when you’re not having any problems with them, then it might be prudent to get a second opinion from a Atlanta dentist.

The wisdom teeth are the last set of molars to erupt, and they’re behind all your other teeth. For many, the wisdom teeth come in straight and don’t cause a problem with the other teeth. Some, however, find that they lack the room for another set of molars, so the wisdom teeth are extracted. The American Dental Association recommends removal of the wisdom teeth in the following scenarios:

  • Damage to other teeth
  • Onset of gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Cyst or tumor develops
  • Infection

If you lack enough room in your jaw for the wisdom teeth to come in straight, then that’s also a valid reason. If you’re not having problems now with your wisdom teeth, you may in the future. This is one reason some dentists prefer to remove the wisdom teeth when the patient is young. Older adults typically heal slower than younger people, so recovery may be slower and less successful.

Some dentists recommend routine wisdom teeth removal for the following reasons:

  • Wisdom teeth can become diseased when there are no symptoms.
  • They’re easier to remove before they can become problematic.
  • Removing them at a younger age avoids complications that can plague older adults.

Find a dentist who agrees with your views on removing wisdom teeth and follow their advice. All procedures carry some risk and sometimes a considerable expense, so consult a Atlanta dentist who shares your views on wisdom tooth extraction.

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