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What to Expect With a Tooth Extraction

Most people dread their trips to the dentist’s office. This isn’t surprising since the office is filled with very sharp instruments, noisy tools, and uncertainty surrounding dental procedures. However, your dental trips do not have to be filled with dread. Knowing the procedure you need and the steps involved can make a substantial difference in the outcome of your procedure and how you feel about it. When you’re familiar with the procedure, you can ask better questions and you’ll heal faster when you are not stressed.

Tooth extractions are the most frequently needed procedures and they are also the most dreaded. By definition, a tooth extraction is simply removing a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. It is not a scary thing when it is succinctly stated. However, familiarity with the procedure as well as why it’s needed, the healing time and the cost can further alleviate the negative feelings about it.

Sometimes, a tooth will need to be removed because it’s cracked, broken, decayed, loose, or diseased. Trauma can damage a tooth beyond repair so that it will need to be removed. Whatever the reason, removing a tooth when it’s necessary is part of good oral health, so it needs to be done.

Your tooth extraction will begin with an x-ray. This enables the dentist to plan the best method for removing it as well as spot any potential complications that might arise. Your dentist will need to discuss your medical history and any medications that you’re currently taking, both prescription and over-the-counter. Be open with your dentist as that will help ensure the best outcome for your extraction.

Getting a Tooth Extraction Procedure

Your dentist will need to know specifically if any of the following apply to you, either now or in the past:

  • Artificial knees or hips
  • Congenital heart defect
  • Damaged or artificial heart valves
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • History of bacterial endocarditis
  • Compromised immune system

The Different Types of Tooth Extractions

There are two types of extractions, simple and surgical. A simple extraction involves removing a visible tooth from its socket in the jawbone. A local anesthesia is usually sufficient to prevent pain. A surgical extraction is more complex and may require an intravenous anesthesia. Your dentist will make a small incision in the gum and extract the tooth, which may not have erupted, and the incision will be sutured closed with self-dissolving stitches. During either procedure, you shouldn’t feel any pain. Sometimes, you’ll feel pressure but there should be no pinching or pain. If you feel pinching or pain, tell your dentist right away.

What to Expect After Your Extraction Procedure

After your extraction has been completed, your dentist will pack the site with gauze and ask you to bite down firmly. When you get home, you’ll need to follow these aftercare guidelines:

  • Avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours; just take it easy.
  • Keep biting down on the gauze pad for three hours or until the site stops bleeding. Change the gauze as needed.
  • Every ten minutes, apply an ice pack to the outside of your jaw where the tooth was removed. Don’t put ice directly on the site though.
  • After 24 hours, rinse with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt to eight ounces of warm water.
  • Keep your head elevated, even at night.
  • Don’t drink through a straw, smoke, rinse, or spit forcibly for at least 24 hours because this can dislodge your clot.
  • Maintain your oral hygiene routine, but avoid the extraction site until it has healed.
  • Eat soft foods such as soup, yogurt, mashed potatoes, and ice cream.
  • Avoid crunchy foods and nuts or seeds because they can become lodged in the site and cause an infection.
  • Take pain medications as you need them and according to your dentist’s instructions.

Anytime you have a dental extraction, you can expect a certain amount of bleeding, pain, and swelling, but it shouldn’t be excessive. If you notice an excessive amount of any of the following, contact your dentist immediately:

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

Any of the above can indicate a serious problem, so don’t delay in calling your dentist’s office.

What to Know About Wisdom Teeth Extractions

The wisdom teeth are the final set of molars to erupt, and they’re located at the far back of the jawbone, behind the other teeth, on both upper and lower jaws. Unfortunately, by the time the wisdom teeth start erupting, there may be insufficient room for them to erupt straight without crowding the other teeth. For this reason and others, many dentists adhere to preemptive wisdom teeth extraction so they can forestall future problems. However, the American Dental Association recommends wisdom teeth extraction for the following reasons:

  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Infection
  • Onset of gum disease
  • Development of cyst or tumor
  • Tooth decay

Although your wisdom teeth may not appear to be problematic at the moment, they can be asymptomatically diseased, and only your dentist can make this diagnosis.

Many dentists now disagree with preemptive wisdom teeth extraction and feel that the wisdom teeth shouldn’t be removed if they’re not causing a problem. There are reputable dentists on both sides of the issue, so it’s important to find a caring and affordable Northern Virginia dentist who can help you make the right choice. Regardless of the view you hold, the most common reasons for preventive wisdom tooth extractions include:

  • Health: Since wisdom teeth can be diseased without showing symptoms, the best way to eliminate the possibility is to remove the wisdom teeth.
  • Safety: Since it’s impossible to accurately predict future issues with the wisdom teeth, it’s safer to eliminate the teeth and therefore remove the possibility.
  • Security: Since older people are often more prone to develop health complications from a tooth extraction, removing them at an earlier age can prevent the onset of health complications.

Overall, it’s important to find a caring and affordable Northern Virginia dentist that you’re comfortable with so that you can maintain the best oral hygiene possible. If you’re not happy with the opinion you receive, then get a second opinion. It’s important to get the opinion, though, so that you can make the best decision possible and have the best oral health possible.

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