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What is a Tooth Extraction Like?
Facing a tooth extraction can be intimidating for some individuals. While having a tooth pulled is a relatively common occurrence, concerns about discomfort during and after the extraction can lead to anxiety in many dental patients. However, the process is relatively straightforward. With the proper preparation and skill from a trained dental professional, it can be a quick and simple procedure with a speedy recovery.
Leading causes of tooth extraction
There are many different reasons a dentist may recommend the removal of one or more teeth. Some adolescents and young adults may have a baby tooth that has never been replaced by its permanent counterpart. The baby tooth may need to be extracted to move forward with aligning treatments. Pulling it out can also be necessary to prevent or stop the spread of decay and infection within the tooth and the surrounding gums. Teeth that have been injured or are decayed beyond repair may also need removal in order to prevent serious infections and complications. In some cases, a healthy tooth may be removed in order to control overcrowding in the mouth.
Before, during and after the procedure
The condition of the tooth being extracted, along with the level of anxiety in the patient, helps determine the type of anesthesia used to block pain during the process. In many cases, topical injections are all that is needed to numb the area. However, if the tooth has relatively deep roots or is impacted below the gum line, intravenous anesthesia or gas may be used to sedate the patient.
During the extraction, the dentist cuts away any gum tissue blocking the tooth and then uses a forceps to pull it out. In some instances, the tooth is removed whole while at other times the dentist cuts it into smaller pieces for easier extraction. Depending on how much tissue was cut away during the procedure, self-dissolving stitches may be used to help close up the wound.
After the procedure is complete, and the patient is fully awake, a gauze pad will be applied over the area. This packing needs to stay in place for a few hours following the extraction to help form a blood clot over the exposed bone and tissues. Pain medication and ice can be used to reduce discomfort and swelling while antibiotics may be prescribed to ward off infection. Spitting, rinsing and drinking through a straw should be avoided for at least 24 hours to prevent dry sockets from developing. These occur when the clot is dislodged, and the bone is exposed. This can cause intense pain and lead to complications.
While the prospect of tooth extraction may cause some anxiety for many dental patients, the procedure can be quite tolerable under the care of the right professional. With the proper follow-up techniques, recovery may progress quickly with pain lasting just a few hours or days after the tooth is extracted. Regardless of any side effects, tooth removal may sometimes provide the only option for stopping acute infections and treating malocclusion in many individuals.
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