Having a tooth pulled may be necessary for a variety of reasons. Typically tooth extractions are needed because a tooth has become badly damaged, possibly from decay or trauma and can no longer be repaired.
Other reasons may include:
A crowded mouth: By removing teeth, the dentist can create more room in a mouth. Likewise, a tooth that has not erupted or fully erupted (broken through the gum) may be suggested to be removed – this a common reason for wisdom teeth to be removed.
Infection or risk of infection: If an infection extends into the pulp of a tooth and cannot be corrected by root canal therapy, extraction may be the course of action. The same goes if you have a risk of infection and your immune system is compromised, for instance, because of chemotherapy or an organ transplant.
Tooth extractions are common and typically a very safe procedure. But the procedure can allow harmful bacteria into the bloodstream and create an increased risk of gum infection, because of this you may be prescribed an antibiotic before and/or after an extraction. When planning to have a tooth extracted, make sure to tell the dentist your complete medical history, the medications and supplements you take, and if you have any heart complications, an impaired immune system, liver disease, any artificial joints (such as a hip replacement), or a history of bacteria endocarditis.
Only Dentists and oral surgeons perform tooth extractions. Before pulling a tooth, the dentist will provide an injection of local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth being removed. Occasionally, a dentist may use a stronger general anesthetic. This will cause you to sleep during the procedure and prevent any pain.
If you have an impacted tooth, commonly found with wisdom teeth, the dentist will cut away the gum and bone tissue that cover the impacted tooth, then using forceps, gently grab the tooth and rock it back-and-forth to loosen it from the jaw bone and ligaments that hold it in place. Sometimes, a tooth that is hard to pull must be removed in pieces.
Once a tooth has been pulled, a blood clot will form over the bone and the dentist will cover the socket (the hole where the tooth once was) with gauze and have you bite down on it to help stop the bleeding. The dentist may additionally place a few stitches to close the socket.
If the blood clot in the socket breaks loose, the bone will be exposed and will cause a painful condition called dry socket. If this happens, the dentist may place a medicated dressing over the exposed socket for a few days to protect the bone and socket as a new clot forms.
Some studies have shown a link between oral contraceptives and dry socket. In addition, some medications may prevent a proper blood clot from forming. Ask the dentist if you are at risk.
The cost of a tooth extraction depends on a variety of factors and therefore can only be determined with an exam by the dentist. If a tooth extraction requires surgical removal using anesthesia this will cause the price to increase
It is best practice to try and restore a tooth whenever possible, but emergency or same-day tooth extractions are sometimes necessary.
After a tooth extraction, the dentist will send you home. Recovery typically takes a few days. Here are a few tips to help ease any discomfort, reduce the risk of infection and speed up recovery.
Gary W. Allen, DMD, P.C., Advantage Dental Group, P.C., DentaQuest Oral Health Center of Massachusetts, P.C., Advantage Dental Oral Health and Vision Center of Alabama, P.C.