Whether it’s wisdom teeth or a compromised tooth that cannot be saved with restorative procedures, you may be in need of a tooth extraction. Though they may sound frightful, extractions are a relatively common part of general dentistry. Understanding what’s involved and what to do to aid in your recovery can help calm your nerves and put fears to rest before your procedure.
What’s Involved with a Tooth Extraction?
If a tooth is broken or has a cavity, the first preference is to address the issue using restorative methods such as fillings, crowns or similar procedures. However, if the condition of the tooth is such that restoration is not possible or recommended due to its severity, extracting the tooth may be inevitable.
Typically, most extractions can be handled by your dentist or oral surgeon with only the need for local anesthesia to numb the area surrounding the tooth. This helps to make you more comfortable and allows the tooth to be gently loosened and removed. Gauze pads are then inserted at the site of the extraction as the patient bites down. Applying pressure to the tooth socket in this way helps stop the bleeding from the extraction. Stitches may be needed; if so, they may dissolve on their own or may need to be removed during your follow-up appointment.
Within three to four days, most patients are able to resume normal activities and the discomfort gradually subsides. Over-the-counter pain relief is often sufficient to manage the soreness and swelling that usually accompanies oral surgery, but sometimes pain medication may be prescribed as well as antibiotics to prevent infection.
Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide specific post-operative instructions to help you manage proper care at home that will aid in your healing process. Though most patients have a steady recovery, sometimes a condition known as “dry socket” can occur and you will likely need to return to the dentist or oral surgeon for the extraction site to be examined.
What Is a Dry Socket?
Once a tooth has been extracted, a blood clot usually forms to fill the walls of the extracted tooth socket. If the blood clot fails to form or is prematurely dislodged from the socket, this is referred to as a “dry socket” because the hole where your tooth once was now becomes exposed. The body needs the blot clot to form so that proper healing and recovery can continue and stave off infection.
If you begin to feel worsening pain anytime between two to four days after your surgery, it could be indicative of a dry socket. The pain is often felt directly at the surgical site, but it could radiate to the ear, chin, adjacent teeth or jaw. Further symptoms that can occur include bad breath, a foul taste in the mouth or tenderness.
If you experience these conditions, contact your dentist or oral surgeon right away so an appropriate course of action can be determined. Dry socket will often resolve on its own with proper care such as medicated gauze, salt water rinse and pain medication, but it’s important to work with your dentist in case x-rays are needed to examine the extraction site and to ensure further complications don’t arise.
Make the Most of Your Smile at SmileMakers
Taking care of you and your smile is important to us and providing excellent patient care is our goal. At SmileMakers Comprehensive Dentistry, we provide a warm and relaxing environment so you can feel as comfortable as possible during your tooth extraction. Our patients are like family to us, so our care doesn’t stop once the procedure is complete – we’re here for you during recovery and healing as well. Contact our office today at 334-277-5498 to schedule your consultation or request an appointment online.