Permanent teeth are incredibly strong and durable, but they are still prone to problems that may require extraction. The doctors at Lighthouse Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery take steps to repair and preserve natural teeth whenever possible, but in some instances, tooth extraction is the most effective course of treatment to correct issues and maintain a healthy, functional smile. While wisdom tooth extraction is one of the more commonly performed procedures, any tooth can be removed if deemed non-salvageable and detrimental to oral health.
Common Reasons for Tooth Extraction
There are countless reasons why a tooth may need to be extracted. Some causes may be prevented through proper daily dental care, such as brushing, flossing, and the use of a water pic. Other factors are less predictable and beyond our control: traumatic injury, the position of the tooth, or jaw size. Common reasons your doctor may recommend tooth extraction include:
- Severe tooth decay
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Fractured crown or tooth root
- Poor positioning of teeth, including impaction
- Crowding of teeth
- Preparation for orthodontic treatment (braces)
Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?
Your doctor will review your case and discuss any alternatives to extraction, as well as follow-up care to minimize complications. If a previously functional tooth has to be removed, options are available for the replacement of the tooth. Dental implants may be used to fill gaps, prevent shifting and bone loss. In some cases, immediate implant placement is possible at the time of extraction, reducing the total time that the area is without a tooth.
Preparing for Tooth Extraction
Tooth extraction is a very common procedure that oral surgeons perform on a daily basis. You will be provided with a list of instructions to prepare for the procedure and a range of sedation options to choose from. Typically, a local anesthetic or light sedation is sufficient to prevent discomfort and minimize discomfort. Some patients prefer general anesthesia if they are anxious about the procedure or want to be fully sedated, so no discomfort or pressure is felt. Your doctor will explain your options so that you can make an informed decision that best fits your needs.
If IV sedation is being administered, you should refrain from eating for at least six hours before surgery. Wear short sleeves for easy IV access for anesthesia, and avoid smoking for at least 24 hours prior to surgery, as nicotine can affect healing and recovery.
Plan to have a responsible adult accompany you to your appointment so that they can drive you home and say with you afterward.
The Recovery Process
Tooth extraction is a relatively quick process barring any complications. Recovery depends on multiple factors and is different for everyone. Typically if the post-operative instructions are followed, patients experience little to no discomfort. Some find that it can also be beneficial to have someone to assist you at home for the first day or two after surgery.
Immediately following surgery, you may experience intermittent oozing. Applying direct pressure firmly on the site that is oozing is the most effective way of obtaining hemostasis. If oozing persists after applying 30 minutes of direct firm pressure, a moistened black tea bag can also be applied to the site. Black tea leaves contain tannins which promote clotting. To minimize swelling or discomfort, apply an icepack wrapped in a towel to your cheek in 20-minute intervals. Be sure to take any medications as directed and prescribed by your doctor.
Once you feel well enough to eat, start with a diet of liquids, broths, and very soft foods to limit chewing and pressure on your jaw. Avoid chewing directly on the extraction site; use the opposite side of your mouth if possible. Good foods to start with include:
- Soup broth or smooth soups
- Scrambled eggs
- Well-steamed vegetables
- Soft pasta
If you experience discomfort , choose something softer. Avoid using a straw as the suction can interfere with blood clotting at the extraction site and cause delayed healing.
The day after surgery, you may begin gently rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water solution. Add half a teaspoon of salt to eight ounces of water. Gently swish and then let the water fall from your mouth as opposed to forcefully spitting. You can also resume regular brushing and flossing the day after surgery, being careful to avoid disturbing the extraction site. A great piece of advice to follow with regards to oral cleansing is, the solution to pollution is dilution. That means the more we cleanse our mouth with saltwater or oral rinses, the more we are decreasing the bacterial burden on the healing tissue and the better the final outcome.
If you do not experience any complications, the swelling has decreased, and you are feeling good, you should be able to return to school or work shortly after the procedure. We recommend that patients find a balance between not over-exerting themselves after surgery yet remaining relatively active. The more we move, the more blood flows through our body, and the better we recover. Balance is critical for optimal healing, which requires each of us to listen with discernment to our body’s individual needs.
How Much Does Tooth Extraction Cost?
Factors that may influence cost include:
- The number of teeth being removed
- The complexity of the procedure
- The type of anesthesia
- Location where the procedure is completed (in-office vs. patient center)
- Any dental insurance coverage
Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will provide a more specific quote once they have evaluated your case and created a custom treatment plan for your needs.
Addressing Dental Problems with Tooth Extraction
Working with a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon can be advantageous when preparing for tooth extraction. At Lighthouse Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, we aim to make the experience as enjoyable and comfortable as possible through the use of anesthesia and adherence to safe practices.
We strive to ensure you have a clear understanding of what to expect and how each procedure is performed, and we take the time to answer any questions you may have to alleviate concerns. Contact us today to discuss your tooth extraction needs. Call us at (713) 790-1995.