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Tooth Extractions

While we make every effort to save and protect your teeth, there are circumstances where an extraction is required. If the extracted tooth is necessary for proper function of your mouth or would be visible to others, we can replace it with a bridge or dental implant. Wisdom teeth removal is also a common practice prior to installing braces, or simply to make more room in your mouth.

We may recommend an extraction for any of the following reasons:

  • There is not enough room in your mouth. Wisdom teeth removal is common before having braces put on, as the teeth will require more room as they straighten. You can lose a few wisdom teeth, and it won’t affect your ability to chew.
  • Decay has gone beyond the point where the tooth can be saved. In cases of advanced decay we can often perform a root canal and save the tooth, however sometimes the decay has simply gone too far even for that procedure. Once again, in these cases, the removed tooth can be replaced with a bridge or dental implant.
  • Gum disease has caused an infection which has destroyed a large portion of the tooth or supporting bone structure. In this case, the tooth must be removed to protect your mouth from further damage.
  • Partially erupted impacted teeth. As our adult teeth grow in, sometimes one or more will become impacted. This means it never reaches the surface. However, sometimes a tooth will only partially erupt. This means it has broken the surface but not come all the way in. A partially erupted impacted tooth can be an avenue for bacteria to enter the gum and cause an infection. As the tooth isn’t functional anyway, we often recommend its removal to protect against future infections.

Tooth Extraction Procedure

X-rays are taken before each extraction to determine the length, position, and condition of the supporting bone. This will allow us to assess how difficult or hazardous the extraction may be. In some cases, we may refer you to an oral surgeon, however most tooth extractions can be done safely in our office in a single visit.

Before the removal, the area around your tooth will be numbed with a freezing medication. With a topical freezing, we can even make the shot painless!

Once the area has fully numbed, we loosen the tooth with a special dental tool called an elevator. After it is loosened, it is removed with forceps. Don’t be alarmed if this takes a little effort on our part. This is normal. Teeth are very firmly rooted in our jaw and removing one is supposed to be difficult.

Sometimes we need to smooth and recontour the underlying bone to protect against the possibility of future infection. Also, in some cases, we may close the open gum with a stitch or two. These stitches will dissolve on their own after a week or so and a second visit to remove them will not be required.

After Care

All extractions and all people are different. In some cases, there will be little or no discomfort following an extraction. In others, you may experience pain and swelling that will require medications, which we can prescribe for you. The important thing is to prevent infection.

After the tooth extraction, we’ll give you a piece of gauze to bite down on for 30 minutes or so. This will protect the area while it clots and the opening seals. Over the next few days, it is very important to observe good oral hygiene, avoid smoking, and also avoid eating foods which could reopen the area. Foods such as taco chips, hard tortillas, or uncooked vegetables should not be eaten, and you should also avoid sucking, such as using a straw in a drink.

Depending upon the overall condition of your mouth and the nature of the tooth extraction, we may give you additional aftercare instructions as well.