What are they?
A tooth which is very decayed or damaged or loose because of gum disease may have to be 'extracted' - taken out of your mouth.
Sometimes children's teeth are extracted for 'orthodontic' reasons to help the new or remaining teeth grow regularly or without being crowded.
What does the dentist do?
Some teeth are simpler to extract than others because of the size, shape, position in the mouth or shape of their roots. After working out how best to carry out the extraction, the dentist will discuss with you:
- How long it will probably take;
- How to make sure you don't feel the extraction while it is happening;
- For certain types of pain control, whether you should bring someone with you;
- When it would be convenient for you to have the extraction done, if not immediately;
- How your mouth should recover afterwards.
You might also discuss other treatment needs - whether an immediate replacement denture could be needed, for example. If you wear a denture this can be made ready with a new tooth at the same visit. Or you may have to have a gap for a while and come back to have the denture changed, or have a new denture.
While the tooth is being extracted:
- You will be able to move your jaw as normal;
- You may feel some pressure as the tooth is eased out, but not any pain.
- The dentist will give you a pad to bite on, to stop any bleeding;
- Sometimes stiches are used to help the mouth heal;
- The dentist will give you advice on how to look after the hole wehere the tooth sat, while it is healing, how to control any pain when the anaesthetic wears off, and how to contact the practice if there are problems.
What are the benefits?
- An extraction can end pain and infection and can sometimes be the only way to keep your mouth healthy.
You need to look after yourself carefully after an extraction - as with any surgical operation - to speed up healing and prevent infection. This advice is to help you know what to expect and do, as your mouth recovers.
- For the first 24 hours, don't drink alcohol, eat hot food or disturb the clot, which will have formed in the hole left by the tooth, because this may cause the socket to start bleeding again. Don't smoke either, and avoid exercise for the rest of the day;
- Don't rinse your mouth for six hours after the extraction;
- After six hours, rinse gently with warm salty water to keep the socket clean and continue to do this for up to a week after meals and before bed. Use half a teaspoonful of salt in a tumbler of water;
- Brush your teeth normally with toothpaste to keep the whole mouth clean;
- If you feel small pieces of bone working their way out of the socket, don't worry - this is normal;
- Some swelling or discomfort in the first 2-3 days is also normal;
- Take pain killers if you need them (as you would for a headache). Ask your dentist for advice if you are not sure what sort to take.
If bleeding persists:
- Your dentist may have given you a small supply of gauze in case this happens. If not, clean, cotton handkerchiefs will do, but not paper tissues;
- Roll some small firm pads about 1cm by 3cm - a size that will fit over the socket;
- Keep sitting up and gently clear away any clots of blood around the socket with the gauze or handkerchief;
- Place a pad across the socket from the tongue side to the cheek and bit firmly on it for 10-15 minutes;
- Take off the pad and check whether bleeding has stopped. If it hasn't use a fresh pad;
If the socket is still bleeding after two hours, contact your dentist.
Follow these instructions and your mouth should heal normally, without becoming infected. But if anyting in your mouth worries you, telephone the practice for advice.