About tooth extraction
There are a number of reasons why your teeth may need to be extracted. Some of the most common reasons include:
Severe gum disease
(periodontal disease). This is caused by bacteria building up on your teeth and damaging the bone that holds them in place. The teeth become loose and will need to be removed professionally.
If a tooth is very decayed, its nerves and blood vessels can die, leading to a painful abscess.
A broken tooth
If it can’t be repaired it will need to be removed.
If you have a small jaw or lost your milk (baby) teeth early, your teeth may be crooked and you may need to have one or more removed so the rest can be straightened.
Wisdom tooth problems
If there isn’t enough space in your mouth for your wisdom teeth they may become impacted (stuck behind the tooth in front) and need to be removed.
What happens during a tooth extraction?
So that you don’t feel any pain during or immediately after the procedure, your dentist will give an injection of local anaesthetic into your mouth. This completely blocks feeling from the area so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure, though you may feel some pressure in your mouth and hear some noise.
After the anaesthetic has taken effect, your dentist will widen the socket (the area your tooth sits in) using a tool called an elevator or a pair of special forceps. They will then move the tooth from side to side until it’s loose enough to be removed completely.
In more difficult and rarer cases, your dentist may not be able to reach the root of your tooth so small cuts will be made in your gum. If necessary your dentist can then drill away some of the bone so the root of the tooth can be removed.
What to expect afterwards
There will be some bleeding and your dentist may put in stitches. After the extraction, you will be given a piece of soft padding to bite on to stop the bleeding.
If you’ve had your tooth removed under local anaesthesia, you’ll need to stay at the dental surgery until the bleeding is controlled. This will probably take about 10 to 15 minutes. You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort as the anaesthetic wears off.
Wait until the local anaesthetic has worn off before having hot food or drinks – you might burn your mouth or chew the inside of your cheek while it’s still numb. Once you regain some feeling, stick to lukewarm, soft food and try not to chew in the part of your mouth where the tooth has been removed. Try not to drink alcohol or smoke for the first 48 hours after the extraction – this may cause further bleeding.
It’s best not to rinse out your mouth or do any exercise for the first few hours after the extraction. This is because any blood clot that may have formed could be disturbed and the bleeding could start again. After the first few hours, it can be helpful to rinse out your mouth with salt water (half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) a few times a day.