The best teeth you can have are your own, but if a tooth is so badly damaged or decayed that it’s beyond repair, we may recommend extraction. Prior to the procedure, we’ll discuss your options for filling the space once the tooth is removed, whether it’s an implant, denture or a bridge.

Who Needs a Tooth Extraction?

People with poor oral health are the most common extraction patients, but they’re not the only ones:

  • If your tooth is damaged badly enough in an accident or on the sports field, it may need to be removed.
  • If your tooth is positioned poorly in your mouth and is causing damage to other teeth, it may require removal.
  • If you’re preparing for orthodontic work, we may need to make space in your mouth.
  • If your wisdom teeth are poorly aligned and causing pain.

Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are types of molars found in the very back of your mouth. They usually appear in the late teens or early twenties, but may become impacted (fail to erupt) due to lack of room in the jaw or angle of entry. When a wisdom tooth is impacted, it may need to be removed. If it is not removed, you may develop gum tenderness, swelling, or even severe pain. Impacted wisdom teeth that are partially or fully erupted tend to be quite difficult to clean and are susceptible to tooth decay, recurring infections, and even gum disease.

Wisdom teeth are typically removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the teeth’s roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make extraction easier as well as shorten the recovery time.

In order to remove a wisdom tooth, your dentist first needs to numb the area around the tooth with a local anesthetic. Since the impacted tooth may still be under the gums and embedded in your jaw bone, your dentist will need to remove a portion of the covering bone to extract the tooth. In order to minimize the amount of bone that is removed with the tooth, your dentist will often “section” your wisdom tooth so that each piece can be removed through a small opening in the bone. Once your wisdom teeth have been extracted, the healing process begins. Depending on the degree of difficulty related to the extraction, healing time varies. Your dentist will share with you what to expect and provide instructions for a comfortable, efficient healing process.

Post-extraction care

After the tooth is removed the area will need time to heal. We’ll prescribe you painkillers for the discomfort, but you can help speed the process along. Here are some tips:

  • Rinse your mouth several times a day (after the first day) with warm salt water to reduce swelling and keep bacteria at bay. One teaspoon of salt in an 8-oz glass is all you need.
  • We’ll send you home with gauze which you should bite on if bleeding occurs.
  • Sleep with your head propped up. Lying flat can prolong bleeding.
  • Stay off your feet for a day or two if that has been recommended. Physical activity can increase blood flow away from the mouth.
  • Continue brushing and flossing, but be very careful around the extraction area.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat soft foods.
  • Depending on the procedure, stitches may be necessary. Some stitches dissolve on their own, while others must be removed during a subsequent visit. We’ll let you know which kind you have after the procedure.