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What to Expect With a Tooth Extraction

Fear of the dentist’s office is so common that there are two words to describe it: dentophobia and odontophobia. They both mean the same thing, which is an extreme or irrational fear of the dentist’s office. To the dental patient, however, the fear is anything but irrational, and it’s understandable even to those who have no such fear.

A dental office is rife with strange-looking objects that are sharp or noisy or both, and most patients have no idea what they’re going to be used for. However, knowing what to expect when you go to the dentist’s office can alleviate some of the angst involved and make you more comfortable about getting the dental treatments you need to maintain your oral health.

Tooth extractions are among the most common dental procedures and they’re also among the most feared. Although kids usually think losing a tooth is a rite of passage to their teen years, adults are significantly less optimistic about the event. When you know why the procedure may be necessary, the costs involved, and the recovery process, you can feel more comfortable about it.

Your tooth extraction will begin with an x-ray so that your dentist knows the best extraction method for your needs. You and your dentist will discuss your medical history and your current health so that you have the best outcome possible. You’ll also discuss sedation methods and decide on the best option for you. If you experience a cold, congestion, vomiting, or nausea during the week preceding your surgery, it may delay the procedure but you should notify your dentist’s office.

Before Your Tooth Extraction Procedure

Be sure to advise your dentist if you have any of the following medical conditions, and all the prescription medications and over-the-counter supplements you take.

  • Artificial joints in your hips or knees
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Bacterial endocarditis, now or in the past
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Compromised immune system
  • Damaged or artificial heart valves

What Are the Two Types of Tooth Extractions?

Two types of tooth extractions are available, simple and surgical. A simple extraction involves the removal of a visible tooth, which is carefully loosened and removed. A surgical extraction is used when the tooth is below the gum line and requires a small incision. Both types of extractions require local anesthesia, but a surgical extraction may require IV anesthesia. You’ll not feel any pain during either procedure, the most you should feel is pressure. If you feel pain or pinching, then tell your dentist right away.

What Should You Expect After Your Extraction Procedure?

After your tooth has been extracted, you may receive a few self-dissolving sutures to close the incision. Your dentist will pack the site with gauze and ask you to bite down firmly. This helps the blood to clot. You’ll need to arrange for transportation home for either type of procedure. When you get home, it’s important to follow these aftercare instructions:

  • Rest for the first 24 hours and avoid any strenuous activity so that you don’t loosen your clot or your stitches.
  • Continue biting down on the gauze for a minimum of three hours so that the clot can form. Change the gauze as needed.
  • Every 10 minutes, apply an ice pack to the outside of your jaw where the tooth was extracted. Don’t apply ice directly to the tooth, however.
  • After 24 hours, rinse with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt and eight ounces of warm water.
  • For the first 24 hours, avoid drinking through a straw, rinsing, smoking, or spitting forcibly since this can dislodge your clot.
  • Maintain a soft-food diet such as yogurt, soup, or applesauce.
  • Keep your head elevated with pillows for a couple of nights.
  • Thereafter, sleep on your side for a few nights.
  • Continue to brush and floss, but avoid the extraction site.
  • Take painkillers as needed and directed by your dentist.

Any dental procedure will probably be accompanied by some bleeding, pain, and swelling, but it shouldn’t be excessive. Notify your dentist without delay if you experience any of the following:

  • Coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath
  • Bleeding, swelling, or severe pain after the initial four hours
  • Excessive discharge from the site, especially if accompanied by redness or swelling
  • Fever, chills, or evidence of infection
  • Vomiting or nausea

Any of the above symptoms can indicate that you have an issue developing, so don’t delay in contacting your dentist if you’re experiencing any of these.

Usually, it takes between one and two weeks for your extraction site to heal completely. Once it’s healed, you can resume your normal lifestyle and your regular dental hygiene regimen.

Wisdom Tooth Extractions

Dentists are split on the efficacy of wisdom tooth removal. Some dentists prefer to remove wisdom teeth as a precautionary method even if there are no problems or issues with them. Since issues can arise with wisdom teeth, they feel that removing them when the patient is younger can avoid the issues that older patients can experience. Other dentists think that wisdom teeth can serve well when they’re left in.

If the wisdom teeth have emerged straight and aren’t crowding the other teeth, there may be no reason to extract them. The American Dental Association recommends removal of the wisdom teeth for the following reasons:

  • Dental decay or disease
  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Cyst or tumor development
  • Infection or inflammation
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Onset of gum disease

If your wisdom teeth aren’t causing discomfort, you need to continue practicing good oral hygiene to ensure that your wisdom teeth stay healthy. The most common reasons for preventive tooth extractions include:

  • Reducing the potential for disease even if there are no symptoms
  • Reducing the risk potential when an older adult needs wisdom teeth extraction
  • Increasing the safety aspect by eliminating potential risks

If preventive extraction doesn’t resonate with you, you may find a South Hampton Roads dentist who aligns with your philosophy. Get a second opinion if the first one doesn’t feel right to you, but evaluate all the aspects of the issue before you make a final decision.

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