At Glow Dental, we have seen enough worried-looking patients walk into our Auckland clinic to know that the idea of tooth extraction can be daunting. But here’s a newsflash – dental removal is ultimately painless. Practically all our patients agree that the most uncomfortable part is the anaesthetic injection, which is over in a matter of seconds, and that there is no pain whatsoever in the extraction process itself.
There are several reasons your dentist might recommend tooth or teeth removal, and we will look at those in a moment. But it is important to note that in many cases, removing the tooth will also mean saying goodbye to a toothache that might have been troubling you for some time. In other words, far from causing pain, the extraction process will relieve it.
Why Might Extraction Be Necessary?
The most common reason for a dentist to suggest extraction is because of infected or rotten teeth, where the damage is so severe that other alternatives such as a filling, crown or root canal are not viable.
Tooth decay often leads to an infection in the nerve, and this can, in turn, result in the formation of an abscess. Here, pus begins to form around the root of the tooth. It results in significant pain and tenderness around the teeth and gums, as well as doing damage to the tooth that is often irreparable.
Your dentist might recommend the removal of a tooth that has been cracked or broken, perhaps in an accident. With this type of damage, other options such as dental crowns might be used, but when the damage is severe, or the nerve is likely to die, then extracting the tooth is the best course of action.
The other reason you might need to have one or more teeth removed is as part of your overall orthodontic treatment if there is overcrowding. In the majority of cases, this means removing the first bicuspid (also known as premolar) teeth
Extraction Brings Big Benefits
The most significant benefit of extraction is that it relieves what has often been considerable pain associated with an infected tooth. With the tooth and root removed, the gum soon heals, and the patient feels better than ever in a matter of days.
Getting rid of rotten teeth permanently means there is no risk of the problem escalating. With the decayed teeth left untreated, the infection can spread to neighbouring teeth, causing even more pain and long-term damage that can ultimately affect your whole smile.
There are also cosmetic benefits to extraction. Nobody wants to be showing off a broken or discoloured tooth. Removal provides the first step in getting the smile you’ve always wanted.
Common Questions in Relation to Tooth Extractions
Prevention is always better than cure. The most common primary issue that makes tooth extraction necessary is decay, so your best defence is in maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. That means brushing and flossing after meals and having regular check-ups with the dentist and hygienist. When tooth extraction is inevitable, your dentist will always explain why and will guide you through the pros and cons, along with outlining any alternative options.
This varies on a case by case basis. In general, however, you will be able to go back to your daily lives in 1-2 days as long as you follow the aftercare instructions given by your dentist.
Tooth extraction is, in fact, quite painless. The dentist will anaesthetise the area before starting the extraction process. If you feel any pain at all, let the dentist know, and additional anaesthesia will be applied. All you should experience is a sensation of pressure, which certainly feels a little strange, but is not painful.
As you might expect, this depends on the number of teeth that will be extracted and the individual case. For a routine extraction under local anaesthetic, however, it takes around five to 10 minutes for the anaesthetic to take effect, then 10 to 15 minutes to perform the removal and another 10 to 15 minutes to close the space and finish off. Most extractions demand between 30 and 45 minutes from start to finish.
Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that naturally forms in the socket dislodges and exposes the underlying bone. This can lead to pain, inflammation and infection. The good news is that this condition is not common, and it is unlikely to occur if you follow the aftercare instructions given by your dentist. A word of caution, some underlying health conditions place you at higher risk of developing dry socket. If you were to have underlying health conditions, it is wise to inform your dentist about any previous medical history. If you are in an at-risk group, you will be given further advice on how to minimise the likelihood of dry socket developing. If you smoke, try not to do so, or at least to cut down as much as possible in the days immediately following extraction, as the smoke can delay the healing process and cause the blood clot to dislodge or dissolve.
Your dentist will provide detailed instructions on this topic, so always follow these first and foremost. In general, however, you will need to take special care of the removal site over the during the first 48 hours or so following the extraction and to be mindful of it for a week or two while the healing process completes. Avoid hot liquids, alcohol or sugary drinks and stick to soft food, which should be chewed on the other side of the mouth as much as possible. Avoid brushing the extraction site, using a mouth wash for 24 hours, unless specified by your dentist. Thereafter, a warm salt water rinse will keep the wound clean. Finally, remember that advice about smoking. Try your hardest to avoid doing so, at least for the first 24 to 48 hours, as it can severely complicate the recovery process.
As the anaesthetic wears off, you will feel some soreness. However, this is often far less severe than the pain of infection that necessitated the extraction in the first place. Your dentist will discuss pain management with you, but in the majority of cases, regular over the counter pain killers will be all that you need, and the soreness will disappear after a day or so.