While Dr. Wang will always try to find the most effective, conservative way to restore and keep your natural teeth, a tooth extraction may sometimes become necessary in order to protect your other teeth and your overall health should a tooth be beyond repair. In such cases, we will ensure your utmost comfort and provide you with compassionate care at Jonathan C. Wang DDS Inc. Please be sure to let Dr. Wang know if you have any special concerns as you and he discuss your extraction procedure in detail.
A tooth extraction is the process of removing a tooth from your jaw bone. In most situations, Dr. Wang will be able to repair your decayed or damaged teeth by using crowns, fillings, or other dental procedures. However, in some cases when the damage or infection is too extensive, Dr. Wang may recommend extraction.
When Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?
Here are some of the situations when a tooth extraction may be necessary:
- Severe trauma, fracture, or dental injury
- Decay that is too extensive
- Dental crowding that hinders oral hygiene causing tooth decay and/or gum infections
- Severe bone loss from gum disease
- Infection due to decay or gum disease
- Orthodontic procedures which require extraction(s) to create space to properly position permanent (adult) teeth
- Baby teeth that do not fall out and prevent a permanent tooth from moving into the correct position in the mouth
- Wisdom teeth are extracted before or after they erupt to prevent infection, food impaction, and other complications with adjacent teeth.
Before a tooth extraction, Dr. Wang will carefully examine your dental history and take X-rays. This will help determine the tooth’s exact position and the integrity of the surrounding bone. Having this information, Dr. Wang can decide on the most effective method to remove the tooth. Dr. Wang will explain what to expect when you come in for the extraction and wants you to mention any concerns or questions you may have.
Most simple extractions are fairly straightforward since the tooth is visible and has an uncomplicated root structure. Dr. Wang first injects local anesthesia to make sure you are comfortable during the entire procedure and then uses dental instruments to remove the tooth. When you leave our office, you will be biting down firmly on a damp, sterile gauze until the extraction site stops bleeding. Dr. Wang will review your post-operative instructions with you before you leave our office.
Surgical extractions are a more complex procedure used for removing teeth such as those that have broken off near or below the gum line, have fractured roots, have a vertical fracture extending from the chewing surface all the way to the root section of the tooth, or that are only partially or totally unerupted and require extraction, which is often the situation with wisdom teeth. For these more involved extractions, we may refer you to an oral surgeon.
Healing after a tooth extraction is variable depending on the patient’s medical status and healing potential. It can range from a couple days to weeks following a tooth extraction. Everybody heals at a different rate.
Here are a few steps you can follow to give your jaw the best possible chance of a smooth recovery:
- After the procedure, Dr. Wang will have you bite down firmly on completely dampened, sterile gauze pads that are placed only over the treated area.
- If the gauze becomes soaked with blood, replace it with another completely wet, folded-up sterile gauze. You may need to fold the gauze and/or use several of them in order to have firm pressure when biting down on them. The office will provide you with some to take home. Keep doing this until the bleeding stops. If you run out of gauze, you may get a tea bag completely soaked with water, wring it so it is not dripping, place it over the extraction site, and firmly bite down.
- Once the bleeding has stopped, the gauze may be removed.
- If the bleeding does not slow down in an hour or the bleeding is slower but still occurring after 2 hours, please call Dr. Wang immediately. Some people just take longer to stop bleeding and may need us to assist the body in clotting after an extraction.
- Make sure bleeding has stopped before sleeping or going to bed for the night. If it has not, please call Dr. Wang immediately.
- Relax and rest during the first 24 hours. No heavy lifting or hard exercising.
- Dr. Wang may advise you to apply an ice compress to your cheek or jaw in order to minimize swelling. If needed, be sure to wrap the ice pack in a towel or washcloth before applying it to your skin. Alternate the pack application by doing 5 minutes on and 10-15 minutes off cycles.
- Do NOT rinse or spit for at least 24 hours after the extraction.
- Starting the next day and for several days after, rinse very gently with salt water (½ teaspoon salt to 1 cup of water).
- Even after the bleeding has stopped, rinse very gently on that side after you gently brush that side. Please be careful to NOT rub your toothbrush on the extraction site while brushing adjacent teeth, but you should keep brushing and flossing all your teeth.
- Do NOT smoke, chew tobacco, or drink alcohol, all of which cause a decrease in blood flow thus decreasing your healing capability.
- Do NOT chew on the side of the mouth that had the tooth removed. Eat only soft foods initially. Later, you can slowly introduce other foods back into your diet. Please avoid food that can get lodged in the socket, ie. blackberries, sesame seeds, etc.
- Do NOT use a straw to drink liquids as this can disturb the healing process if the blood clot is accidentally dislodged. Ask Dr. Wang when it is safe to use a straw again.
- Do NOT drink any carbonated beverages until Dr. Wang gives you clearance which depends upon the extent to which the extraction site has healed.
- Your first post-operative appointment with Dr. Wang will be scheduled the day after your extraction.
- Your second post-operative evaluation will be one week later. At this appointment, Dr. Wang will evaluate if further follow-ups are needed in your case.