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What to Expect With a Tooth Extraction

Do you dread going to the dentist? If so, you’re not alone. The sentiment is so common that there’s at least one term for it – odontophobia. Usually, the reluctance is associated with not knowing what to expect when you’re in the dentist’s chair as well as unfamiliarity with the many noisy or sharp objects that you’ll encounter while there. A tooth extraction – one of the most common but least understood procedures – can cause many to delay seeking the treatment that they need, which can result in serious health problems.

To maintain the best oral hygiene possible, you need to keep your teeth and gums healthy. This means having a tooth extraction if necessary, although maintaining good oral hygiene is preferable. The following explains the procedures involved in a tooth extraction, so you may feel less anxious about having one.

The first step is for your dentist to take an x-ray so they can formulate the best extraction procedure for your situation. They’ll need information about your medical history, and you’ll both decide on the optimal sedation method for you.

During the week before your dental procedure, if you develop a cold or nasal congestion, or develop nausea or vomiting, then notify your dentist’s office since you may need to delay your procedure.

Are There Different Ways to Extract Teeth?

There are two types of tooth extractions: simple and surgical. If you’re having a simple extraction, then you’ll probably need only a local anesthetic. If you’re having a surgical extraction, then you may need an intravenous anesthetic. Either way, you may feel pressure during the procedure, but you shouldn’t experience any pinching or pain. If you do, immediately bring it to your dentist’s attention.

Expectations for Before Your Tooth Extraction Procedure

Your dentist will need to know any medical conditions you have, prescription medications as well as over-the-counter supplements that you take, and your medical history. Be sure to advise your dentist if you have or have had:

  • Artificial knees or hip joints
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Bacterial endocarditis
  • Congenital heart defect
  • Compromised or impaired immune system
  • Damaged or artificial heart valves

If you have or have had any of these, your dentist may need to take special precautionary measures, so be sure to let them know.

Expectations for After Your Extraction Procedure

When your procedure is complete, your dentist may make some self-dissolving sutures, and then will pack the sutured site with gauze and ask you to bite down firmly. This will help a clot to form, which should take about three hours and you’ll need to replace the gauze periodically. When you get home, be sure to follow these aftercare guidelines:

  • Rest for 24 hours and avoid strenuous activity because that can dislodge the clot and rip open your sutures.
  • Apply an ice pack to the outside of your jaw every ten minutes. Don’t apply ice directly to the extraction site, however.
  • Keep your head elevated with pillows. This will reduce bleeding and encourage clot formation.
  • Sleep with your head elevated for the first couple of nights. After that, sleep on your side for a few more nights.
  • Avoid drinking from a straw, rinsing, smoking, or spitting forcibly for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, rinse with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt to eight ounces of warm water.
  • Maintain good oral hygiene, but avoid brushing and flossing at the extraction site.
  • Eat a soft-food diet until your site has healed. Stick to yogurt, soup, applesauce, mashed potatoes, and other soft foods until your site heals. You don’t want to get food particles stuck in your extraction site.
  • Take pain medications as you need them and in accordance with your dentist’s instructions.

It’s normal to experience some pain, swelling, and bleeding after a dental procedure, but if you experience excessive amounts of any of them or any of the following symptoms, then contact your dentist’s office without delay:

  • Chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath
  • Chills, fever, other signs of an infection
  • Excessive discharge from the site
  • Redness or swelling at the site
  • Severe bleeding or pain after four hours
  • Vomiting or nausea

Once your extraction site has healed, you can resume your normal diet and your regular activity level. Healing usually takes one to two weeks, depending on the procedure and the individual, but take it easy and follow the guidelines for the best healing results.

What About Wisdom Tooth Extractions?

Your wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars to erupt in your mouth, and they’re located in the back of the mouth behind all the other teeth. Many people’s molars fully erupt straight and even without causing a problem for the other teeth. Others, however, lack the room for wisdom teeth, so they grow in crooked and cause the existing teeth to become misaligned.

Some dentists recommend wisdom teeth extraction as a preventive measure to prevent future problems. They feel that extracting wisdom teeth when an individual is young can forestall some of the problems that can occur in older individuals. Other dentists, however, prefer to not extract teeth that aren’t problematic because each procedure carries risks as well as benefits.

The American Dental Association recommends wisdom tooth extraction for the following reasons:

  • Cyst or tumor development
  • Damage to adjacent teeth
  • Infection
  • Discomfort or pain
  • Onset of gingivitis or periodontal disease
  • Tooth decay

Even if your wisdom teeth aren’t causing discomfort or pain, it’s important to understand why preventive extraction may be a good option for you. The following are the most common reasons for wisdom teeth extraction:

  • Wisdom teeth can become diseased without showing symptoms.
  • Removal at a younger age can reduce the risk of complications that can occur when an individual is older.
  • Many dentists believe it’s difficult to accurately predict the likelihood of future wisdom teeth problems.

Whatever your opinion on the subject of wisdom teeth extraction, you should be able to locate a Northern Virginia dentist whose views align with yours. Make an appointment with an affordable, caring dentist who can help you decide on the best course of action for your wisdom teeth.

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