A good dentist will take every possible action to save your natural adult teeth before extracting them. But if all courses of general dentistry treatment have been exhausted and a tooth extraction becomes necessary, it’s not the end of the world. There are dental procedures available to replace the missing tooth. To make things easier on yourself, you can also prepare yourself for the extraction recovery process in advance.
When Is Tooth Extraction Needed?
Dentists generally suggest tooth extraction when they believe the natural tooth cannot be treated or corrected by other means. For instance, when a tooth becomes infected to the point where the bone is degraded, it may not be possible to regenerate enough bone to hold it in place. Also, if the tooth becomes cracked due to an injury, it is vulnerable to infection. Depending on the situation, a dentist may recommend an extraction as the best option. Another common case for extraction is removing the wisdom teeth, for cosmetic reasons or for better comfort.
In some cases, an extraction isn’t really necessary. The issue may be fixed with a filling, root canal, bone grafting or other procedure. It’s up to you to investigate all of your options and find a highly skilled dentist who sincerely cares about your overall dental health. A good dentist will clearly explain your treatment options and will work to save a tooth when possible.
The Process of Extraction
Before an appointment to do an extraction, the dentist will examine dental x-rays and may prescribe antibiotics in advance. An extraction itself is a fairly quick process. The dentist uses anesthesia or Novocain to numb the area around the tooth, then carefully pulls it out using a dental tool called forceps. If it’s a wisdom tooth that hasn’t come in yet, an oral surgeon must remove it by making an incision in the gums first. In either case, the patient must then take care to allow the gums to heal properly after the procedure.
Speeding up Recovery Post-Extraction
There are a few things to do when you get home after an extraction to speed along your recovery. One is a saltwater rinse—sprinkle a half a teaspoon of salt in a small cup of hot water and mix it up. Gargle with the saltwater (saline) solution, taking extra care to swish it in the area of the extraction. If there is pain, your dentist may prescribe you pain medication or recommend over-the-counter pain medication. Your dentist may also give you a medical dressing to keep over the gums to aid in the healing process. Rinsing with a special (chlorhexidine gluconate) mouth wash will also help kill bacteria and prevent infection. Your dentist will advise you on the appropriate mouth wash to use after your tooth extraction.
Avoiding Future Dental Problems
The best way to avoid having a tooth extracted is to become a little obsessed about your at-home dental health. Many people do not realize the excellent benefits of flossing your teeth each day or even twice a day. Allowing food and other particles to sit in between your teeth and on the tops of your teeth for long periods of time overnight can cause serious problems with bad bacteria and plaque. It is also important to reduce your intake of sugary sweets, particularly sticky ones. Sugar is strong enough to eat through the enamel of a tooth and allow bad bacteria to enter and cause an infection that could lead to tooth loss.
Get a number of second opinions about whether an extraction is necessary in your specific case. Sometimes dentists simply do not have the proper advanced dental training to provide therapy to a tooth and save it. Always get a second opinion, and if an extraction is necessary, use these tips to speed the recovery. Talk to your dentist about tooth replacement options and take better care of your other teeth to prevent future issues.