A tooth extraction refers to the removal of a tooth from the gums. There are many reasons a tooth may need to be extracted. If a tooth has decayed or has a bacterial infection, for instance, it will need to be removed to prevent more permanent damage to the mouth. A tooth may have been broken close to or below the gumline or may be positioned in such a way that it is negatively affecting other parts of the mouth. These are all valid reasons for a tooth extraction.
The extraction process begins with the dentist or surgeon anesthetizing the local area. In certain situations, a general anesthetic may also be applied. This is often the case when multiple teeth must be removed.
For a simple extraction, the tooth is lifted with a tool called an elevator. The tooth is then firmly clamped with a pair of forceps. The tooth is then shifted back and forth in the mouth until it comes clear of the gums.
In cases where the tooth cannot be clamped by the forceps, or the tooth has broken inside of the gum line, a surgical extraction is necessary. A surgical extraction requires an incision into the gums after which the remaining tooth or fragments are removed.
There is a recovery period after the procedure that can range from three days to a week. The empty tooth socket will bleed anywhere from one hour to one day immediately afterwards. A gauze block or pad will have to be used to keep the gums clean and absorb the blood. This gauze needs to be changed regularly. There may be pain as well. Caution must be taken while eating during the first week. After the first week, the wound usually heals and normal activities can be resumed.