Though modern dentistry is capable of minimally invasive management for serious oral disease conditions, it is still possible for tooth decay or traumatic injury to damage a tooth beyond repair. As a result, tooth extractions are common procedures at every dental clinic. Sam Shin, a dentist in North Vancouver, provides insight into a typical tooth extraction procedure and the recovery process.
Overview of Tooth Extractions
Tooth extraction involves the removal of the tooth from the jaw as is necessary to resolve an acute dental problem or to protect a patient’s health . Consequently, an extraction (or several extractions) may be a necessary part of periodontic, endodontic, or (more rarely) orthodontic treatment plans.
Though the procedure and recovery for tooth extractions are largely the same across specialties, every oral surgeon, endodontist, orthodontist, or dentist in Vancouver has their own recommendations and protocols. That said, the process for tooth extraction when working with a professional dental clinic in Vancouver will involve:
- An initial consultation with a dentist in Vancouver to assess the condition of the tooth (teeth) in question; this includes taking x-rays and potentially prescribing antibiotics to pre-treat oral infections .
- A discussion of treatment options and their costs, wait-times, and accessibility.
- Depending on the urgency and complexity of the extraction, you may be referred to an oral surgeon for further consultation.
- A pre-surgery consultation to review your health history, current medications, and insurance coverage.
What To Expect During The Tooth Extraction Procedure
“Simple” tooth extractions occur on an outpatient basis at every dental clinic in Vancouver. In contrast, some “surgical” tooth extractions may require hospital facilities. In either case, every oral surgeon and dentist in Vancouver prioritizes patient safety and comfort.
For simple tooth extractions (where the tooth is visible and accessible):
- The extraction process begins by numbing the tooth and the bone/gum tissue surrounding it with anesthetic.
- The dentist uses a probe to check the numbness of the tooth and surrounding tissues, then moves the gum away from the tooth.
- The dentist will then enlarge the socket around the tooth (loosening the tooth). This involves rocking the tooth back and forth using specialized extraction forceps or elevators .
- The dentist will then sever the ligament that holds the tooth in place and pop it out of the socket .
- Once the tooth is out of the socket, the dentist will clean the socket and stitch uo the gum tissues.
For surgical tooth extractions (where the tooth is impacted or broken below the gumline):
- The extraction process begins with the administration of local anesthetic or general anesthesia.
- The surgeon makes a small incision below the gumline to access the tooth for extraction.
- The extraction will proceed similarly to a simple extraction, though the surgeon may use a drill or laser to gain deeper access to the tooth or the tooth may be removed in pieces .
- Following the procedure, the surgeon may prescribe medication for pain management.
Recovering From Tooth Extraction Procedures
Recovery from tooth extraction is generally simple.
- Immediately after the procedure: The dentist may pack gauze into the socket and ask you to bite down, change the gauze if it becomes saturated with blood, or leave the gauze in place for a specific period of time.
- For the first 24 hours after extraction: You should apply an ice pack to the affected area to reduce swelling, take OTC or prescribed pain medications as indicated, and avoid strenuous activity as well as spitting, rising, or forceful sucking . Your dentist may also provide instructions for using oral rinses after 24-48 hours have passed.
- In the days following the procedure: Most every dentist in Vancouver will recommend eating only soft, cool, non-spicy foods and following a specific schedule for reestablishing a healthy oral care routine .
Sutures will fall out or dissolve within 3-14 days of the procedure, indicating that the extraction has fully healed .