Surgical tooth extractions are the most common surgical procedure performed in the United States. It is estimated, in this country alone, over twenty million teeth are extracted each year. Surgical extraction is required when the problem tooth cannot be easily removed. Routine surgical extraction can be performed under local anesthetic by your general practitioner. Under ideal circumstances, this procedure takes place in Dr. Ueckert’s office.
Before surgical extraction can happen, the dentist must consider the specific conditions and needs of the patient. Patient risk factors should be considered when discussing surgical extraction. Criteria such as age, medical health, anatomy of the mouth, anxiety levels and ability to cooperate, all are scrutinized when scheduling a surgical extraction. In extreme cases, referral to an oral surgeon can be an option.
In preparation for surgical extraction, X-rays will be taken. This provides accurate mapping of the mouth to help plan the best course of removal. The X-rays show the relationships of teeth to other teeth, nerves, sinuses and even infections that can be present. Full medical and dental history, along with any medications the patient is taking should be disclosed prior to the extraction procedure. Sometimes antibiotics will be prescribed prior to the surgery if the dentist is concerned about infection possibilities.
To prepare the patient for surgical extraction, a local anesthetic is first applied to numb the tooth and surrounding area. Typically within 5 to 10 minutes the area will be completely numb, lasting between 2 to 3 hours. After numbness has been confirmed by the dentist, the extraction will begin by gaining access to the tooth. Usually this requires opening the gum tissue with a small incision to expose root or bone. With more difficult teeth, a sectioning technique is used to make removal easier. Once the tooth is removed, sutures may be required to close the extraction site.
Recovery from surgical extraction should only take a few days. After surgery, patients will experience some level of discomfort. With complicated cases, your dentist may prescribe some medication to help ease any pain. Follow these helpful tips to make recovery as easy as possible:
- Apply fresh gauze pads to prevent saturation
- Avoid contacting the extraction site with your tongue
- Try to eat food that are soft and easy to consume
- Avoid strenuous physical activity
- Wait 24 hours, then rinse with warm salt water several times a day
- Uses ice packs to reduce any swelling
- Do not smoke, spit or drink with straws as this can cause further bleeding
Bleeding – Incisions in the mouth can require more time to heal because the gums don’t dry out, making it harder to form a scab. Most post-surgery bleeding can be controlled with direct pressure in the form of a gauze pad. After surgery it is common to experience slight bleeding for up to 24 hours. If you experience heavy or extended bleeding you should contact the office for evaluation.
Infection – The opening that remains after the tooth is extracted can be subject to bacteria and infection. These infections are serious and can spread to other parts of the body. Usually patients with a healthy immune system can fight off any potential infection. If swelling and pain do not improve and become worse, evaluation to determine the cause should be conducted.
Dry Socket – This condition can occur when the blood clot fails to properly form, or breaks off too soon leaving the jawbone to be exposed to food and air. The patient will experience an extremely painful ‘toothache’ sensation. It usually develops between 2 to 4 days post-surgery. Once again inform your dentist if you are experiencing any complications cause pain to become worse.
Follow-Up Appointment after Surgical Extraction
It is usually a good idea to return for a follow-up examination between 5 to 7 days after your surgical extraction. At this point, the patient is examined to ensure proper healing, evaluate bone density, and answer any questions. If necessary, sutures will be removed at this time.