What are ‘tooth extractions?’

A tooth extraction is the dental term used to describe the process of removing a tooth.

A tooth may need to be removed for a variety of reasons. It could be loose as a result of trauma; it could be severely decayed and beyond repair; it could be damaged; you may have wisdom teeth coming through or you could be suffering from serious gum disease (known as periodontal gum disease).

An extraction can involve a single or several teeth. Depending on the extent this can be performed in a single visit or via a few sessions.

Dentists will try other forms of treatment before considering an extraction. If you do require an extraction then your dentist will discuss the procedure with you and the type of anaesthetic available.

There is a choice between a local anaesthetic which numbs the area or a general anaesthetic which means that you will be asleep for the whole procedure. At one time, extractions under general anaesthesia were carried out at dental surgeries but The General Dental Council has recommended that these be performed in a hospital.

The procedure starts with the dentist administering an anaesthetic and possibly a sedative as well. He or she will then use a pair of forceps to loosen the tooth before removing it completely.

You will not feel any pain although there may be some bleeding. However, your dentist will give you a soft pad to bite on which will stop this bleeding.

He or she will advise you to take painkillers if required and to take things easy for the rest of the day. This means avoiding any hot/cold drinks or food and not rinsing out your mouth for 24 hours after the treatment.

Tooth extractions are usually straightforward affairs but like all procedures, there can be a small amount of risk. If you notice anything untoward such as excessive bleeding, raised temperature or severe pain then contact your dentist immediately.

There is a condition called ‘dry socket’ which can occur after an extraction. This happens if the blood clot in the socket is dislodged or flushed away. This blood clot is essential as it helps the socket to heal. If it is no longer there then there is the risk of the empty socket becoming infected. If this happens then visit your dentist.

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