In general, your dentist will aim to preserve all of your natural teeth and keep them in good health. However, there are instances when an extraction will be the best option for a tooth (or teeth) in order to maintain the overall health of the mouth. A tooth extraction is required in many different cases, such as when a tooth has become affected with severe tooth decay, an impacted wisdom tooth, crowded teeth, or if a baby tooth fails to fall out when it should make room for the permanent tooth.
There are two types of tooth extractions. When a tooth is visible above the gum line and can be removed using forceps, the procedure is known as a simple extraction. In this case, the dentist will grab the tooth with the forceps and may have to move it back and forth to loosen it from its position before removing it. If, however, the issue lies deeper within the gum line, the gum tissue and/or bone will need to be removed in order to access the tooth and extract it. This is known as a surgical extraction.
To surgically remove a tooth, the affected area will have to be numbed. A local anesthetic is normally used for one tooth, but if multiple teeth are being removed at once, a general anesthetic may need to be administered to keep you sedated throughout the surgery. The dentist will make an incision into the gum tissue to access the tooth. It will be gripped and loosened by being pulled back and forth. Once it has been sufficiently loosened, it can be removed from the gums. In some cases, the tooth is too firmly lodged in place to be removed this way. It will then be necessary to break the tooth into smaller pieces before it can be removed. Sutures may be placed over the site to close it and help it heal. When this is the case, soluble sutures are usually chosen, as they dissolve over time.
Following the extraction, you will need to treat the area with care as there may be bleeding and it may feel tender. Your dentist may prescribe medication to help with any pain or swelling. Additionally, you will receive specific instructions in handling the site in terms of eating and cleaning.
Dr. Thaer Al Azzawi graduated from MSA University in 2010 and practiced dentistry overseas for several years before immigrating to the United States. He then graduated from Rutgers School of Dental Medicine with Awards for Excellence in 2015 with awards for excellence. His professional affiliations include the ADA, TDA and GHDS.