If you need to get one tooth or multiple teeth extracted, it can be helpful to know how to prepare and what to expect both during and after the procedure. Here, our Toronto dentists describe what will happen during the tooth extraction process.
Before Your Extraction
Your dentist will take an X-ray of the area in order to help plan how best to extract the tooth or teeth. If you are having wisdom teeth removed, you dentist may take a panoramic X-ray, which provides a picture of all of your teeth at once, and the surrounding tissues.
Your dentist will provide a plan for the extraction appointment for you, including pre- and post-procedure instructions, as well as recommendations, if required, for antibiotics, anaesthesia or sedation. You dentist will also answer any questions that you may have about the procedure during this time, and you will schedule your appointment.
You may be prescribed antibiotics to take before and after surgery if you have an infection, a weakened immune system, certain medical conditions, or if the procedure will be especially long.
You may have intravenous (IV) anesthesia, which can come in the form conscious sedation, general anesthesia, or anything in between. Your dentist will give you instructions to follow if this is the case, including the following:
- On the day of the appointment, you should wear short sleeves or sleeves that are easy to roll up.
- Don't eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before the procedure.
- If you have a cold up to a week before the surgery, call your dentist so that they can determine if the procedure should be delayed. If you had nausea and vomiting the night before the procedure, call the doctor's office first thing in the morning. You may need to reschedule the extraction appointment until you feel better.
- Do not smoke on the day of surgery. This can increase your risk of developing a painful problem called dry socket.
During the Procedure
Your extraction will be performed in one of the following two ways:
A simple extraction is performed on a tooth that is fully erupted and visible over the gum line. During a simple extraction, the dentist will loosen the tooth with an instrument called an elevator, and then use forceps to remove it.
Most simple extractions can be done using just a local anesthetic. Anxious patients may receive drugs to help them relax.
A surgical extraction is somewhat more complex, and is used in cases where a tooth that has broken off at the gum line, or has not erupted through the gum line. During this procedure, your dentist will make a small incision into your gum in order to extract the tooth.
For a surgical extraction, you will receive a local anesthetic, and you may also have intravenous anesthesia. Some people may need general anesthesia, including those with specific medical or behavioural conditions, and young children.
After The Procedure
- After your procedure, be sure to rest for the remainder of the day. Keep your head elevated using an extra pillow.
- Avoid hot food or drinks until the anaesthetic wears off, so that you don't accidentally burn your mouth. Also chew carefully to avoid biting your cheek or tongue.
- To prevent dislodging the blood clot, do not rinse your mouth for the first 24 hours, or eat on that side of your mouth. Avoid the temptation to prod the area with your tongue as well.
- Avoid alcohol for at least 24 hours, as it can encourage bleeding and delay healing.
- You can brush your teeth, but be careful to avoid the extraction site.
- There may be some slight bleeding for the first day or so. You can place a cotton ball in the area for about 15 minutes to quell the bleeding. If the bleeding continues for more than two hours, contact your dentist.
- The extraction site may be sore or tender for a few days following the procedure. If you feel pain, take an over-the-counter pain killer and/or apply ice to the cheek over the extraction site.
Your dentist may request that you attend a follow-up appointment. During this appointment, the dentist will remove any stitches that were needed, and check that the area is healing well.