At our dental office, we do everything we can to protect and preserve your natural teeth. However, there are times when a tooth extraction is the only practical and viable option and we want you to know what you can expect including the do’s and don’ts for caring for the extraction site afterwards.
If you need a tooth extracted, here’s what you can expect.
Preparing for a Tooth Extraction – What to Expect
Before we can schedule an appointment for the extraction, we will first take an X-ray of the tooth and discuss your medical history.
A tooth extraction may seem like a simple procedure – and it usually is – certain medical conditions, dental emergencies and other issues may cause complications down the road.
It’s important to tell us about:
- Any medications you are taking as well as over-the-counter drugs, supplements and vitamins.
- Any other medical procedures that you have scheduled. If a medical procedure involves the use of bisphosphonate, an intravenous drug, we will need to do the tooth extraction first. Otherwise, you will be at risk of bone death (osteonecrosis).
We should also know whether you have any of the following medical conditions:
- Congenital heart defect
- Artificial joints
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Liver disease
- Renal disease
- Thyroid disease
- Adrenal disease
- Heart valve issues
- Immune system impairment
- A history of bacterial endocarditis
If you have any of the above medical conditions, it’s important for them to be treated and under control before we perform your tooth extraction. We may need to reschedule your extraction if any of these conditions are not under control or being treated.
In some cases, we may prescribe antibiotics before the procedure. Antibiotics are only recommended if:
- You have impaired immune function
- Your surgery will be lengthy or complex
- You have a medical condition that warrants it
Most patients will not need antibiotics prior to the extraction. Antibiotics may be recommended after the procedure to prevent infection.
Prior to the Procedure
Before the procedure, it’s important to follow our instructions to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Prior to the extraction:
- Avoid smoking
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing if you will be receiving sedation
- Avoid eating or drinking 6-8 hours before your appointment if you will be receiving sedation
- Let us know if you have a cold or experienced nausea or vomiting the night before. You may need to reschedule the procedure
- If you will be receiving oral sedation, make sure that you bring someone along to drive you home.
We will review all of these requirements before the procedure so that you know what to do and expect.
What Happens During a Tooth Extraction?
In most cases, tooth extractions are relatively quick. The length of time will depend on the type of extraction that needs to be performed:
- Simple: A local anesthetic is applied to numb the area around the tooth. You may feel pressure, but not pain, during the procedure. We will use a special instrument called an “elevator” to loosen your tooth and forceps to remove it.
- Surgical: Complicated tooth extractions are considered surgical procedures. We may administer local and oral sedation. The sedation is meant to keep you comfortable, as we will be making small incisions into your gum. We may also need to cut your tooth or remove the bone around your tooth before extracting it. This can be quite common with root canaled teeth because of the fragility of the root.
While oral sedation is typically reserved for surgical extractions or wisdom teeth, we encourage you to share your preferences with us. We want to make the procedure as easy and stress-free as possible, and we will do our best to accommodate your preferences.
Once your tooth has been extracted, the surrounding teeth will begin to shift and move. If left unchecked, this can lead to complications with chewing or jaw function in the future. We may recommend replacing your missing tooth with an implant, bridge or partial denture.
We will review the procedure and your options before the extraction.
Potential Risks of a Tooth Extraction
Like any other dental procedure, extractions do have risks. However, this is a procedure that is commonly performed, and if our dentist recommends it, the benefits will likely outweigh the risks. Most patients have no issues with recovery or complications.
The biggest risk with a tooth extraction is dry socket, which we will cover shortly.
Other potential risks include:
- Bleeding for more than 12 hours
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fever and chills (sign of an infection)
- Redness and swelling at the extraction site
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
Please call us at Lighthouse Dental Centre if you experience any of these symptoms.
The primary concern with a tooth extraction is dry socket. It’s rare, but it can happen. Only about 2%-5% of people will experience dry socket after a tooth extraction.
What is Dry Socket?
When a tooth is removed, a blood clot normally forms to protect your gums and the hole in your gums as your mouth starts to heal. Sometimes, that clot either doesn’t form or becomes dislodged. This leaves your bone exposed and cause quite a bit of pain.
Researchers still don’t know why the clot doesn’t form for some people. Bacterial contamination from food or drink may be the culprit.
The blood clot can also become dislodged while brushing (the bristles may dislodge the clot) or from trauma to the area.
If left untreated, dry socket can lead to other complications, such as infection so please don’t hesitate to contact our team if you suspect you have dry socket.
How Do You Know if You Have Dry Socket?
One tell-tale sign of dry socket is a throbbing pain in the jaw that just won’t go away. The pain may radiate outward to your neck or ears. Usually, the pain is only felt on the same side as the extraction site.
Dry socket can also cause an unpleasant taste in your mouth or bad breath.
You can visually check for dry socket. While standing in front of a mirror, open your mouth and check the extraction site. If you can see bone, there’s a good chance that you have dry socket.
Pain will usually develop within the first few days after the extraction, but it may develop later on.
What are the Risk Factors for Dry Socket?
Anyone can develop dry socket, but the risk is higher if:
- You’ve had dry socket in the past. Let us know if you have a history of this complication.
- You smoke. Smoking cigarettes can dislodge the clot, and the chemicals can contaminate the wound.
- You don’t take proper care of the wound. Following our instructions for at-home care is crucial. Failing to practice good oral hygiene can also increase your risk of dry socket while your body is healing.
- You take birth control pills. High levels of estrogen can delay or disrupt the healing process.
How is it Treated?
If you are experiencing severe pain after your tooth extraction, it’s important to contact us as soon as possible. We can determine whether you have dry socket and the best course of action to take for treatment.
X-rays may be needed to check for bone infection or other possible causes of your pain.
If you do have dry socket, we will clean the socket. The cleaning alone should help with the pain and may help prevent infection.
We may apply a medicated gel to numb the pain, and we may also pack the socket with gauze. We will also provide instructions on what to do with the gauze after you get home.
You may need to clean the socket again and rinse with a saltwater solution. In cases of severe dry socket, a new gauze may need to be applied at home.
We may recommend taking over-the-counter pain medications to help ease discomfort. If the pain is severe, we may prescribe a painkiller.
What to eat after having your tooth extracted?
- Stick with soft meats like salmon, or slow cooked chicken which are essential in giving your body the energy to start repairing the wound
- Instant oat meals are a great source of fiber and contain vitamins and minerals
- Cottage cheese is soft and creamy and packed with minerals and vitamins
- Chickpeas with humus or any other base is an excellent source of plant protein
- Smoothies with vegetables, fruits, protein powders can be very easy to consume and nutritious. Avoid fruits like strawberries which have seeds that can become lodged in the extraction site
- Avocados while being great for fats are also rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and potassium
- Bananas can be mashed to make them extra soft and are high in Potassium, Vitamin B6, folate and Manganese
- Pureed kids pouches are easy and quick to consume if you need them in a pinch
- Scrambled eggs are high quality proteins rich in vitamins and minerals
- Mashed potatoes are fantastic root vegetables but make they are not too hot so they don’t irritate the wound site
- Greek yogurts which are high in Calcium, Zinc, proteins and minerals are easily digestible and are great for wound healing
- Broths and soups are a great way to stay hydrated while also getting the vitamins and minerals you need for a speedy recovery
What not to eat or drink after a tooth extraction:
- Spicy foods – there is a high probability of inflammation and irritation to the extraction site
- Any food that has grains or seeds – including items like Chia seeds, Blackberries and Strawberries
- Alcohol – it just doesn’t mix well with the medications we may prescribe and can slow healing
- Chewy foods - Because of the high probability of biting your cheek or lips while frozen
- Chips and cookies or similar foods – They can get lodged in the extraction site and disrupt or delay healing
What Happens if Dry Socket Isn’t Treated?
Although complications are rare (when treated), dry socket can cause issues if you do not see a dentist to address the problem.
Complications can include:
- Infection in the socket
- Infection in the bone
- Slow healing
Prompt treatment can help prevent these complications, so make sure that you contact us if you are experiencing any symptoms of dry socket.
Recovery and At-Home Care
Although a tooth extraction is a simple procedure (in most cases), you will still need a few days to recover. At-home care will play an important role in whether or not your recovery goes smoothly.
Following the procedure:
- We will place a gauze pad over the extraction site. Once the gauze is placed, bite down to help with clot formation and slow the bleeding. We ask that you keep the gauze in place for 3-4 hours after the extraction or until the pad is saturated with blood.
- To reduce swelling, apply an ice pack to your cheek for 10 minutes at a time.
- Relax and allow yourself to recover. Give yourself at least 24 hours before easing back into your normal routine.
- Take any prescribed medications.
- Don’t rinse or spit for 24 hours after the procedure. Spit gently instead of rinsing.
- Avoid any teeth whitening products
- Keep brushing or flossing, but avoid the extraction area.
- Prop your head up when you sleep.
- After the first 24 hours, rinse out your mouth with a saltwater solution.
- Eat soft foods for the first few days. Wait a few days before starting to reintroduce other foods.
If you experience pain that doesn’t fade after a few days or you’re experiencing signs of an infection – such as fever, chills or pus – contact us as soon as possible to make an appointment.
Restoring Your Smile
When a tooth is extracted, it’s important to replace it. If you don’t replace the missing tooth, the surrounding teeth will begin to shift and move. Eventually, this can lead to chewing or jaw issues.
As a cosmetic dental office we may recommend dental implants if you are having a tooth extracted. Implants look and feel natural, which makes them a popular choice for tooth replacement. Overall, dental implants have many benefits, including:
- The ability to eat harder and crunchier foods without discomfort or issue
- Helping prevent bone loss and the loss of other teeth.
- Greater resistance to cavities
Because they look and feel natural, dental implants can also help you feel more confident when smiling.
While there are many advantages to implants, they aren’t always the right choice for everyone. Alternatives to implants can include:
- Dental bridges
- Dental crowns
If you need a tooth extraction, we encourage you to book a consultation. During your consultation, we will answer your questions and review the costs.