Tooth Extractions & Aftercare
At the State College dental office of Kevin P. Labosky, DMD, we are usually working hard to help patients avoid tooth loss, but there are situations where tooth extraction is the best option to preserve oral health. If you’re in need of tooth extraction following decay or facial trauma or to prepare your smile for orthodontics or restorations, Dr. Labosky and his team can offer safe, comfortable, effective treatment. Call our dental practice to schedule a tooth extraction consultation with our team. We’ll examine your smile and create a personalized tooth extraction plan. We can also offer tooth replacement solutions when necessary.
Reasons for Tooth Extraction
We will do our utmost to help you retain all of your healthy, natural teeth for life, but there are some situations where removing the tooth is the best way to protect your overall oral health. In the following situations, we will need to remove one or more teeth:
- When a tooth or teeth have been so badly damaged or decayed that repair is no longer possible
- In preparation for the placement of partial or full dentures, we may need to remove teeth that are compromised and could affect the longevity of your prosthetic
- Orthodontic treatment plans for patients with severe crowding may include the removal of one or more teeth to allow the surrounding teeth to shift more readily
- Wisdom teeth, or the third molars, are the last set of teeth to erupt into the smile, and they are often extracted as they cause oral health concerns like tooth crowding, shifting teeth out of alignment, and impaction (inability of teeth to erupt)
Tooth pulling is the ideal method for extraction. If a tooth has fully erupted from the smile, but has not fully attached with supportive bone structures, we can often numb the area and use clasping tools to shift the tooth back and forth until it breaks free from the socket.
Surgical Tooth Removal
Most tooth extraction is at least partially surgical. We often need to cut away soft tissue or supportive bone structure to allow our team to safely remove the tooth. In the case of impacted teeth, we’ll need to remove a great deal of tissue to reveal the tooth beneath the gums. In other cases, we need to break the tooth into smaller pieces before it can be safely removed from the socket.
Caring for Your Smile Following Extraction
After a tooth is extracted, you will need to carefully follow the post-operative care instructions we provide to ensure you make a full recovery. Some of the basics include:
- Don’t overdo it. Plan to relax for at least 24 hours after your tooth is removed. With less exertion, your body will rest and rejuvenate more quickly.
- Directly following your extraction, you will need to carefully monitor the socket of the tooth. Use clean gauze to absorb any blood and protect the extraction site. For the first 12 to 24 hours, you will need to exchange this gauze every few hours.
- Once bleeding has stopped, you will not necessarily need to have gauze over your extraction site at all times. At this point, be careful to avoid chewing with that part of your mouth, and remove any foreign debris immediately.
- Use ice packs as needed for the first 48 hours. This will help with pain, bleeding, and swelling, so by applying an ice pack or cold compress for 20 minutes at a time, you may be jump starting your recovery.
- You will want to stick to a mostly soft foods diet for your first 48 hours. After the first two days, you can start to include a wider variety of foods, but you should still choose food that will be easy to chew and unlikely to become stuck in your extraction site.
- Take any pain medication (prescribed or over the counter) as directed for pain, but if you’re experiencing discomfort that isn’t greatly reduced by your pain reliever, please call our office. You may be experiencing a more serious concern.
For most patients, there are very few complications following tooth extraction. As long as you do your best to follow your post-op instructions, you will likely have no reason to worry. There are a few complications that patients may experience following tooth extraction, including:
- Dry socket – after the tooth is removed, your body will create a blood clot over the top of the extraction site. This blood clot protects the tooth and encourages faster healing. When the blood clot is dislodged or dissolves too soon, you may experience severe pain and sensitivity. Call our team right away, if this happens.
- Infection – any time you have a healing wound, infection is possible. If you follow the post operative instructions, your extraction site should not become infected, but if for any reason infection occurs, please call us right away. We can prescribe oral and/or topical antibiotics to remove the infection.
- Soft tissue damage – the newly exposed gum tissue will be very sensitive as it heals. You should avoid chewing with that side of the mouth and be careful while brushing and flossing for several days after extraction. If soft tissue damage occurs despite your best efforts, you can use clean cloth or gauze to stop blood flow. If the damage is severe, something is stuck in your tooth socket, or you’re in severe pain, call our office.