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FAQs About Adult And Pediatric Tooth Extractions

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What do you need to know about tooth extractions? Whether you need an extraction or your child does, take a look at the top questions patients have about this common dental procedure.

What Are Teeth Extractions?

This procedure is more commonly known as pulling or removing teeth. As the name implies, the dentist will extract (pull out/remove) a tooth or several teeth from the mouth. For most procedures, the dentist will use a special instrument known as an elevator to loosen the tooth from the surrounding gum tissue. They will then use forceps to pull the tooth out. 

Why Are Extractions Done?

There isn't one reason to extract a tooth. But the most common reasons for dental extractions include:

  • Dental crowding. Does your child have too many teeth to fit comfortably in their mouth? Without enough space, your child's teeth could twist, turn, or cause misalignment of the jaw. If orthodontic techniques won't solve the problem, an extraction can help. 

  • Trauma to the tooth. Severe injuries that won't or don't respond to restorations (such as bonding or a crown) may require an extraction. 

  • Infection or decay. Like trauma, restorations are typically the first line of defense against infection or dental decay. But if the decay has progressed too far into the tooth, you may need an extraction to stop the spread of the infection.

Along with tooth-related issues, some patients may require an extraction to treat periodontal (gum) disease. Untreated periodontitis can lead to loose teeth. If the damage is beyond repair, the dentist may need to extract a weak or loose tooth.

Are Dental Extractions Painful?

It's likely that the reason for the extraction (such as a dental injury or infection) is more painful than the procedure. Before the dentist loosens the tooth or removes it with forceps, they will numb the area with a local anesthetic. This desensitizes the surrounding area and makes the extraction painless. Even though you won't feel anything during the extraction, you may feel pain or discomfort in the area after the anesthesia wears off. 

What Happens During the Post-Procedure Recovery Period?

The pain you feel after the anesthesia wears off may last for a few hours or a few days. The comfort should resolve gradually. If this doesn't happen, contact your dentist as soon as possible. They may need to examine the extraction site and check for dry socket. 

Dry socket is a potential side effect that happens when a blood clot doesn't form or falls out after the extraction. Treatment of dry socket may include removing debris in the extraction site, using medicated dressings, and administering pain medication. 

To reduce the risks of dry socket or other post-extraction issues, follow your dentist's instructions. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends that patients avoid smoking, vigorously rinsing, or drinking through a straw in the first 24 hours after the procedure.