Tooth extraction should always be a last resort, and every effort should be focused on maintaining the lifespan of your natural teeth. However, sometimes, when the prognosis is too poor, a tooth cannot be saved.
Therefore, a specialist oral surgeon should be used to extract the tooth with care.
Common reasons for tooth extraction
Wisdom teeth removal
If there isn’t enough space for wisdom teeth to grow at the back of your mouth, they can become impacted, causing pain, swelling and/or infection, so may need to be removed.
Sometimes dentists extract teeth to prepare the mouth for orthodontics. The goal of orthodontics is to properly align the teeth, which may not be possible if your teeth are too big for your mouth. Likewise, if a tooth can’t break through the gum, because there’s no room in the mouth for it, we may recommend extraction.
If tooth decay or damage extends to the pulp – the centre of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels – bacteria in the mouth can enter the pulp, leading to infection. If infection is so severe that antibiotics do not cure it, extraction may be needed to prevent the spread of infection.
Your dentist should then talk you through the options for a permanent replacement, such as an implant.
After a tooth extraction
Following the removal of a tooth, it is normal for the area to be sore for a few days. This discomfort can be alleviated by over the counter analgesics such as ibuprofen or paracetamol.
Any bleeding will normally stop within 15 minutes of the procedure. A clean white swab can be placed over the socket and held by biting should the bleeding restart. If the instructions given by the dentist are rigorously followed, healing will take a week to 10 days, during which time there can be a bad taste and possibly bad breath.
Very occasionally white fragments of bone may be lost from the socket but this is no cause for alarm. However if you have any concerns that the socket is not healing properly or you think it may be infected, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for advice.