Tooth Extraction 101: What to Expect Before, During, and After Your Procedure

Tooth Extraction 101: What to Expect Before, During, and After Your Procedure

Tooth extraction is the full removal of a tooth from its socket in your upper (maxilla) or lower (mandible) jawbone. Commonly referred to as “having a tooth pulled,” this standard in-office dental procedure is the best way to treat a range of routine oral health problems. 

Some teeth require extraction when deep decay or infection has progressed too far to be resolved by a root canal; others require removal after they’ve sustained severe damage from a traumatic injury. 

Extractions may also be done to prevent or alleviate dental crowding. This includes removing wisdom teeth (third molars) that don’t have enough space to erupt properly, extracting adult teeth that crowd a small jawbone, and pulling stubborn baby teeth that aren’t loosening, even after their permanent replacements have started erupting. 

No matter why you need a tooth extraction, you’re in good hands with Quang Tran, DDS, and the team at Smiles in Springfield. Here’s what you can expect each step of the way:

Before your tooth extraction

Prior to extracting your tooth, Dr. Tran conducts a complete review of your medical and dental history, and takes multi-angle digital X-rays of the treatment area. 

The X-rays show the length, shape, and position of the tooth root within its socket and the surrounding bone; they also show the proximity of adjacent tooth roots and sockets.

These images allow Dr. Tran to determine the best way to remove your tooth so he can plan out the extraction procedure with precision. If X-rays indicate an overly complicated extraction process, he may refer you to an oral surgeon.

If you have a high infection risk (immunocompromised) or if you have a heart condition, Dr. Tran may ask you to take antibiotics before the procedure. Taking antibiotics before a surgery that might release a lot of bacteria into your bloodstream helps prevent infection elsewhere in your body, including your heart.

Lastly, Dr. Tran goes over the type of extraction your tooth requires (simple or surgical), and the numbing agent involved. 

If your extraction involves intravenous (IV) or general anesthesia, or if you’d like some form of sedation to ease dental anxiety, you need to ensure someone else can drive you to and from the procedure.

Tooth extraction procedure

What happens during your extraction procedure depends on the removal technique your tooth requires. Tooth extraction methods fall into two basic categories:

Simple extraction

A simple extraction is the removal of a tooth that’s visible. This approach is used to pull teeth that are too decayed or damaged to be saved and fully erupted teeth that are contributing to overcrowding.

Dr. Tran begins by numbing your tooth and gum tissues with a local anesthetic. Your tooth is firmly encased in its socket and held in place by a ligament, so Dr. Tran must loosen it before he can pull it out. 

Using an instrument called a dental elevator, he rocks or twists your tooth back and forth, a motion that gradually enlarges the socket and helps detach the ligament from the jawbone. Once that happens, he pulls out the tooth with dental forceps.

Surgical extraction

Surgical extraction is used to remove a tooth that’s mostly or entirely below the gumline, either because it’s fully impacted (hasn’t erupted), or it’s been broken off at the gumline. 

Surgical extractions are always more complicated than simple extractions; while Dr. Tran can handle basic surgical extractions, he may refer more complicated cases to an oral surgeon.

In most surgical extractions, Dr. Tran administers IV anesthesia. Depending on your needs, this can range from conscious sedation to general anesthesia, which puts you to sleep. Once you’re sedated, Dr. Tran makes a small incision into your gum tissue to expose the tooth. 

After removing any bone that blocks access to the tooth root, he may need to break the tooth into smaller sections that are easier to pull out. Once all of the pieces are out, he clears away any debris from the socket. 

After your tooth extraction

Once your tooth is out, Dr. Tran scrapes the walls of the socket to remove any infected or pathologic tissue. Then, he compresses the socket to bring it back to size, rounds off any sharp bone edges, and washes out any remaining tooth fragments or loose bone.

Once the socket is cleaned and disinfected, he may close it with stitches to promote healing. Not all extractions require stitches. 

Next, he places gauze over the extraction site and has you bite down on it with gentle, steady pressure for 30-45 minutes. This helps stop bleeding within the socket and promotes the formation of a blood clot. 

Before you head home, Dr. Tran provides detailed post-extraction care instructions to help you reduce the risk of infection or complication, minimize discomfort, and maximize healing. Most people are able to resume normal activities 48-72 hours after their procedure. 

If you have questions about an upcoming tooth extraction procedure, we have answers. Call 703-634-4239 to book an appointment with Dr. Tran in our Springfield, Virginia, office today. 

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