A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the jaw bone.
Why are teeth removed?
With modern, painless dentistry, tooth extraction is not often necessary but there are some cases where there is no alternative but to remove the tooth.
- Impacted teeth: If a tooth is impacted into another tooth and is prevented from growing into its correct position through lack of space it may cause persistent infections. This is the most common cause of wisdom teeth extractions.
- Orthodontic treatment: If there is insufficient space in the mouth and the teeth are overcrowded, teeth may be removed (particularly in children) to allow the remaining teeth to come through straight. Teeth may also be removed prior to realignment with braces.
- Severe decay or damage: Teeth may have to be removed because they are so badly damaged or decayed that they cannot be repaired.
- Gum disease: Gum disease can progress so far that the teeth become loose and have to be removed.
What should I do after my tooth is removed?
Once a tooth has been removed it is important to allow time for a blood clot to form in the hole (tooth socket) where the tooth was. The blood clot will eventually form new bone and gum. Therefore it is important that the extraction site is not disturbed.
For best results:
- Do not rinse your mouth for at least 5 hours.
- Vigorous exercise, smoking, and eating food on the affected side of the mouth for 3 to 4 days, should be avoided.
- Soft foods are advised after any dental extraction.
- Gentle cleaning of the teeth with a soft toothbrush during the first few days after the extraction is possible, but avoid the extraction site.
- Starting from 12-24 hours after the tooth has been removed, rinse your mouth for 30 seconds gently with a mouth rinse made up by dissolving a teaspoon of salt in hot water. This should be carried out after every food intake and before going to bed for the following three to 7 days to help prevent any infection developing within the socket.
- It is quite normal to experience some swelling to the face after a tooth extraction and an ice pack may help to reduce this.
- A little pain or some discomfort may be felt after an extraction and your dentist will advise suitable pain relief.
What can be done to fill the space after a tooth is removed?
Your dentist will discuss alternative options to fill the space after the tooth is removed. Possible options are implants, bridges, and dentures. In some cases, if the gap is not visible and leaving the space will not have a detrimental affect on the remaining teeth, the space can be left.