Tooth Extractions: Preparation, Treatment and Aftercare

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You don’t need to be a professional hockey player with a loose tooth to need a tooth extraction. People need them for a variety of reasons. What you do need, though, is to feel confident that extraction is the best option available for you before you make the decision to remove a tooth.

Potential Reasons for Needing Tooth Extractions

There are several reasons you may require one or more of your teeth to be extracted. These include:


As the reference to hockey above alludes to, trauma is a common cause for tooth extractions. Sometimes, teeth are simply too damaged to be saved through traditional treatment methods, such as a root canal and crown, veneers, and other measures. This trauma can be caused by:

  • auto accidents
  • sports injuries
  • falls
  • and a variety of other injuries and maladies.

Health Condition

People who are getting ready to go through certain treatments or procedures, like chemotherapy or an organ transplant, and cannot risk infection of any kind, may also face the decision to extract a tooth at risk for infection.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, left untreated, is another potential cause for extractions. While no one allows their teeth to become damaged intentionally or willfully, some people struggle to pay for dental services and avoid it for that very reason – until it becomes unavoidable. By that time, it is often too late to save the tooth.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is another reason some people need to have teeth extracted. Hanging on to a tooth that needs to be removed can cause the gum disease to spread to other teeth, currently unaffected by the condition.


Sometimes, extractions are called for to help reduce overcrowding in the mouth. If your teeth are large or you have new teeth growing in – especially common in the case of wisdom teeth – on top of each other, it can push all your teeth out of line. Pulling one or more teeth in this situation helps to prevent the overcrowding or shifting of other teeth.

Ultimately, tooth extractions exist to preserve your health. They can help prevent infections from spreading to your blood, especially when combined with antibiotics to treat the infection. They can also help prevent nearby teeth from becoming affected by disease or decay preserving the beauty of your smile and your overall oral health.

Plus, there’s no need to worry about what others think about tooth extractions today. With so many new options for hiding missing teeth, such as partial dentures, bridges, and implants; no one ever needs to know that you have missing teeth after the extraction occurs.

Preparing for Tooth Extractions

You will not have to do much to prepare for your tooth extraction except perhaps to stop using medications, such as ibuprofen that might increase your risk of bleeding. And, if an infection has been found in the area, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics in the days leading up to the extraction.

If you are having a tooth with deep roots or some other complications are anticipated with the extraction you may have to go to an oral surgeon for the extraction. He will likely put you to sleep or in a state of twilight for the procedure. If this is the case, the preparation is a little different.

Your oral surgeon will likely ask that you do the following:

  • Refrain from eating for the six hours leading up to your appointment.
  • Avoid drinking for two hours prior to the appointment.
  • Do not smoke for at least 12 hours prior to the surgery (this will help to prevent complications, like dry sockets).
  • You will also need to be with you during the surgery and bring you home after the procedure.

Once you’re in the dentist’s chair, the challenging work is up to your dental care provider or oral surgeon.

Aftercare and Recovery

Tooth extractions are fairly routine procedures. If you had oral surgery to remove your tooth, the aftercare is going to be a little more involved than a standard extraction. You will need to spend a little time in bed resting and relaxing. You might want to plan to binge watch a new series on Netflix or sleep the afternoon away. Make sure you have easy access to drink plenty of fluids (no straws, please), fast access to the medication your dentist prescribed, and plenty of pillows to help you stay comfortable for the remainder of the day.

Humana suggests that after the first 24 hours you can begin rinsing your mouth routinely with a saltwater rinse and that you might want to consider using ice pack around the area, in 15-minute increments, to help reduce swelling.

Fortunately, the effects of the anesthesia won’t last too long and you should be back to normal within a couple of days after having a tooth extraction.


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