Sometimes teeth need to be removed—maybe it’s beyond saving, trauma occurred or a patient is prepping for a device such as dentures or a bridge. No matter why an extraction is needed, this is a relatively painless process. First, the dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding area via a topical treatment followed by an injection of local anesthetic. This ensures there will be no pain during the procedure, only pressure, even though the patient remains alert.
A tooth is rooted in a socket (made of the alveolar bone) and secured with a ligament. An extraction requires the dentist to widen the socket while un-linking the tooth from the ligament. Surprisingly, the inside of the jaw bone is pretty soft and spongy, making teeth easy to extract once the socket is rocked wider.
Tools of the Trade
Dr. Hanson may use a number of instruments for a tooth extraction, from extraction forceps to elevators. Elevators are put between the tooth and nearby bone like a wedge. Sometimes an elevator alone is enough, while other times the extraction forceps are necessary to pluck the tooth out.
Today’s anesthesia works phenomenally well, and patients should feel no pain at all. However, there may be some distressing noises during the extraction. Removing teeth is a loud process, and the sounds are exacerbated in the patient’s head, so anything from “breaking” sounds to grinding might be noticed—this is all normal and not a sign that something’s wrong.
Worst Case Scenarios
Not all extractions go flawlessly. Sometimes tooth roots can break, which can sound terrible but is actually fairly common. This simply means that a root has broken off and wasn’t removed along with the tooth. The dentist might require extra time to remove it, but it’s not harmful or painful.
Closing Up Shop
After an extraction, there are various methods which may be used to close the site. But first, the dentist may need to remove any infected tissue. Simple finger pressure might be enough to close the socket, and bones might need to be rounded off during this process.
In some cases—only with surgical extractions—stitches might be in order. Otherwise, pressure with gauze and some over the counter painkillers, if necessary, are all that’s required.