Anchorage Tooth Extraction

The main goal of dentistry is to preserve your natural teeth and keep them healthy for as long as possible. There are times, however, when it is in your best interest to have a tooth removed. This could be the case for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you have a tooth that has been severely damaged by trauma or decay; or an impacted wisdom tooth that may cause trouble for you later on. Maybe your teenager will soon undergo orthodontic treatment and has insignificant space for his adult teeth, referred to as crowding. Or your younger child has a baby tooth that’s stubbornly adhering, even though it’s past time for it to go.

Whatever the reason, tooth extraction is more often than not a very routine procedure.  It is nothing to be feared when done by an experienced hand; by carefully manipulating a tooth, it can be freed without much trouble.

The Process of Extracting a Tooth

Tooth extraction is usually done using only local anesthesia, which will numb the tooth and surrounding bone and gum tissues.  Additional sedatives may be used if preferred, talk to Dr. Lee about these options or see our page on conscious sedation.

As your tooth is being extracted, steps are taken to ensure the bone that surrounds the tooth isn’t damaged.  Sometimes bone-grafting material will be placed into the socket to help strengthen and preserve the bone volume there.  This is often utilized when the bone needs to support a device such as a dental implant.  The bone-graft material is covered with a membrane and then sutured in place.

What to Expect After a Tooth Extraction

Immediately after your tooth is extracted, the socket will be covered with sterile gauze and you can apply gentle pressure for 10-20 minutes.  You will be given a full list of post-op instructions to refer to regarding any swelling, hygiene care, pain, diet instructions and more.  Often times, a post-op appointment is not necessary but you are, of course, encouraged to call with any questions or concerns.

Post-Operative Instructions Following Tooth Extraction

Not all the instructions may apply as the after-effects of an extraction can differ. Common sense will often dictate what you should do. However, when in doubt, follow these guidelines or call our office.

For the remainder of the day:

  • Keep fingers and tongue away from the surgical area.
  • Do not drink or eat hot foods today, as you may dissolve or loosen the healing blood clot.
  • Do not use a drinking straw. Drink straight from the cup.
  • Do not spit forcefully. Use a tissue to wipe your mouth as needed or swallow your saliva.
  • Do not rinse mouth vigorously.
  • Do not smoke.

Do not disturb the wound site for the next few days.  Spitting, using a straw, smoking, and poking the surgical area may disturb the blood clot that is forming, causing bleeding, slow healing, and/or bone pain often called a “dry socket.”

Bleeding – Leave the gauze in for 30 minutes and keep steady pressure (biting) over the surgical site following the procedure. Replace the gauze for another 30 minutes if fresh blood is present – making sure that the gauze is wet before pulling it out. If bleeding continues after this time, bite on a tea bag for 30 minutes. If you are still bleeding after this, please contact our office.

Sutures – If sutures were placed, they will dissolve in about 7 days, unless otherwise stated.

Swelling – You may or may not experience swelling. Any swelling can be minimized by applying a cold pack (ice in plastic bag with cloth wrap) on the outside of the face near the surgery site.  Immediately following the procedure, it’s advisable to apply the cold pack for 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off for 2 to 4 hours.  Sleeping with your head elevated slightly (above the heart) will help keep the swelling down.

Pain/Medications – Pain medication usually is not necessary. Discomfort can typically be alleviated by taking aspirin, Tylenol, or Ibuprofen. If the pain is suspected to be more than mild, a prescription will be given to you.  If given an antibiotic, please take the medication faithfully until all the tablets are gone.

Oral Sedation Patients – If oral conscious sedation was used during this appointment, you should remain under the supervision of a responsible adult for the remainder of the day.

Diet – You should begin with eating soft foods for the first few days, you may feel that cool fluids provide more relief for the first day or so. Please do not drink through a straw the week after your surgery. You may resume a regular diet as soon as you feel up to it, but avoid crunchy foods like popcorn, chips, and peanuts for about 2 weeks following surgery.

Activity – Do not overexert yourself in the next 24-48 hours.  If you engage in vigorous activity, throbbing or bleeding may occur. After 48 hours you may increase your activity as tolerated.

Oral Hygiene – Good oral hygiene is essential to good healing. You may begin rinsing with warm saltwater the day after your surgery (1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water).  Be gentle! Do not spit or rinse forcefully.