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You might not know this, but pulling teeth is something dentists would rather avoid. However, sometimes tooth extractions are unavoidable. Wisdom teeth may need to be extracted if your mouth doesn't have room to accommodate them. Sometimes excessive decay or trauma to the tooth can make a tooth extraction necessary. And if you're getting dental braces, dental extractions might be part of treatment in order to make room for teeth that will eventually shift. But don't let tooth extractions take control of your concerns: One of the best cures for jitters is learning what to expect from an oral surgery tooth extraction and what to do for aftercare.
Q: Does a tooth extraction hurt?
A: Naturally, it seems like tooth extractions hurt. But let's make an important distinction: The actual oral surgery tooth extraction doesn't hurt because dentists use a local anesthesia like novocaine to numb the gums. What you may feel is some pressure while the dentist wiggles the tooth back and forth using a pair of dental forceps. With surgical dental extractions (where the gum has to be cut), patients with moderate dental anxiety may want nitrous oxide or dental conscious sedation in addition to a local. The most likely time you'll feel mild discomfort is after the procedure, when the anesthesia wears off. Fortunately, your dentist will prescribe a tooth extraction pain medication to help with any post-op soreness or swelling.
Q: How is a wisdom tooth extraction different from other dental extractions?
A: Wisdom tooth extractions are basically like any other tooth extraction, except they can be a little more complicated due to the location or degree of impaction. An impacted wisdom tooth (one that hasn't broken through the gums) typically takes longer and involves some cutting of the gum.
With wisdom tooth dental extractions, the risk for developing dry socket increases. Dry socket is the clinical term to describe when the blood clot which forms in the pocket where the tooth was pulled is dislodged. This can happen if you smoke, drink through straw or gargle too soon after a wisdom tooth extraction. Women who take oral contraceptives may also be more vulnerable to dry socket. While it is common to feel some discomfort after an oral surgery tooth extraction, if it doesn't subside after a few days or becomes worse, call your dentist.
Q: What are best practices for tooth extraction aftercare?
A: Your dentist will give you a list of things to do for oral surgery tooth extraction aftercare. This list may include placing a clean piece of gauze over the extraction site to stop bleeding, avoiding smoking for first 48 hours, refraining from using a straw, gargling or spitting for a few days, and taking pain reliever and any other medications as prescribed.