When Are Tooth Extractions Necessary?

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Tooth extractions are a common dental procedure. They're often performed only when preserving the natural tooth is no longer possible or advisable.

At CK Dental & Associates in Washington, D.C., Dr. Woo Young Chang always strives to save teeth whenever possible. However, there are circumstances under which a tooth extraction becomes necessary to protect a patient's oral health.

Below, we'll look at the reasons tooth extractions are performed, the process involved, and the recovery period.

Reasons tooth extraction may be necessary

There are several reasons why a tooth extraction might be the best or only option for a patient.

For example, when tooth decay progresses to the point where a filling, crown, or root canal cannot save the tooth, Dr. Chang will typically advise you that an extraction may be the only way to prevent an infection from spreading. If a dental abscess or infection does not respond to antibiotics or a root canal, removing the tooth is the best way to protect the surrounding teeth and gums.

Patients with advanced gum disease (periodontal disease) may experience the weakening of the tooth and the eventual loss of the supporting structures of the tooth. If the condition is too advanced, extraction may be necessary to preserve the integrity of the remaining teeth and the jawbone.

Many patients undergo a tooth extraction to remove their wisdom teeth, which often lack sufficient space to erupt correctly. If wisdom teeth are impacted, causing pain or swelling, or have the potential to damage adjacent teeth, Dr. Chang will likely advise you to have them removed.

Of course, if you have a severely fractured or broken tooth in which the crack extends below the gumline, the tooth may not be salvageable and require extraction.

How does the tooth extraction process work?

Tooth extraction is typically performed using local anesthesia to ensure the patient experiences minimal discomfort during the procedure.

During the procedure, Dr. Chang will use specialized instruments to loosen and remove the tooth gently. In more complex cases, such as an impacted wisdom tooth or a severely fractured tooth, a surgical extraction may be necessary. This involves making a small incision in the gum to access and remove the tooth.

After the removal, Dr. Chang will place a gauze pad over the extraction site to control bleeding and rapid blood clot formation. You'll simply need to bite down on the gauze for about 30 – 45 minutes and change it as needed.

How long does it take to recover from a tooth extraction?

After tooth extraction, pain should be minimal. In fact, if you've been suffering from a tooth infection, you may feel relief from the acute pain it can cause. Applying an ice pack to the cheek near the extraction site can help minimize swelling and discomfort.

It's wise to rest and avoid strenuous activities for the first 24 hours following the extraction. In most cases, over-the-counter pain relievers are enough to manage discomfort. If appropriate, Dr. Chang may also prescribe medications to manage any post-extraction discomfort.

It's crucial to continue your oral hygiene routine during recovery, but you will want to avoid rinsing or brushing the extraction site for the first 24 hours. After that, gently rinsing with a warm saltwater solution will help keep the area clean as it heals.

Patients should stick to soft foods, avoid hard, crunchy, or spicy items that irritate the extraction site, and avoid smoking and alcohol during recovery since they can negatively impact the healing process.

Get a tooth extraction in Washington, D.C.

If you're suffering from tooth pain or an injury, it's important to consult with a dentist as soon as possible to ensure you don't compromise the surrounding teeth or bones. An attentive dentist like Dr. Chang will walk you through your options and address any concerns about tooth extraction and follow-up care.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Woo Young Chang at CK Dental & Associates in Washington, D.C. today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.