Have you been avoiding the dentist or putting off a needed tooth extraction because you’re worried about the pain?
Sometimes, when you’re feeling nervous about a procedure, it’s easy to let your imagination run wild and start thinking about all the things that can go wrong.
Instead of jumping immediately to the worst case scenario, it can be helpful to do some research and learn more about the recovery process. That way, you have a better idea of what to expect.
If you need to have a tooth removed and are worried about what you’ll experience afterward, keep reading. We’re sharing some important information that will help put you at ease before your appointment.
Why Do People Need to Have Teeth Extracted?
There are a number of reasons why people need to have teeth removed, including the following:
- Teeth are broken or decayed beyond repair
- You have a severe tooth, gum, or jaw infection
- There is a risk of infection after your immune system has become compromised
- Your gums can no longer properly support your teeth
- Tooth removal is required for orthodontic treatment
- Your wisdom teeth are impacted or emerging
If you’re experiencing any of these situations, don’t avoid going to a general dentist because you’re worried about tooth extraction.
Your dentist won’t just strap you down and yank your tooth out. They will evaluate the situation and let you know what they think the best course of action is.
What to Expect from a Tooth Extraction
If your dentist has decided that an extraction is the right path to take, they’ll schedule an appointment for a later date.
During this appointment, this is what you can expect:
- Injection of a local anesthetic to numb the area where your tooth will be removed (they may also use a general anesthetic if you’re having multiple teeth removed
- Removal of gum and bone tissue if the tooth is impacted
- Packing with a gauze pad in the extraction site (sometimes the dentist will also place some self-dissolving stitches to close the area)
Remember, since you’ll receive either a local or general anesthetic beforehand, you shouldn’t feel any pain during the procedure.
Tooth Extraction Risks
In most cases, the extraction procedure is perfectly safe. However, there are a few risks, including:
- The release of bacteria into the bloodstream
- Possible gum infection
The following groups of people face a greater risk than others for developing these conditions:
- People with damaged or man-made heart valves
- People with congenital heart defects
- People with impaired immune systems
- People with cirrhosis
- People with artificial joints
- People with a history of bacterial endocarditis
If you have any of these conditions, be sure to tell your dentist before you schedule an extraction.
How Much Does Tooth Extraction Hurt?
The main thing everyone wants to know before a tooth extraction is how much it will hurt.
There’s no one answer to this question, of course.
Everyone has a different pain tolerance, which influences their experience with having a tooth removed.
There are a number of other factors that impact the amount of pain you’ll feel after the procedure, including the amount of damage caused to the tissues surrounding the tooth and the amount of infection present.
How to Manage Your Pain After a Tooth Extraction
Some dentists will write you a prescription for strong painkillers after your procedure. But, most people manage their pain just fine by taking over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
The total healing process takes between one and two weeks. But, your pain will usually subside within 24-72 hours.
In addition to taking painkillers, there are a few other things you can do to manage your pain after a tooth extraction:
- Apply ice packs to reduce swelling and pain
- Limit activity for at least 24 hours (avoid exercising or any other strenuous tasks)
- Avoid drinking through a straw for 24 hours
- Don’t smoke, as this slows the healing process
- Eat soft foods like yogurt or soup and gradually add in solids
Some people are nervous to brush and floss their teeth after having a tooth removed. It’s fine to do this following your procedure, just make sure to avoid the extraction site.
Avoiding Dry Sockets
One of the most common complications that can result from an extraction is a dry socket. Dry sockets occur when the clot that protects the extraction site comes dislodged.
A number of things can cause a dry socket, including:
- Increases in blood pressure
- Rinsing the cleaning the clot too soon
- Sipping through a straw
In addition to avoiding these behaviors, it’s also important to avoiding rinsing or spitting for six hours after your procedure. Once the six hours have passed, you can rinse with a solution of salt and warm water.
Be on the lookout for the signs of a dry socket, which include severe pain, loss of blood at the extraction site, bad breath, or an unpleasant taste lingering in your mouth. If you notice any of these signs, call your dentist immediately.
Other Reasons to Call the Dentist
You should also call your dentist if you experience any of the following issues after your procedure:
- Redness, discharge, or swelling at the site of extraction
- Respiratory issues like coughing, shortness of breath or chest pain
All of these are signs of infection. The sooner you report them to the dentist, the sooner you can start taking antibiotics and feeling more like your old self.
After the initial healing period, new gum and bone tissue will start to develop in the gap where the tooth was.
Keep in mind that the gap or gaps left behind from the extraction can cause a shift in your remaining teeth. This may affect your bite and make chewing difficult. Because of these possibilities, your dentist may recommend dental implants to replace the missing tooth or teeth.
Schedule a Tooth Extraction Today
Now that you know more about what to expect from a tooth extraction procedure, it’s time to face your fears and get your tooth taken care of.
If you live in or around New Braunfels, Texas and are looking for a great general dentist to handle your extraction, Dr. Daniel Allen, DDS is happy to help.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment!