A tooth extraction can be required for a number of reasons, most commonly due to excessive damage, caused by trauma or decay. Tooth extractions are carried out when the tooth is too damaged to be effectively repaired using an alternative treatment.

Reasons for a tooth extraction can include:

  • Crowded mouth – in certain cases it can be necessary for the dentist to remove a tooth to allow for necessary orthodontics.
  • Infection – an infection can be caused by tooth decay or damage to the pulp, the centre of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels are contained. When a tooth’s decay or damage is too severe and the tooth cannot be restored, tooth extraction is a method of removing the infection.
  • Gum disease – an infection of the tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth is called periodontal disease. This can cause the teeth to loosen, necessitating extraction.

What should I expect?

Before any extraction takes place, your dentist will provide an injection of a local anaesthetic – or alternate pain medication – to numb the area where the tooth will be removed. In certain instances your dentist may refer you to a specialist in order to have the extraction performed under a general anaesthetic.

How is the extraction performed?

The tooth is then rocked gently back and forth in order to loosen it from the jawbone and ligaments. If the tooth is too difficult to remove in its entirety, it can be taken out in sections. An impacted tooth is removed by the dentist cutting away the gum and bone tissue and using elevators to lift the tooth out of the bone.

Will I require stitches?

Not unless your wisdom teeth or other teeth have been surgically removed. Usually, once the tooth is extracted, a blood clot will form in the socket. The dentist will pack a gauze pad over the socket and ask you to bite down, to help stem the bleeding. Sometimes the dentist may place a few stitches to close the gum edges over the extraction site. These stitches are usually self-dissolving.

For how long will it impact my eating?

The impact on your eating is minimal. You can eat just about normally from 1 hour after the extraction, though you should take care to avoid the treated area. It is also advisable to initially avoid foods that are either very hot or very cold.