Having a Tooth Pulled: What to Expect

Man in pain before having a tooth pulled

General Dentistry | 09 Nov 2020

You may be in the circumstance that you are told that you need to have one or more teeth pulled. Tooth extraction is simply the removal of a tooth by a dental specialist. Many people can get very scared about this procedure. However, in reality, having a tooth pulled is not painful and is a relatively quick procedure performed by either your dentist or an oral surgeon.

There are a variety of reasons as to why you may need a tooth extraction. These could include infection, consistent pain or broken or chipped teeth. If you are experiencing any type of tooth pain, we recommend you call as soon as possible. 

What to Expect When Having a Tooth Pulled

The type of extraction you need will be dependent on whether your tooth is impacted or visible. Whether you need to undergo simple or surgical extraction, both procedures will involve the complete removal of a tooth from your mouth.

If the tooth is impacted, this means that it has not completely broken through the gum line. When this happens, the gum will need to be cut away to expose the tooth and allow it to be removed.

A simple extraction will be performed under local anaesthetic, numbing the area around the tooth. This ensures that you will not feel any pain, only pressure when the tooth is being extracted. During a surgical extraction, you will also be under anesthetic, which ensures that you will not feel any pain during the procedure. 

When is a Tooth Extraction Necessary? 

There are several reasons why you may need to have a tooth pulled. Usually, you would need a tooth extraction procedure if you have a severely decayed or damaged tooth. If this is the case or you are experiencing any continuous tooth pain, you need to see a dental professional. 

A tooth extraction is usually a last resort when no viable restorative options are available to save the tooth. At The Neem Tree, we always try to save the tooth before having it extracted. Here are some reasons why it may become necessary to have your tooth removed.

Crowding 

Sometimes, you will need teeth extracted for orthodontic reasons. The goal for orthodontists is to properly align the teeth, which may not be possible if there is severe crowding in the mouth. Likewise, if a tooth cannot erupt through the gum because of lack of room in the mouth, your dentist may recommend extracting that tooth. This is usually the case for wisdom teeth.  

Severe Infection

When tooth decay gets so bad it reaches the pulp of the tooth the tooth may need to be removed. The pulp is where the nerves and blood vessels are situated and is vulnerable to infection when the enamel of the tooth is no longer able to protect the tooth. If this happens, it increases the chances of oral bacteria getting to that part of the tooth and causing a severe infection.  

Tooth Damage or Trauma

If a tooth is severely damaged beyond repair through trauma or extensive decay and damage such as a broken or cracked tooth, the last resort for a dentist will be to remove the affected tooth. 

If the tooth is damaged, say in a contact sport like rugby, the tooth may also need to be pulled if it cannot be repaired.

What Happens After a Tooth Extraction?

After a tooth extraction, it is particularly important to practice proper dental hygiene and precautions. Once the tooth is removed and the procedure is complete, in most cases you will be able to go home on the same day as the procedure. You may also be prescribed antibiotics. 

It usually only takes a few days to recover, but here are a few tips for the first 2 days to avoid an infection or gum disease. 

Following these tips can help minimise any discomfort you may feel after the extraction, reduce the risk of infection and promote a speedy recovery. 

  • Take painkillers as prescribed.
  • Apply an ice pack to the affected area or the cheek to reduce swelling.
  • Do not drink from a straw for the first 24 hours.
  • Do not smoke 
  • Eat soft foods, such as yogurt or soup for 2 days after the extraction. Gradually add solid foods to your diet as the extraction site heals. 
  • Relax for at least 24 hours after the extraction to avoid dislodging a clot that forms in the socket. Take a couple days off work or book your tooth extraction appointment on a Friday so you have the weekend to recover.
  • Make sure to get plenty of rest after your extraction.
  • When you are lying down, try prop your head up with pillows. Lying flat may prolong the bleeding.
  • Continue to brush your teeth, floss and brush your tongue but avoid the extraction site. Doing so will help prevent infection.
  • Avoid rinsing your mouth for a few days after your procedure.
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Avoid consuming hot foods and drinks

When you Should Call your Dentist

Tooth extraction can take several days to heal which can also be a bit painful at times. It is normal to feel some pain after the anesthesia wears off and you should expect some swelling and residual bleeding. However, it is essential to understand what signs are not a side effect of the extraction. If you notice any of the following signs, call your dentist immediately: 

  • Fever
  • Severe swelling that does not go down after a few days
  • Numbness
  • A bad taste that does not go away after a salt water rinse
  • Pus coming from the socket
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Severe pain

Learn More About Tooth Extractions

For further information on having a tooth pulled, check our tooth extraction page here.

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