Tooth extraction is a routine procedure that has a low risk of complications. When performed by a skilled dentist, the procedure is painless and fast, and the recovery period is usually simple and straightforward.
There are several reasons why a tooth may need to be extracted. The most common reasons to extract a tooth are infection and crowding in the mouth. If a tooth is damaged beyond the point where fillings, crowns, or even a root canal can save it, your dentist may have to remove it. An infection in the tooth that resists antibiotics or root canal therapy may need to be removed to prevent it from spreading. A tooth that is impacted, unable to emerge, or otherwise does not fit in your mouth may need to be removed as well. Wisdom teeth are commonly removed for this reason.
Tooth extractions are a simple procedure that usually do not last long. Local anesthetic will be injected into the area where the tooth will be removed. For nervous patients, nitrous oxide or some other sedative may be given as well to minimize their anxiety, but most often the patient is awake during the extraction. In most cases, all that is needed is a pair of forceps and applied pressure, rather than surgical intervention. You will experience a sensation of pressure during the extraction, not pain.
If your tooth is impacted or you are extracting multiple teeth, your dentist may recommend a strong general anesthetic be given intravenously. If you are sedated in this manner, you will have no memory of the procedure.
After a tooth extraction, a blood clot will form in the socket. Your dentist will pack the area with gauze and have you bite down to stop the bleeding. You will be given a detailed set of instructions for caring for the extraction site as you recover. Pain relievers will usually be prescribed to you cope with pain, and you should limit your activity for the next day or two. By keeping the socket clean and following the directions for proper care, your gums will heal within a few weeks. Once your gums have healed, you and your dentist can explore options to replace the extracted tooth with a bridge, implant, or denture.