Dental Tooth Extraction Procedure and Aftercare - what to expect before you have a tooth removal done
This hub was inspired by the fact that I had a molar tooth removal done recently and discovered that if I had been a little more prepared for the dental tooth extraction process and aftercare requirements, I would have felt a whole lot better during the procedure as well as during the healing of the gums period.
For some, dental anxiety is a real issue.
So after a long chat with the dentist and some 'been there done that' friends and colleagues, I hereby now present you my pearls of wisdom!
Why you may have to have your tooth extracted
There generally are two main reasons why you may need to have your tooth extracted.
The first could be that a wisdom tooth (also known as the third molar) has emerged partially and may be blocked by other teeth or there is not enough room in your jaw for it and the growth of other teeth may be impacted by that. This could irritate the gums and could very be a source of pain and swelling. The other common reason that a tooth needs to be pulled is that your tooth is too severely decayed to be saved as the damage is too extensive for the tooth to be repaired. Unfortunately at that point you could be looking at having it extracted.
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What to expect
If you have made the decision that tooth extraction is the only option, you need to mentally prepare yourself for one thing.
There will be pain.
Pain is something that cannot be avoided. This pain comes in two ways: financial and physical!
Cost of dental tooth extraction
Here in Melbourne, Australia, the general cost of extracting a tooth is anywhere from 100AUD to 200AUD. Yeah, ouch!!
Tooth extraction procedure
Teeth extraction pain is controlled and managed by the dentist with the use of anesthetic. The dentist rubs a cotton ball soaked in anesthetic around the tooth on both sides of the gums, after which he injects anesthetic into the gums. Once from the outer side of the gums, then another time on the inner side, with the inner side being more painful. Was the experience of the injections really painful? Of course it was, but if it is any comfort to those of you who are reading this and are expecting to have your tooth extracted soon, all things being equal, that would possibly be the worst in terms of pain level you would have to endure during this dental extraction procedure! It gets better from here!
There will be a short wait while the dentist allows the anesthetic do its job. The gums will start to numb and from this stage here onwards, you will be relieved to know that you will not feel or suffer any pain. (Did I hear a sigh of relief?)
This is when the dentist gets to strut his stuff. He will use a special dental pliers to extract the tooth after carefully peeling away the gums. There will be a bit of tugging and pulling, maybe some jostling, and some more tugging and pulling! It took perhaps around 25 minutes all up for my molar to pop out, I was fortunate I think, as the dentist estimated that it might have gone for as long as 40 minutes as the tooth appeared somewhat brittle. The dentist then cleaned the area up and stuck a wet cotton gauze into the affected area, instructing that I bite down on the gauze firmly for the next 30 minutes. I could do that. Or so I thought.
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Dental tooth extraction aftercare
My gums bled. A lot. I seriously tried to bite down onto the gauze for 30 minutes, but come 15 minutes or so, it was totally soaked. I had already arrived home at that point, so without further ado, I proceeded to tear open the pack of two pieces of cotton gauze as supplied by my kindly dentist. I soon discovered the two pieces turned out to be not quite sufficient and had to scrummage through the First Aid Kit for more, after which I traipsed out to the shops for more supplies. The moral of my story, ladies and gentleman, is that you need to seriously not be like me, unprepared. It took a good 4 plus hours for the bleeding to stop, so as you can imagine, if your gums decide to bleed as much and as long as mine, do have at least 20 pieces of cotton gauze readily available.
Oh and yes, I really should say this, once the anesthetic wears off, the pain does come back. Not the sharp kind of pain that came with the injections, but just a constant, dull ache in the surrounding areas where the needles slid into. I managed the aches with pain relieving ibuprofen.
Here are some simple instructions to help reduce the bleeding and pain, while promoting healing as instructed by my dentist:
- Keep gauze in place and apply pressure for approximately 30 minutes after leaving the surgery.
- Go home after the surgery and rest for the rest of the day.
- Do not rinse your mouth for at least 4 hours.
- Gently rinse your mouth with warm, salty water after each meal and before bed for the following two days.
- Avoid strenuous exercise, alcohol and smoking for the next 24 hours.
- If pain is present, take some aspirin or ibuprofen, maximum 8 tablets per day.
- When you are able to eat, consume only warm liquids and soft foods while avoiding the wound.
- Resume your regular teeth cleaning regime after 2 days after tooth extraction. Be careful to avoid the affected area.
First week of healing
As I had some infection prior to the extraction, the dentist prescribed a bout of antibiotics for after the procedure, which I had to follow instructions as given by the dentist and had only just finished the course. This is to prevent complications of further infection after the tooth removal.
I also noticed some swelling and jaw stiffness in the first two to three days after the extraction, but in my fifth day now, I noted that the swelling has subsided. I also discovered that in the first few days, I could not open my mouth easily to talk, laughing was an effort to say the least :( My jaw hurt in the middle of the night when I slept with my head against the pillow on the side where the tooth was extracted. In order to relieve the discomfort I had to reposition my head with the affected area away from the pillow.
I am a bit naughty: I should not poke at the extraction location. It is tempting though, but I honestly do need to keep my tongue away from it so the area can fully heal.
The dentist advised that while it usually takes approximately 7 days for the extraction site to heal, it requires some 5 weeks for the gums to heal completely. So at this point I still have a good 4 weeks to go. Apparently if the bone had been damaged, it could take up to 6 months to totally heal. Wow, that is a long time.
So, there you go. Many of the above aftercare tips assist the blood clot to form properly and not get dislodged. I sincerely hope that with some knowledge now of what to expect at your favourite dentist's surgery with regards to dental tooth extraction, your experience will be one that is pleasant and easier to manage. My thoughts are with you!
Meanwhile, keep smiling and take care :)
Don't forget your Gauze Pads!
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