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How to prepare for a tooth extraction

Updated on August 31, 2014

I'm probably one of the few 28 year old's you'll ever know whose proud to have had every single one of her teeth removed. It's not that I set out one day to see if I could do it just for kicks or anything. It's just that after going through the last decade with the teeth my genetics provided, I'm happy to be done with it and to be able to look back and see all the hell I went through to get where I am now. And being where I am now, has been stepping back and taking a look at the world, wondering what wisdom I can share from years of oral misery, fear and triumph.

I've been contemplating writing a lengthier piece about my experiences, but until then, I think keeping it simple will be better. Especially since these hubs have a way of getting where they need to be, much faster than books and longer publications.

With all that being said, I think the first place to start, is with one of the more dreaded dental operations that 99.9% of all humans will have to experience at one point in their lives or another - EXTRACTION.

Yes, Extraction, it's a scary word in itself. Why they had to choose that word, I'll never know. Though that's what we are stuck with for now, and that's what we'll work with in today's hub. And just to make sure we are all on the same page, a Tooth Extraction is when a dentist removes a tooth from your mouth. This usually occurs either because of an accident, poor dental hygiene, poor diet, poor dental genetics or a combination of them all. One way or another, a person finds themselves preparing to a have a tooth pulled, and that is a very scary thing to think about. It's not quite as scary to go through it, but a fear of pain is hard to break.

Though just because something is difficult, doesn't mean it cannot be done. Let's get started.

The bad news

You've gotten the bad news. You need to have a tooth removed.

Either you came into the dentist on a routine visit or you showed up at an emergency dentist with a toothache the size of an earthquake. Either way, your options are slime if that tooth has severely decayed. Yes, you can spend thousands of dollars paying to repair it, but the sad truth is that most people cannot afford to get that kind of cosmetic dentistry.

Once you get this bad news, it's important to do a few things before you leave the dentist office:

  1. Ask if you need any antibiotics before the tooth is removed. This is especially important if you came in with a toothache. Get rid of the infection BEFORE you have the tooth pulled. This will save you the most pain and misery. An infected tooth often cannot be numbed enough to make the extraction painless. If you can avoid this situation, DO SO.
  2. Set an appointment right away. Make sure you give yourself enough time to tell your work that you'll need a few days off (not just one!), but don't set it so far out that you'll psych yourself out of going, or worse, get another full blown infection.
  3. If you have a serious fear of dental procedures like these, tell your dentist NOW. They can prescribe you something to help relax you, or if you can afford, they can sedate you during the procedure.

On your way home...

You're no doubt going to be dwelling on your impending appointment, regardless of how far off it may or may not be. Might as well put that energy to use and stop by the grocery store on your way home. If you don't already have these items at home, grab some before you get comfortable at home:

  • FRESH organic Garlic and Onions
  • Organic Aloe Vera Juice
  • Organic Cucumbers
  • Naproxen (Alieve)

If you don't have any allergies to the above items, get them and use them, even if you grossly detest the taste of any of them. Fresh garlic and onions are literally the worlds best antibiotic and will boost any antibiotic your dentist gives you, without any unwanted side effects. This is especially important if you haven't received any antibiotics, and this can also be used before you see a dentist.

Aloe Very Juice is also fantastic at combating infection, plus it will get rid of other oral invaders and help your mouth heal faster after the extraction. Mix 1 part into 8 parts water and 2 parts organic juice and drink at least 8 oz 3 times per day. If you can avoid it, don't drink anything else. do be aware though, that aloe vera is a slight laxative, so don't overdo it either.

The cucumbers will become your best friend, especially if you are having a hard time eating. They are a cool fruit with cold energy. Peel off the skin, cut them into slices and then in half, then enjoy them raw or with some light dressing. They will boost your immune system, clean your teeth, cool any angry infections and keep your colon healthy.

If you're feeling any intense pain, get some naproxen. It works much faster and more effectively than ibprofen or tylenol, which means you won't have to take as much. Again, this will save you more pain and money down the road. You'll also want to take a few of these about an hour before your extraction appointment.

Mental preparation

Whether you have one day or three weeks between you and that tooth extraction appointment, what you do in your head is vitally important. If you spend all that time worrying about the pain, the aftercare, any current infections or any other thing that is needless to worry about, then you're only going to create a terrible situation for yourself at the dentist. Trust me, I've done it, I know.

What can you do instead? Meditate.

Seriously. If you don't already have a happy little place you can go to in your head and simply shut off all the mental chatter, create one NOW and go there as often as you can. The more you do this before your appointment, the stronger your meditation abilities will be when the time comes and this is extremely important. Especially if you're the type of person who gets very physically tense during extractions.

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Before you go

First and foremost, make sure you have someone to drive you to and from the appointment. You're not alone if you absolutely have to drive yourself, I've been there too, but trust me, avoid it all costs.

Second, make sure you eat BEFORE you go into the appointment. Lidocane works much more efficiently to numb your mouth if you have food in your body. If you don't eat, even just a little bit, your body will burn right through it. And don't worry too much if you have food in your teeth when you get to the dentist. You can rinse with water after you eat, and your dentist will do the same if you have anything left. They understand eating before tooth extractions, especially since you won't be able to eat much of anything for about 6 hours after your extraction. Even then, it will be soft foods.

Now that we have that out of the way, if I can make some suggestions, here is a short list of things to bring with you to the appointment:

  • Comfortable clothing (Think about the normal temp in your dentists office)
  • Music (Don't forget your headphones!)
  • Naproxen (Take two 1 hour before!)
  • Pillow (For the car ride home)
  • Bottled water

Most of these are pretty obvious, but we tend not to think about them as we rush out the door to get to our dreaded appointment on time. If I can offer another helpful suggestion, it's that you should get all this stuff together the night before your appointment and put them in your car so that you are ready to go and don't even have to think about it.

During your appointment

If you're lucky enough to have a friend or lover who will come into the appointment with you, hold their hand instead of gripping the chair. The feeling of another human being there to support you, who is not all up in your mouth, will keep you much calmer than you might believe. It will also cause you to tense up less, because you'll be aware of how much you're squeezing their hand.

Get yourself as comfortable as possible before the dentist comes in. Put in your headphones and turn them up to a decent level. Enough so that the music drowns out most other sounds, but doesn't leave you deaf to the dentists directions. Make sure you are not to hot or too cold, get the arm rests under your arms, etc... etc...

If you have a hard time not focusing on the tooth being pulled, ask the dental assistant to gently touch the cheek opposite to the one near where your tooth is being pulled. It was, in fact, a fantastic dental assistant that taught me this, and if you ever have one who does it naturally, make sure to thank them profusely. Just have a gentle sensation on the other side of your head can make the experience ten times less frightful and less painful. Make sure to ask your dental assistant to do this before the dentist starts sticking things in your mouth. It will be much harder to ask once your mouth is numb or the dentist has his hands in there.

Now, let's get to the nitty gritty. When the dentist gets to work, there are some things to keep in mind:

  • The lidocane shot only lasts a few seconds. I know it feels like forever, and that initial poke and push hurts like heal, but if you remind yourself it's really only a few seconds, you'll be done with it much sooner and you'll be less likely to fidget and get hurt for real.
  • Know the difference between pain and pressure. Pain is sharp, striking and it makes you jump. Pressure simply feels strange and can be a scary sensation, but it does not cause any pain. If you feel pressure, stay calm and stay strong, cause that's what you want. Squeeze your partners hand or the chair and get through it without moving too much. On the other hand, if you do feel authentic pain, stop the dentist so they can numb you more.
  • Remember to BREATH and SWALLOW. There are very few occasions when you will be so numb that you cannot swallow. Yes, there are some nasty tastes and it'll likely be dry, but you'll get through the appointment much faster if you remember to breath and swallow.
  • If you get scared. Tell the dentist. They will still need to do their job, but a good dentist will know how to keep you calmer and make things less scary.
  • Noise is just that, noise. If you hear something crunch, break, knock, slip, tear or anything else, just let it happen. It's just noise, not pain.
  • And the most important - go to your happy place! I'll be the last to say this is easy, but it definitely is worth it. Whether you got any practice in or not, do everything you can to take yourself to a happy place inside your head that is free of fear, pain and anxiety. Stay there as long as you can and go back as many times as you need to, even if you can only hold onto that image for a few seconds.

After the deed is done

OMG! You made it! You're still alive and although you're a little bit lighter, you're going to make it home safely. Now that you've made it to this point, make sure you do a few things before you leave.

  • If you want to take your teeth home, tell the dentist and don't let them try to convince you of otherwise. Ask for a cup with a lid or a glove to put over the top. If they don't do it automatically, ask them to put some water in the cup too.
  • Listen to any aftercare instructions from your dentist.
  • Schedule your next appointment, especially if you need to have any sutures removed.

Your first stop out of the dentist appointment should be to the nearest pharmacy to pick up your pain medications and any further antibiotics if they've been prescribed. You'll want to make this your first stop because you have about an hour, maybe an hour and half after the lidocane was put in, until you'll start to feel the pain of having that tooth pulled. This will be especially important if you had more than one tooth extracted. While you wait for the pharmacists, go ahead and get the ice pack ready that the dentist gave you, or pick one up while you're at the pharmacy and start using it on your face. This will keep swelling and pain down on it's own, which will speed up healing and keep you from over doing the pain meds. Take some naproxen as well, you won't regret it.

On your way home, make sure that you do not lay the car seat all the way back. You don't want to lay flat for at least 4 hours after the extraction, or you'll start bleeding even more. No hand stands either ;)

That being said, use your pillow and lay back. Close your eyes and go to that happy place. You've made it through your extraction and you're almost home.

At home

Once you've made it home, make sure you listen to your dentist and do not do any of these things for at least the first 6 hours after your extraction:

  • Smoke (anything!)
  • Suck, spit or slurp
  • Lay flat on your back
  • Sneeze with your mouth closed

Change the gauze as often as you need to, find the most comfortable place in your home where you can lay back but still have your head elevated, and tuck in for the day. Spend the next day doing just the same. Tooth extraction may not be that big of a deal from an outsiders perspective, but it is for the person that has it done and it is vital to your health that you take this time to rest and relax. Your mouth is a miraculous bit of evolution and is one of the fastest healing organs you have. Within a few days, you're gums will have already started to close up and within a few weeks it will feel like you never had a tooth there in the first place.

To increase healing, do this after the first 24 hours:

  • Gargle with organic sea salt water
  • Gargle with Peroxyl or food grade Hydrogen Peroxide watered down.
  • Drink 3 8oz glasses of your aloe vera juice mix every day
  • Eat soft healthy foods and make sure you chew as much as you can.
  • Rub your gums with organic extra virgin coconut oil.

For that matter, these are things all people should be doing on a regular basis anyway. So if you want to prevent future extractions, take care of your mouth with all these steps.

Tell us about your extraction experiences!

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