Surgery: Tooth Extraction

Though permanent teeth should last of all of a person’s life and indeed beyond their life, sometimes a tooth is so damaged or decayed that the best option is to pull it. Wisdom teeth cause trouble when they do not erupt or only partially erupt. This irritates the gum and may lead to infection. Other people get infected teeth pulled after they’ve had an organ transplant and need to take drugs that suppress their immune system.

Tooth Extraction

All tooth extraction is a form of surgery, though the surgery to remove an impacted tooth or a tooth that’s broken off at the gum line is more complicated. Local anesthesia to numb the area and sedation dentistry to keep the patient relaxed and pain free yet alert are used. Children and patients who are very frightened of the operation may be given general anesthesia.

Before the operation, the dentist takes the patient’s medical history and X-rays the tooth. If a wisdom tooth is to be removed, the dentists takes X-rays of the patient’s entire mouth. This helps them know the best way to remove the troublesome tooth. Some dentists prescribe antibiotics for the patient before they come in for the surgery. This is done for a patients who already has an infection, has a pre-existing condition, will probably have a long operation or has a compromised immune system.

In a simple extraction, the dentist uses a tool called an elevator. This loosens the tooth enough so that it can be pulled out with forceps. In a surgical extraction, the doctor uses a scalpel to make an incision in the gum and removes the tooth. Sometimes, they’ll need to remove some bone, or they may have to cut the tooth into pieces to remove all of it.


After the surgery, the patient inevitably feels discomfort after the anesthesia wears off. Pain can be controlled using NSAIDs such as ibuprofen. The dentist may prescribe stronger pain killers than those that the patient can buy over-the-counter. Painkillers should ideally be bought before the surgery or by the patient’s companion during the surgery. The patient is going to be too groggy and uncomfortable to go to the pharmacy right after their tooth extraction and buy painkillers.

Incisions in the mouth tend to bleed more than those on the skin because the environment is too moist for a scab to form. To encourage the blood to clot, the patient should bite on some gauze for about a half an hour. When the clot forms, it should not be disturbed. A clot that falls out causes a condition called dry socket, which is painful and can lead to infection. If the clot falls out or doesn’t form, the patient needs to return to their dentist right away. Dry socket is more likely if the patient smokes or sucks on a straw.

The patient can go on a soft diet for a few days and rinse their mouth with warm salt water about a day after the surgery. Ice compresses can be placed on the face to reduce swelling.

Dentists can close up an incision with sutures that dissolve on their own or stitches that need to be taken out. Dissolvable stitches usually go away after two weeks, while the doctor takes non-dissolvable stitches out after about four days.