Modern dentistry is full of sophisticated gadgets for saving teeth and to many dentists, extraction is really the treatment of last resort. In spite of all the technology, however, there are some teeth which are just not salvageable. These may include:

  1. Shaky teeth
  2. Teeth broken way beneath gum level
  3. Teeth which are split apart

A good number of teeth are also extracted because of failed root canal treatment or if the patient does not wish to go through root canal treatment followed by crowning. Ideally, all teeth which can be saved should be saved, but the long term success and durability of any complex restoration must also be considered. Spending a thousand dollars or more saving a tooth only to have it extracted 1 year later may not be a desirable situation for most people.

For patients without medical conditions, extractions are often simple and straightforward. Anaesthetic is first injected into the gums and when numbness sets in, the tooth is delivered, often with forceps or elevators.

Extractions can vary in degree of difficulty. Teeth whose support have been damaged are often shaky and relatively easy to extract. Teeth whose own structure has been weakened by decay can break easily. Once a tooth is broken, it becomes challenging to extract. Apart from these factors, the length and curvature of the roots or the flexibility of the jaw bone can also determine whether an extraction will be easy or difficult.

Can extractions be painless? Yes, with good anaesthesia and the skillful use of elevators and forceps, extractions can be painless. There are a few common complications which may be encountered during extraction. One of the most common of which is bleeding. Remember that bone and soft tissue are often traumatised during extraction and the injured tissues can bleed after the anaesthetic wears off.

Most cases of bleeding are quite easy to manage. Just bite on a piece of gauze and the bleeding should stop. You should also rest and avoid physical activity. Taking aspirin, blood thinners and certain herbal tonics can also prolong bleeding. Do let us know if you are on any of these medications. You should temporarily stop these medications before having your teeth extracted.

Bone is exposed when a tooth is extracted. Usually, your gums will grow over the bone. Occasionally, bone may protrude from the surface of the gum, causing discomfort. While this will eventually resolve, you can also see your dentist to have the offending part of the bone clipped off.

Dry socket is a nasty infection that occurs when blood flow to the tooth socket is somehow restricted. Bone dies and give off a foul odour. The extraction site becomes very painful. The condition usually resolves by itself. The dentist can help by cleaning the socket and giving appropriate medication.