Extraction may be the final step required to prevent a cracked or decayed tooth from causing further damage. Or, in the case of crowding or an impacted wisdom tooth, it may be needed to prevent trouble from occurring later. In most cases, however, it’s a routine procedure that’s nothing to fear when done by an experienced hand. Here’s how it usually works:
First, a radiographic (X-ray) examination allows your dentist to see the tooth’s exact position and anticipate any possible complications. Your medical and drug history is also evaluated, so your dentist can assess your general health and establish your options for anesthesia. Simpler tooth extractions may be performed under local anesthesia such as a numbing shot, with or without additional sedation like nitrous oxide or oral medication. More complex (or multiple) extractions may require conscious sedation that’s administered intravenously (into the bloodstream).
Once you’ve been anesthetized, the tooth can be removed. You might think that teeth are set into the bone like a stone in concrete — but that’s not the case! They’re actually attached by a series of fibers called the periodontal ligament. By carefully manipulating these fibers, most teeth can be dislodged without too much difficulty. Afterwards, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics and/or recommend over-the-counter pain medications for a few days. Learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.”