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Tooth extractions can be daunting, even if they are standard medical procedures. The prospect of having a tooth removed from its socket can be frightening, especially if you don’t know anything else about the procedure. However, if you take the time to understand what will happen, you do not need to worry. Here are things you should know when you’re about to have a tooth extraction.

When Do You Need An Extraction?

Often, it is possible to avoid extractions, even of decayed or damaged teeth. There are various options available to dentists, like fillings and crowns. However, when the damage is beyond repair, dentists will recommend tooth extractions. When the infection has reached the middle of the tooth, if there is trauma or injury, and if you have crowded teeth, the doctor will require extractions.

They might also ask you to get some teeth removed if your baby teeth do not fall out in time for your permanent ones or if you have impacted wisdom teeth. Orthodontic treatments like braces might also require extractions to make room for the necessary alignments.

What Happens Before An Extraction?

Before an extraction, the dentist will review your medical and dental history. They will also take x-rays of your mouth; an x-ray reveals the shape, position, and length of your teeth and the bones surrounding them. These x-rays help dentists identify the best path for extractions. A scan will also show whether an oral surgeon should handle your case.

Once your dentist or surgeon has all the preliminary information they need, they will schedule you for the procedure. Typically, dental extraction patients receive a local anesthetic for the area around the tooth that the dentist will remove. In complicated removals, though, a surgeon might need to administer intravenous anesthesia. In some cases, the patient will be under conscious sedation. In others, patients will be under general anesthesia, which will put them to sleep.

What Happens During An Extraction?

There are two types of extractions that people might undergo. In a simple extraction, the dentist removes teeth visible in the mouth. If you need this type of procedure, you will only have to visit a general dentist. In a simple extraction, the dentist numbs the tooth and the gum tissue surrounding it. Then, they will loosen the tooth with an instrument called an elevator. Finally, they will remove the tooth with dental forceps.

Meanwhile, surgical extractions are complex. Typically, this procedure is for teeth that have broken off at the gum line or have yet to come through the gums. In a surgical extraction, the dental surgeon cuts into your gum to remove the tooth underneath.

What Happens After The Extraction?

The most important thing to do after an extraction is to prevent an infection. Keeping the open wound clean helps with that. Immediately after the procedure, the dentist will ask the patient to bite down on sterile gauze. Doing this limits the bleeding and encourages the wound to clot. You must keep the gauze in place for 30 to 45 minutes.

Then, the dentist will provide detailed aftercare instructions. You need to follow these to a T if you want to prevent complications. Avoid things like smoking, vigorously rinsing your mouth, or cleaning the teeth next to the extraction site. Also, expect some pain after the extraction; dentists usually recommend or prescribe medication when the discomfort becomes unbearable.

You can reduce swelling by applying an ice pack to your cheek. Also, limit strenuous activity and avoid hot liquids and drinking through straws. If you manage the aftercare properly, you will see improvements within the next three to 14 days. If you have prolonged swelling, bleeding, pain, or fever, you need to contact your dental professional immediately.  


At best, tooth extractions cause a minor disruption to your daily life. Many people are apprehensive of extractions, but sometimes, they are the only option for treating a dental condition. Following the proper aftercare procedures will help mitigate the distress this treatment might bring.

Trust Dr. Thomas E. Cooke for your dental health needs. Dr. Cooke provides emergency dental care in Raleigh, NC, and his team offers a range of services, including tooth extraction, tooth fillings, root canals, and more. Schedule an appointment today to learn more!