A tooth extraction at our Westwood dental office can be performed in minutes. While the recovery process varies from person to person, most people who undergo simple tooth extractions at Westwood Village Smiles report immediate relief from symptoms and minimal pain over the next three or four days of recovery.
Modern technology has taken dentistry to a new level, and simple tooth extractions today are relatively painless, carry few risks and side effects, and can be performed in one simple visit.
Often we can repair damaged teeth without removing them. Common practices such as fillings, crowns, and root canals can help people preserve much of their natural tooth and relieve any pain, swelling, or discomfort. However, sometimes a tooth (or teeth) must be removed if it cannot be repaired. In this case, a simple tooth extraction is often recommended.
Reasons for pulling teeth
There are many situations where a simple extraction can relieve pain or prepare you for additional cosmetic or restorative procedures. While the reasons why someone needs a tooth extraction vary as much as from person to person, some common reasons include:
- Advanced periodontal disease (causing tooth roots to loosen)
- Extra teeth or baby teeth that do not fall out on their own and hinder healthy adult teeth
- Remove broken or deformed teeth
- Repair of severe tooth decay (cavities) beyond the scope of root canal treatment
How is a tooth removed?
Preparation for tooth extraction
Tooth extraction is a multi-stage procedure and can be performed in less than an hour at our Westwood dental office. The four extraction steps are:
1) Accurate dental imaging
The first step in extracting teeth at our Westwood dental office is getting an accurate picture of what's happening below the gum line. This requires an x-ray of the area. This image allows your dentist to see exactly what your tooth's root structure looks like and identify potential hazards that could make simple tooth extraction difficult.
Keep in mind that even if you have already had an x-ray from another dentist or in the recent past, this x-ray may be out of date and you will need a new x-ray.
Fortunately, our dental studio in Westwood is equipped with low-radiation X-ray equipment to minimize radiation exposure. Our imaging system produces even less radiation than simply spending a few hours in the bright California sun.
2) Pain relief
Usually, simple tooth extractions can be performed with minimal pharmaceutical intervention. Most patients respond very well to traditional Novocain and can tolerate simple tooth extractions without more aggressive treatments.
The use of Novocain starts with the dentist applying a little numbing gel to the gum line (usually right next to the tooth to be extracted, and then again at the 'hinge' in the jaw where the nerves run through the bone. This minimizes the pain from the actual injection.
Then follows the injection, which takes only a few seconds. After taking painkillers, many patients experience a tingling sensation, possibly followed by pressure.
A few minutes later, patients usually report that half of their mouth is sufficiently "anesthetized" and the tooth can be extracted without delay. Some patients may need or prefer an additional dose of Novocain to completely numb a particular areasedation dentistry. Westwood Village Smiles is fully equipped with both options and will do their best to ensure your comfort.
3) Extraction process
The Westwood dentist will then use a tool called a lifter to lift the tooth and loosen the surrounding gums. This process can result in pressure and unpleasant sounds, but should not cause more pain than the person can bear.
Finally, the dentist uses tweezers (which look like small forceps) to gently move the tooth back and forth until it breaks off. Then just pull it out of the slot and the extraction process is basically over.
Sometimes a stubborn tooth requires a more complex procedure that requires the dentist to actually break the tooth into smaller pieces to be removed. Again, this should not cause pain, although many patients find this somewhat uncomfortable.
4) Care after extraction
If you are planning to replace a removed tooth with braces, our Westwood dentists will explain the entire procedure to you before you begin. Depending on the type of brace you choose, this can be a partial denture (which is almost always done in a separate visit) or a built-in appliance (which may or may not require a separate visit).
Many patients choose not to replace a removed tooth if it is not visible and will not cause problems in the future (such as tooth migration). In these cases, individuals are sent home within minutes of extraction with a list of post-extraction instructions to follow to achieve the best possible outcome.
Some tooth extractions at our Westwood dental office require multiple stitches ("stitches") to close the socket where the tooth rested. However, most simple tooth extractions heal on their own.
Instructions for home care after tooth extraction
It's important that:
- Quit smoking immediately after tooth extraction
- Do not use straws
- Stay away from carbonated drinks
- Eat only soft foods (no hard and spicy options like chips or crackers)
- Limit the use of pain medications to those prescribed by your dentist
These steps are necessary because a blood clot forms at the healing site. This clot protects the socket and keeps it moist until the tissue can grow back. This is important because if you damage the clot (by eating hard foods or drinking soda) or disrupt the clot (by "sucking"), you could develop a painful condition called "dry socket."
While dry sockets can be treated, the only long-term treatment is to let the sockets heal. Dry sockets can remain painful for several days and even a week or two after a tooth extraction, so it's in your best interest to follow your dentist's instructions carefully.Conditions that can make simple tooth extractions difficult
While Westwood Village Smiles has the equipment to perform simple tooth extractions quickly and easily, there are many circumstances that can potentially complicate these procedures. Some common medical conditions that can complicate simple tooth extractions include:
- Illness before the visit to the dentist (If you are ill in the week before the extraction, please call us)
- Abnormal root structure
- Cracked or broken teeth (usually below the gumline)
- Proximity to the sinus cavity (upper teeth only)
- Strength of the jawbone only (lower teeth only)
While none of these diseases on their own can prevent a tooth extraction, your dentist may need to use alternative methods or take extra care when performing a simple tooth extraction.
Pay for tooth extraction
Usually simple tooth extractions are not that expensive. The average bill is usually less than $300. But each individual case will be different. Many dental insurance plans cover simple tooth extractions (usually for an additional fee) as a standard dental procedure. If your insurance does not cover extractions (or if you do not have insurance), Westwood Village Smiles accepts cash and credit card payments. You can even finance your mining with itZorgKrediet.
Do you have questions about tooth extraction?
If you have any questions about the need for tooth extraction or the procedure itself, you can always contact us. One of our helpful office staff can explain everything to you or put you in touch with a dentist who will answer your questions.
Call us(310) 254-9355Lubmake an appointment for an online consultation.