When we were young, losing a tooth used to be an exciting occurrence, serving as a rite of passage and a definitive marker of growing up. As adults, the prospect of having a tooth removed can be nerve-wracking at best. Even so, it is a necessary procedure for some who dream of having the perfect smile. If it is part of your dental health plan, here are some ideas to help you prepare for a tooth extraction.
At the Hornbrook Center for Dentistry, we understand that many patients have anxiety about oral care. Our team is dedicated to ensuring our clients have the best experience possible. We’re here to make sure every patient understands everything about their dental health care plan. If you have any questions, feel free to call our dental office in San Diego, CA, and let our attentive staff address your concerns.
Tooth Extraction Essentials
Some patients require extraction because teeth have become too damaged to repair. Others need more room in their mouths to reduce crowding; many men and women and children need their wisdom teeth extracted for exactly that reason. When it comes to oral care, removing teeth is often the last course of action when all other alternatives have been explored. As such, it may be the best option to resolve a host of problems.
Extractions are performed using two methods, depending on how damaged the affected tooth might be. The differences between these procedures affect both recovery time and overall discomfort. Understanding which procedure is necessary will help you determine how best to prepare as well as which anesthesia is best for your situation.
● Simple Extraction: Dentists use a fairly straightforward procedure for healthy, visible, and undamaged teeth. This involves loosening the tooth with an elevator before withdrawing it using forceps, and in most cases has a relatively short recovery time.
● Surgical Extraction: Damaged teeth or ones that are impacted below the gumline need a little more attention. For these, a small incision is made at the gum line to make sure the surgeon can remove all parts of the offending enamel. This is essential for cracked or rotting teeth since grabbing them with forceps can do more harm than good. Because an actual incision has been made, these procedures may take a little longer to heal.
1. How Should I Prepare for a Tooth Extraction?
Engaging in discussions with your doctor is a fundamental step in getting ready for any surgery, especially if this is your first extraction. Find out which method your dentist will be using so you can understand how long your recovery time may be. This is also a great opportunity to voice your concerns and get a general breakdown of the extraction process. Having your dentist or oral surgeon takes you step-by-step through the entire procedure could help to alleviate any anxiety you may be feeling.
It is important to relate all of your medical history including medications or other surgeries to give your doctor all of the information to make the best decisions about your oral health. There may be underlying issues that could interact with sedation or medication that affect clotting or other aspects of recovery. Make sure you notify your oral physician if you have any current or chronic conditions, including:
● Congenital Heart Defect
● Renal Disease
● Artificial Joints
● Impaired immune system
● Medical History of Bacterial Endocarditis
Dental technicians will also require up-to-date x-rays to ensure your doctor has a complete picture before surgery. Diseased, broken, or rotting teeth may only require a standard scan. Impacted teeth or those broken below the gumline need more comprehensive x-rays since it is much more difficult to know what is going on under the surface.
2. Things to Avoid Pre-Procedure
Tooth extractions are typically outpatient procedures, so you can expect to head home the same day. Nevertheless, it is still surgery and certain steps should be taken to get ready for the actual procedure. Check with your doctor for any instructions specific to your case.
In general, patients should come to the office on an empty stomach with no food or drink up to 6 hours before the appointment. Smokers are recommended to forego cigarettes as early as possible but would benefit from abstaining at least 12 hours prior to ensure circulation has returned to normal. Also, your doctor or nurse should be notified immediately if you suffer from a fever, nausea, diarrhea, or coughing the day of the procedure.
Wear loose, comfortable clothes with sleeves that are easy to roll up. This not only makes it easier to administer some types of anesthesia but also helps to keep you relaxed. It is strongly suggested that you have someone available to bring you to the appointment and drive you home, no matter the type of anesthesia used. Also, jewelry, dentures, and contact lenses must be removed before the surgery has begun as well.
3. Choosing the Right Anesthesia
Many adult patients have an inherent fear of the dentist’s chair thanks in part to childhood trauma and pain. For others, this procedure is the first time they have ever experienced any form of anesthesia. Most surgeries use some type of anesthetic to help deal with pain and relax the patient. Depending on the method of removal, here are the types of relief offered.
● Local: The most basic form of pain management, local anesthesia numbs the target area in preparation for the procedure. This is a necessary first step, even if patients have requested some form of sedation. Some clients will find it sufficiently effective for simple extractions.
● Light Sedation: For those who wish to stay somewhat cognisant during the procedure but desire to be less awake, light sedation is an excellent option. Delivered either via IV or orally, these medications leave the patient in a semi-conscious state, making it imperative that someone is available to drive them home.
● Nitrous Oxide: Also called laughing gas, this is another excellent choice that has very short term effects. This medication can make patients feel much more relaxed and even a little giddy, but these symptoms laps very quickly after the gas has stopped. Thanks to this quick recovery, many patients find they can return home or even work under their own volition.
● General Anesthesia: It may be difficult for patients to stay awake for lengthier and more involved procedures. Others may wish to be completely unaware. Just like with other surgeries, general anesthesia puts the client into a deep sleep, letting them see the results of the procedure upon its completion. The nature of this method requires someone to be available to stay on-site and help bring the patient to their post-surgery location.
Take the time to consult with both your primary physician and dental surgeon about which options are preferable. Even if you choose not to use sedation methods at all you might still benefit from having someone available for the trip home. As you prepare for tooth extraction, discuss these options with your dentist to find the method that works best for you.
4. Planning a Post-Op Diet
Most patients balk at the prospect of chowing down right after a tooth extraction, but any surgery recovery demands a healthy diet. Eating properly will not only help you to recover faster, but it will also keep you feeling well too.
For the first 24 to 48 hours, patients should stick to a liquid diet, keeping the pressure off of sore, swollen, and possibly stitched gums. Yogurt, applesauce, ice cream, and bananas are excellent options to keep your strength up until your jaw heals. As you start to feel better, introduce soft foods such as mashed potatoes, Jell-O, and scrambled eggs. Take it easy as you choose more adventurous foods and you’ll be back to your regular diet in no time.
5. After Extraction “Don'ts”
Removing a tooth leaves a hole inside, and that’s not just figurative. The space left behind will have a difficult time clotting and healing properly if appropriate care isn’t taken from the start. There are a few things that should be avoided, including:
● Drinking Straws
● Cigarettes and Cigars
● Alcoholic Beverages
● Crunchy snacks such as popcorn or tacos
● Chewy foods such as steak or taffy
● Aspirin or Other Blood Thinners
It is important to keep an eye on the extraction site to determine if the clot is still present. If it manages to dislodge, it may create a dry socket which can be quite painful. With the right care and time spent resting, the recovery period for extraction can be completed in as little as two weeks.
Getting ready for any surgery can be a daunting task. As you prepare for tooth extraction, remember that, at the Hornbrook Center for Dentistry, we’re ready to help guide you through the experience. If you have any concerns about your upcoming appointment or wish to discuss extraction options, call to reach our San Diego office. Our expert team is waiting to help bring you the fantastic smile that you’ve been waiting for!