How to Deal With a Tooth Pulling

Two Parts:Preparing for SurgeryRecovering from the Operation

Your teeth are important to your overall health, and you'll want to keep them strong and healthy throughout your life. At times, your dentist may find that you need to have teeth removed in order to keep your mouth healthy. This can be for infected teeth, or perhaps an impacted wisdom tooth. Whatever the reason, you'll want to make sure you are prepared for the removal surgery, and able to help yourself recover as quickly as possible.

Part 1
Preparing for Surgery

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    Look for signs of tooth problems. If you start to feel pain in your mouth, it could be the sign of a serious condition, which may lead to your teeth being pulled. Possible reasons for pulling a tooth include:[1]
    • Your mouth is crowded. Sometimes you will need a tooth removed to help keep your teeth properly aligned. They may be too big for your mouth, or their current position prevents a new one from breaking in. This is a common case with wisdom teeth, located in the rear of your mouth. It is also sometimes necessary for orthodontic purposes.
    • There is tooth decay or other damage that has spread to the middle of your tooth. If other treatments like a root canal or antibiotics cannot cure it, your tooth may need to come out.
    • You are under serious risk for infection. This is the case in instances where your immune system has been compromised, perhaps while receiving chemotherapy, having an organ transplant, or before heart surgery. Your dentist may decide to have your teeth pulled because of the increased risk, and the damage it would cause.
    • You have serious gum disease. Gum disease infects your gums, and can cause your teeth to loosen. Your dentist may need to pull teeth in order to properly treat your gums.
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    Talk to your dentist. If you are feeling pain in your teeth, your dentist will be able to determine what needs to happen next. Make sure you are honest about the pain and how long you have had it. When you discuss surgery, you should ask a few questions. The answers will probably be similar for many people, but there may always been different concerns depending on your unique medical history.[2]
    • Ask about your teeth, including how many will need to come out, and what other damage there is in your mouth.
    • Ask about the surgery, including how long it will last, and what kind of anesthesia you will get. You will also want to ask about your preparation, including when you should arrive, whether there are certain restrictions regarding food, drink, or medication (prescription and non-prescription), and if you will need assistance afterwards.
    • Ask about the recovery period, including healing time, ways to care for yourself afterwards, and other treatments you may need.
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    Check your insurance. Not every insurance plan will cover tooth extraction, so if you are having the surgery, make sure you know what your plan covers. Teeth pulling does not need to be expensive, depending on the clinic you attend, but you don't want to be surprised when the bill comes.
    • If you have concerns about the cost, talk to your insurance company and dentist about different payment options. It is better to figure out a payment plan than to not have a tooth pulled. If it stays in, you may develop more problems, which will be even more expensive to deal with.
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    Stock up on the proper food and drink. After the surgery, you will want to drink lots of water and eat soft foods like applesauce and yogurt. Make sure you have plenty of soft food around so that you don't go hungry and have to leave your house after surgery to go get supplies.[3]
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    Show up early for your appointment. Come early to make sure you are there for the operation. The sooner you are ready to go, the quicker the operation can get started and you will get home.[4]
    • You should not come alone for the surgery. You will be taking an anesthetic drug, and will probably be on several prescribed painkillers after the operation. Someone else, like a family member or close friend, should drive you home. Having them there can also help if you experience anxiety or concern about the surgery.
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    Stay calm before surgery. It is natural to be a little nervous about your procedure beforehand, but you shouldn't be scared. Before the surgery, make sure the dentist has answered every question you have, so that you can feel confident in what he is going to do and how it will work.
    • If the possibility of surgery scares you, or you feel nervous when it is beginning, try some basic relaxation techniques like controlled breathing, where you take a deep breath then release the air very slowly. You can also try visualization techniques, where you think about something positive or pleasant, such as a relaxing day on the beach, to get your mind off the surgery.[5][6]

Part 2
Recovering from the Operation

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    Relax for the rest of the day. Surgery takes a lot out of you, even a relatively simple one like tooth pulling. Take the day off from work or school. Avoid exercising and make sure to keep your head elevated.[7]
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    Manage the pain. After the painkillers you got at the dentist wear off, your mouth will probably ache, and there will be some swelling. Over the counter drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol), or stronger prescription painkillers from your dentist, taken as directed, will help reduce the pain. Additionally, an ice pack or cold compress against your jaw will help reduce the pain and keep swelling down.[8]
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    Eat properly. You'll have to restrict yourself in the first 24 hours after the surgery. Drink lots of water to replenish fluids. Eat soft foods like applesauce, but avoid dairy (like ice cream or yogurt) for the first two days, as these may contain lactic bacteria such as lactobacillus which can generate infection if there is no antibiotic prescription. After the first 24 hours, you will be able to introduce harder foods like mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and pasta as you can tolerate the pain.[9][10]
    • Avoid alcoholic, carbonated, caffeinated, or hot beverages during that period, and don't eat hard, chewy, hot, or spicy foods.
    • Don't drink with a straw for at least a week, as the suction may dislodge blood clots.
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    Take care of your teeth. Don't brush your teeth, use mouthwash, rinse your mouth, or spit for the first 24 hours. When you start again, be gentle around the wound. For the first few weeks after surgery, rinse your mouth with warm salt water every two hours and after meals.[11]
    • Wait at least 72 hours before you start smoking again (longer if possible), and avoid chewing tobacco for at least a week.
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    Watch for bleeding. Some bleeding of the pulling site is common, especially within a couple of hours after surgery, so don't be too concerned at first. If you notice bleeding, or taste blood in your saliva, put a piece of gauze or other absorbent fabric over the wound. Hold it there for about 15 minutes. Do not rinse you mouth.[12]
    • A moist tea bag works well also. The bag helps to absorb the moisture from the blood and your saliva, and has natural constrictors that will help stop the blood.[13]
    • Bleeding should not last too long after surgery. If you are still bleeding after a few hours, contact your dentist.
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    Get your stitches taken out. The hole your tooth came out of needed to be sewn up afterwards, and you'll want those stitches removed. Some tooth pulling operations use dissolving stitches, which should disappear on their own in a few weeks. Your dentist will let you know what you have and what you should be prepared for.[14]
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    Consider getting replacement teeth. Don't worry about being embarrassed or concerned about missing teeth, especially if they are from a visible part of your mouth. This is a common concern, and one your dentist can help with. Talk to him about cosmetic surgery or implants to replace the tooth.[15]
    • Remember that having a spot from a missing tooth is much better than if you had left the tooth in there to rot. This might have caused even worse damage to your mouth and bones, and potentially more teeth coming out.[16]
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    Watch for long-term risks. While most tooth-removal surgeries are completely safe, and patients make a full recovery, there are some things to keep an eye on. The symptoms will mostly include pain in the tooth socket, perhaps from exposed bone, or bacteria developing from food and other particles getting into the hole.[17]
    • Make sure your dentist remembers you had the teeth removed, especially if you get a new dentist. They will be able to help you keep track of your mouth and watch for such health risks.
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    Take regular care of your teeth. This means daily brushing and regular flossing to keep them clean, as well as regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist. You'll want to wait a few days after the surgery to let the wound heal, and be gentle around the hole.

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Categories: Teeth and Mouth