A range of factors, such as infection, teeth crowding, and excessive tooth decay, can all lead to the need for a tooth extraction. Teeth removal is a reasonably swift procedure, undertaken by either a dentist or an oral surgeon.
Visible tooth removal is a simple extraction procedure; with broken teeth, those below the surface, or if impacted, a more complex procedure is required. Local, general, intravenous anaesthesia, or a combination, will be used, depending on the procedure and patient.
Your preparation for a tooth extraction
It's important that the dentist fully appreciates your medical situation. Therefore, make sure he or she is fully advised of any prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking, and also any vitamins or supplements.
If you are due treatment for another medical condition that involves intravenously taking bisphosphonate, which can be used to deal with conditions such as osteoporosis to prevent the loss of bone density, make sure you also discuss this.
Your tooth removal should be completed before this treatment as it could, very occasionally, lead to bone death in the jaw, a serious condition known as osteonecrosis.
There are also a range of other conditions your dentist should know about before any proposed tooth extraction. These include:
- Liver, renal, adrenal or thyroid disease
- Hypertension, congenital heart defects or damaged heart valves
- Any artificial joints
- Immune system impairment
- Past history of bacterial endocarditis
If you are not sure whether a condition should be mentioned, then it's best always do so. Your dentist will wish to be sure that all such conditions are both stable and being treated.
It's also possible, if the surgery is expected to be long, or in reference to discussed medical conditions or current infections or immune system weaknesses, that your dentist will prescribe a course of pre-extraction antibiotics.
Tooth removal extraction procedure
Let your dentist know if you currently have a cold (be aware that this might lead to a postponement of your appointment for a few days).
Should you be nauseous or vomiting in the 24 hours prior, again let your dentist know. This might again lead to a brief postponement or the use of different anaesthesia. If you smoke, don't do so before your treatment.
If you are to receive a general anaesthetic, you should make sure someone is available to see you safely home afterwards (don't drive yourself).
Before scheduling the procedure, your dentist will have taken an x-ray of the tooth. There are two possible types of procedures:
Simple: A local anaesthetic numbs the area, and the dentist uses an elevator to loosen the tooth and forceps to remove it. You will feel a level of pressure during this procedure.
Surgical: As well as local anaesthetic, you will also probably receive intravenous anaesthesia to help you feel calm and relaxed. For some procedures, or for patients with certain medical conditions, a general anaesthetic might be needed. The dentist will then make a small incision in your gum, and might need to remove some bone around your tooth, or cut into the tooth itself, before completing the extraction.
Risks associated with tooth extraction
If your dentist recommends extraction, after a full discussion of your situation and medical conditions, then the chance of experiencing complications is small.
After the extraction, it's natural for a blood clot to form in the socket hole in the bone where the extraction took place. Occasionally, this does not happen, or the clot dislodges. This is called 'dry socket' and the dentist treats this by putting a protective sedative dressing over it for a few days, allowing the clot to reform.
The costs of a tooth removal
This varies depending on whether the tooth is visible, broken, below the surface or impacted. As a guide, a simple extraction is usually priced in the $45-150 range.