Occasionally you may find yourself in need of a tooth extraction. This is a reasonably quick procedure undertaken by your dentist or an oral surgeon, especially if the tooth is visible above the gum line. A tooth or teeth may need to be removed as a result of tooth decay, diseases of the mouth, crowding or a serious infection.
If you have a broken tooth or require removal of a tooth or teeth below the gum surface, a more complex procedure may be required. Rest assured your dentist will use a local, general or intravenous anaesthesia, or a combination of these, to ensure you are calm and painfree throughout.
Your preparation for a tooth extraction
If a tooth extraction is recommended, your dentist will take some time to fully assess your medical situation. You will be asked if you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication, as well as any vitamins and supplements. You will also be asked if you are due for any upcoming or planned treatment. It is important to fully disclose this medical information to your dentist, so that they can ensure a successful extraction and smooth recovery.
There are also a range of other conditions your dentist should know about before any proposed tooth extraction. These include:
- diseases of the liver, renal, adrenal or thyroid systems
- congenital heart defects, damaged heart valves or hypertension
- if you are immunocompromised
- if you have a history of bacterial endocarditis
If you are not sure about a condition or medication, it’s always best to talk to your dentist before the extraction. Your dentist will be best placed to offer advice as to whether the extraction will be safe. On occasion, your dentist may wish to prescribe a course of pre-extraction antibiotics if the surgery is expected to be long or as a result of discussing your medical conditions.
Tooth removal extraction procedure
Please let your dentist know if you are feeling unwell prior to the extraction procedure. If you have a cold or fever, or experience vomiting or nausea in the 24 hours prior to the procedure, your dentist may recommend a short delay, or use a different kind of anaesthesia. If you are a smoker, it is best to stop for a period of time before your procedure to aide in healing.
If you are to receive a general anaesthetic for the extraction (usually only required for long or complex extractions), you should make sure someone is available to drive you home afterwards, as you will not be able to 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 extraction: A local anaesthetic is given to numb the area, and the dentist uses tools to loosen and remove the tooth. You may feel pressure during this procedure, but you will not feel pain. Simple extractions can be completed in the dental clinic and you will be able to go back to work, home or school straight away.
- Surgical extraction: As well as a local anaesthetic, you may also receive intravenous anaesthesia for a surgical extraction. For some procedures, or for patients with certain medical conditions, a general anaesthetic might be needed. Once the area is numb and you are relaxed, the dentist will make a small incision in your gum to access the tooth. They may 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 a tooth extraction, then the chance of experiencing complications is small if you are open and honest with your dentist about your medical situation.
After the extraction, it is expected that a blood clot will form in the socket hole where the extraction took place. You will be given fresh gauze to hold on the socket to assist this blood clot to form. Occasionally, a clot will not properly form or the clot may dislodge. When this happens, you will experience a 'dry socket', which can be painful. The dentist can treat a dry socket by putting a protective sedative dressing over it for a few days, allowing the clot to reform. To prevent a dry socket, do not rub your tongue around the area of the extraction, and eat gently for a few days. You may clean your remaining teeth carefully around the extraction site, but avoid brushing the socket.
How much does a tooth extraction cost
The cost of tooth extraction varies considerably depending on the complexity of the extraction, and will also be different depending on the level of private health insurance you have. As a guide, a simple extraction usually costs around $45 to $150.