Taking the Fear Out of Routine Tooth Extractions

Millions of routine tooth extractions are performed by dentists every year. Find out how to have a stress free extraction and heal a pulled tooth fast.

Taking the Fear our of Routine Tooth Extractions

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The tooth extraction is one of the most common dental procedures. These days, it is extremely quick, almost always painless, and involves only a minimal amount of aftercare. For dentists, it is so routine that most could do it with their eyes closed, though it isn’t recommended. In other words, there is absolutely no reason to worry about having a tooth pulled. The risks are virtually non-existent and the treatment can instantly cure chronic pain and infection.

As with most dental procedures, the knowledge of what must happen is much worse than the actual extraction. The mouth is a soft and intimate area. To go in there with metal tools and remove parts of the body seems like a frightening thing. But, rest assured, the anticipation is the hardest part. However, if you are dealing with feelings of extreme anxiety leading up to a scheduled extraction, have a chat with your dentist.

This is a caring profession, after all. The old fashioned clichés of the stern and commanding doctor, in a white coat, could not be further from the truth. If you tell your dental specialist that you are very worried about having an extraction, they can discuss your fears with you and try to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about the procedure. Of which there are many, so never underestimate the power of a friendly chat.

Confronting Your Fear of Extraction

It is natural and normal to be apprehensive about visiting the dentist and even more so about having a tooth pulled. You might be worried about feeling pain. Or, the thought of having an empty space in your teeth may be knocking your confidence. These are all issues which can be addressed. It is very rare for modern tooth extractions to involve pain, because powerful anesthetics are used to ensure patient comfort.

Your dentist will repeatedly ask you how much sensation you can feel, after administering the anesthetic, and will not proceed with the treatment until they are sure that your mouth is numb. If you experience any discomfort or feel sick, tell your dentist, or make a clear hand motion if you are unable to speak. Once the treated socket has been given time to heal, you can start to discuss reconstructive or repair options, if necessary.

The best way to confront a fear or phobia of extraction is with information. Ask questions. Find out what the procedure involves, so that you feel less out of control when it happens. You would be surprised at how much of a difference simply approaching the treatment with a little insight can make to anxiety levels. Being aware of the rules and recommendations for aftercare is another good way to make the experience stress free.

Helpful Advice for Post-Extraction Patients

The aim of the game, post pulling, is to aid the empty socket in its natural attempts to clot and form a barrier. This is a good thing, because it stops bacteria from entering the wound and it helps the socket to heal. Your dentist will be able to advise you on the best ways to speed up the recovery time and avoid intense aches and pains. The following hints and tips should also come in useful for post-extraction patients. They also constitute good advice for anybody preparing to have a wisdom tooth removed

Take Painkillers at the Right Time

As long as you check, beforehand, that you choice of painkiller is suitable, you can start taking it as soon as the treatment is finished. In some cases, a dentist might recommend that you take ibuprofen or ketoprofen before the extraction is started. By the time it is finished, the medication will be ready to kick in. It is always easier to prevent pain than it is to eradicate it, so give yourself the best chance by taking painkillers in a timely fashion.

Steer Clear of Aspirin

The one painkiller that you absolutely do want to stay away from is aspirin. It thins the blood and will make your wound bleed more intensely. If over the counter medicines are not effective enough at managing the pain, ask your dentist for advice. They may be able to prescribe you something or point you in the direction of an alternative over the counter solution.

Give Your Body a Rest

This is something that extraction patients rarely do these days. We are all so busy with work and family responsibilities that it often seems necessary to run back to the office or jump straight into the school run. In some cases, there really is no choice, but for most, the option to rest for a least twelve hours is a realistic one. Wherever possible, resist the temptation to do any kind of manual labour or heavy lifting. Relax, sit with your head raised, and enjoy the opportunity to rest and recuperate.

Use Gauze to Control Bleeding

Listen carefully to your dental specialist when they advise you on aftercare and the control of pain and bleeding immediately after the extraction. There should not be a great deal of blood, but do not panic if the wound take a little while to seal itself. This is normal and can be handled by placing a small amount of dry, clean gauze on the affected area. If the wound bleeds steadily for some time, keep fresh gauze close by and replace the dressing every hour.

Resist the Urge to Panic

It may look like you are losing a lot of blood from the empty socket post-extraction. This is unlikely to be anything to worry about. It is common for extraction patients to panic when they see the blood, but the truth is that saliva deposits make the volume appear much greater than it actually is. However, if you are genuinely worried, call your dentist for advice. The wound left behind after a pulling can bleed on and off for a couple of days, but it should not bleed heavily after the first 2-3 hours.

Always Rinse Very Gently

For the first day following a treatment, rinsing is discouraged. The mouth is too tender and sore to handle it. On the second day, you can start to gently treat and wash the area with a mild salt solution. The mixture will promote healing and get rid of any nasty bacteria which has taken up residence in your mouth. On average, you should rinse 3-4 times per day. It is especially important after meals, because food morsels need to be removed.

Brush around the Extraction Site

You should never brush directly over a fresh extraction site. It will cause a lot of pain and interrupt the healing process. As aforementioned, the socket forms a blood clot for protection. It needs this barrier to stay clean. When brushing your teeth, be very careful not to touch or knock the treated area.

Eat Soft Foods for 1-2 Days

This is the bit which people tend to find the most annoying. For a day or two, they cannot enjoy any of their favourite foods and have to stick to soft meals. While it can be frustrating, it is only a temporary measure. And besides, two days of soup, mashed potatoes, and milkshake isn’t all that bad. The only major ‘no go’ foods are spicy meals (like curries), fizzy drinks, and hot beverages (like cocoa). If you cannot face life without coffee, why not swap it for an iced version for a few days?

Things to Avoid at All Costs

There are a few things that you do need to take steps to avoid, particularly if you want the wound to heal quickly. The good news is that most of these forbidden actions are pretty self-explanatory. For example, not playing with, picking at, or touching the wound. This is a very bad idea. It can lead to infection and a very bad case of toothache. And remember, the same rules apply to using your tongue for interior probing – just don’t do it.

Coughing and Sneezing

Now, this can be a tough one. You do not have to have a cold or a flu to be confronted with a sudden sneezing attack, after all. If you do end up coughing or sneezing, it is not the end of the world. However, you must limit the damage as far as possible. You can do this by stifling, retaining, or holding back the motion. The alternative is to let it all out and sneeze as aggressively as you usually would, but it is not recommended. The movement could dislodge the protective barrier over the socket and set the healing process back.

Cigarettes and Booze

It cannot be stressed enough, cigarettes and alcohol will reduce your ability to heal. They will slow down the repair process and increase the risk of infection. Do whatever you can to put off the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol for as long as possible after a tooth pulling. It is for the good of your mouth.

Important Questions about the Recovery Period

  1. How long does it take an extraction to heal?

All mouths are unique, so there is no single consensus on how long tooth extractions take to heal. For most patients, the socket makes a full recovery in around 3-4 weeks. However, it may happen a little faster for you or a little slower. The jaw bone will take much longer to heal, but this should become a mostly painless process after the socket has recovered.

  1. Why does my extraction site feel sharp?

There is a possibility that you might feel sharp edges in and around the extraction socket following recovery. This is usually nothing to worry about. It is quite normal for tiny fragments of the socket to become dislodged and make their way to the surface. They should come loose on their own and you will either safely swallow them or spit them out.

  1. What do I do if the pain is fairly strong?

Unfortunately, for the first few weeks, you are going to have to be patient. While the pain should not be intense, it may present itself as a dull ache in or around the socket. There is not much that can be done about this apart from taking painkillers. If you are struggling with the level of pain, ask your dentist for advice.

How to Recognise Dry Socket

There is one exception to this last rule on pain management. For some patients, though it is fairly uncommon, a condition called dry socket can develop. It occurs when the protective barrier over the empty socket fails to form or is knocked out of place. If this happens, the wound will be exposed to the air and anything else that you put in your mouth. Unsurprisingly, the condition is pretty painful.

It is characterised by an extreme sensitivity, as opposed to the dull ache that is customary for extractions. You are likely to have trouble eating, drinking, and speaking. The movement of air in and around the socket will stimulate this pain and intensify it. The dentist can treat dry socket and make sure that the wound if kept free from bacteria, so if you think that you may be suffering with it, head to the clinic or surgery.

Once there, the dental specialist will apply a medical bandage to the socket. It will provide instant relief and reduce the level of pain. A brief examination will then be conducted to rule out the possibility of infection. For infected sockets, a course of antibiotics is needed. You will be sent home with strict aftercare instructions and expected to replace the dressing every day.

While listening carefully and following aftercare advice will greatly reduce the risk of dry mouth, sometimes, a patient just runs into bad luck. You may not have done anything to provoke the condition, so do not beat yourself up about it. Follow the recommendations from your specialist, keep the wound clean, and make a promise to yourself never to need any more teeth pulling.

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