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Tooth Removal (Extraction) - Reasons, Complications, and Recommendations

Published on Feb 29, 2020 and last reviewed on Nov 10, 2021   -  4 min read


Tooth removal or dental extraction is a common surgical procedure done usually under local anesthesia. This article discusses the common reasons for tooth removal, things to expect during the procedure, and the risks and complications associated with it.

Tooth Removal (Extraction) - Reasons, Complications, and Recommendations

Sometimes, people need to have one or more of their teeth pulled out. This tooth extraction may be advised by the dentist for one of the following reasons:

What Happens During Tooth Removal?

The procedure of tooth removal is a simple surgical procedure performed under local anesthesia. The dental practitioner may first apply a topical anesthetic gel or cream to the gum tissue so that there is no pain while injecting the local anesthetic. During the local anesthetic injection itself, there may be a feeling of a small scratch after which, the tooth and surrounding tissue become numb and there should be no pain during the procedure though there may be a feeling of some pressure and pulling.

When the mouth is numb, the dentist starts loosening the tooth from the gum with a special tool and then pulls it out with forceps. The procedure usually takes from a few minutes to less than an hour, depending on the difficulty of the procedure and how many teeth are removed. After the tooth has been removed, the dentist might put stitches to close the wound or place a piece of gauze over the wound to stop the bleeding.

What Are the Risks and Complications of Extraction?

As with any medical and dental treatment, tooth extraction is associated with some risks and complications. Common risks and complications include:

  1. Tooth breakage during extraction.

  2. Damage to lips and cheeks - you may bite or rub the numbed area without realizing the damage you may be causing. Children are particularly more prone to this and may need to be supervised until the numbness has worn off.

  3. Short term minimal to moderate pain, including jaw pain, due to the irritation of the nerves and the movement of the jaw during extraction.

  4. Short term swelling or infection - signs of post-extraction infection include pain and swelling that is worsening or not improving 48 hours after tooth removal, purulent discharge from the wound or the tooth socket (the hole where the tooth was), and cellulitis adjacent to the extraction site.

  5. Dry socket - occurs when a blood clot does not form in the hole where the tooth was or the blood clot is disrupted. The bone underneath will be exposed to air and food, which can be very painful and can cause a bad taste and/or odor in your mouth. This is more likely to occur if you smoke.

  6. Temporary numbness.

  7. Pain or difficulty opening your mouth.

Some uncommon risks and complications include:

  1. Prolonged or permanent nerve damages - a small percentage of people may, in spite of all precautions, experience partial or total loss of feeling in the area served by the nerves in close proximity to the extraction site. Irritation to these nerves during extraction can cause permanent or prolonged numbness or a tingling sensation to the lip, tongue, cheek, chin, gums, or teeth.

  2. Bone and root fragments remain in your gum.

What to Do Following Tooth Removal?

If pain continues or increases the next day, consult a dentist online for further advice and treatment.

Last reviewed at:
10 Nov 2021  -  4 min read




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