How to Prepare for a Tooth Extraction

Tooth extraction preparation

Making your tooth extraction as easy and stress-free as possible.

While your teeth are designed to last a lifetime, it’s not unusual to need a tooth extraction at some point in your life. It’s actually incredibly common, as about 85% of people will need at least one wisdom tooth extracted,  and this doesn’t even cover issues like decay or injury. Even though it’s common, learning that you need a tooth extraction—no matter why—isn’t news anyone wants to hear. It’s understandable to have some anxiety about the procedure, especially because there are a lot of decisions to make about your treatment plan.

Thankfully, though, modern dental technology has made tooth extractions a painless process while opening up a wide variety of tooth replacement options that restore and protect the health, functionality, and appearance of your smile. You might have more decisions to make about your care, but this also means that you have more control over your treatment and the results.

Educating yourself about these options and preparing for your extraction to the best of your ability will help make the process as easy and stress-free as possible. We understand that knowing how to get started can be hard, so we’ve outlined how you can prepare for your tooth extraction to ensure that you get the best care with the least amount of stress possible.

Understand the reasons that extractions are sometimes necessary.

One of the ways you can prepare for your tooth extraction is simply to understand why you need it. There are several reasons why you may need a tooth extracted, including severe decay, infection, a major injury that can’t be repaired with a dental crown, and overcrowding in your mouth.

Dental overcrowding can cause a range of issues, including increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease by making it harder to brush and floss your teeth thoroughly. Wisdom teeth are also often removed because there isn’t enough space in your mouth for them to erupt, which can cause them to become impacted, come in crooked, damage nearby teeth, or simply be painful.

When you understand why you need a tooth extraction, it can help you feel more confident in the procedure because you know what you’re getting out of it. Teeth are only removed when there’s no other option, so no matter why you need a tooth extraction, the goal is to restore or protect your long-term oral health. If you’re experiencing pain from the tooth that needs to be pulled, the procedure will relieve it, helping you move forward healthier and happier.

Familiarize yourself with the procedure.

For many people, the most nerve-wracking part of a tooth extraction is not knowing what to expect. We get a lot of questions like, “How painful is a tooth extraction?” Learning each step of the procedure will help you understand the answers to questions like these beforehand, allowing you to feel more prepared and less anxious. The answer to this particular question, though, is that the procedure itself isn’t painful at all! The first step of any tooth extraction is to administer some level of anesthesia to numb the area. No matter which anesthesia option you choose, we ensure you won’t feel any pain as Dr. Staley begins to work on your tooth.

Once your mouth is numbed, Dr. Staley will begin extracting your tooth. Some teeth can simply be pulled, but if the tooth is impacted beneath your gums, he may need to make a slight incision so he can reach the tooth that needs to be removed. You may feel some pressure or a tugging sensation during this process, but it shouldn’t hurt. If you experience pain at any point, let Dr. Staley know right away—he can give you more localized anesthetic to numb the area more completely.

After he’s removed your tooth, Dr. Staley may use self-dissolving stitches to close the extraction site. He’ll then place a gauze pad over the area and ask you to bite down gently to help stop the bleeding. And just like that, your tooth extraction is over!

Find a dentist you are comfortable with and whose skills you trust.

Any time you’re undergoing a medical procedure, it’s a good idea to ensure that you trust and feel comfortable with the person who’s performing it. You want a dentist who is skilled and experienced, but who also takes the time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions—a dentist who genuinely cares that you understand and feel comfortable with your treatment plan.

Having this type of relationship with your dentist helps you feel more confident about the procedure and makes the entire process easier. Because of this, it’s smart to schedule initial consultations with a few different dentists to ensure that you find the right one. Familiarizing yourself with the procedure itself will also help you here, as you’ll be able to ask each dentist more specific questions about it.

Know the possible side effects.

Most tooth extractions are trouble-free, but knowing which complications could arise plays a huge role in helping you avoid them and heal faster. The most common complication of tooth extraction is dry socket, which is a painful condition that occurs when the blood clot that forms over the extraction site is dislodged, exposing the bone beneath.

Other potential complications include prolonged bleeding and infection. You should contact Dr. Staley right away if the extraction site bleeds for more than two hours or if you notice signs of infection like fever, chills, nausea, or pus at the extraction site. Some swelling is normal, but you should also contact Dr. Staley if it’s severe or if the skin is hot to the touch. Thankfully, though, these issues are rare—and they’re even less likely if you’re careful to follow the care instructions that you’ll be sent home with.

Follow instructions for aftercare.

After your procedure, Dr. Staley will send you home with aftercare instructions. Following these instructions closely will help prevent complications like infection and dry socket while promoting healing, ensuring that you feel better faster. For example, you’ll need to relax for at least 24 hours after your procedure, avoid strenuous activity for at least a couple of days, and stop drinking from a straw to avoid dislodging the blood clot at your extraction site.

You’ll also need to avoid rinsing your mouth or forcefully spitting for 24 hours for the same reason. Afterward, though, Dr. Staley will likely recommend that you gently rinse your mouth out with a saltwater rinse to help prevent infection. Other tips include propping your head up when you lay down, eating soft foods, and avoiding habits that slow healing, like smoking.

Your instructions will also include remedies for tooth pain to help keep you comfortable while you heal. You’ll be sore at first, but this discomfort is often very mild. If your tooth was causing you pain before you had it extracted, you’ll likely actually feel better than you did before your procedure. Your discomfort should be easy to control with over-the-counter pain medications and rotating ice packs over the area for about 10 minutes at a time to numb it and reduce swelling.

This might sound like a lot to remember, but don’t worry! Dr. Staley will explain everything and send you home with a list so that you have it in writing. If you come up with any questions during your healing process that aren’t in your care instructions, you can always call our office to ask!

Find out what the next steps are.

While wisdom teeth don’t need to be replaced after they’re extracted, they’re the exception to the rule. It’s incredibly important to replace other teeth when you lose them. Leaving a gap in your smile long-term doesn’t just impact the appearance and function of your teeth, it impacts your oral health as well. Replacing your missing tooth with restorative dentistry techniques like a bridge, partial or full dentures, or dental implants protects your oral health by preventing your remaining teeth from shifting into the gap your missing tooth left behind.

This ensures that cleaning your teeth remains easy and prevents you from developing TMJ issues as your bite changes. The only tooth replacement option that can prevent the bone loss that comes from losing a tooth, however, is a dental implant. It’s able to do this because it replaces your tooth all the way down to the roots—meaning it stimulates your jawbone to keep it healthy, just like a natural tooth root does!

Since these treatments can have such a monumental effect on your long-term oral health, it’s a great idea to find out what the next steps in your treatment are going to be now. This ensures you have plenty of time to learn about your options and choose the best one for you.

Tooth extractions don’t have to be intimidating—in fact, their ability to make you feel so much better actually makes them quite freeing, especially if you go into the procedure knowing what to expect. Plus, when paired with restorative dentistry, your tooth extraction can help ensure that you’ll have a beautiful, healthy smile for a lifetime to come! If you’d like to learn more about tooth extractions or tooth replacement options from the best dentist near Boise, ID, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Staley at any time.