A tooth extraction is the process of having a tooth removed from your mouth. This may be necessary due to severe decay or damage that prevents a tooth from being restored. Tooth extraction is a common and typically relatively simple procedure.
If you have one or more teeth that need to be extracted, you may be wondering how long to expect it to take so you can plan accordingly. Here’s what you need to know about the tooth extraction process.
What Does Tooth Extraction Entail?
To extract a tooth, the dentist will apply local anesthesia to numb the nerves inside and in the area around the tooth. Then the tooth is gently loosened from the socket using specialized dental tools and removed. The gum tissue may need a few sutures to control bleeding and protect the socket.
Average Length of a Tooth Extraction Procedure
The length of a tooth extraction procedure depends primarily on how many teeth need to be extracted.
- Single Tooth: A single tooth can be extracted in as little as 20-40 minutes.
- A Few Teeth: If a few teeth need to be extracted in a row, then add between 10 and 20 minutes for each tooth. If the teeth are in different places, it could take a bit longer because local anesthesia will need to be applied in multiple locations.
- All of the Teeth: Full mouth extraction can take a few hours and may be divided into multiple appointments.
- Tooth Type: Multi-rooted teeth may take longer than single-rooted teeth
- Socket Grafting: Extra time is taken to remove the tooth and preserve the bone for implant therapy
Follow Up Care After Tooth Extraction
Taking care of the extraction site after a tooth is removed is important for recovery. The following steps will promote faster healing:
- Bite down on gauze to stop the bleeding. Change gauze once saturated and replace with new sterile gauze until the gauze comes out clean.
- Drink liquids only until the anesthesia wears off and your mouth is no longer numb.
- Avoid drinking from a straw. This could dislodge the blood clot in the socket, resulting in a condition called dry socket.
- Once you are no longer numb it is safe to eat soft foods. Try to avoid chewing in the area of the extraction.
- Cold foods and beverages can reduce swelling and inflammation.
- Over the counter pain relievers are typically effective at managing any discomfort you may feel.
- Sutures will typically dissolve automatically as the tissue heals.
- Complete healing of the gum tissue should take place within 2-3 weeks.
Why is Tooth Extraction Necessary?
You may need to have one or more teeth extracted for any of the following reasons:
- Decay. If a tooth has too much decay to be saved with a root canal or other restorative procedures, it may need to be extracted.
- Damage. A dental injury could damage a tooth beyond restoration, such as a tooth that is broken too close to the gums.
- Orthodontics. Teeth sometimes need to be extracted for orthodontic purposes to relieve crowding or to make space for permanent teeth to come in.
Who Performs Tooth Extractions?
Dentists and dental specialists such as periodontists and oral surgeons perform tooth extractions. You may see a periodontist for a tooth extraction if the tooth is being replaced with a dental implant. Periodontists specialize in treating the support structures for the teeth, including the gum tissue, jaw bone, and connective tissue.