Tooth Extractions: What You Need To Know

Costello Family Dentistry is the trusted source for making tooth extractions as easy as possible in Carleton Place and surrounding communities.

We Understand: Tooth Extractions Can Be Stressful

Tooth extractions are often the most feared dental procedure for people. They are afraid of having a hole in their smile and losing their confidence, or they’re afraid of how much it is going to hurt to have the tooth taken out. Tooth extractions aren’t anything to fear. In cases where it is necessary, it is the best thing a person can do for their oral health. With the information found here, people who need a tooth or multiple teeth extracted can make the best of the situation and even learn of their options to replace the tooth they’ve lost.

Reasons A Patient Needs a Tooth Extraction

There are a number of reasons that a dentist might recommend a tooth extraction procedure to a patient. These recommendations are generally saved for cases where leaving a tooth in the patient’s mouth would pose a greater health risk than extracting it would. The most common reasons for recommending a tooth extraction include:

dentist demonstrating a tooth extraction on a model.
Dentist shows a patient a dental model

Tooth Impaction

A tooth impaction happens when one tooth pushed up against another during its growth. The impacted tooth is much more susceptible to infection, and can be identified by red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums in the area. As the issue progresses, patients often experience pain and swelling in the jaw near the impacted tooth and have trouble opening their mouths. Tooth impaction is most commonly seen in wisdom teeth and is the primary reason for patients to have their wisdom teeth removed.

Tooth Decay

If a patient doesn’t practice good oral hygiene, then the build-up of plaque and tartar will lead to tooth decay. If this tooth decay is allowed to progress, it can lead to an infection in the tooth. Once this happens, tooth extraction may become necessary to treat the infection.

Periodontal Disease

Similar to tooth decay, periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease, is caused by build up of plaque and tartar on the teeth due to poor oral hygiene. When this plaque and tartar gets trapped under the gum line, the bacteria that is trapped is allow to grow, causing the gums to become inflamed (gingivitis), or the bone and tissues around the teeth to become inflamed (periodontitis). This will cause the gums and bone structure to deteriorate over time. Eventually, tooth extraction will become the only treatment that can possibly correct the issue.


Accidents can happen anywhere at any time. Whether it happens while playing sports, because of a car accident, or because of a simple slip and fall, major tooth damage can happen. Sometimes the tooth can be saved. However, there are times when a tooth is too damaged to save and the rest of it needs to be extracted to prevent infection and more dental health problems in the future.

Preparing for a Tooth Extraction Procedure

Patients who require a tooth extraction need to take certain steps and observe a few restrictions before arriving for their appointment. Following these steps will ensure that the extraction procedure can be done safely and effectively.

Consult With Your Dentist

Patients should ask any and all questions they have about the procedure. This will help them understand what needs to be done, and why it needs to be done. This will help give them peace of mind right from the start of the process. During this consultation, it is also important for them to discuss their medical history. The dentist will need to know specifics about things such as:

woman smiles at her dentist after a dental appointment

  • History of bacterial endocarditis
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Mechanical or bio heart valves from heart surgery
  • Liver disease
  • Artificial joint replacements
  • Impaired immune system
  • Medications the patient is currently taking

These conditions can make a patient more susceptible to infections and will help the dentist determine if antibiotics need to be prescribed right away. They need to know current medications as well because if a patient is taking blood thinners, then the patient may be recommended to stop taking them before the appointment to reduce the risk of extreme bleeding during the procedure and to reduce the recovery time needed after the procedure.

Finally, the patient needs to discuss anesthesia and painkillers with the dentist. Some people may know which kinds of sedation work well, and which don’t, and having this discussion upfront can help make the procedure much more comfortable for the patient. Painkillers are often prescribed for the recovery process and if the patient has a preference, then they should let the dentist know. It is recommended to avoid opoid painkillers whenever possible because of how addictive they are. If opoid painkillers are needed, then we recommend only using them for as short a period as possible and switching to non-narcotic painkillers as soon as possible.

Organize Transportation & Care

Because of the effects of the anesthesia, patients will not be able to drive themselves home after the procedure. It is imperative for patients to have a friend or family member drive them to and from the clinic. If that is not possible, then patients should plan ahead and arrange for a taxi or and uber driver to take them to and from the appointment.

No Food or Smoking Before Surgery

Patients should avoid eating anything for 12 hours leading up to the tooth extraction surgery. This helps to prevent nausea during and after the procedure. If the patient has a medical condition that doesn’t allow them to fast, such as diabetes, then they must discuss this with their dentist so they can make accommodations and recommendations.

It is also important to not smoke for 12 hours before and for 24 hours after the surgery. Smoking slows down the healing process and puts patients at greater risk for dry socket, a condition that can occur after a tooth extraction which is very serious, extremely painful (and can’t be fixed by painkillers), and requires immediate medical attention. This is a great time to quit smoking for good because it will help speed up the healing process of the tooth extraction, and help improve your overall oral and physical health in the future.

man holding his cheek after having a tooth extracted.

Post-Extraction Care

Once the tooth extraction surgery is complete and the patient is back at home, there are a number of steps that can be taken to care for the extraction site and ensure a recovery that is free from complications.

Eat Soft Foods

For the first week following the surgery, it is recommended to only eat soft foods like yogurt, protein drinks and smoothies. Any foods that require chewing can cause the blood clot that forms to become dislodged which can lead to dry socket. Forcibly spitting, swishing liquids in the mouth to rinse, and drinking through straws can also cause this to happen and all of these things should be avoided during the recover process as well.

Rest, Relaxation and Oral Care

For the first day or two following the surgery, patients will need to rest and take things easy. When lying down, patients will need to prop their heads up on a pillow to keep it elevated to reduce swelling. Brushing the extraction site should be avoided as well, but the rest of the teeth can be brushed normally.

person experiencing painful toothache

How Long Does it take to recover from a tooth extraction procedure?

The recovery time from a tooth extraction can vary depending on various factors, including the complexity of the extraction, the individual's overall health, and their adherence to post-operative care instructions. However, on average, it typically takes about 7 to 10 days for the initial healing process to occur. During this time, the extraction site forms a blood clot and begins to close.

In the first 24 to 48 hours after the extraction, it's important to rest and avoid strenuous activities. It's also crucial to follow the dentist's instructions regarding pain management, oral hygiene, and diet during this initial healing phase.

Over the following days, the discomfort and swelling usually subside gradually. New tissue begins to develop, covering the extraction site. By the end of the first week, most people experience significant improvement and are able to resume their regular daily activities.

Complete healing of the extraction site typically takes a few weeks to a few months, depending on the individual's healing abilities and the size of the extracted tooth. The gum tissue and bone gradually regenerate, filling in the space left by the extracted tooth.

Complications during tooth extraction recovery

Pain and swelling are common things for patients to experience following tooth extraction surgery. Keeping the head elevated, applying ice to the cheek for 20 minutes at a time, and taking the prescribed painkillers as directed by the dentist can all help reduce pain and swelling.

If the patient experiences the following, then they may have developed a dry socket and need to seek medical attention right away things should be avoided during the recover process as well.

  • Severe pain in the extraction site that radiates to other parts of the face on the same side as the extraction.
  • An empty looking socket in the extraction site.
  • Visible bone in the socket of the extraction site.
  • Foul smelling breath
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Fever or chills.
  • Severe bleeding or swelling that gets worse over time
  • Nausea or vomitting
  • Shortness of breath or chest pain

If a patient experiences any of the following symptoms, it is a sign of a possible infection and the patient will need to see their doctor right away.

Young woman having a tooth extracted.
dental model of a dental implant

Options for Tooth Replacement

Once the tooth extraction is complete and the site has fully healed, patients often begin to look for options to replace the tooth they’ve lost, rather than leaving an unsightly hole in their smile. There are many options available for tooth replacement depending on which and how many teeth have been extracted.

A dental implant is the best solution for replacing a single tooth, or a small number of teeth. They are a long-term solution that involved implanting a titanium post into the empty socket and allowing it to fuse to the underlying bone structure. Once that is complete, the post is capped with a crown to finish the tooth replacement. This treatment option is made to last for decades and preserves the surrounding bone and tissue structures from degradation. They are quite expensive, require more surgery and have a long recovery period as well so it is important to discuss this option with a dentist.

Dental Bridges

A dental bridge is a more traditional tooth replacement option that involved preparing the teeth that surround the empty space for a crown, and capping them with a section of fake teeth that fill the gap that was left by the tooth extraction. Dental bridges are more affordable than dental implants. However, dental bridges do not provide the oral health benefits that come with dental implants. Dental bridges also need to be replaced more frequently and require more maintenance.

How to Avoid Tooth Extractions

Sometimes, tooth extractions can’t be avoided. Patients that experience tooth trauma from accidents that is too severe to allow for the tooth to be saved, or patients with impacted teeth will need to have those teeth extracted to eliminate the risk of severe infection and the health problems that come with it.

If patients don’t have unavoidable situations to worry about, they can avoid needing tooth extraction surgery by practicing good oral hygiene. This will limit plaque and tartar buildup which leads to tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontitis that eventually causes the need for teeth to be pulled.

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Brushing your tongue
  • Flossing once a day
  • Rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash at least once a day
  • Regular appointments for dental cleanings
Brushing the teeth twice a day, and flossing once before bed, and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash at least once a day will help keep teeth, gums and the underlying structures strong and healthy. Combining this with regular appointments for dental cleanings, and most patients are able to go their entire lives without ever needing tooth extraction surgery.

woman sitting in a dental chair holding a dental model.