So what happens to your tooth if you break it or there’s so much decay a root canal can’t take care of the problem? Its time to say adios to that tooth! A tooth that is so broken that it can’t be saved is more prone to decay and a tooth that already has severe decay is a danger to the teeth and bone surrounding it. Plus, in either case, it hurts so bad you’ll practically be begging your West Seattle dentist, Dr. Christine Kirchner to pull the tooth, or in dental terms, extract it.
There are three reasons a tooth may need to be extracted. First, because of disease, ie: it has the biggest whopping cavity ever. Second, because of trauma, ie: its broken beyond repair. And the last reason, because of crowding, or too many teeth for your mouth to hold. This last scenario usually happens with kids when they are getting braces.
Getting an extraction is usually a very quick procedure. Dr. Kirchner will get you numb, and then use a series of periosteal elevators to start loosening the periodontal ligaments.
She’s going to use what to do what???
Your periodontal ligaments are little fibers holding your tooth into the bone. What a periosteal elevator does is loosen those fibers, and at the same time, elevating the tooth or causing the tooth to move up out of the bone. Fancy, huh?
Once everything is nice and loosey goosey, Dr. Kirchner will use a pair of forceps to gently wiggle the…..
SHE’S GOING TO USE WHAT IN MY MOUTH?
Ok everyone, lets calm down a minute here. I agree, a better name could have been chosen, but it describes what the tool is. Let’s take a minute to think this through. Your tooth is tiny. Sometimes it’s in a hard to reach place when it needs to be extracted. Even though Dr. Kirchner does not have fat fingers, her fingers are still too big to be able to just reach in there and pull a tooth out. Plus, even though she’s wearing gloves that provide a little extra traction, its not enough to hang on to the tooth and pull it out. Just think of forceps as a way for her to be able to reach into your mouth with out sticking her whole hand in and pulling your tooth out. Remember? It IS loosey goosey at this point.
Oh, ok. That makes more sense.
Once the tooth is out, one of Dr. Kirchner’s lovely assistants will put cotton over the extraction site and have you bite down to stop the bleeding. Yes, there will be some blood. Usually not too much though and it stops pretty quickly. Things to avoid while healing up for the next 24-48 hours:
- Smoking or drinking through a straw. Your body is trying to heal itself by creating a clot in the extraction spot. Doing either one of these things creates negative pressure, kind of like suction, and could possibly suck the clot right out. Heard horror stories about dry socket? You can read about it here. Sounds bad. Don’t smoke or drink through a straw.
- Take it easy, no strenuous activity or heavy lifiting. Again you want your body to get the healing process going. These activitys will cause increased blood flow and may just cause you to start bleeding again.
- Swelling? Apply ice.
- Rinse gently with salt water. This will promote healing, and fast! Just don’t swish like you normally do. It may cause the whole negative pressure thing.
If you find you aren’t healing or still bleeding pretty badly after the first 8-24 hours, or you have any questions at all, give the office a call right away!
Check back next week as we take a break from all of this dental stuff to meet another member of Dr. Kirchner’s staff!