Dentists are trained to save broken or damaged teeth whenever possible. However, there are circumstances wherein a tooth cannot be saved and needs to be extracted.

Reasons for tooth extraction vary from one person to another. Some people need to get their teeth extracted because they have extra teeth which are blocking the others. If your baby teeth have not fallen out, they also need to be extracted in order to make way for permanent teeth. If a person needs to have braces, some teeth need to be extracted to make room for the movement of other teeth. Patients who have cancer or who are about to receive an organ transplant also need to have some of their teeth extracted to prevent infections. The growth of wisdom teeth may also cause a host of problems including jaw impaction, gum irritation and swelling.

Teeth may be extracted in two ways. The first way is called simple extraction where the dentist uses an elevator to loosen a tooth and forceps to remove it. The second way to remove teeth is called surgical extraction which is more complex. This procedure is done when the tooth is either broken off the gum line or it has not come out fully from the gums.

A tooth extraction usually heals after five to seven days. The gum area, on the other hand, may take three to four weeks to fully heal. In between these periods, patients may suffer from a variety of complications including swelling, fever, difficulty in swallowing, uncontrolled bleeding, numbness in the mouth three to four hours after the procedure, and pain in the area where a tooth was extracted.

In order to minimize the possibility of these complications, Dr. Samuel Moche, a dentist Manhattan locals trust, offers some tooth extraction after-care tips.

Bleeding, swelling and some amount of discomfort is normal after having a tooth extracted. Using a gauze, pressure should be applied on the area where the tooth was removed in order to facilitate clotting. A cold compress can help minimize swelling. Once the swelling has subsided and your jaw still feels sore and stiff, a hot compress may be applied to the area. You may also take over-the-counter pain relievers, and some patients get relief from sleeping with their heads propped up by a pillow.

For the first 24 hours after the procedure, rinsing the mouth should be avoided. After this period, the area where the tooth was extracted may be rinsed gently with a warm saline solution after meals and before turning in for bed. You may brush and floss like you usually do but you should avoid the area where the tooth was extracted.

At least for two days, smoking, strenuous activities, drinking from a straw and vigorous spitting or rinsing should be avoided. It is advisable to stick to a soft diet for the first two days and avoid hot liquids, alcohol, soft drinks and food with seeds or those that are crunchy.

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