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Dental Extractions & Surgeries

If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other dental treatment. But when there’s too much damage for the tooth to be repaired, the tooth may need to be extracted — or removed — from its socket in the bone.

There are two types of extractions:

A simple extraction

This is performed on a tooth that can be seen in the mouth. General dentists commonly do simple extractions. In a simple extraction, the dentist loosens the tooth with an instrument called an elevator. Then the dentist uses an instrument called forceps to remove the tooth.

A surgical extraction

This is a more complex procedure, which is used if a tooth may have broken off at the gum line or has not erupted in the mouth. Oral maxillofacial surgeons typically perform this procedure, though general dentists can also perform them. The doctor makes a small incision (cut) into your gum to surgically remove the broken tooth or impacted wisdom tooth. It may be necessary to remove some of the bone around the tooth or to cut the tooth in half in order to extract it.

Most simple extractions can be done using just an injection (a local anesthetic); you may or may not receive drugs to help you relax. For a surgical extraction, you will receive a local anesthetic, and you may also have anesthesia through a vein (intravenous). Some people — such as patients with specific medical or behavioral conditions and young children — may need general anesthesia.

If you are receiving conscious sedation, you may be given steroids, as well as other medicines in your intravenous sedation line. The steroids help to reduce pain and swelling after the procedure.

During a tooth extraction, you can expect to feel pressure, but no pain. If you feel any pain or pinching, tell your dentist.

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