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Emergency Tooth Extraction: Treating Cavities, Gum Disease, and Wisdom Tooth Impaction

When a tooth is beyond saving, a painless emergency extraction by a talented dentist can keep the rest of your smile’s health intact.

By Jennifer
Photography by Pete

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It’s the goal of every dentist, including our talented staff at Nu Dentistry, to keep their patients’ smiles as intact and healthy as possible. However, when a worst-case scenario happens—a tooth has become damaged beyond repair—an emergency dental extraction is needed.

An emergency tooth extraction may be needed if there is:

  • Severe jaw pain and toothaches
  • Dark discoloration on your tooth
  • Late-stage gum disease or tooth decay
  • A tooth abscess or pus around your teeth and gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Dental trauma to the mouth
  • Wisdom tooth impaction
  • A break or fracture in a tooth that can’t be fixed

While most emergency extractions are done only when the worst has already happened, the one exception is impacted wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth doesn’t have enough room to emerge from beneath the gums. They can cause a whole host of problems for your mouth, from gum disease and cavities to bleeding and damage to nearby teeth. In many cases, your Houston dentist may choose to perform an emergency wisdom tooth extraction to prevent a lot of pain and frustration for you in the future.

Emergency Extraction Procedure

There are two types of tooth removal: simple extraction and surgical extraction. Which one your emergency dentist performs depends on whether or not your tooth is impacted below the gums.

Simple Extraction

For teeth fully visible above the gum line, your dentist will perform a simple extraction. This method involves loosening the tooth from the gums with a dental elevator device and then pulling it free with forceps.

Surgical Extraction

A surgical extraction is performed for teeth that have not fully emerged from the gums. Usually, these teeth have either broken beneath the gum line or are impacted, as is most often the case during wisdom teeth removal. To reach them, your dentist will make a small incision and then painlessly pull your tooth from the gum. Your dentist may need to suture the cut closed.

No matter which emergency treatment you need, your mouth will be numbed beforehand with a local anesthetic to keep you from feeling a thing throughout your procedure. Some patients, particularly those with dental anxiety, can choose to use dental sedation instead to ease their minds as well as their mouths. IV and oral sedation are most often used during surgical extraction as they often keep patients relaxed enough during their treatment that they fall asleep in the dental chair.

Tooth Extraction Aftercare

After your procedure, our dentists at Nu Dentistry will provide you with a detailed and easy-to-follow list of instructions so that your healing process is smooth. We want to ensure you feel as little post tooth extraction pain as possible while preventing any chance of dry socket or a tooth extraction infection. Here are some tips we highly recommend you follow to the best of your ability:

  • Rest and relax for the first 24 hours following your procedure. Take a day or two off from work or school depending on how you feel.
  • Prepare to have someone pick you up after your procedure and bring you home, especially patients who used oral or IV sedation during treatment. You cannot drive anywhere for at least 24 hours after dental sedation.
  • Avoid spitting, drinking from a straw, and any strenuous exercise for the first few days. These activities can make it more difficult for a blood clot to form.
  • Don’t smoke 24 hours before and 24 hours after your extraction.
  • If you experience any discomfort or facial swelling in the first 2 or 3 days after your dental extraction, use an ice pack in 15-minute intervals. We recommend that for patients with multiple extractions done on both sides of the face, you switch off every 15 minutes.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers are also great ways to reduce any pain you may feel during the recovery process.
  • Avoid brushing or flossing near the site of your tooth removal as your mouth heals.
  • Keep to a liquid and soft food diet for the first few days. From there on, you can slowly begin returning to your normal diet. However, you should still try staying away from crunchy, hard, or sticky food for a week.
  • Do not eat on the side of your extraction for two weeks to keep any food bits or particles from getting stuck in the space left behind by your missing tooth.
  • After the first 24 hours, rinse your mouth after every meal with a warm salt water rinse to disinfect and soothe the extraction site. Be sure not to spit out the water when you’re done.

If you have any questions or concerns about your recovery process, please don’t hesitate to call our Houston dental office and schedule an appointment with our attentive dentists. We understand

What To Eat After Tooth Extraction

In those first few days after your tooth removal, you should stick to a mostly liquid and soft food diet. As you recover, you must keep your body stocked up on all of the nutrients and vitamins it needs to stay strong and healthy. Some foods we recommend include:

  • Fruit and vegetable smoothies
  • Applesauce and mashed bananas
  • Blended soups and broths
  • Jell-O
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soft cheeses
  • Milkshakes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Avocado
  • Soft cheeses

Cold foods are especially great for helping numb any lingering discomfort you may feel, just like an ice pack does. If you choose to eat hot foods like soups, eggs, or potatoes, please wait until they cool down. Heat tends to irritate the gums and cause extra sensitivity during the recovery process.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you wait too long to get wisdom teeth out?

Wisdom teeth removals may not seem as urgent as treating a tooth on the brink of death, such as when a decayed tooth is too far gone for even a root canal to fix. However, leaving them alone once our dentists have identified it as a problem tooth can be a nightmare for your mouth. Just looking at impacted and partially impacted wisdom teeth, they leave your mouth vulnerable to serious oral health issues like gum disease, cavities, and cysts. They can also cause damage to the roots of their neighbors as they try to erupt through the gums and collide with nearby teeth instead. Even if they do come in, they’re often prone to leaning, crookedness, and overcrowding.

How long does it take to get a tooth pulled?

Simple extractions are quick and easy to perform, usually taking only a few minutes. More complex cases may take over 20 minutes to complete. Surgical extractions are a bit more involved and are about 45 minutes long on average. The length of either of these procedures may be extended if you decide to use oral sedation. While nitrous oxide and IV sedation only take a few minutes to work, oral sedation can take 30 to 60 minutes before the full effects kick in.

What does tooth extraction cost?

The cost of your emergency extraction depends on a variety of factors: how many teeth will be removed, the type of tooth, the location of the extraction, and which extraction procedure is needed. For example, a wisdom tooth extraction for an impacted tooth will differ in price than a fully-emerged front tooth. Your treatment cost may also go up if you choose to use any of our Houston office’s dental sedation options.

What happens if you don't replace an extracted tooth?

Except in the case of wisdom teeth, which our mouths often don’t have room for, not replacing a missing tooth can be disastrous for your mouth. Over time, the jawbone where your tooth used to be starts to deteriorate. Bone loss causes the nearby teeth to sink into the space left behind, causing changes and problems in your bite. This can leave your remaining teeth vulnerable to further infection, gum disease, and decay. At its worst, you may need even more teeth pulled.

What is the best option for replacing missing teeth?

While there are multiple tooth replacement options available, dental implants are generally the best way to replace an extracted tooth. Unlike dentures or a dental bridge which only camouflage the gap left behind, an implant is surgically inserted into the gum and jaw to act as a fully functioning tooth, root and all. They are the longest-lasting, often staying intact for over 20 years before needing any replacement. However, their higher price often makes them more preferable for patients who are only missing a single tooth. For multiple missing teeth, your dentist may instead recommend dentures or a bridge. For patients who still want some of the unique benefits of dental implants, we can also restore your smile with implant-supported bridges and dentures.

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