No More Natural Teeth: Deciding Between Implants and Dentures

After An Extraction: What To Watch For

by Jeremiah Barnett

Dentists are very reluctant to remove a patient's tooth and will only do so in certain cases. However, extractions can occur when the dentist determines that a tooth cannot be saved and removing the tooth is the best option. Read on to find out what dental patients must watch out for after an extraction.

What Happens with an Extraction

Removing a tooth is not a complex procedure. Except for impacted wisdom teeth removals, an extraction is a quick and simple procedure. In most cases, numbing anesthesia is used to make the patient more comfortable during the procedure. Extraction complications are rare, but one to watch out for is a dry socket.

An extraction will leave a hole (socket) in your gums. Eventually, the area will stop bleeding and heal with no issues. However, your gums are sure to be sensitive after extraction and you should follow your dentist's directions about what to eat and how to care for your gums after the procedure. You will probably leave the dentist's office with gauze packed into the socket. That gauze helps stop the bleeding. In the best-case scenario, a clot of dried blood will form.

It's vital that the clot which forms naturally remain in place. The clot protects your gums against infections and should remain intact for several days after the extraction.

What Happens with a Dry Socket

The socket can be vulnerable when you drink, eat, and rinse your mouth. If you accidentally wash away the clot, you are left with what is known as a dry socket. Extractions that include larger teeth like molars can be more likely to lose their clots. Unfortunately, that protective clot may be missed and lead to problems.

A dry socket should be considered a dental emergency. Once the socket is unprotected, bacteria can enter and cause an infection. Your dentist will ask you to come in so that the socket can be examined right away. They will gently cleanse the area and then the socket will once again be packed with gauze. You will be given instructions to change the gauze when needed. Fighting infection is important so you will be provided with a prescription for antibiotics even if no signs of infection are present.

Once your gums are healed and any infections cleared up, talk to your dentist about restoration choices for your missing tooth. Ask them about implants, bridges, or partial dentures to fill in that gap for both appearance and dental health reasons. For more information on dental care, contact a professional near you.