You've probably heard the expression "a bad apple spoils the bunch," but odds are you've heard it more applied to rowdy 8th graders or naughty dogs. But this expression is among the oldest, dating back five centuries. It has stood the test of time because it's true! A rotting apple exhales ethylene, a compound that accelerates the ripening process in any fruit close enough to breathe it in.
This principle also applies to teeth. The plaque and decay that seriously compromise one tooth can quickly spread to adjoining teeth and gum tissue. Dr. Justin Harlow and his team of dental professionals are dedicated to the health of your teeth. They will do everything possible to stop tooth decay and otherwise protect your smile from future damage.
But occasionally, you may have a tooth that, like the bad apple, will have to be removed to prevent it from causing even more problems. We call this procedure a tooth extraction.
What Is a Tooth Extraction?
The most common type of oral surgery is tooth extraction. At Harlow Dental, we will first try to save a damaged tooth, but ultimately, we may decide an extraction is the best course of action. Here are some conditions that often lead to this procedure:
- Large or numerous cavities compromising the tooth
- A tooth broken off at the gums
- Severe periodontitis, or advanced gum disease
- Tooth decay down to the root
- Wisdom teeth without space to erupt
- Preparation for complete dentures
In cases such as dental trauma or emergency, your general dentist may perform an extraction to relieve pain and stabilize your health, but sometimes our team can include extractions as part of a larger treatment plan. But either way, you should know how to manage your extraction experience before, during, and after your procedure. Then, with proper care, you can minimize risks and maximize healing.
Before Your Dental Extraction in Charlotte, NC
Your overall dental health care at Harlow Dental begins with an effective diagnosis. That's why we thoroughly review your medical history, which helps us perform any treatments safely. Then, we take digital x-rays to see inside your teeth and to assess your gum and bone health. This information assists us in planning your procedure so that we can remove your tooth while causing minimal pain and discomfort.
Your peace of mind is among Dr. Harlow's top priorities, so we encourage you to discuss your questions and concerns with our team so we can help ease your worries. We can also plan some sedation options to help you through your procedure.
How We Address Your Needs During Extraction
At our Charlotte dentist office, we perform all types of tooth extractions so you can remain in a comfortable environment. Before Dr. Harlow begins, we ensure you're relaxed and ready, and then we numb the extraction area by applying local anesthesia.
We can also help you surmount any dental anxiety by offering nitrous oxide for patients who need extra attention. This inhaled sedative is mild and provokes generally pleasant sensations, which is why people call it "laughing gas." We monitor it during treatment and can dial it up or down as needed.
The best part is that the effects diminish quickly when required, and you'll be lucid when our work is complete. In addition, nitrous oxide has few side effects and is safe when applied by a qualified professional.
The procedure is straightforward, and Dr. Harlow will choose multiple methods when removing your tooth. His goal is to make it quick and painless. This may mean a simple and direct extraction, or perhaps we will need to break up the tooth in order to get it out.
Either way, we will finish by putting in a suture that will dissolve. When all has gone smoothly to this point, your care and maintenance in the days post-extraction are paramount.
We Provide Complete Instructions for Extraction After-Care
Now that your tooth is gone, you will notice the unmistakable gap where it once was. This area, called your socket, is now the center of concern because inside, it forms a blood clot vital to healing. Your job the week after your procedure is to preserve that blood clot and protect your socket. The most significant risk after a tooth extraction is a dry socket, which means you've lost your blood clot.
Here are a few ways to prevent dry sockets:
- Avoid smoking or drinking through a straw – any suction can dislodge your clot
- Drink only warm or cold beverages – scalding liquids can dissolve your clot
- Eat primarily soft foods for several days – mashed potatoes, warm soup, yogurt, and smoothies are clot-safe
- Keep your tongue out of there!
You may feel soreness in the socket area for a few days after your procedure, but you should be able to manage it with a cold compress against the area on the outside. You also can use over-the-counter pain relievers as necessary.
If you experience any persistent pain or swelling, we encourage you to call our Charlotte, NC, dental office. We are here to help.
Reducing Tooth Extraction Risk in Charlotte, NC
Though you never want to give up a tooth, a dental extraction is sometimes necessary. At Harlow Dental, we can help manage your risk at every stage.
If you may have a damaged tooth, we hope we can save it. Please get in touch with our dental office and schedule an appointment today.