A dental extraction involves the removal of a tooth and is carried out under local or general anaesthetic.
Teeth are extracted for a variety of reasons:
• abscess (pocket of infection)
• dental decay (caries)
• periodontal disease (disease of the structures that support your teeth, e.g., gums, membranes and bone)
• prosthetics (false teeth)
• orthodontics (correction of irregular teeth or to make space)
• cosmetic, if appearance cannot be restored.
What does the operation consist of?
• The operation is carried out under local or general anaesthetic.
• Local anaesthetic (usually lidocaine) is injected to numb an affected tooth and its surrounding area.
This can take place in a clinic or treatment room.
• General anaesthetic involves being prepared and taken to an operating department, where you
are put to sleep. You then wake up in the recovery area of the theatre department and are closely
monitored by nursing staff. You are given medication to relieve any pain or sickness, as well as a drip
(intravenous fluids) to hydrate you. The drip is taken down once you are able to drink enough fluids.
What happens afterwards?
• In both situations, you may have a small bite pack placed inside your mouth, over the area where you
had the teeth out. This pack is made of gauze, onto which you bite down. The resulting pressure helps
stop any bleeding from the socket(s).
• After general anaesthetic, you are returned to the ward once you are awake enough. You will need to
rest in bed as you may still feel sleepy. We strongly advise you not to leave the ward area as you may
feel unwell. Your condition will continue to be monitored with medication to keep you comfortable.
• Fluids and a light diet can be taken as soon as you are feeling able. For the first 24 hours, however,
you need to avoid mouthwash, mouth rinses, hot drinks, hot food and strenuous activity. These can
dislodge the healing blood clot in the socket(s) and make the area bleed.
Good dental hygiene
When food containing refined carbohydrate or sugar is eaten, some of it sticks to the plaque on your
teeth. Plaque is a clear, sticky film of bacteria and food debris that coats the surface of the teeth. Some
of this bacteria turn the sugar in your mouth into acid, which then dissolves away the enamel and
dentine causing cavities and decay (dental caries). All plaque bacteria cause periodontal disease, which
means that the condition of the gums, membranes and bone gradually deteriorates. Over time, the teeth
lose their supporting structures and may fall out.