A dental extraction is the removal of a tooth from the mouth. Exractions are performed for a wide variety of reasons, but most commonly to remove teeth which have become unrestorable through tooth decay, periodontal disease or dental trauma. Sometimes wisdom teeth are impacted are unable to grow normally into the mouth and may cause recurrent infections of the gum. In orthodontics if the teeth are crowded, sound teeth may be extracted to create space so the rest of the teeth can be straightened.
Tooth extraction is usually relatively straightforward, and the vast majority can be usually performed quickly while the individual is awake by using local anesthetic injections to eliminate painful sensations. Some teeth are more difficult to remove for several reasons, especially related to the tooth's position, the shape of the tooth roots and the integrity of the tooth.
After a tooth extraction, dentists usually give advice which revolves around not disturbing the blood clot in the socket by not touching the area with a finger or the tongue, by avoiding vigorous rinsing of the mouth and avoiding strenuous activity. Sucking, such as through a straw, is to be avoided. If the blood clot is dislodged, bleeding can restart, or a dry socket can develop, which can be very painful and lead to delayed healing of the socket. Smoking is avoided for at least 24 hours as it impairs wound healing and makes dry socket significantly more likely.
Extractions are often categorized as "simple" or "surgical".
Simple extractions are performed on teeth that are visible in the mouth, usually under local anesthetic, and require only the use of instruments to elevate and/or grasp the visible portion of the tooth. Typically the tooth is lifted using an elevator, and using dental forceps, rocked back and forth until the periodontal ligament has been sufficiently broken and the supporting bone has been adequately widened to make the tooth loose enough to remove. Typically, when teeth are removed with forceps, slow, steady pressure is applied with controlled force.
Surgical extractions involve the removal of teeth that cannot be easily accessed, either because they have broken under the gum line or because they have not erupted fully. Surgical extractions almost always require an incision. In a surgical extraction the doctor may elevate the soft tissues covering the tooth and bone and may also remove some of the overlying and/or surrounding jawbone tissue with a drill. The tooth may be split into multiple pieces to facilitate its removal.