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Tooth Extraction

Most commonly, teeth will need to be extracted because they have been damaged beyond repair by decay or fracture, because they are impacted - for example, unerupted wisdom teeth, or because they have erupted ectopically, i.e. in an incorrect position.

In some cases, teeth will need to be extracted to prepare the mouth for orthodontics. The aim of orthodontics - shifting or re-aligning the position of the teeth in the mouth - may require the removal of a tooth to make space for this process.

People may also need to undergo a tooth extraction in relation to another medical condition. For example, people receiving chemotherapy or undergoing an organ transplant have compromised immune systems, and therefore may need to have a tooth extracted if it is at particular risk of infection.

Treatment

The extraction procedure will require local anesthesia, possibly with an intravenous sedative; in some rare cases, general anesthetic will be used. Especially if the tooth is impacted, surrounding gum tissue and bone will first need to be removed in order to expose the tooth. The tooth may be taken out in pieces. In some cases, stitches, usually self-dissolving, may be used after the extraction.

Patients may experience swelling and a small amount of bleeding near the area of the extracted tooth for the first day or two. Complete healing may take one or two weeks; during this time, patients must be careful to keep the area clean from food matter.

Sometimes, the blood clot over the extraction site may break off, leaving the bony socket exposed. This is called "dry socket", and can be very uncomfortable. A sedative dressing is often placed for a few days to protect the area and allow a new clot to form.

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