A tooth may need extraction if there is severe tooth decay (that threatens the health of the surrounding teeth), an impacted wisdom tooth, crowded teeth, or failure of a baby tooth to fall out when it should. There are two types of tooth extractions: simple and surgical. When a tooth is visible above the gum line, a simple extraction can usually be performed. The dentist will be able to remove it using forceps. However, if the problem lies deeper within the gum line, the tooth may require a surgical extraction.
A surgical extraction calls for the removal of gum tissue and/or bone in order to gain access to the tooth. The affected area will first be numbed with a local anesthetic or, if multiple teeth are being removed at the same time, a general anesthetic can be used. An incision will be made into the gum tissue, revealing the tooth. It will then be gripped and loosened by being pulled back and forth. If it is too firmly lodged in place, it may need to be broken up into smaller pieces. Once it has been broken up or sufficiently loosened, it can be lifted out of the gums. If sutures are needed to close the area, soluble sutures (which dissolve over time) are usually used.
Following any extraction, the affected area will need to be handled with care as it may be tender and bleed. Medications can be prescribed to help with any pain and swelling, and specific instructions will be provided in handling the tooth extraction site to help it heal properly.