As a dentist, there are many reasons my patients come in for tooth extractions. No matter the reason, the process is typically the same for each procedure. Knowing what to expect during the procedure can make my patients feel much more comfortable and make for a smoother experience.
The procedure begins with numbing. Using a local anesthesia, the area around the tooth, bone, and gum tissue will all be treated so they feel the effects of the numbing agent. While the area will be numb, the patient will still be able to feel pressure. Once the area is confirmed to be numb, the actual extraction begins.
The extraction begins by separating the tooth from the ligament that holds it firmly in its socket, a sponge-like and compressible bone. This is done using a special tool called an elevator. The instrument is forced into and is twisted around in the space between the tooth and the bone to expand the socket and begin the process of separating the tooth from the ligament. A gentle rocking motion is used to widen and enlarge the bone tissue. Sometimes, the tooth can be removed using only the elevator. Other times, once the tooth is loosened enough, there are specialized pliers, extraction forceps, that are used to finish extracting the tooth. Using a rocking and twisting action, and firm pressure, the tooth completely releases from the ligament.
Once the tooth is removed, the extraction site will be closed. Any infected tissue will be removed, along with the rounding off of any sharp bone edges. The socket be washed out, too, to remove any tooth fragments or loose bone. Then, gauze will be placed over the site and the patient will bite down.
Completing the procedure, the patient will be evaluated as they exit the chair. It is common to be a bit unsteady. If this happens, it may be necessary to sit for a few more minutes until they are ready to walk. Since only local anesthesia is used, patients are able to drive themselves home.