How long does a tooth extraction take?

Whether due to decay, injury, or disease, understanding the process, duration, and recovery can ease the anxiety associated with this treatment.

Tooth extraction, a common dental procedure, involves the removal of a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. The process and the duration of the procedure will be different depending on the complexity of procedure. We cover most of the usual cases below.

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Review the tooth after a long tooth extraction procedure

What types of tooth extractions are performed? 

Tooth extractions are broadly categorized into two types: simple and surgical.

  • A simple extraction involves the removal of a tooth that is visible above the gum line and does not require cutting into the gum. This procedure is usually quick, straightforward, and performed under local anaesthesia. 
  • A surgical extraction is necessary for teeth that are not easily accessible, such as those that are broken below the gum line or impacted teeth like wisdom teeth. This procedure may involve incisions in the gum to expose the tooth, removal of bone material, or segmenting the tooth for easier removal. Surgical extractions require more complex techniques and sometimes general anaesthesia or sedation to ensure patient comfort.

Simple extraction 

Simple extractions are performed on teeth that are visible and easily accessible in the mouth. This procedure typically requires only local anaesthesia to numb the area around the tooth.

The dentist uses an instrument called an elevator to loosen the tooth and forceps to remove it. The simple tooth extraction process is generally quick, lasting 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the tooth's complexity and location. Simple extractions are straightforward procedures aimed at removing teeth with minimal complications.

Surgical extraction 

Surgical extractions are required for teeth that are not easily accessible, such as those that are broken at the gum line or have not fully emerged, like impacted wisdom teeth.

This procedure might involve making an incision in the gum to expose the tooth, removing bone around the tooth, or cutting the tooth into pieces to facilitate removal. Surgical tooth extractions can take from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the tooth's position and the surgery's complexity, and are performed under local anaesthesia, with or without sedation.

What can you expect during the tooth extraction process? 

  1. The tooth extraction process begins with a thorough examination, including X-rays, to determine the best approach for removal. 
  2. The area around the tooth will be numbed with local anaesthesia to ensure a pain-free experience. 
  3. For a simple extraction, the dentist will use tools like elevators and forceps to loosen and remove the tooth. 
  4. In the case of a surgical extraction, the procedure may involve making an incision in the gum to access the tooth, removing any obstructing bone, and possibly breaking the tooth into smaller pieces for easier extraction. 

Throughout the procedure, patients can expect to feel pressure but no pain, with the entire process varying in duration based on the complexity of the extraction.

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Step-by-step tooth extraction process:

Numbing the tooth 

The first step in both simple and surgical extractions is numbing the tooth and surrounding tissues with local anaesthesia, ensuring a pain-free experience. The dentist may use a topical anaesthetic to numb the area before injecting the local anaesthetic. It takes a few minutes for the area to become fully numb, during which the patient should feel no pain, only pressure.

Extraction of the tooth 

Once the area is numb, the dentist proceeds with the extraction.

  • In a simple extraction, the dentist uses an elevator to loosen the tooth and forceps to remove it. 
  • During a surgical extraction, the process may involve more complex steps, such as gum incision and bone removal. The goal is to extract the tooth with minimal impact on surrounding tissues.

Closing the space 

After the tooth has been extracted, the dentist will focus on closing the space where the tooth once was. This often involves cleaning the area to remove any debris or remaining tooth fragments.

  • In cases of surgical extraction, sutures may be used to close the gum incisions, facilitating proper healing. These sutures are usually absorbable and will dissolve on their own over time. 
  • The dentist may also place a gauze pad over the extraction site to help control bleeding and aid in the formation of a blood clot, which is crucial for the healing process. 

Patients are advised to gently bite down on the gauze to keep it in place and to change it as directed by their dentist.

Finishing up 

Once the extraction site is properly addressed, the dentist will provide the patient with aftercare instructions for tooth extractions. These instructions are vital for ensuring a smooth and speedy recovery.

They typically include advice on how to manage swelling and pain, dietary recommendations, and oral hygiene practices to prevent infection. The dentist may prescribe pain medication or suggest over-the-counter options and might also recommend applying ice to the cheek to reduce swelling.

Patients are usually advised to avoid certain activities, such as smoking, using a straw, or vigorous rinsing, which can dislodge the blood clot and hinder healing.

woman resting in bed after getting tooth extraction

What is the recovery time for a tooth extraction? 

The recovery time from a tooth extraction varies depending on the complexity of the procedure and the individual's health.

  • For simple extractions patients can expect to start feeling better within a few days, with complete healing often occurring within one to two weeks. 
  • Surgical extractions may require a longer healing period, typically ranging from two weeks to a month. 

It's important for patients to follow their dentist's aftercare instructions closely and to attend any scheduled follow-up appointments to ensure the extraction site is healing properly. During the recovery period, it's normal to experience some swelling, discomfort, and bleeding, but these symptoms should diminish over time.

By adhering to these guidelines, patients can ensure a smoother and quicker recovery process following a tooth extraction.

Looking to replace your missing teeth? Explore the options with a TeethToday consultant.

Book a FREE consultation

Looking to replace the newly extracted teeth? Experience a seamless journey to your restored smile with our concierge service. Book a free consultation today and get started on your journey!

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