Having a tooth pulled is never fun for anyone, adult or child. But it does become a little more worrying when you're an adult, as you don't have any adult teeth to grow into the spot that previously held a white, shiny tooth. There are many reasons (which will be discussed below) as to why an adult would have to get a tooth pulled, but no matter what the reason, there is still going to be some amount of anxiety over the procedure. If you're looking to understand exactly what might cause you to have a tooth pulled – and how to prepare for that dental appointment – then here's what you need to know.
Why pull a tooth?
There are many reasons why your dentist might decide that a tooth needs to be removed from your mouth, but far fewer common reasons. Generally, if your dentist recommends an extraction, it's likely one of three reasons: crowded mouth, damage, or infection.
If your teeth are too big for your mouth, your dentist may want to pull one or two, so that the others have room to grow in (especially if you have a molar or two that are too big to erupt through the gum, due to adjacent teeth). If there has been severe enough damage to a tooth – say, through trauma, or even just decay, then your dentist will likely ask if they can take it out. Finally, if there is an infection in the tooth that won't be cured by a root canal (particularly for the immunocompromised), you will probably have to have it removed in order to keep the infection from spreading.
What exactly is the procedure?
Generally speaking, your appointment to have a tooth or teeth removed will follow a preset event pattern. First, your dentist will give you an anesthetic – usually a local anesthetic for a one-tooth removal, and general anesthetic (which will make you sleep) to pull multiple teeth. Then, if the tooth is still trapped (either partially or wholly) in the gum, your dentist will have to cut away the gum to get a good grip on the tooth. Once the dentist can get a strong grip, they will gently rock the tooth back and forth to dislodge it from your jaw and enable it to come out.
How should one prepare and deal with the aftermath?
Before your appointment, it's crucial that you tell your doctor about any medication you're on (in case it will interfere with the anesthetic) or certain health conditions (liver disease, heart defects/damage, a compromised immune system). Then, try to relax as much as possible, reminding yourself that you're having the extraction done to prevent future problems. After the appointment, avoid using straws or rinsing your mouth for a day, so as to not disturb the healing process, and ice your jaw for the first day, for around 10 minutes at a time.