Tooth extraction mostly involves the removal of wisdom teeth, especially since many dentists recommend the early removal of wisdom teeth before they develop fully to help prevent possible problems – usually in the teen years.
But there are many other reasons why other teeth may have to be pulled out, like due to damage or decay. Although your dentist may deem it necessary to remove one or more teeth, there are several disadvantages associated with tooth extraction that range from short-term discomfort and inconvenience associated with bleeding and swelling to infections that may have long-term effects on the overall health of the mouth and surrounding tissues.
Disadvantages of Tooth Extraction
Tooth extraction is a common dental procedure that involves removing a tooth from its socket in the jaw bone. While this procedure is often necessary to address dental issues such as severe decay, damage, or overcrowding, it also has some short-term disadvantages that patients should be aware of.
Here are some of the most common disadvantages of tooth extraction:
1. Pain and discomfort
After the tooth extraction, patients may experience pain and discomfort in the extraction site, as well as in the surrounding teeth and gums. This discomfort can last for several days after the procedure, and has to be actively managed with medication and various other home therapies as advised by your dentist.
2. Swelling and bruising
Swelling and bruising are common after tooth extraction, particularly in the first few days after the procedure. This can make it difficult to open the mouth or eat normally.
Swelling typically peaks 48 to 72 hours after extraction and gradually subsides over the next few days. Applying ice packs to the affected area can help reduce swelling and discomfort. It is also essential to avoid hot liquids, vigorous rinsing, and smoking as they can increase swelling and delay healing.
Bruising can last up to 10 days after the extraction, and it is usually more noticeable in patients with fair skin. It is also essential to note that some medications, such as aspirin and blood thinners, can increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. So make sure to follow your dentist’s instruction when using any medication for pain management.
Bleeding is common after tooth extraction, and it is essential to follow the post-operative instructions given by the dentist to control it.
The bleeding should subside within a few hours after the procedure, but in some cases, it can persist for up to 24 hours. It is recommended to apply pressure to the extraction site using a clean gauze pad or tea bag, and avoid spitting, drinking through a straw, or rinsing vigorously for the first 24 hours after extraction. You may need to change the gauze pads over the extraction site several times a day to manage the bleeding.
There is a risk of infection after tooth extraction, particularly if the patient does not follow proper oral hygiene practices or if they have a weakened immune system. Bacteria can enter the extraction site and cause an infection, which can be painful and lead to further complications if left untreated. The risk of infection can be higher if the tooth was impacted or if there was an abscess present.
Symptoms of an infection after tooth extraction may include:
- Pain or swelling in the extraction site
- Foul-smelling discharge or pus coming from the extraction site
- Fever or chills
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Complications such as dry socket
To reduce the risk of infection after tooth extraction, it is important to follow the dentist’s aftercare instructions carefully, which may include:
- Keeping the extraction site clean by gently rinsing with warm salt water
- Avoiding smoking or using tobacco products, which can slow down the healing process and increase the risk of infection
- Avoiding drinking from a straw or spitting, as the suction can dislodge the blood clot that forms in the extraction site and delay healing
- Taking prescribed antibiotics as directed, if they have been prescribed by the dentist
If you experience any symptoms of an infection after tooth extraction, it is important to contact your dentist as soon as possible for evaluation and treatment.
5. Jaw stiffness
After tooth extraction, patients may experience stiffness or soreness in the jaw muscles, which can make it difficult to open the mouth fully. Jaw stiffness can occur due to prolonged opening of the mouth during the procedure, leading to soreness and discomfort. This usually resolves within a few days with proper rest and pain management.
6. Temporary Change in Diet
After tooth extraction, patients are usually advised to avoid consuming solid foods and stick to a soft or liquid diet for several days. This is because consuming solid foods can irritate the extraction site and delay the healing process.
Soft foods that are recommended include soups, broths, pureed vegetables, cooked fruits, and mashed potatoes. Patients should also avoid using straws when drinking, as the suction can dislodge the blood clot and delay the healing process.
The duration of the temporary change in diet depends on the complexity of the extraction and the individual’s healing process. In general, patients are advised to avoid solid foods for at least 24 hours after the extraction, and gradually reintroduce solid foods over the course of several days. In some cases, patients may need to stick to a soft or liquid diet for up to a week or more.
It is important for patients to follow their dentist or oral surgeon’s instructions regarding their diet after tooth extraction to promote proper healing and prevent complications such as infection or dry socket.
7. Limited activities during recovery
Due to the more invasive nature of surgical extractions, the recovery time may be longer than with simple extractions, which typically requires about 24 hours of rest, causing patients to experience more discomfort and swelling, and may need to take time off work or limit their activities for a few days or more.
The short-term disadvantages discussed above are generally manageable with proper care and follow-up appointments with the dentist. However, patients should be aware of these potential risks, as well as the long-term consequences of tooth extraction, and consult with their dentist to ensure they receive appropriate care and support after the tooth extraction procedure.
In some cases, alternative treatments may be available, such as root canal therapy, which can help preserve the natural tooth and avoid the long-term side effects of tooth removal.