If you’ve ever tried to get a teenager to share their feelings with you, then you know what the phrase “like pulling teeth” means. The process of pulling teeth has a bad reputation. It conjures images of sadist dentists, enormous pliers, and a screaming patient.
In actuality, it is a fairly simple process and, in some ways, actually easier than getting your teenager to talk about their feelings. Understanding why teeth need to be pulled and what to expect before, during, and after the procedure might calm any nerves about that looming appointment.
Why Pull a Tooth?
The most common reason for pulling teeth is decay or damage. A dentist will make every effort to save the original tooth. That is the ideal. Still, sometimes the damage is irreparable and the tooth has to be pulled to avoid further infection in the jaw. There are times, however, when a healthy tooth might be extracted. This could be to make room for other teeth to come in at a better angle or to give room for braces to straighten the teeth.
Have Questions? Ask Them!
Just because a dentist tells you that a tooth has to go doesn’t mean you have to just open your mouth and get ready for the pain. Ask questions until you feel completely comfortable with that option. Look at any x-rays with your dentist and ask them to explain how they came to the decision that pulling the tooth is the best treatment.
If you don’t feel like your dentist is open to answering your questions, then find another dentist! Even though modern dentistry has come a long way and tooth extraction is fairly simple and pain-free, you still want to feel comfortable and safe with the dentist. It is always good to get a second opinion before setting up that appointment.
Also, ask every question that comes to mind about the actual process. Asking questions about everything they will do or are doing will help you feel informed every step of the way, and knowledge is both powerful and calming. Ask away until you feel completely comfortable with what they will be doing and how they will do it.
How Long Will This Take?
If you are only having one tooth extracted, the whole process will take under an hour. The actual pulling of the tooth is the shortest bit. Taking time to prepare is how the dentist makes sure you don’t feel pain. It takes time for the anesthesia to take effect. And, trust us, you want that anesthesia to take effect. The actual tooth pulling time varies on the location and health of the tooth.
If you have more than one tooth extracted, it will add five to fifteen minutes per tooth. Again, the bulk of the time is making sure you are completely numb before removing the tooth or teeth.
So, Exactly How Much Will This Hurt??
Well, it is going to hurt more than a bubble bath, but less than a deep tissue massage. Does that help? The most pain you will feel is the needle numbing your mouth, and they even will put a gel on your gums to make that part easier.
Though there won’t be a pain, there will be pressure, and depending on the location of the tooth, it might be quite a bit of pressure. So, while it is not necessarily a painful experience, it also isn’t an extremely comfortable one. You will feel pressure as they pull the tooth, so it is good to prepare for that.
If you do feel more than pressure, then let the dentist know immediately. Do not feel like you need to just lay there and suffer. If you start to feel pain, alert the staff, and they can make adjustments to make you comfortable.
Speaking of Preparation. . .
Reading this article is a great way to start preparing for tooth extraction. It can be a scary experience, especially for people who already have a tendency towards anxiety around dental care. So, preparing beforehand can go a long way in making the procedure as smooth as possible.
While they will numb you for the procedure, there will be a pain as you heal. Be prepared with some over-the-counter painkillers, or ask the dentist if they provide them. Ibuprofen can help with both the pain and the swelling. Sometimes, a dentist will even encourage you to take ibuprofen before the procedure just to stay ahead of the pain of recovery. Having it in your system can help as the anesthesia wears off. Stay ahead of the pain!
Prepare your schedule for some recovery time. The location of the tooth will determine the length of the recovery. But no matter where it is, give yourself time to rest, keep ice on your mouth, and heal. No need to suffer during the procedure and no need to suffer after.
You Did It!
Once a tooth is pulled, you might want to discuss with your dentist how to fill that space. It is better for your jaw and the rest of your mouth to fill that empty spot unless it was pulled to give your mouth space on purpose. There are plenty of options out there, and your dentist will guide you to one that works for you.
We can’t convince your teenager to share emotions in a healthy way, but we can at least make teeth-pulling easier on you. The emotions part requires a different kind of doctor!