In the days of the Wild West, when people did not brush as they should, if someone got a toothache, the plan often was to wait until they could not stand the pain anymore. Then, they would go to the dentist, who might often moonlight as a barber or a blacksmith. Then they would have a few belts of the “anesthetic” from a bottle, (or in rare cases if opium, if it was available) and then brace themselves for the extraction. Or they may extract the offending tooth themselves. You may have seen cartoons of people with a tooth tied to a doorknob, waiting for someone to slam the door. In some cases, if a person could not afford a trip to whoever served as the local dentist, they would just live with the toothache until the tooth died.
Thankfully, those days are long behind us, and if you develop a problem with your tooth, you don’t need to go to the blacksmith. Today, there are plenty of dentists who can diagnose and treat a problem with your tooth before it becomes serious. However, if you do not brush twice a day, floss once a day, eat a balanced diet and see our dentist Dr. Barry LeJeune for your regular appointments, you can quickly find yourself with a tooth that is in trouble.
The dentist will do everything he can to save a tooth; and with things like fillings, inlays and onlays, root canals and crowns, a damaged tooth can be saved. However, there are cases in which a tooth is damaged or decayed to the point that it can’t be salvaged, or that it poses a danger to your other teeth or your oral health. At those times, an extraction may be the best option.
To extract a tooth, the dentist will numb the area around the tooth and the tooth itself. Once you are comfortable. he will gently rock the tooth back and forth using a tool called an elevator. This loosens the tooth, and when it is loose enough, the dentist will remove it with a pair of forceps. Once the tooth is out, the dentist may need to close it with a single dissolvable stitch, but often he will just send you home after giving you some post visit instructions and making an appointment to see you for a follow-up visit. During that that visit, he will check your progress and discuss your options for replacing the tooth.
While you are recovering you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever or use an ice pack to relieve any discomfort Eating may not be at the top of your to-do list when you get home. However, if you do feel hungry, stick with cool, soft foods. Once the initial pain starts to subside, you may want to brush your teeth. But, for the first 24 hours, you can gently brush your remaining teeth, but rinse the extraction site with a mixture of salt and water. You need to be careful with the empty socket. A blood clot wil form there after the tooth is removed, and if the clot is ruptured, your exposed jaw bone and nerves will be vulnerable to infection, and you may experience a whole new level of pain. This is a condition known as dry socket, and you definitely want to avoid it!
If one of your teeth has been bothering you, don’t put off a making an appointment at LeJeune Family Dentistry for treatment in Hampton, Virginia. At the first sign that something is wrong, call (757) 827-9114 to schedule your visit.