One of the most common questions asked of the dental experts at Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia is how long a tooth extraction takes. The process of pulling teeth can vary depending on the needs of the patient, so there are multiple considerations involved when answering this question.
Reasons for Pulling Teeth
Injury to the mouth might damage teeth or associated ligaments, bone, and tissue. This can lead to a need for teeth to be extracted in an effort to correct the bite. Under these circumstances, there might be added complications which will add time to the process.
In the case of tooth disease, a dentist might choose to try to save the tooth before removing it. This means that sometimes a process called a root canal may be attempted before the extraction.
Sometimes, teeth are too big to comfortably fit in the jaw. This can lead to a decision to pull some of the teeth in order to help straighten a smile or do away with the pain associated with crowding. In this circumstance, multiple x-rays may be done to determine which teeth should be pulled.
A dentist will always try to save the teeth and find alternatives when possible, but there are circumstances where an extraction must be done. The next step in determining how long it will take to pull a tooth is to figure out what kind of extraction must be done.
Tooth Extraction Procedures
There are several different procedures that might be used in the process of pulling teeth. Depending on the individual need of the patient, the process might change.
A simple extraction is most often performed when the tooth is fully visible in the mouth and unbroken. During this process, the tooth is loosened with an instrument called an elevator before the dentist uses forceps for the final removal.
If the tooth is not yet erupted from the gum line or has broken, a surgical extraction might be necessary. In this process, a small incision is made into the gum to remove the impacted tooth or broken tooth fragment.
Once your dentist determines the type of extraction you will need, it will become easier to determine the amount of time that will be necessary to pull your tooth.
How Long Does the Process Take?
Numbing the Tooth
Pulling teeth begins with a mild anesthetic. Depending on the individual circumstances your doctor might opt for either local anesthetic or something stronger, which may put you to sleep for a brief period of time.
This process should be relatively easy without any pain. Depending on the time of anesthetic used, this step can take anywhere from five minutes to half an hour.
Extraction of the Tooth
In most cases, the tooth is firmly planted into the jawbone and tightened by a ligament. The extraction process begins with enlarging the socket. This is done by loosening the tooth in the socket, stretching the ligament to allow the tooth to move more freely. The tooth is rocked back and forth until there is enough give in the socket for the tooth to be pulled out.
There will be no pain through this process, either. You might, however, feel a sense of pressure in the mouth as the tooth is manipulated in the socket before its removal. Overall, this step of the tooth pulling process typically takes anywhere from ten to thirty minutes, depending on the tooth’s individual characteristics.
Closing the Space
Once the tooth is extracted, your doctor will need to close the socket. This will involve removing any tissue that is unneeded and compressing the socket to a smoothed-over size. Once the socket is washed out completely, gauze will be used to ensure the area stays clean while it is sutured.
The process of closing the space will depend on how much work the dentist had to complete in the extraction, itself. This can range anywhere from ten to thirty minutes. As a general rule of thumb, the longer it took to extract the tooth, the longer it will take to close the space where the tooth was taken from.
When the extraction is complete and cleaned, your dentist may require you to wait for the anesthetic to subside before releasing you. This is to ensure your safety before you leave the office. This can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour, depending on the type of anesthetic your dentist opted for at the beginning of the process. When you are finished with all the steps of the process, time for post-procedure care begins.
Variables to Consider
There are certain variables that should be considered when you are determining the amount of time that an extraction might take. These can all play a part in altering the timeline associated with pulling teeth.
Type of Tooth Being Pulled
Depending on the tooth, there will be variances in root length and procedure. For example, a lower incisor tooth has short, single roots and a smaller size overall. These teeth typically don’t offer much resistance during the extraction process.
On the other hand, molars are much larger and have multiple roots (lower molars have two roots while upper molars have three). This means that they will be more firmly planted into the socket. They are also found at the back of the mouth, where it is hard to access them and visualize their extraction. For these reasons, they are typically far more difficult to remove.
Time Needed for Local Anesthetic
Depending on the location of the tooth, different local anesthetic processes might need to take place. Lower back teeth are typically the hardest to anesthetize. This is because it requires a little more work in terms of numbing the nerve endings, which are more plentiful at the back, lower part of the jaw. When pulling a back, lower tooth you should expect to add an additional five or ten minutes to the average time needed to numb the area.
Use of More Advanced Anesthetic
If your dentist determines that you should be placed under sleeping anesthesia, there will be a more intricate process involved. The time needed to prepare you for this anesthetic and the time needed to fall under the anesthesia can take as much as an additional half hour.
You will also need to wake up from this type of anesthesia, which usually means another half hour before you will be aware enough for your dentist to dismiss you from their care.
You will also want to take into account the time it will take for your dentist and their team to prepare you for the treatment. This includes the time it takes for your dental assistant to take a statement on the current situation, evaluate you before beginning the process, and answer any questions you may have.
You will also be seated in the dentist’s chair and draped with a protective bib at this time. Your dentist may also opt for dental x-rays before they begin. Depending on the steps involved and how long it takes for your dental assistant to explain the process and answer your questions, you should expect to spend anywhere between ten minutes and half an hour in the dental office before the extraction begins.
Once your dentist has completed the extraction, you will still need to attend to a few matters before leaving the dental office.
The most important matter at hand is that your dentist will want to make sure you are okay and ready to leave. This means waiting until you are clear-headed and able to walk in most cases. While you might be eager to leave the office, it is important to not leave too quickly. You should never feel rushed during this step, so plan to take your time.
Your dental assistant will also explain the post-extraction care that you will need to keep up at home. This includes information on maintaining proper hygiene and care.
Pulling Additional Teeth
If you are having more than one tooth extracted, you will need to be prepared for the time associated with the extra work. Each additional tooth can add anywhere from five to fifteen minutes of extraction time.
There will, of course, be other variables that aren’t mentioned here. It is impossible to predict with 100% certainty how long the process might take, so you should always plan for the longer end of normal to allow yourself the time needed.
Why a Time Estimate Matters
Aside from general curiosity, there are other reasons why it is important to know how long a tooth extraction might take.
Planning the Day
You will need to plan accordingly, especially if the extraction is causing you to schedule time off of work or school. Most of the time, you should plan to not return to work after an extraction to allow yourself time to heal. However, there will be circumstances where returning to work cannot be avoided.
It is also important for a dentist to know how long an extraction might take when they are planning their day. If they anticipate that your process could take more than an hour, for example, they will know to block off a larger amount of time than they might for someone who was only coming in for a simple filling.
When pulling teeth, it isn’t uncommon for the patient to experience some anxiety. Knowing as much as you can before the treatment begins can help settle some of the anxiety you might be experiencing about the process.
Some patients don’t have the physical or emotional stamina needed to endure a long time in the dental chair. If a patient is not neurotypical, for example, they may not be able to handle more than a half an hour of dental work at a time. Knowing how long is needed will help the dentist plan a process that works for both patient and doctor.
Whenever possible, allow yourself an entirely free day when you are going to have a dental extraction. This will ensure that you have time to relax beforehand as well as have plenty of time for the process itself.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
Contact Southside Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia today for more information or to schedule a consultation for tooth extraction. The process of pulling teeth doesn’t have to feel scary. Our helpful staff is waiting to assist you in scheduling treatment and to answer any questions you may have.