Out of all common dental procedures, tooth extractions are one of the most daunting. Despite the great advances in anesthetics and hygiene of the last century, there is something inherently scary about getting a tooth pulled out. Add the fact that we all know a St Petersburgh resident who had a bad time during it, and the reason for this fear becomes fairly easy to understand.
However, if you need to get a tooth extracted, then there is not much you can do to escape it (at least not without jeopardizing your health). Therefore, you should move onto the next two tools on your nerve-calming arsenal: preparedness and knowledge.
Tooth Extractions 101
Just like in the rest of the U.S., tooth extractions in St Petersburgh, FL, are actually the most frequent surgical procedure in town. Some of the most common causes for teeth extractions include wisdom tooth removal, severe cavities that are threatening the gums or bone beneath the tooth, or to clear some space before an orthodontic treatment (such as braces).
Simple tooth extractions are sometimes done using local anesthesia only. However, most of the times, they are done under both local anesthesia and an IV sedative. Regardless of which type of extraction you are about to undergo, there are many steps you can follow in order to prepare.
1. During and After the Initial Visit
With the exception of dire and rare scenarios that pop up at local Emergency Rooms, most tooth extractions are usually recommended during a normal visit, and scheduled ahead of time. The minute your dentist determines that the extraction is necessary, you can begin preparing:
- Ask your dentistabout the type of extraction and anesthesia that will be used
- Look at your calendar: make sure you can clear the day of the procedure completely, and that there will be no pressing deadlines for the two days after it.
- If your dentist prescribes an antibioticbefore the procedure, make sure you get all indications separately. Read them back to your dentist to ensure you understood them properly.
- Remind your dentistabout any medications you may be taking, any allergies, or preexisting conditions.
2. Two to Three days Before the Procedure
As the day of the procedure approaches, you may find your anxiety spiking. Putting things in place now will save you unnecessary complications later on.
- Stay away from sick people: catching a cold or flu, especially if you get a fever, may make the procedure impossible. Make sure you stay away from any runny noses in your neighborhood or office, and be extra careful with hand-washing.
- Arrange transport: Even if you are a lifelong St Petersburgh resident and live just five minutes away from the dental office, you won’t be able to walk around on your own or to drive right after the procedure. Arrange for a ride home.
- Keep good company: Post-operative pain is no fun, but lonely pain is even worse. If you live by yourself, ask a friend or relative to stick around the day of the procedure.
- Review your prescription: Make sure you are taking any antibiotics or anti-inflammatories right as the doctor prescribed.
3. The Night before the Procedure
At this point, the priority is to ensure you stay on schedule and that you get a good night’s sleep:
- Prep the home you’ll be coming back to! Make sure you have an ice pack available for when you get home. Clear some space by your couch so you can plop down in peace. Prepare a freshly-washed blanket and change your pillow covers – dirty linens increase the risk of infection.
- Fast as indicated by your dentist: Usually, patients who are scheduled for an early-morning procedure are recommended to start fasting at midnight, but your dentist may have recommended a different cut-off time. Remember that a “full fast” means no food, no water, and no sugar-free chewing gum.
- Try deep breathing or mindfulness meditation after sleep: This will help you get proper rest, even if you are very nervous.
- Avoid taking any “relaxing” medication or supplements: Even herbal supplements meant to calm you down could interact with the anesthesia you will get the morning after. Take onlywhat the dentist prescribed or explicitly approved.
4. Day of the Procedure
If you have prepared well, this should be a seamless experience.
- Be on time! Aim to be there 30 minutes in advance, just in case.
- Wear short sleeves: they will provide less hassle if you need an IV.
- Bring a labeled case for your dental belongings or piercings: if you wear dentures, labret piercings, prosthetics, or anything else inside your mouth, it will need to be taken off. Make sure you bring a clean container to store them and label it.
Tooth extractions are incredibly common in St Petersburgh and around the country. Even if it’s the first time, your dentist has probably performed dozens, if not hundreds. Smile!