Oral Surgery

Extractions and Oral Surgery

Your dentist, as a doctor of the mouth, can provide treatments for many oral conditions, diseases and injuries.  Ask your dentist about oral and maxillofacial surgery, a dental specialty which includes the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. 

A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth, a safe and routine procedure that is no cause for worry. If extraction is recommended, for a wisdom tooth or any other tooth, your dentist will explain why this is the best course of action for the health of your mouth.

What is tooth extraction?

A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth, a safe and routine procedure that is no cause for worry. Sometimes it is referred to as “pulling teeth”. Your dentist may perform the procedure right in his office, or under certain circumstances refer you to an oral surgeon.

Oral Surgery and Extractions

An extraction is the removal of a tooth. There are simple extractions which are typically teeth that have broken through the gum line (can been seen in a mirror). A surgical extraction is when the dentist needs to cut the gums and tissue surrounding the tooth to remove it.

Why would I need an extraction?

Your dentist may recommend extraction for a number of reasons, including:

  • The tooth is so badly decayed that is cannot be saved and the mouth would be healthier without it
  • The tooth has been broken in a way that cannot be repaired
  • A tooth is impacted, which means it has not properly emerged through the gums.  This often happens with wisdom teeth.
  • A tooth is positioned in away that it could crowd or damage other teeth
  • Removal in preparation for braces or orthodontic treatment
  • Very serious gum disease, called periodontitis

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are actually your third set of molars, the chewing teeth towards the back of your mouth. They typically emerge, or erupt, in one’s late teen or early twenties. If there is room in the jaw to accommodate them, and they emerge fully and straight, without crowding other teeth, then there is no need to remove them.

Why would wisdom teeth need to be extracted?

Though there is nothing inherently wrong with wisdom teeth, they are often removed so that they don’t cause problems for your other teeth and the rest of your mouth.

Wisdom teeth often get impacted, which means they did not fully or properly emerge through the gums.  Partially emerged teeth can be difficult to clean, which leads to plaque accumulation and tooth decay.  Teeth that are not positioned straight can cause comfort issue and crowd existing teeth.  Ask your dentist to show you your wisdom teeth on the x-ray and explain how their positioning affects your mouth.

What can I expect from an extraction?

While it may sound like a scary procedure, modern dentistry has made the procedure routine, with minimal discomfort. Make sure to share any concerns you have with your dentist. Extractions are performed with anesthesia which numbs the area of the mouth around the tooth to be extracted, so while you will feel some pressure from the procedure, there should be little or no pain. If you have trouble getting numb, or have dental fears that make you uncomfortable with dentistry, discuss this ahead of time with your dentist. It may be possible to use sedation dentistry to keep you relaxed and comfortable throughout the whole procedure. Once you are comfortable, the procedure is usually relatively quick. Afterwards, your dentist will give you instructions on keeping the removal area clean and helping the area properly heal. It is important to carefully follow these instructions to prevent infection or other complications. Your dentist may also discuss the benefits of and options for tooth replacement, including partial dentures, bridges and dental implants.

What alternatives do I have to extraction?

This really depends on your particular circumstances, so it is best to ask your dentist whether there are any alternatives. Depending on the circumstances it may be possible to repair a damaged tooth with a crown and/or a root canal instead of extracting it. While extraction may seem initially like the least expensive option, your dentist will probably recommend replacing the extracted tooth. An extracted tooth that is not replaced can leave a gap that causes problems for the surrounding teeth and potentially affecting your bite. If it is an option, repairing and saving the tooth may end up being less expensive than extracting and replacing that same tooth with partial dentures, bridges or dental implants. Ask your dentist to explain all the options, and why extraction is or is not recommended.

What is oral and maxillofacial surgery?

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a dental specialty which includes the diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the mouth, teeth, jaws and face. Patients with facial deformities or injuries can have a more natural and attractive look restored to their faces with this kind of procedure.

What types of conditions and procedures does this specialty include:

  • TMJ Disorders
  • Face trauma, like facial injuries from a blow or a car accident
  • Cleft lip or cleft palate
  • Wisdom teeth or other impacted teeth
  • Tumors and cysts
  • Reconstructive surgery
  • Dental Implant surgery
  • Severe bite problems
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