Your Tooth Extraction and Oral Surgery Guide
The very heart of being a dentist to me is being able to help my patients keep their teeth forever. There are times, however, when this is not possible.
The top reasons for tooth extraction are:
- When periodontal disease (bone and gum loss) has progressed too far and the teeth are now loose and are causing infections
- When there is decay that is now too large to restore with a filling or a crown
- Fractured teeth that cannot be repaired due to size and location of the fracture
- Traumatic accidents
- Impacted wisdom teeth that are causing problems to other teeth and gums
Many times, teeth can be removed with minimal postoperative discomfort. My patients will often respond with, “That was incredible!” because they felt absolutely no pain when I performed their extraction. It’s not magic-- just a lot of experience!
Most of the time, when a single tooth or multiple teeth need to be removed, bone grafting will be discussed as a recommendation for preserving the bone. When you have a tooth extraction, there is a space (socket) that remains where the roots sat in the jaw. When a tooth is lost, this hole will shrink as it heals and the bone around it can actually start to disappear. To prevent the further loss of bone, a bone graft can be used to make sure this area retains its thickness and strength. This is important for many reasons:
- If we want to eventually replace the tooth, we need to have solid bone in the area for support
- It is much easier from a time and expense perspective to retain existing bone than to build bone back up once it is lost
- To prevent the bone from collapsing and creating a defect next to neighboring teeth that could compromise the strength of those teeth
- To prevent the bone from collapsing and creating a cosmetic defect and making the bone appear “sunk in”
Making sure the jaw is strong is also important for replacing missing teeth. There are a number of ways I can do this, and they all require that the jawbone be healthy and even:
- A dental implant can replace a single or multiple lost teeth.
- A dental bridge is a series of prosthetic teeth that are anchored together at either side of the missing tooth. If one tooth is missing, it is essentially the three crowns that are connected, with the two teeth on either side of the gap connected to a false tooth in the middle. A bridge is permanently cemented onto your teeth so that it does not come out.
- A removable denture (also called a “partial denture”).
Contrary to popular belief, the wisdom teeth do not automatically have to be removed. The only time I will recommend a wisdom tooth extraction is if they are:
- Decayed and unable to be restored with a filling
- Impacted (stuck) in such a way that is damaging nearby teeth
- Impacted and causing an infection to the bone and gums
- Causing pain necessitating their removal
- Erupted in a manner that is interfering with the proper alignment of the patient’s bite
You have the option of having the teeth removed in our office under local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation and/or anti-anxiety medications, or you can be referred to a trusted oral surgeon.
To learn more about tooth extractions and the various oral surgery treatments we offer, please contact us today. If you have already had one of these procedures, be sure to look at our post-op instructions here.