General dentists save teeth — pure and simple. In other words, our doctors prefer to help you save your teeth, restoring them back to good oral health. Sometimes, though, a tooth can’t be restored. At other times, patients may decline the doctor’s restorative recommendations. In these cases, the tooth is pulled or extracted.
Pulling a tooth is not the end of the world; it may even prevent more serious dental problems. There are many procedures such as — bridges, partial dentures, or implants — can give you your old smile back again!
The following sections will cover what to expect before, during, and after an extraction or oral surgery procedure.
Before, During, and After a Tooth is Pulled
If you present with a toothache, the dental assistant will take an x-ray of your tooth. After reviewing the X-ray, the doctor will determine if an extraction is necessary. We will also review again your medical history with you; it is important to be completely honest about your medical history — no matter if past or present. Doing so will ensure you receive the best care that is proper for you.
On the day of the extraction, it is common for you to feel nervous, anxious, or jittery. These are normal physiological and psychological reactions. The doctor and the dental staff will not start until you are completely ready — allowing you time to ask all of your questions. The actual extraction will start with a numbing gel which is followed by a shot to numb the tooth, jaw, and surrounding gums; this numbing process takes full effect in about 8 minutes. Amazingly, just minutes later, your tooth will be extracted — all without feeling any pain.
After the extraction, the doctor will pack the surgical site with sterilized gauze, which you will bite down on for an hour or more. This pressure will help stop the bleeding and begin your road to recovery. You will also receive a set of post-surgical instructions, which you will be asked to follow exactly. Doing so will help your recovery. If you do not following the post-surgical instructions, you may have complications. After all, pulling a tooth is surgery.
Wisdom Teeth – the Most Common Oral Surgery Procedure
Your third molars are often called “wisdom teeth” because they are the last teeth to come in — around young adulthood, when you gain maturity and wisdom. Like most people, you will have the majority of your permanent teeth by age 13. Then sometime between ages 17 – 21, the next stage in your oral growth and development is signaled by the arrival of your wisdom teeth, which will either push through the gums or become impacted in your jawbone. This period of time is the ideal time for your oral surgery.
Adults who have their wisdom teeth removed are more likely to experience complications that could make your recovery more difficult, especially if you are a smoker. Finally, it is important to remember that each person is an individual, so your body may develop at a very different timetable from what is described here — and that’s ok.
Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?
Wisdom teeth are removed when there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate them. They are also removed as a preventative measure to avoid the pain, infection, or disease that can occur while the teeth are erupting — or pushing through the gum line. Wisdom teeth are also removed when they present a health threat to surrounding teeth because they are impacted — impaction means that the teeth are coming in at an angle or horizontally, instead of vertically. To summarize, removal of your wisdom teeth may prevent these types of problems:
- Infection caused by a wisdom tooth partially erupting through the gum and creating an opening where bacteria may enter. Pain, swelling, and jaw stiffness may result.
- Damage or crowding of adjacent teeth caused by a wisdom tooth without enough room in the jaw or one that is poorly aligned.
- A fluid-filled ball forming on or near an impacted tooth, destroying surrounding bone or tooth roots.
What Can I Expect Before Surgery?
- You will have an oral examination and panoramic X-ray.
- The doctor will explain the entire procedure to you and your family members, including the use of local anesthesia, and IV Sedation. You will also watch a video about oral surgery; it is very important that you watch the video in its entirety.
- You will read and sign an “Oral Surgery Under IV Sedation” consent. It is very important that you read and understand everything in the consent. If something is unclear, you will also have ample time to ask any questions about the consent and what is contains — or the situations that it describes. You will also be given a copy of this consent. Alternatively, if it will not compromise your health and well-being, you may decide to have your wisdom teeth removed with only local anesthesia and/or nitrous oxide.
- As your general dentist office we are best prepared to remove your wisdom teeth because we are most familiar with your medical and oral history and health. However, there are times, because of your unique physiology that we may refer you to a specialist called an Oral Surgeon. If this happens, or if you elect to see a specialist yourself, Beautiful Smiles will work together with the oral surgeon to provide you with the most effective care possible.
- You may receive a prescription for antibiotics and/or pain medication if your health history or surgery case warrants it.
What Can I Expect After Surgery?
- You will be given a list of post surgical instructions, which must be followed exactly. By not following the instructions, you risk complicating your recovery. Complications can lengthen your recovery and could lead to additional surgical or dental procedures.
- You will be given a list of phone numbers which will include the office phone as well as an emergency phone number.
- We will call you the next day to check on your recovery and to answer your questions.
- You will return in 7 days for a post-surgery check-up when your sutures will be removed.
- You may experience complications that include, but are not limited to, swelling, discomfort, numbness, tingling, and/or a dry socket. Contact us immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
Other Oral Surgery Procedures
- Alveoloplasty. A procedure that involves the moderate contouring of the jawbone during or after tooth extraction(s) to create a more perfect fit for a partial or complete denture.
- Frenectomy. A surgical procedure that removes or loosens a band of muscle tissue that is connected to the lip, cheek, or floor of the mouth. This procedure relieves patients from being “tongue tied.”
- Crown Lengthening. A periodontal surgical procedure that exposes a portion of your tooth, which was previously below the gum line. This procedure is necessary for improved aesthetics or to help with the placement of a crown or bridge.
- Incision & Drainage. This procedure is performed to relieve pressure that is building from inside your tooth as a result of an abscess or infection.