Establishing, maintaining and protecting your oral health is important not only because it affects the structure, function and comfort of your mouth, but also the overall health of your body. The dental care, treatment and procedures that are best for you, then, are those that are directed at helping you to improve and protect your oral health. Ideally this involves the preservation of your natural teeth and healthy gum tissues, but sometimes it involves the removal of a tooth. In many cases a simple tooth extraction is appropriate for this purpose, but occasionally a more complicated procedure is required. This more complicated procedure is known as a surgical tooth extraction.
Why Surgical Tooth Extractions Sometimes Occur
While there can be other dental situations where a surgical tooth extraction must occur, the most common reason for this procedure is to remove a tooth that has been adversely affected by trauma, disease or serious overcrowding and that cannot be removed through a simple tooth extraction procedure. Surgical tooth extractions are not considered a first option, but rather are used when other dental procedures have proven to be inappropriate or inadequate. For example, damaged or decayed teeth that cannot be effectively repaired or saved through fillings, dental crowns or even root canals may need to be extracted in order to prevent further damage or decay. In other cases, fillings, dental crowns or root canals may have been performed unsuccessfully and the dentist then determines that a surgical tooth extraction is necessary in order to resolve the problem fully. Where orthodontic procedures are desired in order to correct alignment issues and crowding presents a problem, one or more teeth may need to be extracted. Many wisdom teeth also require surgical extraction simply because they do not grow into the mouth in a proper position.
In a simple tooth extraction, a tooth has enough structure above the gums that it can be loosened and removed with forceps. Teeth that have minimal or only weak structure above the gums, are entirely below the gums, require some gum tissue or bone removal in order to be extracted, or need to be broken into sections in order to be extracted are removed through surgical tooth extractions. In considering a tooth that needs to be removed, your dentist will examine your mouth and take x-rays to determine whether you need a simple tooth extraction or a surgical tooth extraction.
Once your dentist has determined that a surgical tooth extraction is appropriate and necessary, he will:
- Administer anesthesia. In most cases, local anesthesia is enough to ensure that the surgical tooth extraction procedure is as comfortable as possible. However, there are some instances where your dentist may recommend general anesthesia, as in the case of undergoing the surgical extraction of four impacted wisdom teeth. These options will be discussed and decided on beforehand.
- Perform the extraction. The dentist will extract the tooth or teeth as quickly and smoothly as possible. Your dentist is well trained and experienced in extracting teeth in the way that will best minimize your discomfort.
- Close the extraction site with stitches as needed. Surgical tooth extractions often require stitches to close the extraction site for faster healing. Fortunately, these stitches are often dissolvable and will not need to be removed at a later time.
After Surgical Tooth Extractions
Once you have had a surgical tooth extraction, there are some important things you must do:
- Bite down on the gauze pad exactly as directed, for as long as directed, in order to help slow and stop the bleeding.
- Try not to talk, eat or drink for the two hours immediately after the extraction so as not to disturb the healing process.
- Drink lukewarm or cold liquids after the bleeding has stopped.
- Stick to clear liquids and soft foods for at least the first day after the extraction, longer if advised to do so.
- Do not brush your teeth or rinse your mouth for twelve hours after the extraction so as not to disturb the healing process.
- When you do brush your teeth again, avoid the extraction site for as long as advised by your dentist. He may also instruct you in how to properly rinse your mouth with a diluted mouthwash or lukewarm salt water.
- Avoid the use of straws or cigarettes as long as you have any bleeding.
- Contact your dentist if you experience any problems, persistent or severe pain or excessive bleeding.
Surgical tooth extractions may sometimes be necessary in order to restore or protect your oral health, but your dentist will work hard to ensure this procedure is as smooth and comfortable as possible.