The Process of Surgical Tooth Extraction
A surgical tooth extraction is more complicated than a simple one, and consists of more steps than would be needed for a routine extraction. The process typically begins with your dentist or oral surgeon administering some form of dental sedation. There are several types available: nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”) is the mildest form; oral sedation that requires the patient to take a prescribed sedative before the procedure provides additional relaxation; IV sedation may be appropriate for patients with high levels of anxiety; and general anesthesia may be necessary for more invasive procedures that will take some time to complete. Your dentist will help you decide which form is best for you.
Once the sedation is given, your dentist will numb the affected area of your mouth with novocaine and begin the process by making an incision in the gum tissue, directly above where the affected tooth is located. This allows your dentist or oral surgeon access to the tooth. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary for the dentist to trim away bone tissue and/or cut the tooth into pieces in order to successfully remove it. At the end of the procedure, sutures may be needed to close the extraction site.
When is Surgical Extraction Necessary?
There are several circumstances that might require surgical tooth extraction, including the following:
- Impacted wisdom teeth – Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that erupt directly behind the adult molars in the back of the patient’s mouth. Not everyone gets wisdom teeth, but for people who do, it’s common for them to not have enough room inside their mouths to accommodate these additional teeth. Because of the lack of space, wisdom teeth may not be able to emerge through the gum tissue like normal molars would. These are called “impacted” wisdom teeth, and removing them requires surgical extraction.
- Broken teeth – When a tooth breaks, it’s possible that there is not enough of it left behind for the dentist to work with in order to perform a simple extraction. In these instances, it may be necessary for the dentist to perform a surgical procedure in order to fully remove the tooth. A tooth may also be broken during a simple extraction procedure. When that happens, it may necessitate a surgical procedure to finish removing the tooth.
- Root Issues – Another instance in which a simple extraction may not be adequate to remove a tooth is when the roots of a tooth are too long, too large, too fragile and/or are curved or hooked. This can make it extremely difficult for the dentist/oral surgeon to remove the tooth by routine methods, and may necessitate a surgical procedure.
Recovery from Surgical Tooth Extraction
Your dentist or oral surgeon will do whatever is necessary to successfully perform a surgical tooth extraction. But once the procedure is completed, it’s up to you to follow the instructions provided in order to heal completely at home.
After your oral surgery, your dentist will likely instruct you to follow these steps at home:
- Get plenty of rest. Avoid exercise, especially for the first few days after the procedure. And keep your head elevated while you sleep.
- Manage your pain. Thanks to modern dental methods and dental sedation techniques, you probably won’t feel any discomfort during the surgical extraction process. But after you return home, it’s quite common to experience some pain. There are several ways to manage this discomfort. Take over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication as directed by your dentist. You might also apply an ice pack on your face for 15-minute intervals to reduce swelling.
- Take your antibiotics. You might be prescribed antibiotics to take after the procedure. Follow instructions carefully and complete the entire course as directed by your dentist or oral surgeon.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Twenty-four hours after the procedure is complete, you can begin to clean your mouth by gently rinsing with warm salt water four times a day. Do this after every meal to remove leftover food particles. You may also be able to return to brushing and flossing, but you should avoid the surgical site and follow the directions of your dentist or oral surgeon regarding when to return to your normal hygiene routine.
- Eat only soft foods for the first few days after your surgery. This includes yogurt, soups, and smoothies, for example. Avoid hot foods and drinks, and stay away from anything hard or crunchy for a few weeks after your procedure.
- Don’t use tobacco or drink alcohol. Both of these habits are bad for your oral health in the best of circumstances, but they can actually interfere with the healing process if you engage in them after oral surgery.
Contact Your Dentist for More Information
If you know you need a tooth removed and are wondering, “Is surgical tooth extraction right for me?” contact your Austin, Texas dentist today to schedule an appointment. Although surgical tooth extraction may sound frightening, modern dental technology and sedation methods mean that you won’t feel any more discomfort than you would when undergoing any other type of dental procedure. And remember, it’s important to take care of your oral health – not only for the sake of your teeth and gums, but to benefit your overall health as well.