Sometimes our teeth are cleaned and perfected, but other times, teeth must go. Caring for our pearly whites is an actual job that if not taken seriously, can result in decayed, cracked or “dead teeth.” When this occurs, your specialist will do whatever it takes to try and save the tooth and leave extraction as the absolute last resort. When this resort is upon you, extraction will occur. We’re here to shed light on this process and assure that there’s no reason to fear the sedation that comes along with it.
First things first: Mill Dam Dental specializes in top-notch digital X-ray services that will take a plethora of photos. For those getting their wisdom teeth removed, a panoramic X-ray may be in order. This particular X-ray photographs every single tooth at the same time and hones in on a number of things that will help Dr. Leidy guide the extraction. As a whole, these photos-for-analysis will help dentists decide whether or not they need to perform a simple extraction or a surgical extraction.
Fear not, because Mill Dam Dental also happens to specialize in top-notch sedation dentistry for those who’s anxiety causes dental nightmares of chisels and scalpels invading their mouths. With sedation dentistry, you won’t have memories of the procedure because you won’t remember a thing. In fact, you’ll be in a deep slumber and wake up before you remembered you fell asleep. Not everyone is comfortable with sedation dentistry which is why others opt out and choose to have the area in question numbed instead. This option is painless as well, but you will be wide awake and have a front row, low angle seat to the surgery and a team of professionals peering into your mouth.
If you go for the intravenous (IV) anesthesia option, which keeps you wide awake for the big show, then the dentist will give you a list of instructions to follow. For example, clothing is important. Wearing a short sleeved shirt will allow the dentist to easily place the IV line where it belongs. You must not eat or drink anything for six to eight hours before the procedure. Another big one is whether or not you are sick or have a cold. If so, undergoing anesthesia may be a risky move.
Once you are comfortably numb or comfortably snoozing, the dentist will use his/her trusty “elevator,” a surgical tool that will loosen up the tooth and eventually remove it from the socket. In some unique cases, they may need to remove bone around your tooth in order to make way for this procedure. In this case, you’ll have to postpone the procedure and see another specialist – a Periodontist. This specialist will shape the tooth, potentially burn through your gums and remove bone in order to prep for your extraction procedure. That’s a whole other process of its own.
As you recover after the extraction, you have a responsibility to go easy on the area to ensure everything heals properly. That means avoiding smoking, aggressive rinsing, sucking, and straw drinking within 24 hours. Your dentist will prescribe you medication for the pain and you must rinse your mouth gently when you brush. But don’t brush or floss the area in question. Your dentist will also suggest a specific diet that may consist of deliciously soft bites like mashed potatoes or ice cream. Yum!
A common risk after an extraction is that of “dry socket.” This happens when a blood clot doesn’t form in the hole, which causes some bleeding. If you’re feeling pain on the third day after surgery and sensing a bad odor in there, you are likely among the 3 to 4% of people that experience this bloody problem after an extraction, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s also quite common for those who can’t kick the smoking habit during this period or women who are on birth control. If you have dry socket, your dentist might apply a medicated paste into the socket which will lead to the healing process. Other times, they may have to go back in there and pull tissue over it.
In addition to that of dry socket is the question of infections. If you don’t tread lightly during this sensitive procedure, you could easily catch an infection. So don’t put your mouth in a situation where it can catch foreign bacteria. If you have a healthy immune system, you should be okay.
Wisdom Teeth Removal:
Teeth aren’t only extracted because they’re dead. Wisdom teeth removal is extremely common. These hidden teeth, also known as third molars, typically wait until the ages of 16-25 to make their appearance in your mouth. Some don’t even get these third molars. These people are the lucky ones.
For those that experience an eruption of impacted wisdom teeth, it may cause a number of problems. For example, the impacted tooth could grow at an irregular angle toward the second molar, or grow at an even more awkward angle toward the back of your mouth. This irregularity could cause pain, gum disease, decay, cysts and food getting trapped around the wisdom teeth. Around this time, you should start making plans to extract these bothersome wisdom teeth, because they have run their course and can no longer have the privilege of living in there with the others.
Similar to how we discussed before, wisdom teeth removal begins with an exam. Don’t worry, not the school kind, the X-ray kind. This X-ray will examine the exact positioning of the wisdom teeth and how much room there is for them to grow. Once the dentist has done his/her homework, they will be able to plan their course of action and prep the extraction.
The extraction process does NOT look like a scene from the movie Saw and the dentist will NOT be wearing a black mask. For those with dental anxiety, rest assured that an experience like this is generally quite pleasant because the entire staff is aware of this anxiety among their patients. They usually go above and beyond to make sure those patients are comfortable.
When the wisdom teeth are extracted, it’ll be performed with a specialized extraction tool that will simply pop them out. The surgical areas may be stitched up and given gauze. This will allow the area to properly clot which then leads to proper healing. Clotting is what you want, because without it, there will be blood.
After your wisdom teeth removal procedure, don’t you dare try to drive yourself home. Hail a cab or ask a friend to be your reliable transportation source. You and your friend can later laugh about how groggy you were and talk about the weird things you said.
This would be a good opportunity to take a day off from work because the pain afterwards, which is totally normal after the drugs wear off, might get in the way of you performing well at your job. This pain may vary depending on how many teeth you got extracted. One might not be so bad, but four should most definitely have an impact on you. Take a “self care” day off to rest on the couch, watch nature documentaries and order a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on UberEats. You can use an ice pack to soothe the swelling and bruising. Because narcotics are slowly but surely being discouraged for these kinds of procedures due to the opioid crisis, more and more dentists are encouraging ibuprofen or acetaminophen. After a day or two, the pain should begin to subside.
After the procedure, don’t be alarmed by the little white or blue strings lodged into the surgical area. They are simply sutures. A surgical suture is a medical device used to hold body tissues together after an injury or surgery. Don’t be alarmed if the sutures happen to get dislodged by your tongue accidentally. If that happens, it means it was their time. Get rid of them. They served their purpose. Sutures are only temporary.
Over time, the cavity where the tooth was removed will eventually fill with healthy gum tissue. Your dentist may recommend a salt water concoction that can be found at any drugstore. This saline solution will help clean the sensitive area. Rinsing with this elixir is like giving the surgical area a salty bath that will wash away any potential infections.
If you’re a workout junkie, you don’t have to put a pause to your routine; just be wary of the fact that exercise may weaken you. If you find yourself getting light headed, you should stop exercising immediately.
Now that you know the general rundown on tooth extractions, you should be well educated on the topic and ready to embark on your own extraction procedure. At Mill Dam Dental, we can do all of the above and we’ll make it as pleasant as possible. Not all teeth are permanent. It’s okay if some must go. Because like all facets of life, when something dies, something new and fresh takes its place. Don’t dread the extractions; rather, celebrate what will come after.