Oral surgery is an expansive field that covers any surgical procedure involving the mouth, jaws and teeth. More complex oral surgery procedures may even involve the neck or face.
At Oakmont General & Implant Dentistry, oral surgery procedures are usually focused on placing dental implants and/or extracting damaged teeth. In some cases, we will be able to complete these procedures in our office. If your case is more complicated, however, you may need to have your surgery scheduled at a surgery center or local hospital.
About Tooth Extraction
Tooth extraction is a type of oral surgery typically recommended when you have a tooth that cannot be preserved using any available method and must be removed instead to prevent further complications. Your dentist may suggest a tooth extraction if:
- Your tooth is extremely decayed and/or infected
- Your tooth is very painful and cannot be treated any other way
- Your tooth is poorly positioned and causing damage to nearby teeth
If tooth extraction is a possibility in your case, your dentist will explain this option, as well as any other options available to you. In many cases, surgery is the best choice to improve your oral health.
What to Expect During the Procedure
At the beginning of your tooth extraction procedure, your dentist will begin by numbing the tooth itself and the surrounding area, including the jaw bone and gums. In most cases, the dentist will be able to extract your tooth in one piece. However, if your tooth is anchored too strongly in the jaw bone, it may need to be removed in sections. Regardless of the method used to extract your tooth, you should not feel any pain during the procedure because of the anesthetic used.
Aftercare Instructions for Tooth Extractions
Following your oral surgery, it is important to follow all of the postoperative instructions provided by your dentist. You should also know what symptoms are acceptable and expected during the healing process so you can report any problems as soon as they develop.
Some bleeding is always normal following a tooth extraction. Immediately after the procedure, you will be instructed to use moist gauze to control bleeding. If bleeding continues, contact the dentist for instructions.
Following a tooth extraction, you will have a hole in your jaw bone where your tooth used to be. It will take a few months for your body to fill this hole in naturally with new bone tissue. You will be able to feel the hole during the healing process, but most patients will forget about the hole after a couple weeks.
Some amount of pain is expected after a tooth extraction. In most cases, this pain can be controlled with over-the-counter medications. However, the dentist may give you a prescription for a stronger pain medication in more complex cases.
You may also notice some swelling in your cheek and jaw area after your tooth extraction. You can reduce swelling by placing an ice pack over the cheek and/or jaw near the extraction site for 10 minutes at a time. Be sure to keep the ice off the area for at least 20 minutes in between ice pack treatments. If your swelling persists or you begin experiencing pain that isn’t well controlled with prescribed medications, please call the office.
Eating and Drinking
At the beginning of the healing process, it is important to protect the extraction site from trauma. To protect the extraction site, try to chew food on the opposite side of your mouth for a few days. During the first 24 hours, you may need to maintain a liquid diet, especially if your procedure was more complex. You should also avoid drinking alcohol, using tobacco and drinking or eating extremely hot substances for the first 24 hours as well.
Keeping the Extraction Area Clean
For the first 24 hours after your tooth extraction, do not brush the teeth next to the extraction site, as this can disrupt the healing process. After the first day has passed, you can brush the neighboring teeth gently.
Do not use any store-bought mouthwashes on the extraction site while it is healing, as the chemicals in these products may irritate the area. After the first 24 hours has passed, you can rinse the area with warm salt water after you eat and before going to bed.
Protecting Against Dry Socket
When you have had a tooth extraction procedure, one of the possible complications is dry socket. Because this complication can be painful, it is important to take steps to avoid it.
What Is Dry Socket?
During the healing process, blood clots form in the extraction area. These blood clots fill the empty tooth socket and need to remain in place while the area heals.
If a blood clot fails to form in the empty socket or becomes dislodged, you will have developed dry socket. This condition most commonly occurs three to four days after the procedure. Symptoms of dry socket may include pain and throbbing that radiates from the extraction area, feelings of dryness at the extraction site, bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth.
Reducing the Risk of Dry Socket
To reduce the risk of dry socket, follow all of your dentist’s post-surgical instructions carefully. Do not rinse, spit, smoke, drink hot liquids, use toothpicks or use straws during the first 24 hours following your procedure, and report any worrisome symptoms to the office immediately.
Contact Oakmont General & Implant Dentistry
At Oakmont General & Implant Dentistry, we have extensive experience with oral surgery. We do everything possible to ensure that your procedure goes as smoothly as comfortably as possible. We also use advanced surgical methods to reduce the risk of any complications, such as dry socket. Please contact our office today to learn more about our surgical procedures or to schedule an appointment.