Dr. Kate has over 30 years of doing tooth extractions in Denver, Colorado. Besides the extractions that she does on her established patients, she has also gone on medical mission trips to Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico. On these trips, extractions are the most common treatment, and dozens are done each day.
Why Have a Tooth Extracted?
There are several reasons why you may need to have an extraction. There might not be enough room in the jaw for some teeth, especially wisdom teeth. Some teeth are at the point where they are called "non-restorable" because there is too much decay in a tooth, so there is not enough tooth to repair, or the tooth may have cracked and broken. A very common reason that teeth need to be extracted is periodontal (gum) disease, which causes the bone around the teeth to deteriorate and get loose. Occasionally a root canal fails, and a tooth must be extracted. Some people choose to have teeth extracted for financial reasons.
What Is a Surgical Extraction?
While some teeth can be removed easily, especially if the patient has gum disease, others need some "help" because of the shape of the roots or the amount of bone surrounding the tooth. For these teeth, removal of bone or cutting the tooth into smaller pieces is necessary. When this is needed, the extraction is considered "surgical.” Sutures may be needed for surgical extractions.
Dr. Kate does surgical extractions, and occasionally, will extract wisdom teeth, but we are fortunate to also have Dr. David working in our practice part-time. After graduating from dental school in New York, Dr. David spent a year in a surgical dental residency at The University of Nebraska. He is very experienced at wisdom tooth extractions.
Should You Have a Bone Graft after an Extraction?
Now that dental implant placement is more common, preservation of the jaw bone is more important. When a tooth is extracted, the bone that was holding the tooth in place shrinks and "remodels.” If there is too little bone remaining, an implant can't be placed later.
If you need an extraction and think you may want implants in the future, we do recommend that you have some bone placed in the extraction site to help keep the area thicker and stronger. We do offer bone grafts after dental extractions and can discuss the options and costs with you.
Alternatives to Tooth Extractions
Not all infected teeth must be extracted. If there is adequate bone holding a tooth in place, having root canal treatment to save the tooth may be possible. If there is not enough bone, or the tooth has been too damaged, then, unfortunately, the tooth must be removed.
What to Expect after a Dental Extraction
If you have an extraction at Hakala Family Dentistry, we will give you written and verbal post-operative instructions, gauze to bite on, and prescriptions for antibiotics and/or pain medications if needed. We recommend a soft diet (ice cream is allowed!), no smoking (or as little as possible), and rest. Vigorous swishing and rinsing are not recommended after an extraction, because the blood clot at the extraction site can be disturbed, delaying healing.
Need a dental extraction or not sure? Call us today, and we can provide you with your options.