Tooth Extractions: Do I Need a Dentist or Oral Surgeon?

When it comes to extractions, we often get asked “do I need a dentist or oral surgeon?” A tooth extraction is nothing to take lightly, so it’s important to choose the right provider for your situation, especially if it’s an emergency procedure.

Both dentists and oral surgeons can perform extractions, so how do you know which to choose? The answer depends on what type of procedure you need to have, and how involved the work will be.

Getting Started: Dentist or Oral Surgeon?

Your dentist will evaluate the situation to determine whether an extraction is needed, and whether it’s something that can be done in the office. This consultation typically involves X-rays and an examination of the affected tooth or teeth.

From there, your dentist will make a recommendation about whether he or she can perform the extraction, or whether you need to be referred to an oral surgeon. If the tooth can be removed using novocaine or local anesthesia, most dentists can do this right in the office, perhaps even at the same time as your consultation.

If the dentist determines that an oral surgeon is necessary, most dental offices have oral surgeons they work with and can easily make a referral. At 1st Family Dental, we have an oral surgeon on staff so you don’t have to go to another practice, however, a separate appointment may need to be made.

Reasons for Referral to an Oral Surgeon

There are a few good reasons why a seeing an oral surgeon may be necessary for a successful extraction:

Impacted Teeth: If your teeth are impacted, or fully below the gum line, removing them becomes much more difficult than simply pulling them out. The procedure will likely involve general anesthesia and cutting into the mouth to remove the teeth. Sounds like surgery, right? So it makes sense that a trained surgeon would be required to complete it successfully.

Facial Structure: The positioning of your teeth in your mouth may make it difficult for a dentist to perform the extraction without causing discomfort. Things like large sinuses, or limited jaw mobility necessitate an extraction by an oral surgeon.

Cracked or Fractured Teeth: Teeth that are already cracked or fractured are likely to break more during the extraction, which requires a more intensive surgery similar to what’s needed for an impacted tooth.

Dental Anxiety: Regardless of the physical situation with your tooth, some patients prefer to be asleep for an extraction if they suffer from dental anxiety or a fear of going to the dentist. In this case, an oral surgeon is needed to administer general anesthesia. Never receive anesthesia from someone who is not a trained professional in case you have an adverse reaction to it.

Extraction Complications: As much as any dentist strives perfection, things can go wrong during some extractions. If the tooth has complex roots or cracks during the procedure, an oral surgeon may be needed to complete the process. In this case, you would be referred to a surgeon as quickly as possible to minimize discomfort and the risk for further complications.

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