Dental Blog

Emergency Dentist Vs. Oral Surgeon: Which Do You Need?

Friday, November 10, 2017
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Yikes! You’ve found yourself with a dental emergency that needs immediate attention. But where should you turn first? When you use a dentist near me search, several emergency dentists in your area should pop up for immediate relief. However, an emergency dentist may take care of some of your dental needs, but there are times when an oral surgeon is the right person for the job. If you’ve got more pressing concerns like a tooth extraction, chances are an oral surgeon will know how to treat you. Read more to decide when you should visit your emergency dentist, and when the hand of an oral surgeon is required.

What is a Dental Emergency?

Knowing what’s a dental emergency, and what isn’t can help you save your teeth should something come up. If you’re experiencing signs of a toothache gone wrong, scheduling an emergency dental appointment can help keep your teeth healthy and in place. Typically, your dentist should be the first person you call if you’re experiencing a dental emergency. Keep in mind what’s an emergency and what isn’t. If you’ve experienced a heavy injury to your mouth, swelling of your jaw, or increased infection you should be seen by your dentist immediately. Your dentist can provide you with an oral exam and determine what might be causing your symptoms. From there, they can assess their ability to treat your predicament, or refer you to an oral surgeon who can.

The Difference Between Your Dentist and Oral Surgeon

Often times, patients tend to think your dentist and your oral surgeon are one in the same. The difference boils down to the type of training your professional dentist or surgeon has gone through, resulting in the types of services they’re able to provide you with.

General dentists have studied dentistry along with hands-on training, and some can perform minor oral surgical needs. However, the scope of their work typically includes dental care such as oral exams, professional teeth cleanings, fillings, crowns, sealants, root canals, and overall gum care. Your general dentist will look at the state of your emergency dental needs to determine if they are able to treat your condition. This also goes for non-emergency dental needs such as gum surgery or a surgical tooth extraction.

An oral surgeon is needed when your dental emergency requires the tooth to be extracted, or a restructuring of your bone and gum tissue. Oral surgeons have an extensive training in a particular field, and as a patient, you are typically referred to an oral surgeon by your dentist. An oral surgeon can help with issues ranging from wisdom teeth and impacted teeth to jaw misalignment and bone loss. Oral surgeons are also able to treat chronic diseases or conditions that derive from issues of the mouth.

In some cases, you might find that a dentist near me search can provide you with a dental office that does both. With emergency cases, this can often be ideal as patients should seek immediate attention. It helps when your dentist can quickly assess your diagnosis based on your symptoms and either treat your needs themselves, or refer you to an oral surgeon in the same office that can see you that same day. At Bright Now! Dental, we have several professionals that offer emergency dental services. If you’re unsure where to start, you can always call in for a quick appointment to see if you should be seen by a professional.

Reasons for Oral Surgery

There are a variety of reasons as to why one might need to visit an oral surgeon. If you think you’re in need of oral surgery or have experienced a recent traumatic injury, use a dentist near me search to find an emergency dentist in your area that can provide you with the right treatment before your symptoms worsen.

Tooth Extraction

Depending on your needs, sometimes a tooth just can’t be left to heal on it’s own. When this happens, your dentist will suggest removal. A tooth extraction may be necessary when a tooth has become diseased beyond repair, has caused crowding within the mouth, or has experienced trauma. When you have an abscessed tooth, typically the infection has reached a point where it has impacted the root of your teeth. This can be a painful reaction, and should be treated immediately. Removal may also be necessary from advanced stages of gum disease. If the tooth cannot be repaired, it is typically removed. Crowding can also cause the need for a tooth extraction, as it can cause issues with the surrounding teeth. Another need for tooth extraction is with an injury – be it sports, a car accident, or a random occurrence, these happen.

Impacted Teeth

Impacted teeth are typically associated with wisdom teeth. This can be one of the most common needs for tooth extraction. As your teeth change from adolescence to adulthood, there may not be room in your mouth to properly space all of your teeth. This can be especially true for patients who are looking to straighten their teeth with orthodontic treatment, as more room may be needed to shift the position of teeth.

Jaw Issues

If you’ve experienced chronic jaw pain, this is where an oral surgeon can make a big difference. With specialized training, oral surgeons are able to assess if a patient must undergo jaw surgery to alleviate issues with chewing or tension in this region.

Dental Implants

When patients have previously undergone a tooth extraction in an inconvenient place in their mouth, some prefer to get dental implants. This is a great way to restore your smile, and an oral surgeon can provide several options for a natural looking appearance.

Oral Cancer

Oral surgeons can also assist with tumor removals or treating oral cancer. This can also extend to the head and neck, depending on how the cancer is associated with your oral health. If patients have experienced advanced cancer or recurrent cancer removal is sometimes coupled with cancer therapy.

What to Expect for Tooth Extraction Surgery

When you need to visit an oral surgeon for a tooth extraction surgery, it’s usually because a simple extraction is no longer possible. Simple extractions are when the tooth is fully exposed from the gums and can be removed with forceps by your dentist. However, if the tooth is broken into pieces, or the dentist must go under the gums to fully extract the tooth, surgery is then required.

Before pulling the tooth, a local anesthetic will be given to numb the area where the tooth is being extracted from. If you’re having multiple teeth removed, which is often during wisdom teeth removal, your oral surgeon may provide a general anesthetic to put you to sleep.

During the procedure, your oral surgeon is responsible for removing gum and bone tissue covering the underlying tooth. Then, using forceps they will pull the tooth free from your jaw bone and connective tissue. As mentioned before, this can sometimes occur in pieces if a tooth has been cracked from injury, or if it needs to be broken down to make removal easier. Now that you’re left with a hole where your tooth once was, it is normal to bleed a lot. Gauze is placed in this area, and sometimes your oral surgeon may ask that you bite down to provide pressure to stop the bleeding. Stitches are usually put in that will either dissolve over time, or will be removed later when ready.

After Tooth Extraction Surgery

It’s imperative that you take extra caution in caring for your teeth and gums after you’ve undergone extraction surgery. This can help prevent dry socket, a painful experience where the wounds reopen and expose the underlying bone. Take it easy after your surgery and try to keep activity to a minimum for at least 24 hours. Patients can use over the counter pain medication to ease discomfort and ice packs to reduce swelling. Try consuming only soft foods, being careful of the removed tooth. Continue proper maintenance of your oral health but take extra caution around the affected area.

If you think you have a dental emergency, but don’t know where you should look to, talk to your dentist. Your dentist should be your first contact and point of reference when guiding you through your oral care needs. If you do have a dental emergency, there are plenty of Bright Now! Dental offices with professional staff at hand ready to assist you with any needs you have. From general dentists to oral surgeons, we have your dental needs and tooth extractions covered. You can reach us online or call at at 1-844-400-7645.