Your second set of teeth is also your permanent set of teeth. That's why losing even one is a big deal. But when restorative dentistry is out of the question due to severe decay, infection, or trauma, extraction is necessary. The most common extractions are simple extractions, where forceps do most of the work. Sometimes, however, a surgical extraction is needed.
If you aren't sure which extraction technique your tooth might need, then it will help if you understand the differences between the two techniques. That way, you can be fully prepared before you visit your dentist.
Simple extractions are faster and less invasive
Check your tooth in the mirror. If your tooth is clearly visible above the gum line, then it probably requires a simple extraction. When there is sufficient tooth structure available above the gum line, extracting that tooth is a simple matter. During a simple extraction, a dentist first uses an elevator (dental instrument) to loosen the tooth and then uses forceps to pull the tooth out.
A simple extraction should take somewhere between 20 and 40 minutes to complete. This includes the preparation time and the time it takes to remove the tooth.
Surgical extractions involve gum and bone tissue
If you can't see much, or any of, your tooth above the gum line, you probably need a surgical extraction. Your dentist will confirm this with an x-ray and examination. A surgical extraction will be necessary if:
- A tooth is badly broken.
- No tooth structure remains above the gum line.
- A tooth is impacted (stuck in bone or gum tissue).
- A tooth has very long or curved roots.
- The root tips are all that remain.
In all of these cases, your dentist will probably need to make an incision into your gum tissue first. This is to create a gum flap, which your dentist can peel back to access the bone holding the remains of your tooth. If necessary, your dentist will then need to trim away some of the bone around the remains of your tooth in order to gain access to it.
And sometimes, even simple tooth extractions can become surgical extractions if a tooth breaks during the removal process. But don't worry about pain. Your dentist will spend about 10 to 15 minutes numbing the area around the tooth so you don't feel any pain during the procedure.
If you think you need a tooth extracted, remember these differences so you can prepare yourself before your appointment. For more information about dental extractions, reach out to a local dentist.