Dental Blog

Know the Difference: Emergency Dentist versus Oral Surgeon

Friday, November 10, 2017
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When you notice something’s up with your teeth, waiting isn’t always the best option. More than just easing your worries, using a dentist near me search to visit to the emergency dentist can sometimes save a tooth! Leaving it to chance can ultimately end up with a tooth extraction. At Castle Dental, we want you to make an informed decision about your oral care options, which is why we’ve went ahead and explained the difference between your emergency dentist and oral surgeon. Understanding the difference in these two professions can help you understand where it’s best to look if you’re in need of a tooth extraction, saving you time and money.

What Does an Emergency Dentist Do?

An emergency dentist is responsible for handling, you guessed it – emergencies. These are things like a persistent toothache, an abscessed tooth, or a chipped tooth. A visit to your emergency dentist shouldn’t be limited to just these dental issues, as there are other causes that can leave you with some concern about your smile. If you ever feel that you are at serious potential risk for losing a tooth, you should use a dentist near me search to find the closest emergency dentist in your area. With an emergency dentist, they’ll generally offer different hours than your normal dentist, including late nights and weekends to provide you with immediate treatment.

Your appointment with an emergency dentist will be very different than your routine oral exam. With an emergency dentist, your dentist’s primary focus will be on localizing the issue. If it’s a particular tooth, or teeth in one region, your dentist will work at alleviating the symptoms within this area. Usually, they won’t provide a full oral exam unless the issue could be causing other dental concerns with your oral health. Your emergency dentist will want to take a dental X-ray of your mouth to make sure they can pinpoint the cause behind your visit. From there, they can look to treat the affected area, which may or may not involve a tooth extractions. Tooth extractions are generally left as a last resort option if the tooth cannot be saved.

What Does an Oral Surgeon Do?

An oral surgeon is a person in the dental health profession that is responsible for performing in-depth surgeries. You will need to visit your emergency dentist before visiting an oral surgeon, as your dentist is responsible for assessing the need for surgery. From there it can be determined if you need to see an oral surgeon for a more complex reason. Typically oral surgeons are responsible for tooth extractions that require pulling a tooth that is below the gum line. This will cause the need for the gum to be cut open to expose the root of the tooth before it is pulled. Some dentists can also perform this surgery, but typically you will be referred to the surgeon from your dentist.

Tooth Extractions Explained

A tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth in its entirety, including the root. If a tooth cannot be saved, due to infection or crowding, it will be removed with a tooth extraction process. There are two kinds of tooth extractions:

    • Simple: A simple tooth extraction can normally be performed by a dentist. The tooth is removed with forceps, and comes out in one piece. If the tooth being removed is above the gum line, typically a simple tooth extraction is possible.
  • Surgical: A surgical tooth extraction is usually done by an oral surgeon. This is either because the tooth isn’t above the gum line when it needs to be removed, or because the tooth has a complicated removal process. With surgical tooth extractions, the recovery period can be a bit longer, as the patient is usually given a local anesthetic and sometimes anesthesia for the procedure. Stitches are put in place after to close the hole, and the patient is responsible for caring for their gums afterwards.

Reasons for a Tooth Extraction

There are a few reasons why your dentist might recommend a tooth extraction. Sometimes tooth extractions are performed on perfectly healthy teeth if they are causing other dental issues.

Abscessed tooth

Patients that have an abscessed tooth may be required to have the tooth extracted if the tooth cannot be saved. An abscessed tooth is an infected tooth that releases toxins into the mouth and body. Generally, patients will notice they have a foul taste in their mouth, bad breath, or pus coming from the tooth. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should use a dentist near me search to find an emergency dentist immediately. The reason abscessed teeth cause great concern in dentistry is because they can spread an infection to other teeth or the rest of your body.

Wisdom teeth

An example of healthy teeth needing extraction are wisdom teeth! While they may be healthy, wisdom teeth can sometimes cause complications with the rest of your smile. If they are under the gum line, they can cause crowding by pushing other teeth into painful positions as there isn’t always enough room for all the teeth in your mouth. Tooth extraction for wisdom teeth is common, and typically require the removal of more than just one tooth. An oral surgeon will work on removing these large molars if your dentist notices they are causing issues.

Broken tooth

At times, a broken tooth can require a need for an oral surgeon. If the tooth broke in a way that left fragments under the gum, or didn’t leave enough of the tooth exposed to be removed with forceps, a trip to the oral surgeon might be in need. The oral surgeon can work at removing the entire tooth, ensuring nothing is left behind that can cause complications or infections.

Before Your Tooth Extraction

Especially if you’re undergoing a surgical tooth extraction, you’ll want to notify your dentist and oral surgeon about your medical history. If you are undergoing anesthesia, or are allergic to specific medications, you’ll oral surgeon will need to know prior to the surgery. Understanding your medical history will also prevent any complications from happening during the surgery.

Prior to your tooth extraction, your dentist should have explained why it is you need one. If they haven’t, be sure to go over this with your dentist. Knowing more about the reason behind your tooth extraction can help put any nerves at ease and also help you work towards preventing one in the future. As there are so many factors that can play into a tooth extraction, being knowledgeable can help both you and the oral surgeon undergo a smooth procedure.

If you are having a surgical tooth extraction, please arrange your transportation needs beforehand. It’s always a good idea to bring a family member or friend with you to help you once you’ve undergone the tooth extraction. Often times, the medication or anesthesia can inhibit your ability to drive home. There might also be unexpected things that can happen during your surgery, and it can help to have someone there to understand how to best take care of your smile after the procedure.

Some oral surgeons might recommend you fast before your surgery. Always ask in advance if this is necessary, as you don’t want any complications to happen during surgery. This will reduce the risk for inhalation of your stomach’s contents while you are asleep. If you have any conditions or current medications that prevent you from doing so talk to your oral surgeon beforehand.

After Your Tooth Extraction

As you’ve just undergone surgery, you’ll want to rest as much you can post-extraction. This means for the next 24-72 hours, get to know your bed and couch really well. Resting will help your body heal faster, getting you back on your feet quicker. If you work, be prepared to take the next few days off. Now that your tooth has been removed, you’ll need to help your body form a blood clot. Your oral surgeon may ask you to bite down on gauze after the surgery to help apply pressure to the area. When you get home, you should change your gauze out frequently until the bleeding stops. If the bleeding doesn’t stop by the following day or even before that, you might want to contact your oral surgeon to make sure everything is okay.

Once your mouth has formed a blood clot, your job as a patient is to keep that blood clot in place so the wound doesn’t reopen and cause an infection. You should brush and floss your teeth as you normally would, but just be conscious of that area. Rinse your mouth frequently to rid your mouth of any debris and bacteria that are left behind. For the next 24 hours, do not use a straw, smoke, or spit with force as these are all actions that can dislodge your blood clot. Try to keep your head elevated. It’s common for patients to experience facial swelling post-surgery. You can use ice packs and over the counter pain medication to keep the swelling down. Your doctor may prescribe you pain medication upon their discretion.

You should try consuming all soft foods post-surgery, as it can be difficult to chew especially while the anesthesia wears off. Eat foods like pudding, yogurt, soup, and smoothies. Try to refrain from eating items that can easily get stuck in your teeth/open wound like nuts or seeds. If you are experiencing any concerning symptoms after your surgery, your oral surgeon will be there to answer any questions.

Dentist Near Me

If you think you need to visit an emergency dentist for an ailing tooth or condition, use a dentist near me search to find a Castle Dental location closest to you. You can make an appointment by visiting us online or calling us at 1-800-867-6453. We have emergency dentists and oral surgeons prepared to help you through whatever dental issue you’re facing. Since we’re in one place, you can expect quality treatment that’s much quicker than other dental offices.