Specialty Services in Cottonwood, AZ

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No one wants to lose their teeth, but sometimes it is necessary to undergo an extraction to restore and maintain the health of your smile. Extractions are never your dentist’s first choice, but in certain situations, the preservation of your oral health may be dependent on it.

Reasons Why Tooth Extractions Are Necessary

We always do everything we can to help patients keep their natural teeth, but sometimes it isn’t a viable option. Here are a few reasons why a tooth extraction may be necessary to restore your overall dental health and function:

  • There is severe damage or decay to the tooth that is irreparable.
  • To allow for a patient to undergo orthodontic treatment.
  • For ensuring long-term success with a restoration, like a denture.
  • When a primary tooth won’t fall out on its own.
  • If a tooth is impacted and unable to erupt properly.

Ultimately, by extracting problematic teeth, future infections and other oral health issues are significantly less likely to occur.

The Process of Removing a Tooth

Teeth are generally removed by either pulling or surgical extraction. Teeth can only be “pulled” when they have fully emerged from the gumline. In this case, we will start by numbing the area around your tooth and use a clasping tool to shift the tooth around until it breaks away from the gumline. If pulling isn’t a possibility, the tooth will need to be surgically extracted. For this procedure, a small incision is made into your gum tissue to allow us the ability to reach enough of your tooth to fully remove it.

To determine which extraction method would be necessary for you, come see us for a consultation where we can evaluate your smile. In the process of discussing the extraction, we will also talk about necessary tooth replacement options to prevent future oral health issues as a result of tooth loss.

Tooth Extraction Aftercare

Before you leave the practice, we will provide you with a specific aftercare plan to help you stay comfortable and avoid complications. While every case is different, here are some steps that we will generally recommend for optimal recovery:

  • Take recommended over-the-counter and prescribed medications as directed
  • Rinse with saltwater 24 hours after your procedure
  • Avoid using tobacco products until your mouth has healed
  • Do not drink using a straw
  • Elevate your head while sleeping
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling and discomfort
  • Stay away from hard, crunchy, and sticky foods

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder affects nearly 35 million Americans. The temporomandibular joints are situated on either side of the face. Connecting the upper and lower jaws, these joints aid in movements used when eating and speaking. TMJ disorder can cause discomfort including chronic headaches and jaw pain as well as damage to your teeth.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

There is no single known cause of TMJ disorder. However, there are several risk factors which contribute to the development of the condition. Oftentimes, TMJ issues are a direct result of an uneven bite. When the bite is unbalanced, it can place excessive pressure on the jaw joints. As your jaw muscles try to compensate for the problem, the joints become fatigued.

Living with TMJ disorder can be debilitating but in most cases, a custom oral appliance can provide relief.

TMJ disorder may also be caused by trauma, arthritis, or bruxism (teeth grinding). If not treated in a timely manner, this condition can lead to more serious oral health-related concerns.

Signs And Symptoms

The symptoms of TMJ disorder are vast and varied. Common signs of this condition include:

  • Severe jaw pain
  • Tooth erosion
  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Neck, shoulder, or back pain
  • Sore or fatigued facial muscles
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Bruxism
  • Clicking or popping sounds upon opening or closing the jaw

The Importance Of Treating TMJ Disorder

Untreated TMJ disorder can lead to chronic pain and jaw dysfunction. Over time, these symptoms can result in a substantial decrease in your overall quality of life. Early intervention can help you avoid invasive and costly treatments to correct serious side effects of TMJ disorder.

TMJ disorder may also be caused by trauma, arthritis, or bruxism (teeth grinding). If not treated in a timely manner, this condition can lead to more serious oral health-related concerns.

Oral Appliance Therapy

During your initial consultation with our dental team, we will assess your bite and evaluate the jaw joints. We may also take scans or x-rays to visualize the underlying structures. TMJ pain typically occurs when there is a discrepancy between the position of the jaw joints and the teeth. Because each patient is unique, our dental expert will create a personalized treatment plan based on their specific needs.

Oral appliance therapy can address most cases of TMJ disorder. This treatment involves the fabrication of a custom mouth guard, typically worn during sleep. The oral appliance is designed to slip snugly over the teeth for a streamlined, comfortable fit. In addition to separating the upper and lower teeth, the appliance also places the jaws in a more favorable position to alleviate stress and discomfort.

Even one missing tooth can have negative effects on your oral health. Of course, there is the obvious downside of the appearance of your smile, but a missing tooth can even affect your health.

How to Avoid Tooth Extraction

Once you realize the possible negative results caused by tooth extraction, it becomes readily apparent that consistent oral hygiene is a necessity. Your first line of defense against an extraction is faithful brushing, flossing, and rinsing. Your next line of defense is commitment to your regular office exams and cleanings.

When Is Extraction Necessary?

It is important for you to take every step you can to avoid the necessity of a tooth extraction. There are still situations where extraction becomes a necessity. Tooth extraction may be unavoidable in the following situations:

  • Tooth decay that has reached advanced stages
  • Infection or abscesses in advanced stages
  • Gum disease that has reached advanced stages
  • Teeth that have been impacted into the gums
  • A seriously fractured tooth

What if an Extraction is Necessary?

Our dental team is committed to preserving your natural teeth whenever possible. When he reaches the conclusion that extraction is necessary, he will make use of x-rays to gather as much information as possible about the tooth and its possible extraction. In the worst cases, he may feel it is best to refer you to an oral surgeon for complicated extractions.

What Does an Extraction Involve?

By definition, extraction involves the removal of a tooth from its socket in the jawbone. This procedure certainly carries a risk of pain and discomfort. Thankfully, a skilled dentist with proper training is able to reduce your pain and anxiety to a large degree. Also factoring into the extraction is the level of tooth decay, the position of the tooth, the strength of the tooth, and the strength of the attached ligaments. Again, a skilled dentist will be able to minimize the pain and discomfort you may feel during the extraction.

After the Extraction

Once the extraction has been completed, your dentist and his staff will use ice packs on the areas of your face that have been most affected by the extraction. These ice-packs will be used at 15-minutes intervals and will provide much-appreciated relief. The dentist will also prescribe a pain killer for you to use as needed. In most situations, the discomfort should gradually subside within three days to two weeks. If severe pain, swelling, bleeding, or fever persists, you will want to contact your dentist’s office.

Third molars, commonly referred to as wisdom teeth, are usually the last four of 32 teeth to erupt (surface) in the mouth, generally making their appearance between the ages of 17 to 25. They are located at the back of the mouth (top and bottom), near the entrance to the throat. The term “wisdom” stems from the idea that the molars surface at a time typically associated with increased maturity or “wisdom”.

In most cases, inadequate space in the mouth does not allow the wisdom teeth to erupt properly and become fully functional. When this happens, the tooth can become impacted (stuck) in an undesirable or potentially harmful position. If left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can contribute to infection, damage to other teeth, and possibly cysts or tumors.

There are several types, or degrees, of impaction based on the actual depth of the teeth within the jaw:

Soft Tissue Impaction: The upper portion of the tooth (the crown) has penetrated through the bone, but the gingiva (gum) is covering part or all of the tooth’s crown and has not positioned properly around the tooth. Because it is difficult to keep the area clean, food can become trapped below the gum and cause an infection and/or tooth decay, resulting in pain and swelling.

Partial Bony Impaction: The tooth has partially erupted, but a portion of the crown remains submerged below the gum and surrounding jawbone. Again, because it is difficult to keep the area clean, infection will commonly occur.

Complete Bony Impaction: The tooth is completely encased by jawbone. This will require more complex removal techniques.

Reasons to remove wisdom teeth

While not all wisdom teeth require removal, wisdom teeth extractions are most often performed because of an active problem such as pain, swelling, decay or infection, or as a preventative measure to avoid serious problems in the future. If impaction of one or more wisdom teeth is present, and left untreated, a number of potentially harmful outcomes can occur, including:

  • Damage to nearby teeth: Second molars (the teeth directly in front of the wisdom teeth) can be adversely affected by impacted wisdom teeth, resulting in tooth decay (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease) and possible bone loss.
  • Disease: Although uncommon, cysts and tumors can occur in the areas surrounding impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Infection: Bacteria and food can become trapped under the gum tissue, resulting in an infection. The infection can cause considerable pain and danger.
  • Tooth Crowding: It has been theorized that impacted wisdom teeth can put pressure on other teeth and cause them to become misaligned (crowded or twisted). This theory isn’t universally accepted by all dental professionals, and it has never been validated by any scientific studies.

Wisdom teeth examination

As with any dental procedure, your dentist will want to initially conduct a thorough examination of the wisdom and surrounding teeth. Panoramic or digital X-rays will be taken in order for your dentist to evaluate the position of the wisdom teeth and determine if a current problem exists, or the likelihood of any potential future problems.  The X-rays can also expose additional risk factors, such as deterioration or decay of nearby teeth. Early evaluation and treatment (typically in the mid-teen years) is recommended in order to identify potential problems and to improve the results for patients requiring wisdom teeth extractions. Only after a thorough examination can your dentist provide you with the best options for your particular case.

What does the removal of wisdom teeth involve?

Wisdom teeth removal is a common procedure, generally performed under local anesthesia, intravenous (IV) sedation, or general anesthesia by a specially trained dentist in an office surgery suite. The surgery does not require an overnight stay, and you will be released with post-operative instructions and medication (if necessary), to help manage any swelling or discomfort.