Patients in need of tooth extraction often wonder whether they should turn to a dentist, or an 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. We take a look on how to decide if you need a dentist or oral surgeon.

Who should I contact when I think I need an extraction?

If you’re experiencing any type of complication with your teeth, your first step should be to contact your dentist. Many dental practices offer after-hours service for patients who have emergency needs outside of normal business hours. 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 Novocain 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.

What are the 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:

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.

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.

Can a procedure be done by either or?
There are a few instances where it’s perfectly fine to have a dentist or oral surgeon work on your teeth.

Impacted Teeth: If your teeth are impacted, or fully below the gum line, removing them becomes much more complex than simply pulling them out. However, this procedure may be able to completed by either a dentist or an oral surgeon. The procedure will likely involve general anesthesia and cutting into the mouth to remove the teeth – but if you feel more comfortable with an oral surgeon talk to your dentist for a great recommendation.

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. Both dentists and oral surgeons can administer sedation. Communicate your concerns about dental work, and your dentist or oral surgeon will be able to work with your needs. Never receive anesthesia from someone who is not a trained professional in case you have an adverse reaction to it.

If you are ever in doubt about whether to choose a dentist or an oral surgeon for tooth extraction, contact your local dentist with your questions.

Do you have any questions about tooth extraction? Call Westermeier Martin Dental Care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-508-4547.