Tooth extraction

Many people have certain anxieties around dental work, especially when it comes to intense procedures such as tooth pulling. Though a dental extraction may not necessarily be an enjoyable experience, it usually helps to know exactly what is being done and what to expect.

Tooth extraction can be deemed necessary for a patient due to a variety of different factors, usually relating to advanced decay or breakage in teeth caused by an external force. Most people imagine dental extraction as the simple removal of teeth, but tooth pulling is not the only form of dental extraction; in fact, there are three common methods that are used for different needs.

  1. Simple extraction. This is the most well-known and commonly performed type of dental extraction. Simple extraction is what most people think of when they imagine getting a tooth pulled, as it deals with the extraction of the visible tooth as well as its root. Simple extractions are typically the product of an extremely decayed tooth with a compromised root. Dentists will typically inject a local anesthetic to numb the gum area surrounding the tooth, reducing pain for the patient. Contrary to popular belief, the tooth is not actually pulled directly from its socket, but is instead pushed deeper into the gum until the root dislodges itself from the jaw. This is the easiest type of extraction and it can typically be completed relatively quick.
  2. Partial extraction. This refers to the removal of a tooth while leaving the root whole and undamaged within the jawbone. This method is relatively new in dental circles but is highly regarded for its positive lasting effects on tooth and jaw health. Removing teeth and their roots causes the jaw to become weakened, so a partial extraction can remove a broken or decayed tooth without harming the jaw (as long as any damage hasn’t spread to the root). Partial extractions are a great option for those planning to replace removed teeth with dental implants, as they make the implantation process go much smoother.
  3. Surgical extraction. This form is often used as the last resort in situations where an extraction is needed but a simple or partial extraction isn’t possible. A surgical extraction refers to the surgical removal of a tooth or tooth fragment, along with the root if needed, that has sustained decay or damage below the gum line. This is the most invasive form of dental extraction, so depending on how many teeth need to be extracted, the severity of the damage or decay, and the patient’s anxiety levels, dentists will sometimes provide complete anesthesia as opposed to local anesthesia.

Simple and partial extractions are the least involved types of dental extractions and usually require the least amount of anesthetic. However, surgical extraction might be needed if the damage is out of sight or has spread to the surrounding teeth and gums. Though dental extractions may seem scary, they are usually virtually painless with anesthetic. In order to avoid needing a dental extraction, make sure to prioritize dental health and avoid external damage to your teeth and gums.


Tips for follow up and care following your LANAP procedure

Patients with moderate to severe gum disease must take strategic and dedicated steps to address the issue. One excellent treatment option is the LANAP procedure. The Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure is a specialized periodontal regeneration protocol approved by the FDA (and supported by related studies and clinical results) to help create genuine regeneration of gum and bone tissue to its original, healthy form. This procedure uses a sensitive laser to target bacteria contributing to gum disease.

LANAP is especially beneficial for patients fearful of conventional scalpel surgery and those taking certain medications such as blood thinners.


How does LANAP work?

This innovative procedure uses light energy from a laser directed through a very tiny fiber placed between the gum and tooth. The light energy then cuts away diseased tissue and helps reduce the amount of bacteria present in gum disease. Tartar, often a culprit with inflamed and bleeding gums, is also removed from a tooth’s root surface with an ultrasonic scaler and other specialized instruments. With a clean target area, the body is free to naturally heal.


Does the LNAP Procedure hurt?

The LANAP procedure is completed as the patient is under a local anesthetic of the treated areas. This allows the dentist to precisely direct the laser, and post-procedure discomfort is typically minimal and does not last long. The dramatic increase in patient comfort makes the LANAP surgery procedure very attractive, but individuals should address the need sooner rather than later to reduce further damage to their gums, teeth and bone.


How long does it take?

Depending on the severity of the patient’s periodontal disease, LANAP treatment may be completed in one office visit or multiple visits. The estimated treatment time is reviewed with the patient. As reference, LANAP periodontal surgery of a patient’s full mouth is usually completed in two 2-hour visits.


Benefits of LANAP care

Some of the benefits of LANAP care include:

  • Minimally invasive allows fast recovery and healing
  • Less pain and discomfort during and after the procedure
  • No invasive cutting and stitches
  • Very little recovery time and many patients immediately resume their daily routines
  • Laser use removes bacteria with less gum inflammation and bleeding
  • Reduced risk of gum recession
  • Better chance of saving natural teeth
  • Excellent option for patients with other health issues including diabetes, HIV, or people taking specific medications.


What to expect after LNAP treatment

The LANAP protocol does not require a scalpel to open gum tissues and sutures to close the tissues, so the healing process is relatively simple. In fact, given LANAP’s non-invasive process, there are often far fewer side effects.

For 24 hours following treatment, patients should rest with their head elevated. The day after treatment, normal oral hygiene routines can continue on teeth not treated with the procedure. Patients may experience mild aching, throbbing, and soreness of treated areas for the first two or three days, and this discomfort can be relieved with mild pain medications. Tissue around the teeth may appear discolored and your bite may feel different, but the teeth will soon adapt. Patients cannot brush or floss their teeth for the first 10 days after treatment, and must follow a liquid or mushy diet such as mashed or baked potatoes, eggs, and broth or soft soups. Continue to avoid gum, nuts, candy, and even raw vegetables for 6-8 weeks.

Despite avoiding brushing and flossing, the entire mouth should still be kept clean with a salt-water rinse (½ teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of water) or a rinse provided by a periodontist.  

As always, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene habits in order to avoid the recurrence of gum disease and to keep your mouth healthy. Oral hygiene really is the best proactive treatment to avoid dental issues in the first place.


Follow-up care

As the gums heal, the teeth will shift, and a patient’s bite will need to be adjusted several times over the coming months. Splints are sometimes used to stabilize and immobilize the teeth, and promote healing. Plan to have your teeth cleaned every three months for at least the first year.

If swelling occurs in the treated area, an ice pack placed on the face for 15 minutes is highly effective. Remember that even after the initial 10 days following treatment, healing is not fully complete. It’s important to make smart food choices for at least a month following treatment.

dental crowns

Your teeth are part of one big happy family, but when one of them is damaged or otherwise fails, the whole group suffers. The good news is that many instances of damage to teeth can be repaired with dental crowns, which are “covers” made from specially-designed and durable materials typically colored in a shade to naturally blend with your existing teeth.

Reasons for needing a crown vary, but some of the most common include:

  • Restoring large areas of decay that cannot be addressed with a typical filling
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restoring a tooth after root canal procedures
  • Cosmetic reasons to improve a discolored tooth
  • Rebuild structural areas of an injured or cracked tooth

Caring for dental crowns

Dental crowns are incredibly strong and with the right kind of attentive care they can last many years. The best strategy in caring for dental crowns blends regular dental visits with diligent oral care at home, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing them at least once, while maintaining a healthy diet.

Food to avoid with dental crowns

Always remember that it is a good idea to steer clear of very hard foods (no Jawbreakers) and don’t do things like chewing on ice; either of these choices could cause breakage of the crown. In addition to hard candy, other food can have a significant impact on the lifespan of your dental crowns, including nuts, sticky desserts, chewing gum, and even crunchy fresh vegetable such as carrots and broccoli.

Once the crown procedure is complete it doesn’t take much time to adjust to the feel of the crown on your repaired tooth. However, some foods can complicate the process and make your adjustment period more challenging. These kinds of food will not negatively affect your dental crown but if they make eating uncomfortable, you should at least temporarily eliminate them from your diet:

  • Soup, coffee, and other hot foods can cause some teeth adorned with crowns to feel sensitivity, especially if there was any gum recession also at play.
  • Cold foods can trigger the same painful sensitivity, so stay away from ice cream for a while.
  • Avoid sugary foods, sticky candy, and the like as an everyday rule, and always when you have a dental crown. Sugar is an express route to decay and sticky or hard foods can damage the crown.

Dental crown care tips

While the lifespan of a dental crown varies, your oral hygiene habits go a long way in extending that time frame. In addition to brushing, flossing, and rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash; be aware of and follow these tips:

  • Consider using a night guard. These guards resemble retainers to ensure upper and lower teeth do not touch, and they are also very helpful in protecting against grinding teeth while sleeping. Grinding teeth wears them down and can even cause a crown to pop right off.
  • Ditch bad habits like chewing your fingernails or ice, which can loosen a crown from its moorings. When brushing, remember to be attentive to the gumline area.
  • Some lower quality crowns are susceptible to chipping, such as porcelain-based varieties. A dentist may be able to restore a damaged crown by etching it with an adhesive to bond the crown’s composite resin. However, repaired crowns are prone to damage and are generally less durable.
  • Perhaps the most critical step in crown maintenance is keeping up with routine dentist visits. It’s easy to procrastinate but preemptive visits can help identify and remedy issues before they become serious (and expensive).

Remember, if you feel pain while chewing or biting down, immediately schedule an appointment so your dentist can investigate the cause of the problem. One common culprit is the crown sits up too high and in that case your dentist can adjust its shape and position. Other times, glue beneath the crown washes away and bacteria finds its way in to cause decay. Crowns can also fall off completely if not properly adhered.

If your crown does fall off, do not attempt to “glue” it back into place and most definitely do not ignore it and choose to simply put up with it. Use a temporary adhesive like Fixodent to keep the crown in place until your dentist can have a look.