Our bodies give us clues, sometimes, when there is something going on that requires a visit to a dental professional. Tender gums can be a sign that you’re at risk for gingivitis. Temporary sensitivity to heat and cold can indicate a cavity. Morning headaches can mean you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep.
And sometimes, there are more urgent warning signs. You should see Dr. Herbst immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Severe or continuous tooth pain
- Painful, swollen, or inflamed gums, or a sore on the gums near the root that looks like a pimple
- Pain or stiffness in the jaw, or swelling in the face and cheek
- Pressure-induced pain when biting down or chewing
The common denominator here is clear: significant or lasting pain is a symptom that you should never ignore. Pain in any of these areas could be caused by a tooth that is badly damaged or cracked, an abscessed tooth, pulp damage or infection, problems caused by an impacted wisdom tooth, or periodontal disease that has spread to tissue and bone.
Does severe pain always mean you will need an extraction? No. Even in the case of serious injury or infection, your dentist, orthodontist, periodontist, or endodontist will do their best to save your tooth. After all, these professionals are in the business of saving teeth.
So if pain is a strong indication, but not always a conclusive one, what is the number one sign that you might need a tooth extraction?
- Your dentist, orthodontist, periodontist, or endodontist recommends it.
After all, dentists are in the business of saving teeth, and have devoted years to studying the very best techniques to do so. If your dental professional tells you that a compromised tooth requires extraction, you need to take that recommendation seriously—not just to relieve your pain, but to prevent damage to nearby teeth, gums, and bone.
And sometimes, although there might be no uncomfortable warning signs, your dentist or orthodontist might advise extraction. Impacted wisdom teeth, even if you don’t see or feel them yet, could damage nearby teeth as they erupt. Your orthodontic treatment might require a tooth extraction because of serious overcrowding. Rarely, you might even have an extra (“supernumerary”) tooth that is blocking your permanent teeth from erupting.
If you need a tooth extraction for any reason, but especially when a tooth is seriously damaged or impacted, your dentist or orthodontist will often recommend that you see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Why?
- Education and Training—Oral surgeons have advanced surgical training. They study at a hospital-based residency program for an additional four to six years. Here they train with medical residents in treating the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaw.
- Experience—Because oral surgeons are surgical specialists, they regularly perform extraction procedures of all kinds.
- Complications—If your case should prove to be more difficult than a simple extraction—if, for example, the tooth’s roots lie close to a nerve—your oral surgeon has the knowledge and training to treat your specific circumstances.
- Anesthesia—Oral surgeons are experts in all forms of anesthesia, so whether you opt for a local anesthetic or would prefer sedation dentistry, you will be able to select the anesthesia you feel will provide the most comfortable experience.
If, sometimes, your body lets you know that a tooth needs attention, take that warning seriously! And, if your dental professional has recommended a tooth extraction, making an appointment at our Union City, NJ office with Dr. Herbst is a good idea—every time.