I have a strong apprehension to dentist offices. Therefore, I have not maintained a practice of attending regular dental check-ups. Then, a few years ago I lost a filling. I put off taking care of this and later that tooth broke. I prolonged having this looked at until the pain from the broken tooth became too much to bear.

When I finally saw the dentist, I learned that I needed a root canal. Following the root canal, the dentist did not follow up with me. However, because the pain had decreased for the most part, I did not follow-up either. I also did not have a cap put on the temporary filling. Therefore the temporary filling later fell out and an infection developed.

When I saw a different dentist about this, I learned the remaining part of the tooth needed extracted. In addition, because of the tooth’s poor condition, it was going to be quite invasive, involving the gums down to the bone. The dentist recommended I see an oral surgeon for the procedure and be under anesthesia. This is not something I can afford. Is an oral surgeon my only option, or can a general dentist conduct the procedure?

Thank you,
Jessica

Dear Jessica,

Your dilemma is an understandable one. First, it is important that you understand the reasons to see an oral surgeon for a procedure like this one. It would also be a good idea for you to develop questions to ask your dentist, to help you determine if an oral surgeon is the best route for you, even considering the cost.

Reasons to See an Oral Surgeon for Tooth Extraction

It could be that the dentist you say is not comfortable doing such an invasive extraction. He may be suggesting you seek out an oral surgeon to prevent himself from getting into trouble by taking on a procedure like this if it is outside his realm of experience.

Secondly, the procedure may be a traumatic experience for you, the patient. Therefore, he is suggesting seeing an oral surgeon in order for you to be under anesthesia, in order for the procedure to be easier on you.

Dental Anxiety Can Be Costly

As you are learning, the anxiety that sometimes accompanies dental visits and procedures can be quite expensive. If you had immediately replaced your filling after it fell out, there would not have been a need for the root canal you had. In addition, if the dental crown would have been placed quickly following the root canal, the tooth would not have needed extracted. And, if the tooth does get extracted, you may later need it replaced in order to keep your bite from collapsing.

Therefore, the idea of moving forward with the extraction procedure being done by an oral surgeon will prevent you from having a traumatic experience, which would just further amplify your dental anxiety and cause future dental issues for yourself.

Questions to Ask Dentist About Tooth Extraction

It is important to develop specific questions for your dentist, in order to help yourself better answer your question. Try asking how comfortable your dentist feels doing performing a procedure like this. Also consider asking if he has performed extractions like this before. It would be a good idea to find out if there is nitrous oxide available to help with your comfort level. Understanding if your roots are straight or tapered, or twisted with knobs on the end, would also be helpful.

From what you’re describing, it does sound like your dentist is sharing his fair and honest opinion with you, so place significant value in that while making your decision.

This blog post is sponsored by the office of Gilbert sedation dentist, Dr. Matthew Roper.