What are buried or extra teeth?
Most of us are born with 20 milk (baby) teeth and 32 permanent (adult) teeth. However, there are some of us (0.2%-3% of the population) who were born with an extra tooth or two. These types of teeth are called supernumerary teeth and they can occur anywhere in the mouth, usually appearing separately or in pairs or clusters.
Why must buried/extra teeth be removed?
Just like our wisdom teeth, supernumerary teeth can cause some problems including:
- Preventing the permanent teeth from erupting, resulting in gaps or spaces
- Malalignment of the teeth due to deflection of the normal eruption path of permanent teeth, thus resulting in crooked dentition
- Root resorption when a patient undergoes braces to straighten their crooked teeth
- Formation of cysts in rare cases
Therefore, removing these extra teeth is the best way to prevent/address these issues.
Your Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon will take some x-rays or if necessary and CT-scans of your mouth to get a better idea of where your extra teeth are, how many there are, and to check if there are any other dental issues.
How are buried/extra teeth removed?
If your extra tooth has fully erupted without incidence, it can be extracted easily.
- Firstly, local anaesthesia will be administered to the site of extraction.
- Once you are numb, your oral surgeon will gently “wiggle”the tooth until it loosens.
- The loosened tooth will then be removed from its socket; the socket is cleaned and disinfected to prevent any infections.
- If necessary, a bone graft may be placed to prevent future bone loss. Occasionally, the socket will be stitched up.
- Finally, you are ready to go with some aftercare instructions.
However, if your extra tooth is impacted (unable to erupt/emerge), then you will have to undergo a minor surgery to get it removed.
- Depending on your situation, either a local anaesthesia, sedation or general anaesthesia will be administered.
- Next, the layer of gum covering your extra tooth is raised.
- If your extra tooth is also covered by a piece of bone, that will be removed as well.
- The extra tooth is gently rocked back and forth until it loosens.
- Once loose, the tooth is removed from its socket.
- If the tooth is hard to remove or in an awkward position, the tooth will be removed in pieces.
- The socket is stitched up and a piece of gauze is placed in your mouth to help stop bleeding.
What is the recovery process like?
After extraction or surgery, you will experience some discomfort such as pain, bleeding, and swelling. Your oral & maxillofacial surgeon will provide you with antibiotics, pain medications, and instructions on how to care for your wound.
Aftercare for your supernumerary removal
- Bite down on the gauze for one to two hours; change the gauze if it becomes soaked with blood
- Drinks with glucose can be consumed after the surgery if you are hungry from fasting for the sedation or general anaesthesia. The gauze can be replaced immediately after drinking.
- Soft food can be consumed after a couple of a hours after surgery
- Do not smoke
- Consume only soft diet for two to three days after surgery
- Rinse your mouth with the prescribed antiseptic mouthwash after the surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
If my extra teeth are not causing me any problems, must I still remove them?
Just like your wisdom teeth, buried supernumeraries might cause you issues in the future like teeth eruption problems, malalignment of teeth or even cystic formation. It is thus best to get a consultation on whether they need to be removed.
What are the possible complications of extraction?
Possible complications include bleeding, swelling, mild discomfort in your jaw, and infection. The bleeding usually stops after a couple of days and swelling will go away after a few days. Antibiotics and painkillers will be prescribed to address any pain or infection.
What is the downtime from this procedure?
Every person heals differently but the average downtime can range from a few days to a week.
How do I prepare for extraction or surgery?
Preparations can vary from person to person, but in general, maintaining good oral hygiene is key to good healing. Stop smoking for at least 2 weeks prior to the surgery. If sedation or general anesthesia is indicated, avoid eating or drinking for 6 hours before your surgery.