The removal of the wisdom teeth is almost a rite of passage for teens and young adults. But just because a treatment is common doesn't mean it's completely free of risks. One of those risks is known as a tuberosity fracture. It sounds unpleasant, and usually is, but it can be treated.
What's a Tuberosity?
A tuberosity is simply a raised-up part of bone, usually where the muscle attaches. You can find them all over your body, including on the maxilla (or upper jaw), on the shoulder, and on the tibia (lower leg bone). In the jaw, the tuberosity is covered by gum tissue and is located behind your last molars.
Tuberosity Fracture Causes
There are a few reasons why the fracture may occur. As the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association notes, certain anatomical anomalies may increase a person's risk for a tuberosity fracture. If your teeth are long-rooted or have multiple roots, you might have a higher risk for fracture, for example. Having an excess buildup of bony tissue on the roots can also put you at a greater risk for fracture during a tooth extraction. The density of your bone may play a part, as can the use of an elevator during the tooth extraction.
How to Know If It Breaks
Sometimes, it can be easy for you or your dentist to tell that the tuberosity has fractured during a tooth extraction. There might be a very loud crack when it happens. Additionally, the tooth and bone might suddenly become loose, even though the dentist hasn't finished the extraction process. You might not feel the fracture happen, though, due to any anesthetic your dentist will have given you. If you're completely under or have been given a sedative, you might not know that it's happened until after you awake from the surgery.
Since the maxillary tuberosity is close to the maxillary sinus, there is a chance that the fracture can cause an opening in the sinus cavity. You might experience sinus symptoms, such as congestion or a sinus infection, if the fracture isn't treated right away.
How It Is Treated
How your dentist treats the fracture depends on a number of factors. Treatment might be as simple as removing the broken bit of bone and stitching the wound closed. More complicated fractures, such as larger fractures or those that have perforated the sinus cavity, may need specialized surgery, performed by an oral surgeon, rather than by a general dentist.
When you're seeing a dentist to have a problem with your teeth fixed, the last thing you want is for something else to go wrong. If your dentist recommends extracting of your upper molars or wisdom teeth, and you're concerned about the potential for a tuberosity fracture, ask him or her what you can do to minimize the risk. Adopt a great at-home oral care routine, such as brushing with a silica toothpaste like Colgate Total Advanced Deep Clean, which fights germs for 12 hours, and visit your dentist regularly to learn more about your teeth and keep your smile healthy.