What is Oral Surgery?
If your dentist refers you to an oral surgeon it may cause a little anxiety or fear. Don’t fear, as we will explain what an oral surgeon does and why they would be needed. An oral surgeon specializes in treating many diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck and, face. They also treat the jaws hard and soft tissues of the mouth and Maxillofacial (jaws and face) region. Oral surgery may be needed for facial pain or TMJ/TMD, wisdom teeth issues, a misaligned jaw, cleft lip, cancer to the face, jaw or neck area or obstructed sleep apnea.
People usually develop four wisdom teeth, each emerging behind the molars on both sides of the upper and lower jaw. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site, they usually appear between the ages of 17 and 21. How they emerge differs with the individual. Nonetheless, wisdom teeth may only partially erupt, or even stay buried within the gum tissue. Teeth that don’t appear and remain covered by this tissue or bone are called “impacted.” Oral surgery is needed to remove a wisdom tooth.
Problems with wisdom teeth primarily include pain and discomfort, infections, gum disease and tooth decay. Problems with wisdom teeth usually end with their removal. Dentists often prefer to remove wisdom teeth when patients are in their late teens or early 20s before they cause problems. At this age, wisdom teeth’s roots have not solidified in the jaw bone, and are easier to remove than in older patients. Removing wisdom teeth later in life also carries a slightly higher risk of damage to a major nerve in the jaw, called the inferior alveolar nerve.
Tooth extraction is the removal of a tooth from its socket in the bone. If a tooth has been broken or damaged by decay, your dentist/oral surgeon will try to fix it with a filling, crown or other treatment. Sometimes, though, there’s too much damage for the tooth to be repaired. In this case, the tooth needs to be extracted. A very loose tooth also will require extraction if it can’t be saved, even with bone replacement surgery (bone graft).
Your dentist or oral surgeon will take an X-ray of the area to help plan the best way to remove the tooth. Be sure to provide your full medical and dental history and a list of all medicines you take. This should include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements.
Dental implants are metal posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums. Once in place, they allow your dentist/oral surgeon to mount replacement teeth onto them.
Because implants fuse to your jawbone, they provide stable support for artificial teeth. Dentures and bridges mounted to implants won’t slip or shift in your mouth. This is an especially important benefit when eating and speaking. This secure fit helps the dentures and bridges, as well as individual crowns placed over implants, feel more natural than conventional bridges or dentures.