What is Oral Surgery and When is it Needed?
Learning that you need oral surgery can be overwhelming at first. Understanding the need for oral surgery and the procedures can help you to prepare for your treatment knowing that you will get the most out of it.
What is Oral Surgery?
Oral surgery is a broad term used to describe a range of procedures offered by oral and maxillofacial surgeons. In the most technical sense, oral surgery is a dental procedure that requires an invasive approach, meaning that areas below the soft tissue of the gum or mouth will be accessed.
If your dentist recommends oral surgery, it’s because this is the best approach to treat a disease or condition that compromises your oral health. Some surgeries are routine and are performed frequently, like surgical tooth extraction. Others, like corrective jaw surgery, are rarer but still have high success rates and low risk when looking across a broad group of patients.
Early detection and detailed treatment planning are critical to the success of oral surgery. Our dental team is ready to provide a comfortable experience in a safe environment to ensure that your long-term dental health is protected.
Why Would You Need Oral Surgery?
While many dental conditions can be treated without surgery, some warning signs and scenarios can indicate that surgery is necessary. Only your dentist can determine if you need oral surgery.
Some of the most common reasons to perform surgery include:
- Oral cancer
- Noncancerous lumps
- Sleep apnea
- Loss of bone in the jaw
- Impacted wisdom teeth
- Infected or broken wisdom teeth
- Extensive tooth decay
- Missing teeth
- TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorders
If you have dental concerns it’s always best to present these to your Hayes, VA family dentist at Hayes Family Dentistry. With an examination, the best treatment approach can be planned.
Common Types of Oral Surgery
The most common type of oral surgery is surgical tooth extraction. This is performed when the tooth can’t be extracted without surgical access. The tooth may need to be sectioned (broken into pieces) before it is extracted.
Other common reasons to have surgery are for the placement of dental implants, to restore bone loss in the jaw, or to improve the size and shape of the jaw in preparation for implants.
Your dentist may recommend a surgical tooth extraction if you have a tooth or teeth that can’t be saved with fillings, crowns, inlays, or onlays.
Tooth extractions are performed under local anesthesia in most cases, ensuring your comfort. More complex procedures may require general anesthesia or another form of sedation for safety.
Once a tooth is extracted, it can be restored with a denture or, for a more permanent replacement, a dental implant.
Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom teeth often cause problems due to the shrinking of the average human jaw over generations. When wisdom teeth don’t have room to erupt safely, they can get stuck (impacted), infected, or may damage the surrounding teeth.
Wisdom tooth extraction is a surgical procedure to safely remove the wisdom tooth. This can be performed before the tooth causes problems if the likelihood of complications is detected early. Your dental surgeon will make an incision in the gum to remove the wisdom tooth, usually in sections.
This type of dental surgery is used to treat the most advanced stages of gum disease. Incisions will be made on the gums so that teeth can be extensively cleaned along the roots. Plaque and bacteria will be removed to stop inflammation and infection. Periodontal surgery may also be combined with gum grafting in cases where the gums have significantly receded.
Dental Bone Grafting
Bone grafting is performed when the jaw has lost density and it needs to be restored for implants or to correct appearance and functional issues. In this type of procedure, your surgeon will access the bone below your gums with an incision. Grafting material will be placed before the site is covered with a membrane and sutured over.
Over several weeks or months, the grafting material will be remodeled into healthy bone through the body’s natural processes.
Bone Loss and Deterioration
If you lose a tooth, your jawbone will start to degrade. Without a root in place, it will shrink and reabsorb into the body. This comes with several complications. It can change the shape of your jaw, which results in a gaunt or sunken appearance around the mouth. Structurally, bone loss also compromises the stability of surrounding teeth.
Dental bone grafting treats bone loss to prepare you for other forms of dental treatment.
Dental bone grafting is also performed to enhance the natural structure of the jaw. If you need an implant in the back of your mouth where the jawbone is thinner and weaker, you could have a sinus augmentation (also called a sinus lift) to add more bone. Grafting material will be used to widen the jawbone so that dental implants can be safely placed.
Dental Implant Surgery
Dental implants are the gold standard for tooth replacement. Dental implant surgery is the procedure used to place implants. Implants are screwed into the jaw. Bone forms around the implants, making them functionally identical to natural tooth roots. Prosthetic teeth are then attached to the tops of implants.
There is a range of different systems available, from individual implants for each tooth, to denture systems that use a few implants to support a prosthetic.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
In some cases, problems with the bite can be so severe that they require corrective jaw surgery. Performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, this type of surgery addresses issues like Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), severe misalignment, and facial imbalances.
Complex Oral Surgery Treatments are Designed Around Your Unique Needs
Because corrective jaw surgery is used to treat a diverse range of problems, the specific procedure will be designed around your unique needs. Patients have an expectation of safety and surgical success. It’s important to choose a dental surgeon that you can trust for your procedure.
With our extensive experience, treatment planning, and diagnostic approach, you can be sure that your surgery will be designed to ensure a positive outcome.
When Should You Visit Your Care Provider
Visit your family dentist or oral surgeon any time that you have concerns about a dental issue. Outcomes are enhanced when dental issues are diagnosed and treated early. If you have tooth loss, problems with your bite, or if you have severe pain and infection, your oral surgeon can help.
Recovering from Oral Surgery
Recovery varies depending on the specific treatment. With some procedures, you can return to normal activity within a few days. Even some complex procedures have relatively short recovery periods, although full healing time from surgery and grafting can take up to six months (longer in rare cases).
The treatment and recovery timeline will be covered in detail by your dentist.
Begin Your Consultation for Oral Surgery Today
You don’t need to be anxious about dental surgery. In every case, the surgery will result in a more aesthetic and comfortable smile, with a better outlook for your long-term dental health.
The team at Hayes Family Dentistry is ready to begin your consultation. Learn about your options for dental treatment, including oral surgery. Book your appointment by contacting us at (804) 642-2212 today.