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Oral Surgery

Reasons to Have One, What to Expect, Associated Risks & More

8 Reasons You Would Need Oral Surgery

1. Remove Your Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the last teeth to erupt through the gums and usually grow in between the ages of 16 and 20. Many times, the mouth is not large enough to accommodate wisdom teeth, which can lead to problems such as overcrowding, cavities, infection, and gum disease. When these issues occur, oral surgery may be performed to remove wisdom teeth and help people maintain good oral health.[1]

2. Tooth Extraction

Oral surgery may be performed to extract one or more teeth that are contributing to oral health problems. Some of the reasons a tooth will need to be extracted include abscess, tooth injury, overcrowding, problematic impacted teeth, and gum disease.[2]

3. Dental Implants

Dental implants are devices that support replacement teeth. Dental implants may be surgically placed into the jawbone like the root of a natural tooth, or sit on top of the jaw below the gums. Oral surgery is commonly performed to place dental implants in the mouth and to help those who may have lost teeth due to factors such as infection, disease, and injury.[3]

4. Jaw Correction

Jaws that are misaligned or that have deformities can be improved or corrected using oral surgery.[4] Oral surgery may be performed to alter the shape of the jaw and correct problems with an overbite or underbite, or to correct birth defects such as cleft lip and palate.[5]

5. Repair the Temporomandibular Joint

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to the side of the head and supports the acts of yawning, talking, and chewing. People who develop problems with this joint may experience symptoms including misaligned bite, limited jaw movement, stiff jaw, painful clicking in the jaw, or pain that radiates through the neck, face, and jaw.[6] Oral surgery is commonly performed to repair the TMJ.[4]

6. Remove Cysts, Tumors, and Cancers

Oral surgery may be performed to remove cysts, tumors, and cancers of the mouth or jaw, as well as to perform biopsies that help diagnose and identify any of these conditions. Symptoms of oral tumors and cancers include pain when swallowing or chewing, bad breath, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and lumps or ulcers in the mouth.[7]

7. Cosmetic Improvements

Oral surgery may be performed to improve the appearance of the mouth, jaw, and face. Cosmetic oral surgery can help rejuvenate the face and repair deformities caused by trauma, disease, birth defects, and the natural aging process.[4] Mouth reconstruction and smile makeover are just some cases in which oral surgery may be used to improve one’s physical appearance.[8]

8. Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes narrowed or blocked, causing impaired breathing when sleeping. Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up gasping for air, and feeling groggy or sleepy during the day. Oral surgery may be performed to remove excess tissue in the throat, correct the facial structure, open the windpipe, or remove tonsils and adenoids contributing to sleep apnea.[9]

Understanding Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is a dental specialty that involves the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions that affect the mouth, neck, jaw, and face. Oral surgery can be used to treat impacted teeth, TMJ disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, misaligned jaws, cleft lip and palate, oral cysts or tumors, and mouth cancers. Oral surgery can be performed in a number of different ways depending on the condition being treated.[4]

Risks of Oral Surgery

Common risks associated with oral surgery include swelling, pain, bleeding, dry socket, infection, and discharge of pus at the treatment site. Many dentists and surgeons who perform oral surgery will discuss the possible risks and complications associated with your procedure beforehand. Pain following oral surgery can range anywhere from moderate to severe but can be treated using over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription painkillers.[10]

What to Expect with Oral Surgery

Local or general anesthesia is commonly used before oral surgery to prevent you from feeling pain during your procedure. Each type of oral surgery will be different from the next depending on the symptoms and the root cause of the condition.

During wisdom teeth removal or other tooth extractions, the surgeon will make incisions in the gums or loosen the teeth, then remove the affected teeth using an elevator, forceps, and other dental instruments.[2] Problems with the TMJ may be resolved by performing surgery on the mandible or the joint itself.[11] Surgery for oral tumors and cancers may involve the removal of cancerous tissue and surrounding tissue, removal of part of the jawbone, tongue, lips, or removal of the lymph nodes in the neck.[12]

Your oral surgeon will talk to you about what to expect from your specific type of oral surgery. Each procedure is associated with different recovery times and downtime, based on the extent of the procedure and severity of the condition being treated.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Oral Surgery

  • What type of anesthesia will be used to perform my oral surgery?
  • How long will the healing process take?
  • What are the possible risks and complications associated with my oral surgery?
  • Will oral surgery resolve all my symptoms?
  • How should I prepare for my procedure?
  • How can I prevent post-op complications after the procedure?
  • Should I avoid certain foods, beverages, or activities following oral surgery?
  • How long will my surgery take?
  • Will I be allowed to drive home after my procedure?
  • What will happen during my oral surgery?
  • What type of medicines or medications will I need to reduce pain after my procedure?
  • When can I go back to work after having oral surgery?

Oral Surgery May Also be Known as:

  • Oral maxillofacial surgery
  • Cosmetic maxillofacial surgery
  • Cosmetic oral surgery
  • Dental surgery
  • Mouth surgery
  • Facial reconstruction
  • Jaw surgery

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