Oral surgery is a broad term for any operation that is performed on the teeth, gums, jaw, or surrounding oral and facial structures. It includes a wide range of procedures, such as tooth extractions, dental bone grafts, periodontal (gum) grafts, and corrective jaw surgery. These procedures are often necessary to preserve overall oral health and to treat various conditions. The most common type of oral surgery is tooth extraction.
This may be recommended if you have severe tooth decay, gum disease (periodontitis), dental trauma, or complications with your wisdom teeth. Extractions are sometimes necessary to prepare you for dentures or other prosthetic devices. Wisdom teeth may also be removed as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of tooth decay, bone loss, and other problems. A dental bone graft is needed when bone loss has occurred in the jaw due to missing teeth.
This procedure restores the volume and density of the jaw so that dental implants can be placed later. Advanced gum disease can also cause the bone around the teeth to erode, so a bone graft may be used to reduce mobility and provide a strong foundation for healthy teeth. Dental implants are widely considered to be the most reliable and durable tooth replacement option available. These small threaded posts made of medical grade titanium or zirconium are embedded in the jawbone to replace the roots of missing teeth.
Once the implants are healed, they can be restored with dental crowns, bridges, or dentures. Corrective jaw surgery, also called orthognathic surgery, treats skeletal abnormalities of the jaw bones. This procedure may be recommended to improve chewing function, correct misalignment, or treat facial imbalances. It is also used to relieve pain caused by TMJ dysfunction (TMD).
Most people can return to work or school in a day or three after this procedure; however, more extensive procedures may take longer. In some cases, immediate tooth extraction may be necessary due to severe pain due to dental impaction, misaligned teeth, bleeding gums, hard-to-reach teeth, severe tooth decay, or cavities below the gum line. All of these cases require a visit to an oral surgeon to prevent the situation from worsening. An oral surgeon may also need to remove teeth due to damage from trauma or tooth decay.
Oral surgeons also treat cancers of the mouth, head and neck such as those of the salivary glands, sinuses, throat, larynx, and lips. They may also repair cleft lips and cleft palate to restore normal eating function and help a child develop appropriate speech patterns later in life. If you've recently had oral surgery and feel pain that won't go away with medication, a fever of 100.4°F or higher, or oozing at the site of surgery, call your surgeon right away. Suitable candidates for dental implants must have an adequate bone level and density, not be prone to infection, and must be willing to maintain good oral hygiene practices.