Five Ways an Oral Surgeon Can Help You

Five Ways an Oral Surgeon Can Help You

Oral surgery is one of nine specialty areas of dentistry. An oral surgeon performs surgery on the mouth and jaw--there are many diseases, injuries, and defects that require the services of an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons have nearly six more years of training than a regular dentist, allowing them to perform far more complicated procedures--although a dentist is capable of removing teeth, they can only handle very simple cases. Complicated extractions and other serious problems are always referred to an oral surgeon, where the patient is in expert hands and can also receive IV sedation when necessary. An oral surgeon treats a variety of conditions:

1. Tooth extraction. The most common type of tooth extraction that brings a patient to an oral surgeon is the wisdom tooth. Wisdom teeth are often impacted, meaning that the tooth does not have room to emerge properly and is stuck between the jawbone and gum tissue. Other teeth such as cuspids and bicuspids may be impacted as well, but it is most often seen with wisdom teeth. Impacted teeth can cause pain, swelling, infection, damage to other teeth, bone damage, and the formation of cysts. Sometimes severely damaged or broken down teeth require the expertise of an oral surgeon.

2. Dental implants. Restorative dentists require the help of an oral surgeon to assist patients in the process of receiving dental implants. Dental implants can be used to replace teeth that were lost due to an accident or infection, and the artificial tooth root is anchored in place in the jaw. Oral surgeons also handle the task of bone reconstruction that is often necessary for successful dental implants. They may need to modify gum tissue once implants are placed.

3. Pathological conditions. Oral surgeons address issues involving cysts, tumors, and infections of the mouth and face. They can remove cysts and send samples of abnormal growths to the laboratory for biopsy. Some areas in the mouth can become severely infected and require the attention of an oral surgeon, including the jaw, neck, and salivary glands.

4. Corrective surgery. Jaw problems and irregularities (serious bite problems, TMJ) often need surgical corrections to relieve pain and improve functionality. An oral surgeon and orthodontist work together to address these issues, and treatment usually requires realignment of the jaws. Birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate or facial trauma such as fractured bones and severed nerves can also be treated by an oral surgeon.

5. Obstructive Sleep Apnea treatment. Dentists first refer a patient with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) to a sleep clinic to determine the severity of the issue and the treatment necessary to alleviate it. There are many non-surgical options that help treat OSA including behavior modification, positive air pressure machines, and oral appliances. Unfortunately, there are times when none of these options work, and the patient is referred to an oral surgeon. A variety of surgical procedures can help in the treatment of OSA, some that open airways by tightening a tendon in the tongue or adjusting the jaws, and others that modify the soft palate to prevent airway collapse.

Oral surgeons treat an extensive variety of conditions that cannot be fixed in the dentist's office. Surgeons undergo considerable training after graduating from dental school, including training in a hospital-based surgery residency program. An oral surgeon treats patients in many settings, including hospitals, outpatient facilities, surgery centers, and their own dental offices. In addition to providing excellent care, oral surgeons ensure that patients are comfortable during complicated procedures by offering options such as IV sedation. Please feel free to contact us to learn more about oral surgery and how it can help you.

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