Oral surgical procedures can either be performed by a general dentist or an oral surgeon. But there are certain conditions that only oral surgeons are licensed to do. Oral surgeons help with various dental issues such as wisdom teeth, impacted teeth, bone loss, and jaw misalignment. They’re able to treat traumatic oral conditions and chronic diseases involving the mouth.
Who Are Oral Surgeons?
Most oral surgeons work full time, handling different types of patients who need oral assessment and intervention. They have the same educational preparation as general dentists with additional four years spent in oral surgery residency training to specialize in the field.
Oral surgeons are trained dentists specializing in surgeries of the teeth, gums, mouth, jaws, and neck. They consult with patients about various treatment options, conduct surgeries, and keep abreast of the latest dental technology advancements.
In this article, you’ll learn the different conditions that only oral surgeons can help you with to promote good dental health.
1. Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Oral surgeons are different from general dentists because they have spent years of additional training or certification, such as a dentist Auckland with oral surgery experience. A general dentist can perform minor dental procedures such as tooth extraction, whereas oral surgeons perform more complex oral surgical procedures such as wisdom teeth extraction.
Wisdom teeth or third molars usually fail to erupt properly. Hence, they become impacted in the gum tissue or in the alveolar or jaw bone. Oral surgeons remove impacted wisdom teeth, alleviating the pain and reducing the risk of infection.
2. Tooth And Bone Loss
When your teeth are missing, your bone will no longer get the stimulation it requires to grow, which results in bone loss. Bone loss will eventually cause jaw shrinking, so it becomes less stable and supportive to the remaining teeth. If this happens, bone loss can alter the shape of the face and smile.
Oral surgeons replace missing teeth with titanium dental implants, acting as fixed replacement tooth roots. It would take several weeks for a titanium implant to heal. Once the healing process is finished, the dental implant is joined to the bone.
The oral surgeon may need to perform a bone graft before placing the implant if there’s no enough bone available to hold the titanium implant securely.
3. Facial Trauma Or Injury
Facial trauma or injury can be caused by different factors such as a bad fall, car accident, a facial blow, or hit by a blunt or sharp object. Facial structure trauma alterations may include dislocated or fractured jaw.
While oral and maxillofacial surgeons have more advanced medical training and can do more facial surgeries as compared to orals surgeons, the latter entirely treat conditions within the oral cavity or mouth with less professional fees. Oral surgeons routinely provide treatment and care to patients with oral lacerations.
4. Sleep Apnea
A person may repeatedly stop breathing during sleep, which is a manifestation of sleep apnea. This sleep condition is usually a result of excessive soft tissue near the airway opening or a poorly positioned jaw.
Oral surgeons can perform different surgical procedures to treat sleep apnea. They work closely with sleep specialists to know the best intervention for the patient if surgery is necessary.
Because people who have sleep apnea tend to have small, narrow jaws due to diminished airway size that led to obstruction during sleep, oral surgeons advance the lower jaw to enlarge the upper airway for the patient to breathe properly and stop obstructive sleep apnea.
The most common surgical intervention for obstructive sleep apnea is Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, which removes the obstructive excessive soft palate and pharyngeal tissue. The patient needs to stay overnight in the medical facility for monitoring with expected prolonged recovery time.
5. TMJ Disorders
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders can be a result of an abnormality in the jaw structure, characterized by headaches, popping sounds in ears, ear pain, sore jaw muscles, locking of the jaw, and even pain. Oral surgeons can provide relief from TMJ disorder signs and symptoms through surgical correction.
If you have TMJ, you need to see an oral surgeon if you experience any of the following:
- Ear Pain and Pressure: TMJ syndrome can cause pressure in the ears or earaches. An oral surgeon can help alleviate this symptom by performing surgery to ease joint inflammation.
- Strange Jaw Sounds: You need to consult an oral surgeon if you hear strange jaw sounds such as grating, clicking, and popping noises.
- Tension Headaches: A common TMJ disorder symptom is headache-like pain. An oral surgeon can determine if temporomandibular joint issues are present.
- Facial And Neck Pain: TMJ disorder can also cause facial and neck pain, which is also a type of referred pain.
- Shifting Teeth: The teeth’ position can also affect TMJ disorder. Some patients complain that their bite feels different, prompting them to obtain TMJ treatment. However, some people are unaware that they have TMJ disorder until they consult an oral surgeon.
6. Congenital Jaw Defects
The function and appearance are affected if the lower and upper jaws develop differently. Birth defects can also cause jaw abnormalities. Oral surgeons can help improve the jaw in such cases.
Oral surgeons can treat birth defects, including cleft lip and palate. It’s important to correct a cleft lip or cleft palate for functionality and aesthetic purposes. These congenital defects may cause feeding difficulty because the roof of the mouth or palate is incomplete. Other issues include speech problems, ear infections, hearing loss, and dental problems.
Oral surgeons can perform multiple surgical procedures as part of a team with other surgeons for complex procedures. The role of an oral surgeon is to correct dental impairments and restore good upper jawbone function. They can also handle bone loss due to painful jaw disease.
Oral surgeons can perform surgical procedures such as wisdom tooth extraction, reconstructive dental surgery, tumor removal, soft tissue repair, positioning of implants, and jaw realignment surgery. If you’re experiencing any of the above conditions, don’t hesitate to consult an oral surgeon as soon as possible to find the best intervention for your dental condition.