Oral surgeons have the skillset and the technology to transform their patients’ mouths. From relatively simple tasks like removing impacted teeth to life-saving measures like removing oral cancer, these highly skilled professionals are trained to rescue their patients in their time of need.
There’s more than one way to get your teeth worked on. Dental surgeries come in many varieties and they can offer solutions to a wide array of underlying oral problems.
There are so many dental surgery types available, some patients struggle to understand how and why they need a particular surgery performed. Dental procedures range from commonplace to emergency-level, so it’s important to learn why certain procedures are done and why oral dental surgery is a necessary option for many.
What is Oral Surgery?
Oral surgery technically refers to any operation taking place on a person’s gums, teeth, or their surrounding oral spaces. This is done by an oral surgeon, periodontist, or a maxillofacial surgeon. These are dental specialists who are trained in a bevy of oral surgeries and procedures.
A dentist might recommend oral surgery for any of the following high-level reasons:
Gum disease that has progressed significantly might need to be treated via periodontal surgery. This is commonly referred to as “gum surgery.”
Those who suffer torturous nights due to sleep apnea can seek relief with help from an oral surgeon. If you are one of those individuals waking up multiple times throughout the night, your affliction can be treated with help from a dental practitioner, oftentimes in tandem with a nasal surgery.
Oral cancer is the most prevalent form of head and neck cancer. It normally affects people over the age of 60, and starts with the lips and tongue. The condition can also sneak down to the tonsils and back of your throat.
Decaying teeth might need to be removed and replaced, which is a job for a skilled oral surgeon. This can be a product of gum disease or wisdom teeth complications.
A cracked or fractured tooth could result in a visit with an oral surgeon. This procedure usually requires the use of oral anesthesia because it is more invasive and intense. The anesthetic will produce a numbing effect around the tooth so the patient will avoid feeling in pain during the procedure. From there, the dentist can safely loosen the tooth and begin the extraction.
Let’s expand into more specific restorative dental procedures performed by oral surgeons.
Common Types of Oral Surgeries & Dental Procedures
Here is our list of the most common dental procedures you might undergo.
Think of endodontic surgery as a tooth-saving measure. The goal here is to save a tooth via root canal therapy and fix any underlying problems that might be happening from a root canal.
Oftentimes, this is needed when calcium deposits have made the canal too narrow for dental instruments to proceed to the end of the root. Surgery may be required in order to treat root surfaces or the surrounding bone.
Endodontists might also perform procedures to divide a tooth in half or remove multiple roots if infected.
One of the most common types of endodontic surgeries is called an apicoectomy. This involves the removal of inflammatory gum tissue while leaving the top of the tooth in place. It usually works on the end of the tooth’s root which is also known as the apex.
Apicoectomies are a common procedure for children who suffer tooth injuries, providing a way to help them salvage the tooth.
Root canals might be needed if the person is suffering from a deep cavity or has a previous filling that has caused them issues.
How do you know whether you need a root canal? If you have severe pain from biting or chewing food, have a prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, or generally have swollen or tender gums. Those are a few of the more common signs.
This is a procedure used to restore infected baby teeth in children. It’s quite common that a child will experience infected baby teeth especially if they are not introduced to proper dental hygiene habits. Cavities can oftentimes destroy the outer layer of the tooth causing the soft pulp inside the child’s tooth to become vulnerable.
You’ll know there’s a problem if your child complains of pain when hot, cold, or overly sweet foods touch their teeth. This could be pulpitis, which involves the inflammation of the pulp.
The word “pulpotomy” is a direct translation of “to cut the pulp.” It literally means that the dentist will go in and remove the pulp then fill the space.
It’s important to note that a pulpotomy is not the same thing as a pulpectomy. A pulpectomy is done when a child’s tooth decay has gotten significantly worse, extending past the pulp in the crown to the pulp in the root.
Although it’s a safe procedure, the pulpotomy is not advised to be performed if the root’s pulp is not vital.
During a pulpectomy, the bulk of the pulp material is removed from the crowns and roots and is then thoroughly cleaned by the oral surgeon.
Like in a pulpotomy, these surgeries are needed because the child’s cavity went untreated for too long.
Pulpectomies are completely safe and common dental procedures for children.
In some cases the child might only need a partial pulpectomy. This would only involve the removal of the damaged portion of the pulp. As soon as that damaged portion is removed, the tooth could be properly cleaned and eventually filled.
Children can avoid visiting an oral surgeon altogether by brushing their teeth regularly and drinking water with their meals to eliminate nasty sugars and other substances. Their parents should also book them for regular dental exams to ensure there are no oral hygiene problems.
A Prosthodontist specializes in the diagnosis, treatment planning, and rehabilitation of patients who suffer clinical conditions due to missing or poor teeth.
Prosthodontists differ from regular dentists. These specialists deal with repairing natural teeth and replacing missing teeth including the installation of dental implants.
Prosthodontists perform what’s known as cosmetic dental surgery. These are procedures that are mostly elective, where patients want to improve their appearance or smile. Specially trained prosthodontists may work with individuals who have head or neck deformities.
Here are some of the additional procedures handled by prosthodontists.
Dental veneers are an easy way to improve your smile. These are thin coverings that are placed over the front part of the tooth.
They provide the appearance of natural teeth but are an effective cosmetic alternative. They can be used for chipped or worn teeth, teeth that are irreversibly stained and can’t be bleached, as well as for uneven spaces or large gaps between teeth.
To begin the procedure, a dentist will first make a mold of the prepared teeth, deciding which shade will best accentuate the patient’s smile. These impressions are sent off to a dental lab where the veneers are constructed.
Some patients may not do well with veneers, especially if they frequently grind or clench their teeth. The dentist may recommend the patient wears a plastic dental night guard while sleeping to prevent chipping the veneers.
Dental implants replace tooth roots and can provide a valuable foundation for both fixed and removable teeth. Oral surgeons install dental implants to help patients improve their appearances, speech, and overall comfort.
Like most procedures, it is recommended that patients favor soft foods to eat after dental surgery.
Most patients are eligible to receive dental implants as long as they have fairly healthy gums and enough bone to hold the implant in place.
What is involved in a dental implant procedure?
A tiny connecting post, known as an abutment, is placed to the implant after it has solidified in the jawbone in order to safely retain the new tooth. Your dentist generates imprints of your teeth and a model of your bite in order to fabricate the replacement tooth or teeth (which captures all of your teeth, their type, and arrangement). On this model, the new tooth or teeth are based. The abutment is then connected to a substitute tooth, known as a crown.
Dental implants aren’t extremely painful. They may require local anesthesia but most patients claim that these procedures are less painful than a tooth extraction.
Dentures provide an alternative to dental implants. There are two types of dentures, partial and complete. Complete dentures are created after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has started to heal. Most dentures are ready to be placed in the mouth roughly 8 to 12 weeks following tooth removal.
Partial dentures or bridges consist of replacement teeth that are molded onto a gum-colored plastic base. These are favorable when one or more natural teeth are still present in the upper or lower jaw.
The bridge portion is cemented into place and it makes it difficult for the other teeth to change positions.
Once new dentures are installed, they may feel a tad loose for a few weeks until the facial muscles learn to keep them firmly in place. When the procedure is formed correctly, dentures can closely resemble a set of real teeth.
Helping people with missing teeth literally fill the gap, dental bridges are a series of crowns placed on either side of the missing tooth or set of teeth. These will safely support the false tooth that is cemented in place.
Dental bridges literally bridge the gap and help restore smiles, but they have other lesser known purposes like distributing the force from biting evenly across teeth and preventing teeth from drifting out of position.
The abutment teeth are prepped at the first appointment to receive a dental bridge. These teeth must be recontoured by having some enamel removed during preparation in order to make space for a crown to be set on top of them.
The next step is to take imprints of the teeth, which will be used as a model by a dental lab to create the bridge, pontics, and crowns. While the bridge is being created, your dentist will create a temporary bridge for you to wear in order to cover the exposed teeth and gums.
Replacement crowns are placed over damaged or decayed teeth, helping patients retain the strength and appearance of their smile.
Crowns can protect weakened teeth, cover or support a tooth that has needed a large filling, or to hold a dental bridge in place.
The oral surgeon will assess your teeth upon visiting their office to determine whether you require a dental crown, an implant, or a bridge. Each individual has different requirements for their mouth.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Maxillofacial surgeons specialize in correcting injuries, diseases and facial defects. These advanced specialists are equipped to treat issues that arise from bones or tissues in a person’s jaw or lower face.
There is some overlap between maxillofacial surgeons and oral surgeons. Both treat a lot of the same conditions relating to the face or neck. Maxillofacial surgeons will work on misaligned jaws, impacted wisdom teeth, dental implants, and even more advanced conditions like cancers of the head or neck.
They may also treat individuals who suffer from a cleft lip or palate or who experience other birth defects.
Maxillofacial surgeons are oral surgeons who operate on patients for a wide array of reasons. Everything from disease treatment to jaw reconstruction, even TMJ disorders. These restorative dental procedures can transform lives and make individuals feel good again.
Medical Clearance for Oral Surgeries
Medical clearance is an important step that must take place prior to any major medical surgery, including most dental procedures.
A dental clearance involves communications between a medical provider and a patient’s dentist to confirm that a planned medical treatment is safe for the patient.
A full medical valuation is essential prior to any dental surgery taking place, especially more surgically-focused treatments like dental implants. Medical history as well as a medical physical examination should be completed prior to any treatment or oral surgery.
As patients age, it’s even more vital that these medical clearances are undergone to ensure a safer process.
While these clearances should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, it’s important for every patient to speak with their oral surgeon to receive the best advice for their upcoming procedure.
Dental Solutions That Fit Each Patient
Modern technology has given way to comprehensive medical solutions that fit the exact needs of every patient. The STA Single Tooth Anesthesia System has given a huge boost to the process of local anesthesia administering, as physicians are able to navigate with greater precision and give their patients less discomfort.
From cosmetic dentistry needs to endodontic purposes, the STA system is revolutionizing dental care for all.