Do you need your wisdom teeth removed? Oral Surgery can be scary when you're not informed. Read to learn more about your options and what to expect when you do need Oral surgery.
What is an Oral Surgeon?
An Oral Surgeon, also referred to as an oral-maxillofacial surgeon, is a dental professional specializing in performing surgical and non-surgical procedures on the mouth, face, and neck. These procedures may include oral surgery, reconstructive surgery, and cosmetic dentistry.
Is Oral Surgery a Specialty?
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons diagnose and treat a broad spectrum of diseases, injuries, and defects in the following areas:
- The hard and soft tissue of the oral and maxillofacial region.
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a surgical specialty recognized by the American College of Surgeons. In addition, it is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association,The Royal College of Dentists of Canada, and the Royal Australasian College of Dental Surgeons.
How Long Does it Take to Become an Oral Surgeon?
Education and specialized training for an oral and maxillofacial surgeon include:
- Two (2) to four (4) years undergraduate study (BS, BA, or equivalent degrees);
- Four (4) years of dental school (DMD, BDent, DDS, or BDS);
- Four (4) to six (6) years of residency training;
- Six (6) years includes two (2) additional years for acquiring a medical degree.
After completion of surgical training, most undertake final specialty examinations. The certifying body in the US is the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. After secondary school, on average, oral surgeons go through twelve (12) to fourteen (14) years of education and training.
In addition, graduates of oral and maxillofacial surgery training programs can pursue fellowships, typically one (1) to two (2) years in length, in the following areas:
- Head and neck cancer – microvascular reconstruction;
- Cosmetic facial surgery (facelift, rhinoplasty, etc.);
- Craniofacial surgery and pediatric maxillofacial surgery (cleft lip and palate repair, surgery for craniosynostosis, etc.);
- Cranio-maxillofacial trauma (soft tissue and skeletal injuries to the face, head, and neck).
What Procedures Does an Oral Surgeon Perform?
An Oral Surgeon performs surgical and non-surgical procedures on the mouth, face, and neck. Common procedures include:
- The surgical removal of abscessed teeth;
- The placement of dental implants to replace broken or missing teeth (A dental implant looks like a natural tooth and, unlike a denture or bridge, is permanently screwed into the jawbone or gum);
- The correction of congenital facial disabilities, including cleft lip or cleft palate;
- Emergency reconstructive surgery, such as repairing broken or shattered jaw and cheekbones after an accident;
- Treatment of oral cancer and other diseases of the mouth;
- Surgical procedures to help treat sleep apnea;
- A wide range of elective cosmetic procedures, including eye lifts, cheek implants, and BOTOX® injections.
When Would I Need to See an Oral Surgeon?
A general dentist typically refers a patient to an Oral Surgeon for conditions that require attention beyond the scope of general dentistry. Instances include an abscessed tooth that needs extraction, a missing tooth that requires a dental implant, or indications of oral cancer that may require surgical treatment.
Treatment of Functional Dental & Oral Health Problems
- Tooth extractions provide in-office anesthesia services: The most common oral surgery is wisdom tooth removal. They are the last set of teeth to develop, and most of the time, these molars do not grow correctly. Patients experience swelling, pain, and infection of the gums. Depending on your case, the surgeon may recommend surgery to remove your wisdom teeth. Although this is a minor surgery compared to reconstructions or dental implants, there is some discomfort and pain during the first days following the surgery.
- Treating facial defects or injuries: Oral surgeons repair facial injuries such as a fractured jaw, as well as other injuries involving cheeks, nasal bones, eye sockets, and the forehead.
- Placement of dental implants: Oral surgeons reconstruct bone areas for tooth implants. As a result, dental implants are an excellent option for patients who have lost one or more teeth.
Preparing for Oral Surgery
When a patient requires oral surgery, scheduling a consultation with a well-trained and qualified oral surgeon is the best place to start. With their training and education, an oral surgeon will address your needs and ease the anxiety you may feel when faced with a significant operation. There are several things a surgeon will need to consider before scheduling a procedure for you. These may include your overall health and the extent of the damage or trauma to the injured area.
Your oral surgeon will check for cardiac health and any underlying diseases and conditions which can harm you during or after surgery. Some conditions and diseases can affect the circulatory system causing blood clots. Situations like blood clots can be dangerous after surgery and may cause bleeding and hemorrhaging. Your head is a network of nerves and blood vessels. As a result, a small cut causes excessive bleeding. There are also instances when a person has a low immune system making them a target for infection post-surgery. A patient's age is also a significant factor. Older patients may have difficulty with their blood pressure. Many oral surgeons will not operate unless you have a clean bill of health from pre-operative testing and screening.
Nobody looks forward to oral surgery; however, it is necessary for many reasons. Generally, to have any surgery, your general dentist must refer you to an oral surgeon. If your dentist cannot fix the problem, they will refer you to a surgeon. Dentists often develop good working relationships with oral surgeons. Often, they continuously refer patients to the same surgeons.
Detailed Examples of Dental Issues Requiring Oral Surgery
Shifting Teeth and Gumline: After wearing braces, the realignment of teeth may cause your gums to change.
Impacted Teeth: Wisdom teeth are not the only reason you may have impacted teeth. Patients may get an infection if their impacted teeth are left untreated. Generally, this occurs from the teenage years to the early twenties.
Cleft Palate: You may be surprised to know a cleft palate is a congenital disability. There is a split between the bottom or top palate and lip. It is not a tear or cut. Patients suffering from a cleft palate may have the following issues:
- Difficulties with the development of teeth;
- Upon correction, patients generally require braces or other orthodontic treatment for proper tooth alignment and growth.
Additional Causes for Oral Surgery:
- Biopsy or removal of a lesion;
- Sleep apnea;
- Infection in your face;
- Repairing facial injury;
- Gum and tooth loss;
- Unequal jaw growth.
How Do I Find a Local Qualiﬁed Oral Surgeon Near Me?
The Smile Generation® connects you with trusted, experienced, and qualified local Oral Surgeons. As you can see, there are numerous reasons why your general dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon. At Smile Generation, you can ﬁnd a list of local, qualiﬁed oral surgeons in your area. Our directory allows you to view staff bios, read patient reviews, and request your appointment online in minutes. You can click here to start searching for an Oral Surgeon today. You may also call us at +1 (800) 764-5343 or use our Website's Live Chat feature located in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.