What is Oral Surgery?

Oral care is a vital part of your overall health, not just because a great smile makes you feel more confident, but also because many dental concerns can significantly impact your health if left untreated and cause significant complications. Although the team at Dental Excellence does everything in their power to treat your dental conditions conservatively, there are times when dental surgery is necessary to correct serious problems.

Oral surgeons, or dental surgeons, are medical doctors who specialize in surgeries of the mouth, sinuses, and jaw. They’re trained to diagnose the extent of damage that tooth decay, an accident or injury, chronic joint issues like TMJ disorder, or periodontitis has done to your mouth and then prepare a customized treatment to repair it. This often includes surgical procedures in the mouth or face.

At Dental Excellence, we have several team members who hold either a Master’s Degree in Dental Surgery or their Doctorate in Dental Surgery in addition to excelling in traditional dental school, qualifying them to perform many types of oral surgery. Today, they’re answering common questions patients have about oral surgery.

What Is Oral Surgery?

Any type of surgery performed in or around your jaw or mouth is considered oral surgery. Procedures range from tooth repair to a realignment of a jaw and reconstructive surgery after an accident. They are done by a specialist in dental surgery. If you’re seeking an oral surgeon, it’s important to find someone who is a board-certified oral surgeon.

An oral surgeon may have several different titles, according to their area of expertise, such as:

  • Endodontists, who specialize in treating the soft pulp tissue inside the tooth and the tooth root. They often perform root canals.
  • Periodontists, who focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of periodontal disease (gum disease) and are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation. They often place dental implants.
  • Prosthodontists, who handle dental and facial restoration of the teeth and jaw structure. They’re ones who often treat temporomandibular disorders (TMJ) and are highly skilled in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, including placing dental implants, crowns, dentures, and bridges.

What Kinds of Oral Surgery Are There?

Oral surgery is an umbrella term that covers many different individual procedures. Sometimes, your treatment plan will involve more than one of these types of operations. For example, if you’re receiving oral surgery to remove a tumor, you may have additional reconstructive procedures afterward to repair any damage or abscesses the tumor caused. Or, if you’re receiving a dental implant to replace a missing tooth, you may have a bone grafting surgery prior to the implant being placed.

Common oral surgery procedures

  • Root canal, preserving the tooth by removing the inflamed or infected tooth root
  • Removing wisdom teeth, including those that are impacted
  • Completing a gum or bone graft
  • Placing dental implants
  • Tooth and jaw repair after an accident or injury
  • Maxillofacial surgery

How Do I Know If I Need Oral Surgery?

If you receive regular dental checkups – the American Dental Association recommends professional cleanings and exams every six months – then your dentist will likely spot small problems before they become larger ones. However, if they aren’t able to treat the oral concern themselves, they will recommend that you see a specialist. Other times, such as after an injury, you’ll want to see a restorative dentist or oral surgeon right away.

Preparing For Oral Surgery

Each procedure is different, and although many oral surgery procedures are minimally invasive, and can be done on an outpatient basis, these are still serious medical procedures, and it’s important to follow your physician’s directions carefully for the best results.

If you smoke or drink alcohol, try to abstain for a few days before your surgery and afterward, until you’re fully healed. Alcohol and the chemicals in cigarettes can slow the healing process and may cause inflammation or complications in your mouth following oral surgery.

Preparing your home before surgery so that you can comfortably rest and recover is also important. Check which kinds of foods and drinks you can have after your surgery and stock your fridge. If you have an active pet, you may wish to have a pet sitter help you out for the first couple of days. Clean the house and make your bed comfortable, so that you can rest peacefully as you heal. If possible, arrange for someone to give you a ride to and from the surgery, especially if you will have IV anesthesia or if you’ll be sedated.

You’ll likely have pre-surgical instructions from your oral surgeon, which often include not eating or drinking within 8-12 hours of your surgery.

What is Oral Surgery Recovery Like?

Depending on the kind of procedure you have done, recovery can take as little as a couple of days or as long as a month, if it’s intensive jaw realignment and reconstruction, or a bone graft. There will likely be some swelling around the site, and you may use an ice pack to soothe this or a warm compress. Instead of brushing your teeth, rinse your mouth with salt water every few hours to kill off any bacteria, and ask your oral surgeon when you can brush and floss normally again.

Can I eat after oral surgery?

Room temperature soft foods are the best to eat after surgery – and some of our patients may even choose to eat baby food. Don’t drink anything through a straw, and avoid overly hot or cold beverages.

Soft foods eaten at room temperature are the ideal foods to eat after oral surgery. Avoid consuming anything through a straw and don’t eat any hard, crunchy, or chewy foods.

Choose Dental Excellence For Your Oral Surgery!

At Dental Excellence, we can cover every aspect of keeping your mouth healthy, including regular dental procedures and complicated oral surgeries. We have several highly trained oral surgery specialists on staff to help with both reconstructive and cosmetic needs, plus gum disease treatment or tooth decay that can be painful and impact your overall health and quality of life. Give us a call today to discuss your symptoms and schedule a personalized consultation.

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