Though everyone hopes that they don’t have to use the services of an oral surgeon, oral surgery is simply necessary for some people some of the time. But under what circumstance should someone go to an oral surgeon? Here are some reasons:
1. Wisdom Tooth Extraction
This is the most common type of oral surgery. Since the human jaw doesn’t really have enough space for all of its teeth, wisdom teeth often need to be pulled. A wisdom tooth is a molar that tries to erupt even though there’s no space in the jaw for it. This causes the other teeth in the jaw to become misaligned, which can negatively affect the patient’s bite. A crowded jaw is also more at risk for periodontal disease.
A wisdom tooth gets its “wisdom” moniker because it tends to cause trouble when the patient is past the age when other permanent teeth emerge.
Other reasons for a dentist or orthodontist to refer a patient to an oral surgeon are:
2. Impacted Teeth
These are teeth that haven’t erupted, usually because they are blocked by another tooth. Sometimes they don’t cause symptoms, but when they do cause pain an oral surgeon can remove them. In some cases, the oral surgeon needs to cut through bone then cut the tooth into pieces to remove it.
Some impacted teeth erupt only partially. This makes them hard to clean, which in turn makes them more at risk of decay. The gum around an impacted tooth is also more susceptible to gum disease.
3. Oral Cancer and Infections
Other reasons or oral surgery are oral cancer or deep-seated infections in the oral cavity. An oral surgeon can remove a tumor that’s suspected of being malignant or has been shown to be malignant. They may also need to operate to remove a dangerous infection.
4. Corrective or Cosmetic Surgery
A person may be born with some deformities of the jaw that need to be corrected surgically. The jaw may be too prominent or asymmetrical, and the patient can have a receding chin. Surgeons also correct deformities that have come about through injury.
5. Dental Implant
Dental implants are prosthetic teeth that replace teeth that are lost or irreparably damaged. The oral surgeon needs to implant a post in the jawbone before the anchor and crown of the implant can be placed. The surgeon also needs to implant posts if the patient is going to have a dental bridge.
6. Removing Root Fragments
The doctor will need to remove fragments of a tooth that’s broken off at the gum line.
7. Temporomandibular Joint Disease
Temporomandibular Joint Disease, or TMJ can cause severe pain in the jaw and make it hard for a patient to eat or speak correctly. Oral surgery can repair this through procedures such as:
• Arthrocentesis – This is when the surgeon injects fluid into the joint of the jaw to flush out debris caused by inflammation. This improves the range of motion of the jaw. Arthrocentesis is an outpatient procedure.
• Arthroscopy -In this operation, the oral surgeon drills a hole or holes into the area above the temporomandibular joint. Then, they reshape the joint or remove scar tissue with the aid of an arthroscope and miniaturized surgical instruments.
• Open Joint Surgery – In this surgery, the oral surgeon makes an incision above the joint and removes bone spurs or unwanted tissue.
8. Sleep Apnea
Oral surgery can correct structural problems that cause sleep apnea. This is where the patient, unknown to them, wakes up many times during the night because they stop breathing in their sleep. Though most dentists and doctors recommend conservative treatments for sleep apnea such as CPAP, there are times when the best option is surgery. Surgeries for obstructive sleep apnea include:
• Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP – This is when the oral surgeon trims tissue in the soft palate and the uvula to make it easier to breathe. The surgeon may also remove the tonsils.
• Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction, or RFVTR – This is when the surgeon cauterizes the muscles and other tissues in the throat, the tonsils, the tongue or the soft palate.
• Genioglossus Advancement – This surgery moves the tongue forward by moving the bone the tongue is attached to forward. This allows more space for breathing.
• Palatal Implants – These are fiber rods the surgeon inserts into the soft palate to keep the airway clear.