The best way to maintain our oral health is by taking preventive measures. This includes maintaining proper oral hygiene and making regular dental visits. However, oral surgery is one of the most effective treatment options for dental complications. Oral surgery is a surgical specialty that focuses on reconstructive surgical procedures of the face, the oral cavity, neck, jaws, and facial cosmetic surgery. Since oral surgery focuses on the root cause of the problem, surgical treatments are more effective than other treatment options.
Your dentist can recommend oral surgery to treat serious dental conditions like missing teeth, severe gum disease, and damage. Additionally, surgical procedures like jaw alignment improve your speech and overall appearance. Your oral health is a sensitive aspect of your health and wellbeing. Therefore, you will not trust any dentist out there. At The Whittier dentist, we assess your condition, recommend the right surgery and take you through the procedure to ensure that you receive your desired outcome. We serve clients seeking the services of a general dentist in Whittier, CA.
Overview of Oral Surgery
Oral surgery is a broad term that describes invasive procedures performed on your teeth, gums, jaw, and other facial structures. In most cases, oral surgery is often the last option to treat serious oral conditions. Not everyone needs oral surgery. When you visit your dentist with a dental or oral complication, they will assess your situation and determine the best treatment approach.
Surgery may be your only option in cases where other treatment options have failed. Some of the reasons why your dentist would recommend oral surgery include:
1) Oral Surgical Procedures Address the Problem
Oral surgery is necessary for gum disease, impacted teeth, bone loss, oral cancer, and temporomandibular joint disorders. Unlike other treatment procedures aimed at relieving the pain, oral surgery treats the root cause of the problem. For example, tooth extraction is a permanent solution instead of taking painkillers or the time to ease the pain from a badly decayed tooth. You can then think of other options for replacing the tooth, like the placement of a dental implant.
2) Prevents Further Oral Complications
In cases where you have progressive dental issues like jawbone deterioration, you will likely experience a variety of dental complications until you fix this problem. The dentist can restore your jaw through oral surgery to avoid further and more serious dental complications.
3) Attain Continuous Tooth Replacement
Individuals with missing teeth have various options to restore the outlook and function of the tooth. Choosing a denture or bridge will only restore the crown and fail to address the more serious issue at the tooth root. For this reason, your bridge or denture may not serve you as long as you expect, and you will need occasional dental visits for replacement. However, when you go for a dental implant, the dentist can approach your tooth loss from the root and install a restoration that can serve you longer and with fewer complications.
Common Oral Surgery Procedures
Various oral surgical procedures are available to correct different oral problems. At one point, you may need to undergo any of the following procedures:
Every year, millions of people undergo tooth extraction. Tooth extraction is an outpatient procedure used to remove severely damaged teeth. Before your dentist recommends tooth extraction, they ensure that the tooth cannot be saved using a filling, root canal, or any other procedure. Tooth extraction can be simple or surgical. A simple extraction is done when the tooth enamel is visible above the gums, and the dentist will use sedation or local anesthesia before the procedure.
On the other hand, surgical tooth extraction is more invasive and is used to remove those that have not emerged above the gum. The dentist must cut through the gums to reach the tooth in this procedure. In addition to severe tooth decay, other reasons why a tooth may need extraction include:
- Baby teeth. The dentist must extract baby teeth that fail to fall out naturally to create room for new teeth.
- Crooked or overcrowded teeth. Before you undergo orthodontic treatments such as the placement of braces, some crooked or crowded teeth may need to be extracted.
- Impacted wisdom teeth. Impacted wisdom teeth are molars that do not emerge until you are at least seventeen or twenty years. Many times, the molars will erupt and offer more chewing power. However, there are times when the tooth fails to emerge properly and causes crowding or pain. In this case, you may need to have them extracted.
The steps followed during a tooth extraction include:
- You sit on a reclining chair and wear a shield over your eyes
- The dentist administers local or general anesthesia depending on the type of extraction
- Your dentist makes an incision on the guns when the tooth is not visible
- Your provider will then loosen the tooth and pull it out
- Cleaning of the tooth and placement of gauze to stop bleeding
Dental Implant Placement
Dental implants replace missing teeth and provide the tooth's natural look and normal function. Dental implants consist of two main parts. The dentist inserts a metal post into your jawbone to act as a tooth root and attaches a false crown to the base. Placement of dental implants restores your chewing ability and improves your appearance by preserving the facial structure.
Tooth loss can lead to the loss of jawbone tissues and the shifting of the remaining teeth. A dental implant preserves the health of your jawbone. The most common types of dental implants include:
- Endosteal implants. These are screw-like devices that the dentist drills directly into your jawbone.
- Subperiosteal implants. This titanium framework is placed under your gums when the bone under the lost tooth gap is not strong enough to hold the endosteal implant.
- Implant-supported denture. The implant-supported dentures are applicable when you have multiple missing teeth. The implant is similar to a denture in that several false teeth are clipped directly onto the post attached to your jawbone.
Dental implants are not for everyone. Therefore, if you have a missing tooth, you must visit a general dentist and recommend the right procedure to replace it.
Your dentist will recommend apicoectomy when a tooth root is hooked at the bottom, causing root canal procedures to be unsuccessful. A root canal is a procedure used to treat deep tooth decay and infection. A tooth canal saves your tooth by cleaning out the infected pulp and sealing the tooth to prevent further complications.
When the tooth root is hooked at the bottom, dental instruments cannot reach the root tip to remove nerve material which in turn causes infection. The dentist removes the root tip and replaces it with inert material with oral surgery.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
Corrective jaw surgery is a type of oral surgery involving the movement of your jaws which results in an even facial appearance and harmonious bite. Your dentist could recommend corrective jaw surgery when you have an uneven bite. Repositioning the jaws allows the teeth to meet correctly and improves your speech and facial appearance. Correcting poor jaw alignment can improve gum health and correct sleep apnea.
Experts work as a team to take care of your situation because of the significant impact this procedure will have on your oral health.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Surgery
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes your airways to close while you sleep. This makes it hard for you to rest properly. Treatment procedures for obstructive sleep apnea include using a CPAP machine or wearing a mouthpiece to bed. If these treatments do not cause an improvement in the condition, surgery might be the only option left for you.
Types of surgeries applicable for the treatment of sleep apnea include:
- Nasal surgery. The nasal surgery removes the growths and curved bones blocking the nasal passage.
- Palate surgery. Your dentist will reshape the soft tissue at the roof of your mouth and around your throat.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. UPPP is the most common oral surgery for treating obstructive sleep apnea. The procedure involves removing part of your palate and tissues dangling behind your tongue.
A dental bone graft is a procedure to restore bone loss before dental implant placement. A dental bone graft helps add volume and density to the jaw areas that have experienced bone loss. The material used to form a bone graft is sourced from your body or a human tissue bank. You may need a bone graft if you:
- Plan to replace a missing tooth using a dental implant
- Are you undergoing tooth extraction
- Have suffered bone loss from periodontal disease
- Need to replace your jaw before fitting dentures
Therefore, four main types of bone grafts:
- Socket preservation. This type of bone graft is placed in the socket following a tooth extraction. The graft fills the space left by the lost tooth to prevent the sockets from caving in.
- Ridge augmentation. If you have had missing teeth for a while, your jawbone is likely thinner than before. Dentists use ridge augmentation to increase the width and volume to provide a stable basis for implants and other tooth restorations.
- Sinus lift. Maxillary sinuses are located above your upper molars. Loss of the back teeth could cause the sinuses to drop and invade the space occupied by the roots of the lost teeth. In this case, the placement of a dental implant could penetrate the sinuses. Your dentist addresses this issue by performing a sinus lift. After restoring the sinuses to their original space, the dentist places a dental bone graft to create a foundation for the implants.
- Periodontal bone grafts. Infection caused by gum disease can erode the bones which support your teeth. The dentist places a periodontal bone graft on an existing tooth to increase stability and reduce mobility.
The success rate of dental bone grafts is high. However, there is a chance of failure for individuals with a smoking history or an already compromised immunity. Common signs of bone graft failure include:
- Swelling and pain that worsens with time
- Pus from the bone graft site
- Gum recession
- No sign of improvement in the jawbone volume
Periodontal gum disease is a serious oral complication that can cause tooth loss and even transfer bacteria to the blood. There are several forms of treatment for periodontal disease. However, in the advanced stages of the disease, your dentist could recommend that you undergo periodontal surgery. This type of surgery will help:
- Remove bacteria below the gums
- Ease the cleaning of your teeth
- Reshape the bones that support your teeth
- Protect you from future gum damage
If you experience any of the following symptoms of gum disease, you are a candidate for periodontal surgery:
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Pain when you chew
- Receding gums
- Gum pockets
There are several options that a dentist can explore for your condition, including:
- Flap surgery. Flap surgery involves lifting the gum tissue to remove tartar and bacteria from under the gums. After healing, cleaning your teeth becomes easier.
- Tissue regeneration. This surgical option involves the placement of small material between the gums and the bone, which allows the bone to regrow.
- Soft tissue grafts. A graft can help restore some of the lost tissue when your gums recede from gum disease. Your dentist moves small pieces of tissue from your mouth roof and attaches time to the areas with lost tissue.
Complications with Oral Surgery
Oral surgery offers numerous long-term benefits for your oral health. However, any time you undergo a surgical procedure, there is a risk of complications, and certain health conditions could increase the risk. Therefore, you must seek the services of a skilled oral surgeon. Some common complications associated with oral surgery include:
Although infection is rare after oral surgery, it can still happen. Individuals with diabetes or other conditions that compromise their immune system are at a higher risk of developing an infection. You should look for signs of infection after oral surgery, including abnormal swelling or redness, fever, pus, and prolonged bad taste in the mouth. Infection after oral surgery can slow down the healing process of the surgical site and cause more oral health complications.
Your dentist will try to reduce the risk of infection by sterilizing all the instruments used for the surgery and cleaning your mouth before the first incision. However, if you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek emergency dental care, and your dentist will prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection.
While your dentist will greatly protect existing dental work or surrounding structures from damage, injury to a nearby tooth or tissue can occur.
A sinus cavity is a space at the front of your forehead near the nose and mouth. Drainage from the sinus keeps bacteria out of your nose. Since the lowermost sinuses are found near the tooth roots, surgery on your upper teeth could cause the roots to penetrate the sinus cavity.
Oral surgery is an invasive procedure that can irritate the nerves at the surgical site. Nerve irritation results in diminished or total loss of sensation in the area served by the nerves. Although numbness following oral surgery should subside within 24 hours, permanent numbness is possible.
Tooth roots are long and fragile, increasing their risk of breakage during invasive oral procedures. A broken root fragment must be removed. However, when the broken piece is close to the nerves, the dentist may decide to leave it in to avoid compromising the adjacent teeth.
Removal of impacted wisdom teeth could weaken your jaw, especially when the bone is thin or the wisdom tooth is stuck below the gum. Weakening the jaw could increase the risk of bone breakage and damage to other teeth.
After tooth extraction, a blood clot forms around the extraction site to protect the nerves and bone. When the clot dislodges prematurely, the nerves and bones are exposed, causing serious pain and possible infection to the site. The risk of developing dry socket increases after the removal of wisdom teeth from the lower jaw.
The major symptom of dry socket is severe pain and sensitivity on the tooth extraction site. If you experience a foul odor from the mouth following a tooth extraction may be a sign of infection in the area. You can protect yourself from the dry socket by maintaining proper oral hygiene and smoking.
Care Following Oral Surgery
The level of oral care you exercise following an oral surgical procedure will determine the outcome of your surgery. Whether you had your wisdom tooth removed, received a dental implant, or went through an invasive oral procedure, you can ease your pain and fasten your recovery through the following ways:
- Rest after the procedure. After your oral surgery appointment, plan to take the rest of the day off. If the dentist gives you a sedative, you may still feel drowsy even after the procedure. Avoid activities and anything that requires much concertation. When the anesthesia wears off, you will likely experience some pain at the site of the procedure. Therefore, you must lie down and allow your body to start healing.
- Follow the instructions from your dentist. Your dentist may recommend rinsing your mouth with salt water since the mouth may be too sensitive for brushing and normal oral hygiene. Sometimes, you will need anesthesia to wear off before consuming any foods. Following these instructions ensures that you don’t compromise the procedure.
- Use ice. Depending on the nature of your surgery, you may experience facial bruising and swelling. During the first twenty-four hours after the surgery, you should apply ice cubes on the swollen side of the face for up to fifteen minutes to lessen the swelling. However, if you experience fever and the swelling does not go away after a few days, it would be wise that you consult with your dentist.
- Guard your clot. Blood clots form to prevent infection and speed wound healing after an oral surgery procedure. Therefore, you need to avoid using a straw or consuming carbonated drinks.
- Watch your diet. As your mouth heals from the surgery, you must avoid consuming hard foods that could cause injury. Additionally, you should not take too hot or spicy foods since they can irritate the surgical site and slow healing.
- Take pain medications. Although you may not experience pain during oral surgery, you may feel pain on the surgical site when the anesthesia wears out. Within the first forty-eight hours, you may need pain medications, which your dentist will prescribe before you leave their office after the procedure.
- Watch out for complications. After an oral surgical procedure, you must look for any signs of infection or other complications associated with oral surgery. If the swelling doesn’t go away, you experience excessive bleeding, or you have difficulty breathing, you must seek immediate care.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking can weaken your immune system and slow the wound healing process. Additionally, the smoke from tobacco can cause an infection on the surgical site.
Find a Skilled General Dentist Near Me
Your oral health is a significant element of your overall health and wellbeing. Ideal oral health involves ensuring that your teeth are healthy and clean and keeping the surrounding structure in and around the mouth at optimum functionality. Oral surgery is a broad term that describes a wide range of invasive oral procedures which focus on treating dental complications, injuries, and defects on the head, neck, or jaws.
Oral surgery is very beneficial, from standard procedures like tooth extraction and removal of impacted wisdom teeth to more extensive procedures like bone grafts, implant placement, and reconstructive surgery. The outcome of an oral surgery procedure could significantly impact your oral health. Therefore, whether you need oral surgery for treatment or cosmetic purposes, you need an experienced general dentist.
At The Whittier Dentist, we offer expert guidance to all our clients considering oral surgery for various dental complications in Whittier, CA. Contact us today at 562-632-1223 to book an appointment.