Oral surgery aims to correct problems or damage to the teeth, jaws, and mouth. It is frequently termed oral and maxillofacial surgery, which incorporates surgery of the facial structures, sinuses, and neck.
Oral surgery may be required for the following problems:
Impacted teeth are teeth that do not emerge in proper alignment, or fail to emerge through the gum line. Impacted teeth become trapped between the jawbone and the gum tissue, resulting in swelling, pain, and infection of the gums. In some cases, they can result in permanent damage to the surrounding teeth and gums. Most often, it is the wisdom teeth that are impacted and need to be removed through oral surgery. Because the wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to develop, the jaw may not have sufficient space to accommodate them. The cuspids and bicuspids are other teeth that can become impacted as well.
Oral surgery is required to fit dental implants in the jaw as a replacement for missing teeth. During the surgery a small hole is drilled in the jawbone to fit a titanium screw that will hold the implant in place. High bone density and quantity in the jaw is required for the dental implant procedure to be successful.
- Unequal jaw growth: When the upper and lower jaws do not develop properly, this may result in difficulty with speaking, eating, and breathing. To correct misalignment, your dentist may recommend the use of braces or similar oral appliances. For more serious cases, oral surgery may be most helpful to reposition the jaw to restore proper function.
- Improve fit of dentures: Before fitting dentures, oral surgery may be performed to correct any misalignment of the jaw. For people who wear dentures over the long-term, underlying bone structure tends to wear, resulting in dentures that no longer fit properly. In serious cases, an oral surgeon may perform a bone graft procedure.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: The TMJ connects the temporal bone located on the skull in front of each ear and the lower jaw or mandible. TMJ disorder impedes the flexibility of the jaw and may cause pain at rest or during chewing, talking, and other movements of the jaw. Most of the time treatment includes the use of splints, exercises, medication, nutrition therapy, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatment. In advanced cases, adjustment of the occlusion (adjusting the “bite”), orthodontic treatment, the placement of crowns, and surgery of different types may be recommended.
Other Conditions Treated By Oral Surgery
- Damage to the facial bones or jaws may be repaired through oral surgery.
- Lesions, or abnormal tissue growth, can be extracted for laboratory testing or removed by an oral surgeon.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate may be corrected by a team of healthcare specialists with several treatments that include oral surgery.
- Infections in the face, jaws, or neck can be diagnosed and treated by an oral surgeon. If surgery is indicated, the surgeon may cut into and drain the infected area as well as extract any teeth that may be involved.
- Snoring or sleep apnea may be treated using oral surgery, if the use of oral appliances has not been successful in alleviating the problem.