When you hear the words oral surgery, you may think of a hospital setting, general anesthesia, and one or more days in recovery from this type of dental procedure; but you might be surprised to know what is considered oral surgery in dentistry. Actually, this is the area of medicine concerned with correcting problems or damage to the mouth, teeth and jaw. It is often referred to as "Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery" which combines oral surgery with surgery on the structures of the face, sinuses and neck. Many procedures done in a general dental office are considered oral surgery and patients that require such procedures are booked for the procedure without the inconvenience of being put on a waiting list for treatment.
Oral surgery is commonly performed to remove wisdom teeth, prepare the mouth for dentures, repair jaw problems and perform root canals. Oral surgeons may also perform more advanced procedures as required after trauma or severe disease damages the structures of the mouth.
A number of conditions may require oral surgery, including:
The most recognized form of oral surgery is tooth extraction. Reasons for tooth extraction can range from:
Impacted or partially erupted wisdom teeth.
Teeth beyond repair either from tooth decay, root fracture, or trauma.
Primary teeth that have failed to fall out, preventing the eruption of permanent teeth.
Orthodontic treatment plans may require the removal of some teeth to achieve the optimum result.
Wisdom teeth, otherwise known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to develop. Sometimes these teeth emerge from the gum line and the jaw is large enough to allow room for them, but most of the time, this is not the case. More often, one or more of these third molars fails to emerge in proper alignment or fails to fully emerge through the gum line and becomes entrapped or "impacted" between the jawbone and the gum tissue. Impacted wisdom teeth can result in swelling, pain, and infection of the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth can cause permanent damage to nearby teeth, gums, and bone and can sometimes lead to the formation of cysts or tumors that can destroy sections of the jaw. Therefore, dentists recommend people with impacted wisdom teeth have them surgically removed.
It's not just wisdom teeth that sometimes become impacted and need to be removed. Other teeth, such as the cuspids and the bicuspids can become impacted and can cause the same types of problems described with impacted wisdom teeth.