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What Is Oral Surgery?

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Updated May 14, 2009

Question: What Is Oral Surgery?
When you hear the words oral surgery, you may think of a hospital setting, general anaesthesia, and one or more days in recovery from this type of dental procedure; but you might be surprised to know what is actually considered oral surgery in dentistry. 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.
Answer:

Tooth Extractions

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

Corrective Jaw Surgery

Orthognathic surgery, known as jaw surgery to most, is preformed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Common reasons for jaw surgery include:
  • TMJ or temporomandibular joint pain and dysfunction caused by trauma or deformation
  • Major or minor trauma
  • Malocclusion or incorrect bite
  • Clenching, or grinding of the teeth causing excessive tooth wear
  • Difficulty chewing, eating, opening and closing the mouth, or talking
  • Incorrect jaw position and un-proportioned facial appearance

Your dentist will refer you to see the surgeon if he/she feels your situation will benefit from a surgical treatment option.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are becoming a common procedure to replace missing teeth, or provide stability to a new or existing denture. Preformed by a dentist or oral surgeon, the procedure for placing a dental implant may vary depending on the technique used by the dentist or surgeon, and type of implant used. Most people that have had a dental implant report the recovery was similar to that of a tooth extraction and they were able to return to normal eating within a week of the procedure.

Detection and Treatment of Diseases

Over 34, 000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer resulting in 8,000 deaths, in this year alone. Your dentist is highly skilled when it comes to detecting oral cancer, as the signs of this devastating disease typically go unnoticed and are not easily detected. If your dentist discovers something suspicious in an area of the mouth, face, neck or jaw that may have an underlying problem, a biopsy may be preformed to further diagnose a possible condition. A biopsy is usually a surgical procedure that is used to remove a piece of tissue in an area of the body that is suspected as being diseased. You may be referred to an oral surgeon for the biopsy, but in some cases this procedure may be performed by your general dentist. Oral surgery is commonly used to treat oral cancer, and may be used as a combination treatment with radiation therapy.

Sources:

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons-"Conditions and Symptoms"

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons- "Treatments and Procedures"

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