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Dental Surgery is a Common, Effective Treatment

Often, when a dentist mentions dental surgery, it is met with fear or even panic from their patients. Many imagine a painful, expensive procedure with a long, difficult recovery.

What many patients don’t realize is that dental surgery is very common and includes procedures that address oral health problems that many people will face in their lifetimes. For most, dental surgery will be an outpatient procedure, and patients can generally resume regular activity within a few days.

The most common types of dental surgery are procedures that many people may not even consider dental surgery because they are so routine — such as orthodonture work or teeth whitening.

Learn More About Surgical Dentistry in Santa Monica

Dental surgery is a broad term for any surgical procedures performed on your teeth, soft tissue of the mouth, jaw bones, or supporting structures of the face.

It includes a wide range of procedures, including teeth extractions, root canal treatment, dental implants, periodontal (gum) grafts, dental bone grafts, oral cancer treatment, and reconstructive surgeries for facial injuries.

Your general dentist is trained and qualified to perform numerous dental surgeries, though they may refer you to an oral surgeon for some surgeries. An oral surgeon — often referred to as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon — receives additional education and training to specialize in various types of dental surgery.

Types of dental surgery to help patients maintain good dental health include:

  • Tooth extraction. An extraction might be recommended if you have severe tooth decay, gum disease (periodontitis), dental trauma, or impacted wisdom teeth.
  • Root canal. Underneath a tooth’s enamel is a soft core called dental pulp, which contains blood vessels, nerve endings, and tissue. When a tooth is decayed, bacteria enter the tooth and damage the pulp. The infection in the pulp causes pain and occasional swelling and can spread to the bone structure and soft tissues in your jaw, neck, and other parts of your body. A surgeon can treat this by removing the decayed portion of the tooth and extracting the infected pulp.
  • Dental implant. An implant is an option for tooth loss due to an accident, decay, or infection. A dental implant replaces the roots of a tooth with an embedded titanium post, which is used to secure a crown, bridge, or denture to the jawbone.
  • Periodontal surgery. If you have moderate or severe periodontitis (gum disease), a specialist may recommend surgery. During this procedure, incisions are made along your gum line, and the tissue is temporarily moved back away from your teeth. Your surgeon will then clean your teeth roots, flushing away plaque and bacteria that have accumulated under your gums. Finally, the gum tissue is repositioned and sutured into place. If a gum graft is required, your surgeon reinforces the area of tissue loss with donor tissue, which may be taken from elsewhere in your mouth or supplied by a certified tissue bank.
  • Dental bone graft. A dental bone graft may be necessary when bone loss has occurred in your jaw due to the prolonged absence of a tooth or advanced periodontal (gum) disease.
  • Corrective jaw surgery. Corrective jaw surgery — also called orthognathic surgery — addresses skeletal abnormalities of your jaw bones. This procedure may be recommended to improve chewing function, correct misalignment, or address facial imbalances. Corrective jaw surgery is also used to ease pain caused by TMJ dysfunction (TMD).
  • Oral cancer surgery. Depending on the type, location, and severity of the cancer, surgery to remove the tumor may be the recommended treatment option.
  • Sleep apnea surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the tissues in the back of your throat fall back and block your airway during sleep. Oftentimes OSA is successfully treated with non-surgical methods, such as Solea Laser therapy, oral appliance therapy, or using a CPAP machine, though severe cases may require surgical intervention.
  • Cleft lip and palate repair. A cleft lip or palate occurs when facial structures don’t fully develop in the uterus (womb). Cleft lip and palate surgery restores normal eating function and helps a child develop proper speech patterns later on in life.
  • Reconstructive surgery. Accidents to the face can be very stressful. An oral surgeon can repair damage to the bones and soft tissues of your mouth, jaw, and face.
  • Cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgeries are often minor surgeries done to improve a patient’s appearance. These can include dental veneers, teeth whitening, bonding, and composite restoration of a tooth.

Your dentist or surgeon will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your dental issue, including dental X-rays and other scans. Using this information, they’ll tailor a personalized treatment plan.

Sometimes, oral surgery is performed in a dental office as an outpatient procedure. Your surgeon may offer sedation options for your comfort, including nitrous oxide, oral medications, or intravenous (IV) moderate or deep sedation. In other cases, oral surgery may be completed in a hospital under general anesthesia.

The length of your procedure will depend on several factors, including what type of oral surgery you’re having, how many teeth are being treated, and whether or not you choose sedation.

Following your oral surgery procedure, you’ll be given detailed post-operative instructions. It’s important that you follow these guidelines closely to reduce your risk of bleeding, infection, and other complications.

The risks of dental surgery can include:

  • Infection
  • Injury to adjacent teeth
  • Dry socket, a condition that can occur following extractions, when the blood clotting process is disturbed
  • Numbness
  • Tooth root fragments
  • Sinus problems

You can minimize your risk for these complications by following your post-operative guidelines and taking all medications as prescribed. If you develop any of these side effects, call your dentist or oral surgeon for further instructions.

The advantage of dental surgery is that your teeth, gums, and jaw joints are all meant to work together harmoniously for optimal oral health and function. The goal of oral surgery is to address any issue that interferes with your health or quality of life.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

If you have a dental issue that may require surgery, don’t delay — early intervention can yield better results. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.