About Oral Surgery
To perform oral and maxillofacial surgery requires additional years of hospital-based surgical and anesthesia training after graduation from dental school. As an oral surgeon, one practices a full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery with expertise ranging from corrective jaw surgery to wisdom tooth removal. They also diagnose and treat facial pain and injuries, as well as perform a full range of dental implant and bone grafting procedures.
Patient comfort is top priority at all times. In order to reduce anxiety, oral surgery procedures can be performed while patients are relaxed under IV sedation.
A natural tooth has two parts: a crown — the part which shows above the gumline; and a root — the anchor hidden below the gumline.
When a tooth is missing, that space can be filled by a dental implant which takes the place of the absent root, and a prosthetic crown replaces the natural crown.The Implant Procedure
An implant procedure is the same whether one tooth or all teeth are missing. In the example shown to the right there is only one missing lower tooth. For the purpose of demonstation, assume the patient is healthy and a candidate for an implant procedure.Implant Site Preparation and Placement
The gum tissue is opened to expose the bone area where the implant will be placed. In situations where there is insufficient bone structure, bone grafting may be a recommended procedure.
Once healthy bone material has been established, a special drill is used to prepare the bone to receive the implant.
After the bone has been prepared, the implant is placed and the tissue is sutured.The Healing Process — Osseointegration
The healing process takes three to six months. This is the amount of time it usually takes the implant to become part of the lower jaw, commonly refered to as osseointegration.
However, the sutures are typically removed much earlier, some seven to fourteen days after surgery.Attaching the Post
When the gum tissue is ready a special post is attached to the implant. Its purpose is to the support a new prosthetic crown.
Today's technologies often include zirconium abutments attached to the implant post, which assures that the new crown possesses translucency properties similar to a natural tooth.Placing the Crown
Impressions are taken and used to craft a crown which is shaded to match your existing teeth. The crown is then slipped over the post and cemented into place.
With the implant buried below the gumline, only the final prosthetic crown is visible. This gives it the appearance of a natural tooth.Applications of Implant Dentistry
In many cases, dental implants are incorporated into an overall treatment plan that might focus on the replacement of several teeth. Some patients have the option of replacing each affected tooth with a new implant, depending upon the condition of bone material. Other treatment plans may recommend implants for anchoring bridges and dentures.
Most people have four wisdom teeth; one in each corner of the mouth, and they all can be found at different stages of eruption and different positions of the impaction. Since wisdom teeth develop over a period of many years, harmful changes they can cause in your mouth may be gradual. But if they do cause troublesome changes, those changes could result in sudden and severe pain.
Wisdom Teeth & Extractions
Like all teeth, wisdom teeth develop inside a socket in your jaw, protected by bone and gum tissue until they erupt. Over time, your wisdom teeth become more firmly anchored in your jawbone as their roots lengthen and the jawbone becomes denser. In other words: the older you are, the more difficult it is to remove your wisdom teeth.
Reasons For Removal of Teeth:
- Gum disease
- Poor position
Risks and Complications:
- Numbness (Impacted Teeth)
- Dry Socket
- Sinus Problems
Oral Cancer Screening and Pathology
Because the mouth is a region where changes are more easily seen than anywhere inside the body, oral cancer can be easier to catch in the early stages. Performing a self-examination regularly will help with early recognition. It is recommended that everyone do an oral cancer self-exam once per month. If you at a high risk for oral cancer – a smoker, a drinker, or a user of smokeless tobacco — you should also see your oral surgeon for an exam yearly.
Things to Look For in an Oral Cancer Self-Examination:
- Remember to check under and around tongue
- Reddish patches
- Whitish patches
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily
- A lump or thickening of the tissues
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
If you have any of these signs, see your oral and maxillofacial surgeon. Should the oral surgeon agree that something looks suspicious, a biopsy may be recommended. The biopsy report not only helps in establishing a diagnosis but also enables the doctor to make a treatment plan specifically designed for the type of lesion diagnosed.
Keep in mind that your mouth is one of your body’s most important early warning systems, don’t ignore any suspicious lumps or sores, and should you discover something then make an appointment for a prompt examination. Early treatment may well be the key to complete recovery.