Oral and maxillofacial surgery, which is most commonly referred to as oral surgery, focuses on the diagnosis and surgical treatment of various injuries, diseases and defects that affect your face, mouth, teeth and jaws. Oral surgery is the only dental specialty that requires an additional four years of surgical and anesthesia training in a hospital-based environment in addition to a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree.
Common Oral Surgery Procedures
Our board-certified, oral surgeons offer a full array of oral and maxillofacial services, ranging from sleep apnea treatment to bone graft surgery. We can also diagnose and treat facial pain and facial injuries. The oral procedures we provide, include:
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Wisdom teeth are the last set of teeth to develop. They often become impacted, resulting in swelling and pain. The gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth may also become infected. Left untreated, impacted wisdom teeth can cause permanent damage to nearby teeth, gums and jaw bone. In most cases, oral surgery is recommended to remove the impacted teeth.
If you have damaged or missing teeth, you may be a candidate for dental implants. This type of dental treatment requires the placement of tooth root substitutes by an oral surgeon. The root substitutes are surgically anchored to the jaw and provide stabilization for the artificial tooth (dental implant). To learn more about this procedure, please visit our Implants page.
Sinus Lift Surgery
The key to dental implant surgery success is the quality and quantity of bone available for implant placement. The upper back jaw can sometimes present problems due to insufficient bone and the close proximity to the sinus. A sinus lift surgery, however, may help correct this issue by raising the sinus floor and developing bone to allow for successful placement of dental implants. This is done by making an incision to expose the bone, then cutting a small circle into the bone. The bone fragment is lifted into the sinus cavity and the space below it is filled with bone graft material. The incision is closed and the bone is allowed to develop for anywhere from four to twelve months before the implants are placed.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes frequent interruptions in your breathing while you are asleep. When you stop breathing, your body and brain are deprived of oxygen. This puts you at risk for high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure, as well as other conditions. If other treatments have not corrected your sleep apnea and/or snoring, oral surgery may provide relief.
Temporomandibular joint disorders, also known as TMJ, is often the source of facial pain and headaches. TMJ is a small joint at the base of the skull in front of the ear that connects the lower and upper jaw. Just like any other joint in your body, it can become sore, swollen or broken. In some cases, TMJ pain may be caused by grinding or clenching your teeth. In instances where night guards and medication do not reduce TMJ pain, oral surgery may be a consideration.
A bone graft is typically used to help maximize the outcome of dental implants. It may also be used to help improve the fit of dentures. During a bone graft procedure, the oral surgeon will take a section of bone from another area of your body and graft it onto your jaw bone. This helps stimulate new bone growth, making your jaw stronger and more suitable for implants or denture adjustments.
Following a tooth extraction, dentists may perform a procedure known as ridge augmentation, which helps recreate the natural contour of your gums and jaw. This is done by placing bone graft material in the empty socket created by the extraction. Next, the gum is placed over the socket and secured with sutures. Although it is not medically necessary, ridge augmentation is required to rebuild the height and width of your alveolar ridge prior to dental implant surgery.
Cosmetic Crown Lengthening
Do your teeth appear to be too short or you have a “gummy” smile? Cosmetic crown lengthening can help improve your appearance by reshaping your excess gum and bone tissue to expose more of your natural tooth. Crown lengthening may also be recommended to help restore decayed or broken teeth below the gum line, especially if a crown or bridge is needed.
Our surgical team has the knowledge, skill and expertise to handle a wide array of facial injuries and oral conditions. If you are in pain, or unhappy with your appearance, we can help. Please contact our office and request a consultation today.
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Frequently Asked Questions
- What’s the difference between a dentist and an oral surgeon?
- A Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) is a general dentist who can diagnose and treat most basic dental issues. An oral surgeon, however, has extensive knowledge and training in complex dental issues. Oral surgeons must complete a hospital-based residency program and undergo training in the administration of anesthesia, including intravenous (IV) sedation, nitrous oxide and general anesthesia.
- Why are they called wisdom teeth?
- It is generally thought that these teeth earned their name because they erupt when we are much older and “wiser” than when our other teeth first erupted. Between the age of 17 and 25 is when most wisdom teeth make their appearance.
- Is wisdom tooth surgery painful?
- During wisdom tooth surgery, you will receive a numbing agent to reduce any pain or discomfort you might experience. In some cases, your oral surgeon may also offer sedation to make the procedure less stressful. After the surgery, you may experience some discomfort and jaw stiffness for about two weeks. This is typically managed with a prescription or over-the-counter pain medication.
- What is dry socket?
- After your wisdom teeth are extracted, you may experience a complication called dry socket, also known as alveolar osteitis. This occurs when a blood clot fails to form in the socket after a tooth is removed, or the blood clot is dislodged. The bone and nerve are exposed to air, food and fluids, causing pain and putting you at risk of infection.
- My husband snores. Can you help?
- Maybe. In some instances, people who snore have a disorder known as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes frequent interruptions in your breathing while you sleep, putting you at risk for stroke, heart failure and other health issues. An oral surgeon may be able to provide relief for both the person who snores, as well as anyone in close proximity.
- What is TMJ?
- TMJ, also known as temporomandibular joint disorders, can cause headaches and other facial pain. It’s basically a small joint that connects the lower and upper jaw near the base of the skull in front of your ears. If night guards and medication do not reduce your pain, oral surgery may be recommended.
- Are bone grafts necessary before dental implant surgery?
- In some cases, bone graft surgery may be required, if you have significant bone loss due to injury or other dental issues. An oral surgeon will use bone grafts to stimulate new bone growth and strengthen your jaw prior to implant surgery or placement of your dentures.