Oral surgery (dental surgery) is required for a number of conditions, including:
- Impacted teeth
Sometimes wisdom teeth (third molars) fails to emerge in proper alignment or fail to fully emerge through the gum line and becomes entrapped or "impacted" between the jawbone and the gum tissue. The result of this can be swelling, pain, and infection of the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth. Also, 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. Also, 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.
- Tooth loss
Dental implants are an option for tooth loss due to an accident or infection or as an alternative to dentures. The implants are surgically anchored in place in the jawbone and act to stabilize the artificial teeth to which they are attached. A good candidate must have an adequate bone level and density, must not be prone to infection, and must be willing to maintain good oral hygiene practices.
- Unequal jaw growth
Some people may have unequal jaws and this can cause difficulty in speaking, eating, swallowing, and breathing. Minor problems, like improper teeth alignment, can be corrected with braces and other orthodontic appliances, but more serious problems require oral surgery to move all or part of the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both into a new position that is more balanced, functional, and healthy.
- Improve fit of dentures
Oral surgery can be done to correct any irregularities of the jaws prior to creating the dentures to ensure a better fit and help long-term denture wearers because sometimes over time they no longer fit properly. An oral surgeon can in severe cases add a bone graft to areas where little bone remains.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders
Dysfunction of the TMJ (the small joint in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet) can be a common source of a headache and facial pain. This can be treated successfully with a combination of oral medications, physical therapy, and splints but sometimes a joint surgery can be an option.
Other Conditions Treated by Oral Surgery
- Facial injury repair
Fractured jaws and broken facial bones can be fixed with oral surgery.
- Lesion removal and biopsy
An oral surgeon can remove some lesions and take a small sample of abnormal growth or tissue and then send it for laboratory testing for identification.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate repair
The gap in the lip and/or a split in the opening in the roof of the mouth occur when all or portions of the mouth and nasal cavity do not grow together properly during fetal development. An oral surgeon as a part of a team of healthcare specialists can correct these problems through a series of treatments and surgical procedures over many years.
- Facial infections
Infection is indicated by pain and swelling in the face, neck or jaws and this can sometimes develop into life-threatening emergencies if not treated promptly and effectively. The oral surgeon can be included in cutting and draining the infected area as well as extracting any teeth that might be involved.
- Snoring/sleep apnea
Surgery can be tried when conservative methods fail by removing the soft tissues of the oropharynx (an area in the back portion of the mouth) or the lower jaw.