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Any surgical procedure that is performed on the tissues of your mouth, teeth, or gums is considered oral surgery. Maxillofacial surgery, on the other hand, consists of surgical procedures performed on your jaw, head, or another part of the face. Some of the most common oral surgery procedures include extracting impacted wisdom teeth, placing dental implants, reconstructive jaw surgery, and even treatment for severe sleep apnea. To find out if you need oral surgery, the best way is to schedule a consultation with a dentist and oral surgeon.
After dental or medical school, oral surgeons must complete a 4-year residency.
If they suspect that you could benefit from oral surgery, or if you need oral surgery in preparation for a related treatment, your dentist will likely refer you to an oral surgeon for a consultation.
Your doctor or oral surgeon will create a treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs, and take the time to educate you about the treatment and the surgical procedure that will be performed. They will keep you informed about what to expect on the day of the procedure, and how to best prepare yourself.
Oral surgeons regularly work with all forms of sedation, especially IV sedation and general anesthesia. Based on the procedure you’re receiving and your unique needs, your doctor will recommend the right sedation option for you.
On the day of your oral surgery, you will need to arrange for someone to drive you to and from your procedure. You will receive specific recommendations based on the procedure being performed, but you should plan to take a day off and to have someone around to be with you for the rest of the day to monitor your health.
Your healing time may vary depending on the extent of the procedure, but you can expect to require at least a few days to heal after surgery. Swelling and discomfort for the next 24-72 hours is normal, as is light bleeding during the first day or two. To reduce swelling, keep your head elevated and use a cold compress. Take any medications that are prescribed or recommended by your doctor, and stick to soft foods and room temperature drinks for the first 48 hours after surgery.
Extractions are performed on teeth that have experienced damage that can’t be remedied by less invasive means. Damage can be caused by oral injuries, gum disease, or tooth decay. Extractions are also required to prepare for certain restorative treatments, like dentures or dental implants.
For instance, a full arch of dentures can only be fitted when there are no remaining teeth. Patients with one or several teeth left will need to have them extracted before moving forward with dentures. Some extractions are less complex than others, but in general, they are classified as oral surgeries.
Bone grafts, sometimes called bone tissue transplants, are used to repair weak, fractured or otherwise damaged bones within the body. The most common bone grafting procedures are performed as a preparation for dental implant placement.
When a patient loses a tooth, the jaw bone underneath is no longer stimulated by the natural processes of chewing and speaking, causing the bone to weaken and deteriorate. Dental implants can help stop this process, but the weakened jaw bone needs to be strengthened in order to properly support the post of a dental implant. Utilizing processed bone minerals, bone grafting helps to stimulate the formation of new bone. The initial healing and recovery from the surgery is similar to that of a tooth extraction, but it can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months for the graft to completely bond with your existing bone tissue.
The alveolar ridge is the small protuberance that exists right behind the upper front teeth. An alveoloplasty, also called an alveoplasty, is a relatively common oral surgery during which the alveolar ridge is surgically re-contoured and smoothed-out. An alveoloplasty may be performed as a stand-alone procedure after a tooth extraction, or in preparation for a denture or dental implant placement. Recontouring helps optimize the shape of the alveolar ridge to help reduce complications, increase the longevity and stability of the dental prosthetic, while helping to boost patient comfort overall.
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that generally grow in between the ages of 17-25. Because many people simply don't have space in their mouths to accommodate wisdom teeth, particularly if they have had orthodontic work, they tend to cause issues as they are growing in.
As they begin to erupt, wisdom teeth can crowd your other teeth, causing them to shift and become misaligned. Additionally, wisdom teeth have a tendency to become impacted, leading to painful infections. Because of the discomfort and dental issues wisdom teeth can cause, most people have them extracted when they begin to grow in.
The most common oral surgeries are wisdom tooth extractions.
After dental or medical school, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon must complete additional special training and education. At the minimum, oral surgeons carry out a 4-year residency at a hospital-based surgical program alongside other medical residents across a range of different specialties, including experience with anesthesiology.
Every oral surgery is unique, so the time it takes to perform depends on the procedure itself and the complexity of your case. Simple treatments, like tooth extractions, can take as little time as a few minutes once you’re properly sedated. More complex procedures, like full-arch dental implant placements, can take hours. Your oral surgeon will provide you with a personalized treatment plan detailing the procedure, along with details about how to prepare and what to expect on the day of treatment.
Similarly to the time it takes to complete, the cost of oral surgery varies greatly from procedure to procedure. More complex procedures tend to be more expensive than simpler ones. If your oral surgery isn’t covered by your dental and/or medical insurance, there may be financing options available, either in the form of payment plans or loans, so you can get the care you need.
Depending on your coverage and the procedure you are receiving, oral surgery may be covered. Reach out to both your dental and medical insurance providers to see if they cover your treatment, as the surgery may qualify as a medically necessary procedure.
Most oral surgeries only take 3 days to recover from.