If your dentist has suggested that you undergo oral surgery, do not panic. The term may sound scary, but it really isn’t.
Oral surgery is used to correct many common conditions, including impacted wisdom teeth and jaw joint issues. When done by an expert oral surgeon, most of these procedures are quick, involve relatively little pain, and have minimal downtime.
Any pain around your mouth or face should be investigated by a dentist before you see any other healthcare professional. Most of the time, even problems that seem very severe can easily be handled by your dentist without the need for drastic measures like oral surgery. If your dentist determines that you do need oral surgery to correct your problem, they will make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.
Typically, teeth erupt from the jawbone and gums while their crown sits just above the gumline. Impacted teeth do not do this. Instead, they get caught somewhere along the way and fail to erupt fully. They stop emerging with only some of the tooth visible above the gums or never even break the surface. This happens most often with third molars, also known as wisdom teeth, but can happen to any tooth.
Impacted teeth are prone to infections and can make existing gum disease worse. They can also cause damage to the surrounding teeth, gums, and jawbone and generate enough pain to significantly reduce your quality of life. Oral surgery can remove the impacted teeth and solve these problems.
Your jaw joint, also called your temporomandibular joint or TMJ, is the small hinge in front of your ears. When it functions correctly, this joint allows you to open your mouth to speak and eat. Conversely, when something is wrong with it, those things become difficult. Problems like jaw stiffness, facial muscle aches, and headaches are all common and take a significant toll on your quality of life.
TMJ problems can be treated using medication, splints, cold compresses, physical therapy exercises, or a combination of these things. However, this condition is notoriously resistant to treatment and prone to relapse. If less invasive treatments are not producing the results you want, your dentist may recommend oral surgery to reposition your jaw and take some of the stress off that vulnerable joint.
An overbite occurs when a person’s top row of teeth sits too far over the bottom row. An underbite describes the opposite problem. In severe cases, either of these conditions can cause you to have trouble chewing food, speaking properly, and even breathing.
Orthodontics can usually address overbites and underbites, but severe cases may require oral surgery. Surgery is often combined with orthodontics to attain lasting corrective results. Your dentist or orthodontist will tell you if they feel you would benefit from undergoing oral surgery to improve your bite.
Dentures can make a big difference in your ability to speak and eat, but they require a close fit to work correctly. Without well-aligned jaws and a strong ridge of bone to rest on, they will slip often and fail to provide the function you need.
If your mouth cannot accommodate dentures properly in its present state, your dentist may recommend oral surgery to help your jaw alignment. In other cases, you might need bone grafts to rebuild your jawbone after it has degraded from gum disease or old age.
If you suffer from sleep apnea or severe snoring, your jaw and respiratory pathways may be to blame. The resting position of your jaw may be too far backward for your lungs to easily inhale the air they need while you are unconscious, leading to sleeping difficulties as your body does its best to overcome this struggle.
Your dentist will likely recommend less invasive treatments for these problems at first, including the use of a CPAP machine to help you regulate your breathing at night. However, if you continue to experience symptoms, oral surgery can create the necessary airflow.
If you choose to have oral surgery, your oral surgeon will give you all of the details on your upcoming procedure well in advance.
If your procedure will be taking place while you are under general anesthetic, you will be asked not to eat or drink anything the night before. This will reduce your risk of aspiration and keep you safe during your surgery.
You will also likely be asked to arrange to ride home with a friend or family member after your surgery. Due to the effects of the anesthesia you will be given, it will not be safe for you to drive or take public transportation by yourself for several hours after your procedure.
Your surgeon will also give you a list of instructions to follow after your surgery, including how much time you will need to take off work. You will need to take your prescribed medications and avoid consuming certain foods and drinks or participating in strenuous activity for a few days while you heal. Follow their instructions carefully, and your recovery should be relatively swift and easy.
Oral surgery does not have to be a scary prospect. Trillium Smile Dentistry can help you get the procedure done safely and comfortably. Dr. Tousi’s many patients often call her the best dentist in Mississauga for her expertise and warm, friendly approach. Contact us today at 905-828-9894 or use our online form to request an appointment and let our staff guide you through this stressful experience as painlessly as possible.