Your dentist suddenly informs you that you’re going to get an oral surgery. For first-timers and even for those who have experienced a surgery before, this news can be intimidating and sometimes confusing.
So, here are some of the common oral surgery procedures, and what you expect if you are scheduled for one of them.
One of the most common—and relatively simple— dental surgery is the tooth extraction procedure. A tooth usually will require extraction due to various diseases (irreparable decay or when filling isn’t prefered), trauma causing a loose tooth, or during cases of overcrowded teeth.
When the tooth is visible and not covered by gums, it can be pulled with a simple extraction—no surgical procedure necessary—. However, in the cases where the gums, tissue, or bone must be cut, a surgical extraction is necessary. Stitches are usually done to close the wound, after the surgical procedure.
Wisdom tooth removal can be considered a more complex tooth extraction procedure. The third molars—-the last teeth to develop— might not erupt fully or aren’t properly aligned. In some cases it can be grown totally under the gums, which can overcomplicates the surgical procedure. These cases will cause them to become impacted between the jawbone and gums, which can push the surrounding teeth and cause headache.
Prosthodontics procedures are—in a nutshell— any kinds of cosmetic/aesthetic dental procedures, which can include:
- Dental implant
Dental implant is a relatively complex oral surgical procedure involving implantation of metal post into the jawbone. This metal will fuse with bone and gum tissue overtime, and on top of it we will place a natural-looking artificial tooth. Dental implants can be a good long-term solution for those with tooth loss.
- Dental Crown or Bridge
A dental crown procedure is fitting an artificial crown over an existing tooth, after the tooth has received a filling. This is done to restore the natural look of the tooth for cosmetic purposes. The dental bridge procedure, on the other hand, is a procedure to fill a gap caused by a missing tooth. Here, the “bridge” is attached to the crowns of adjacent teeth.
- Dental Veneers
Dental veneers are thin layers of coverings that are placed over the front, visible part of the teeth. Veneers look just like natural teeth, and are often implemented to help various dental issues such as:
- Stained teeth that can’t be corrected via teeth polishing/bleaching
- Crooked, chipped, or worn teeth
- Large gap between the front teeth, or uneven spaces
Depending on the case, a surgical procedure might be necessary during these cosmetic procedures.
This is a simple surgical procedure to remove a piece of oral tissue for analysis purposes. Oral biopsy is typically performed when there’s an oral lesion that looks suspect, to check for the possibility of oral cancer.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
Corrective jaw surgery is a type of maxillofacial surgery— a more complex form of oral surgery—. Jaws that aren’t properly aligned can cause both aesthetic and functional issues. Surgery can be performed to correct the alignment of the jaws which can restore the function.
Reconstructive Oral and Facial Surgery
These procedures can replace missing or damaged teeth, correct gum damage, treat jawbone issues, and other issues caused by facial and oral trauma. Facial injuries and issues like knocked-out teeth can cause various functional issues (chewing food, speech, etc.) besides cosmetic reasons.
Oral Surgery Preparation
If you are scheduled with any form of oral surgery, there are several measures you can take to prepare for the procedure:
- If necessary, your dentist might refer you to a surgical specialist according to your case. This is normal, and you might also take this chance to ask for second opinions.
- Commonly an X-ray of your mouth is taken to properly understand your condition. This is the time to ask for details, the expectations you should have both about the procedure and the expected results, and so on.
- Discuss your medical history, especially about your allergies and make sure to mention all the medications you are currently taking (including supplements and vitamins. This is so we can avoid medication-related accidents during and after the surgery.
- Also, discuss important medical history like whether you have diabetes, heart conditions, or hypertension.
- Your dentist/specialist might prescribe some medications in preparation for the surgery, as well as oral hygiene practices to follow. Pay extra attention to these, to ensure the success of the procedure.
What To Expect During Surgery
Here are some important considerations to have during the day of the surgery:
- Ask your dentist whether you’ll get a local or general anesthesia. If necessary, you might be required to avoid any foods (and sometimes, drinks) for 8 hours before the surgery.
- If you have chronic diseases like a history of heart attack or diabetes, the dentist/anesthesiologist will monitor your condition during the procedure. This is to avoid any complications with the anesthetic.
- Some procedures might require longer hospitalizations period (up to a week in the hospital. In general, however, you can leave at the same day.
All types of oral surgeries will demand a recovery period. This period can be accompanied by mild pain and swelling, while you might also be advised to limit certain foods and drinks.
In general, you should avoid consumption of overly hot or cold foods and drinks, and also hard foods. If any swelling occurs, you can relieve the pain and hasten the recovery period by compressing the area with a pack of ice.
Different surgical procedures will have different recovery periods, so you might want to discuss with your dentist of what to expect. The dentist might prescribe over-the-counter pain medication, or in some cases, stronger painkillers.
Contact your dentist immediately if the pain is unmanageable or the recovery period took longer than what’s discussed. Don’t wait until complications or infections occur before you make the call.