A number of
conditions may require oral surgery, including:
Wisdom teeth, otherwise known as third molars,
are the last set of teeth to develop. Sometimes
these teeth emerge from the gum line and the jaw
is large enough to allow room for them, but most
of the time, this is not the case. More often,
one or more of these third molars fails to
emerge in proper alignment or fails to fully
emerge through the gum line and becomes
entrapped or "impacted" between the jawbone and
the gum tissue. Impacted wisdom teeth can result
in swelling, pain, and infection of the gum
tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth. In
addition, 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
It's not just wisdom teeth that sometimes become
impacted and need to be removed. 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.
Dental implants are an option for tooth loss due
to an accident or infection or as an alternative
to dentures. The implants are tooth root
substitutes that are surgically anchored in
place in the jawbone and act to stabilize the
artificial teeth to which they are attached.
Suitable candidates for dental implants need to
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. In some individuals, the
upper and lower jaw fail to grow properly. This
can cause difficulty in speaking, eating,
swallowing, and breathing. While some of these
problems – like improper teeth alignment – can
be corrected with braces and other orthodontic
appliances, 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. For first-time denture
wearers, oral surgery can be done to correct any
irregularities of the jaws prior to creating the
dentures to ensure a better fit. Oral surgery
can also help long-term denture wearers.
Supporting bone often deteriorates over time
resulting in dentures that no longer fit
properly. In severe cases, an oral surgeon can
add a bone graft to areas where little bone
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Dysfunction of the TMJ, the small joint in front
of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet,
is a common source of headache and facial pain.
Most patients with TMJ disorders can be
successfully treated with a combination of oral
medications, physical therapy, and splints.
However, joint surgery is an option for advanced
cases and when the diagnosis indicates a
specific problem in the joint.
Other Conditions Treated By Oral Surgery
Facial injury repair.
Oral surgery is often used to fix fractured jaws
and broken facial bones.
Lesion removal and
biopsy. Oral surgeons can take a
small sample of abnormal growth or tissue and
then send it for laboratory testing for
identification. Some lesions can be managed
medically or can be removed by the oral surgeon.
Cleft lip and cleft
palate repair. Cleft lip and cleft
palate result when all or portions of the mouth
and nasal cavity do not grow together properly
during fetal development. The result is a gap in
the lip and/or a split in the opening in the
roof of the mouth. Oral surgeons work as part of
a team of healthcare specialists to correct
these problems through a series of treatments
and surgical procedures over many years.
Pain and swelling in the face, neck or jaws may
indicate an infection. Infections in this area
of the body can sometimes develop into
life-threatening emergencies if not treated
promptly and effectively. An oral surgeon can
assist in diagnosing and treating this problem.
Surgical treatment, if needed, may include
cutting into and draining the infected area as
well as extracting any teeth that might be
When conservative methods fail to alleviate this
problem, surgery can be tried. Surgical
procedures involve removing the soft tissues of
the oropharynx (an area in the back portion of
the mouth) or the lower jaw. Laser surgery is a
newer treatment option. Depending on the
surgical technique used, the laser is used to
either slowly scar the palate, which tightens
it, or to remove palate tissue.
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