Your oral health is as vital as your general health. Healthy teeth and gums will boost your self-esteem, confidence and contribute to your general wellbeing. That is why it is advisable to seek help immediately if you experience a problem with your teeth, gums, jaws, or mouth. It could be a pain, discomfort, an infection, or a sore jaw. Your dentist will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the best form of treatment.
In some cases, oral surgery could be recommended based on the nature of the problem you are experiencing. Oral surgery is any form of surgical procedure performed inside or around your mouth. This type of treatment is administered by a dental specialist in these types of oral surgeries. For more information and help with oral surgery in Carson, CA, contact Washington Dental.
Oral Surgery — Overview
Your mouth is essential in so many ways. You use it for drinking, eating, tasting, breathing, and communicating. For your mouth to perform all these tasks well, you need to take good care of it. Taking care of your mouth goes beyond brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day. There are preventive and curative measures you need to adapt for enhanced oral health. For example, if you consistently consume sugary, unhealthy foods, you could damage your teeth. If your teeth are already damaged, you must see a dentist before the damage escalates.
Generally speaking, taking care of your mouth is an everyday task. A well-taken-care-of mouth will reward you with strong teeth, healthy gums, and a beautiful smile. That is why you need to act fast as soon as you experience an oral problem, like pain, swelling, numbness, or bleeding. You may not know the cause of your problem, but an experienced dentist will. Dentists recommend a regular visit to their office at least every six months. It helps maintain good oral health and prevent any unforeseen dental problems that could damage your teeth and affect your general health.
If you have been experiencing pain in your tooth or teeth, gum, or jaw, it is vital to see a dentist as soon as possible. Do not wait for the pain to become unbearable. Most dental problems start with pain, discomfort, or swelling. You must also visit a dentist’s office if you recently lost a tooth. Dentists are specially trained to handle any issue with our teeth, jaws, and gums. Visit your dentist even if the pain is in the areas around your mouth or face.
After reviewing your problem, your dentist will offer recommendations based on the situation at hand. Your dentist can quickly handle some of the less severe issues in his/her office without referring you to a specialist. But if the problem is severe and threatens your general health, he/she might recommend oral surgery. In that case, you might have to see an oral surgeon.
Oral surgery is a general term used to refer to all surgical procedures that a surgeon can perform in and around your mouth and jaw. Only a specialized dentist trained in performing various types of oral surgeries can perform these procedures.
Common Oral Surgery Procedures
Oral surgery doesn’t refer to one particular procedure but a series of operations performed inside or around your mouth and jaw. Thus, it is a type of treatment that could apply to various kinds of dental issues. Indeed, there are many types of oral surgery, each unique in the dental problem it treats. Some of the most common ones are root canal and tooth removal. Oral surgery could also be performed to remove a tumor.
Many dentist specialists can perform oral surgery, including prosthodontists, endodontists, and periodontists. Let us look at some of the standard procedures that fall under oral surgery:
Removal of Impacted Teeth
Impacted teeth occur when the jaw is not large enough to accommodate all emerging teeth. It happens mostly with wisdom teeth, but it could happen with other teeth too. When teeth emerge from the gum, there must be enough space for them to grow. If not, they will not come out at all or will not come out completely. It results in a sore gum and could cause infections to the gum tissues surrounding the emerging tooth. Impacted teeth can also cause permanent damage to the teeth near them, gum, and bone. It could also result in tumors or cysts, which would eventually damage the jaw.
Thus, impacted teeth need to be pulled out immediately before they present any problems. It is one of the reasons your dentist could refer you to an oral surgeon.
Tooth damage is among the serious issues you could experience that could lead to tooth extraction. Typically, dentists will do their best to salvage a natural tooth. But if the damage is severe, the best solution would be tooth extraction. Severe tooth damage could be caused by several factors, among them traumatic injury and severe decay.
If you were involved in a traumatic accident like a severe blow to your face or a car accident, one or more of your teeth could loosen up or fracture. Your dentist will recommend tooth extraction if the tooth cannot be preserved.
Severe tooth decay occurs if tooth decay has lingered on for a long time, affecting most tooth parts and the surrounding structures.
An oral surgeon’s job would be to numb the area surrounding the tooth to make it painless as you go through the procedure. He/she will then pull out the damaged tooth, together with its root, clean up the area, and place a suture into the wound to promote healing.
Installation of Dental Implants
When you lose one or more teeth, you may not feel comfortable smiling or interacting with other people. It happens especially if the lost tooth is at or close to the front. Dentists recommend the replacement of the lost tooth with a dental implant. Then you’ll be able to smile again with confidence.
Replacement of a natural tooth doesn’t occur overnight. You require several visits to the dentist’s office to have the procedure done. It starts with the oral surgeon implanting a post through the gum to the jawbone for each gap left by a missing tooth. The post will act as the root of the tooth to support the tooth replacement.
If the surgeon realizes that you have a poor bone structure, he/she could start with bone grafting to give the post enough support. Once all the procedures are completed, the surgeon will install a dental implant onto the post to serve the purpose of the lost natural tooth. After the operation, you’ll have an improved smile, proper jaw alignment, and can chew well.
Treatment of Sleep and Breathing Issues
A great range of sleep and breathing issues are treated through oral surgery. They include conditions like sleep apnea and snoring. Sleep apnea is considered severe because it causes you to stop breathing for some periods during sleep. The condition mainly leads to sleep deprivation and reduced oxygen levels in the body.
Surgical interventions are very effective in the treatment of conditions like these. The type of surgery the oral surgeon would recommend will depend on the sleep or breathing problem you are experiencing. He/she will first establish the cause of your sleep or breathing problem. It could be that your airway is small and needs to be made bigger or that a specific part of your nasal passage or mouth needs to be adjusted.
Treatment of Overbites or Underbites
Proper alignment of your jaw is crucial as it eliminates excessive underbites and overbites and helps with chewing and swallowing. If your jaw is not well aligned, your dentist might recommend oral surgery to rectify and reduce the risks of severe conditions like sleep apnea. Some people have lower and upper jaws that have failed to grow properly. It makes it difficult for them to eat, swallow, speak or even breathe. Fortunately, improper teeth alignment can be corrected.
Oral surgery for treatment of overbites or underbites could involve moving the upper or lower jaw or both into a new position to create a balance, promote functionality and health.
Problem With Jaw Joints
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the jaw joint that connects your jaw to the skull. It could cause problems like pain in your upper jaw, stiffness, jaw-popping, and even headaches. TMJ disorders are pretty common and could be treated with oral medications, splints, and physical therapy. However, advanced cases of TMJ disorders might require surgical intervention to heal completely.
For instance, if your dentist’s diagnosis shows a specific problem in your TMJ, he/she could refer you to an oral surgeon. People with recurring TMJ disorders could also require surgery to deal with the problem once and for all.
Treatment of Cleft Palate
A cleft palate is a split or opening in the roof of the mouth. It occurs when tissues fail to fuse during the development of a child in the womb. The palate includes a split in the upper lip of a child. It can occur without even affecting the mouth. Sometimes it affects feeding and speech development in the affected children. Thus, there is a need for treatment to correct the condition and restore the child’s health.
Both plastic and oral surgeons could correct a cleft palate. The surgery is conducted when a child is around one year old. After that, the baby can grow and live a complete everyday life. Only a few affected children develop severe medical conditions, which are also treated when the child is young.
Surgical treatment for cleft palate aims to improve the child’s facial appearance and speech and feeding problems they might experience as a result.
How To Prepare for Oral Surgery
An appointment with an oral surgeon could be full of anxiety and fear of the unknown. But you can overcome the anxiety with prior preparation. It becomes easier when you know what to expect ahead. Some of the preparations you can make are:
Find out as much information as you can about the operation before your appointment with the oral surgeon. The information you’ll be seeking will be related to the oral problem you are experiencing and the treatment you expect.
You could schedule time with your surgeon or dentist to help you understand why surgery is essential and not any other modes of treatment. Ask any questions you might have regarding the operation, including benefits and risk factors. You could prepare your questions in advance to ensure that you do not forget anything.
It helps to walk into an operating room when you know exactly how the operation will be and what you can expect afterward.
Organize for a Ride
Plan in advance how you’ll go to the hospital and back home after the operation. It is advisable not to drive yourself to and from. Since you’ll be sedated, you’ll not be fit enough to drive a car. Anesthesia is known to impair a person’s judgment, making operating a vehicle a dangerous undertaking.
Thus, you could ask the help of a friend, family member, or colleague to drive you to and from the hospital on the day of the operation. If no one is available to do that, you can organize a cab or use public transport.
Refrain From Eating
People undergoing a surgical operation are expected to fast for some hours before their operation. Since you’ll be sedated, do not eat at least from midnight before the operation. Fasting reduces the risk of aspiration during procedures like these. It is serious, though a rare complication of anesthesia filling a patient’s lungs with their stomach contents. If you are taking medication during the fasting period, a small amount of water will help bring it down.
Allow Yourself Time
On the day of the operation, arrive earlier so you’ll have enough time to complete the last-minute paperwork and other details before you meet up with the surgeon. Arriving earlier will also allow you time to familiarize yourself with the environment, which could help you relax through the operation. If you still have some questions to ask before the procedure, this would be the best time to seek answers.
The nurse at the oral surgeon’s office will take your vital signs, give you an IV, and administer blood pressure cuffs and sedation. Thus, you need to dress lightly, leaving your hands bare to make this process easier for you. It will also make you at ease since you’ll not need to struggle with your clothes to allow the nurses to monitor you throughout the surgery.
Oral Surgery Recovery Tips
It will be time to take care of your mouth to promote an easy and quick recovery, having gone through a successful operation. Your surgeon will dismiss you with a list of dos and don’ts that you must abide by through the recovery period. However minor they might seem, it is essential to pay attention to all those instructions if you want to ease your pain and avoid infections. Remember that if your wound doesn’t heal well after the operation, it could develop into other complications that might take time and a lot of money to treat.
Here are some recovery tips you can adopt for any type of oral surgery:
Rest as Much as Possible
After any type of surgical operation, it is advisable to rest as much as you can. You cannot go back to work straight from the operation room. You might want to spend that day or even the next at home relaxing. If you were sedated, you might be drowsy hours after the operation. That makes you unfit to work or perform other demanding tasks.
Therefore, do not drive a car, go to work or school. Avoid any kind of strenuous job, even at home. Too much bending or lifting right after an oral surgery could dislodge the blood clots, resulting in bleeding.
Additionally, use more pillows to keep your head elevated when you go to sleep.
Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions
After the operation, the surgeon will give you a list of instructions on what to do and not do for an easy and quick recovery. For instance, you may be asked not to brush your teeth or use a mouthwash for a few days after the procedure. Your mouth will be too sensitive for regular oral hygiene. Sometimes you could be asked only to avoid the treated part of the mouth but clean up the rest. It all depends on the treatment you have undergone.
Some treatments will require you to rinse your mouth with a warm salt solution regularly. Listen to the surgeon and follow their instructions. Do not try anything new during the recovery period unless your surgeon or dentist has approved it.
Ice Your Face
If your face swells or develops some bruises after the operation, consider icing it. Apply ice on your jaw for the first 24 hours after the operation. If both sides of your mouth were treated, you could ice both sides alternatively for at least 30 minutes, with a break of 15 minutes. You should see changes on your swollen face after the second or third day.
However, if the swelling intensified or has a fever and/or pus, the treated part might have been infected. Call your dentist or surgeon right away for timely treatment.
Block the Bleeding
Bleeding might continue for one or two days after the surgery. That is quite normal. Continue biting down gently on the folded gauze given by the surgeon to slow down the flow of blood. If it continues for more than 24 hours or is heavy, requiring you to change the gauze more often, you might need to call your dentist or surgeon.
Protect the Clot
A blood clot helps stop bleeding and promotes healing in the affected area. Thus, you shouldn’t disturb the clot after its formation on the treated part of your mouth. Protecting the clot ensures that your wounds heal easily and fast. Thus, you might have to stop using a straw for a few days after the operation. Avoid alcoholic drinks and carbonated beverages too. Smoking could also interfere with the clotting process. Therefore, you might want to stop smoking for at least three days after the surgery. Lastly, avoid spitting too much.
Watch What You Eat and Drink
After oral surgery, dentists recommend cool and soft foods at least until the wound recovers fully. Thus, you might want to take more yogurts, applesauce, and oatmeal in place of your regular foods. Avoid foods that are too hot, cold, chewy, tough, and spicy.
The goal is not to overwork or irritate the treated part of your mouth, at least until complete recovery. Rich smoothies might work even better if you want to take all the required nutrients within the recovery period.
Take Your Pain Meds
The pain will not go away immediately after the surgery. You might still be in pain a day or two after the operation. Thus, ensure you take your pain meds as advised by your dentist. Your dentist will give you a prescription of the medicine you must take and instructions on how to take them. If pain persists after the second day, you might want to contact your dentist.
Find an Oral Surgeon Near Me
If you are experiencing dental problems that might require oral surgery, it helps to familiarize yourself with what this is all about. Most of your dental issues can be treated in your dentist’s office. However, serious problems might require the intervention of an oral surgeon. Your dentist will recommend a reliable oral surgeon to ensure your dental issue is dealt with once and for good. For more information regarding oral surgery and why you might need one in Carson, CA, contact Washington Dental at 310-217-1507. We are always ready to answer your questions and address any concerns you might have concerning your oral health.