Oral Surgery

Oral surgery can be instrumental in addressing a variety of oral health concerns, from extracting impacted teeth to supplementing bone tissue in areas of defects to diagnosing oral cancer. Patients may not have previous experience with oral surgery, so we will work closely with you during the treatment planning process to make sure that you understand the anticipated procedure and know how to prepare for your surgery and take care of the surgical site afterward. Most oral surgery procedures can be performed right in our office using our state-of-the-art equipment, with minimal disruption to patients’ routines.

Oral Surgery Procedures

Oral surgery procedures performed in our office include tooth extractions, soft tissue biopsies, and bone and ridge augmentation. These procedures have different benefits for patients. For example, removal of an impacted tooth, such as a wisdom tooth, can prevent a number of potential consequences, including infections, abscesses, discomfort and damage to surrounding teeth, among other issues. Soft tissue biopsies are used to determine pathological processes in lesions, such as sores that do not heal or white patches in the mouth. Soft tissue biopsies are used to determine whether such lesions are benign or malignant, and can actually help to save a patient’s life, as the outlook for oral cancer patients is much better when the cancer is diagnosed in a localized stage.

Some patients have defects in their bone, either from abnormal development or due to bone loss following tooth loss. These patients may benefit from bone and ridge augmentation to normalize the appearance of their facial structures and improve the function of the smile. Bone augmentation can also help to make the patient a good candidate for dental implant placement.

Treatment Planning For Oral Surgery

Most oral surgery procedures target structures that cannot be seen by directly inspecting the smile, so the dentist will use some type of imaging, either standard x-rays or three-dimensional imaging, to plan the surgical approach needed. Three-dimensional imaging is particularly helpful, as it gives the dentist a working perception of the surgical field as it will be navigated during the procedure. Incorporating this technology into the treatment planning process results in more predictable procedures.

Preparing For Successful Recovery After Oral Surgery

For some oral surgery procedures, the recovery period can be as short as a couple of days. Other interventions require a longer amount of time for recuperation. Patients play an important role in ensuring an uneventful recovery after oral surgery. Your dentist will give you detailed instructions for post-operative care. Following those instructions closely will reduce your risk of infection and other complications after your oral surgery. Complications can derail your recovery and keep you away from your routine for a longer period of time, so do everything within your power to prevent them.

We also will give you a list of symptoms that could indicate a problem with the surgical site, such as ongoing bleeding or fever. If you develop any of these symptoms, call our office as soon as possible for an evaluation and possible follow-up treatment.

Common Oral Surgery Questions:

How long will my recovery take? When can I return to work or to my normal routine?

Your recovery period will depend on the type of oral surgery you’re receiving, and we can give you a more precise idea of what to expect at your initial evaluation. For example, following the wisdom tooth extraction, you may be able to resume most of your normal routine within a few days. However, if you have a particularly physically active job, you may need to take a few extra days, as vigorous exercise can interfere with the healing process. You may have other restrictions that last beyond the initial recovery period, please discuss all of the post-operative instructions thoroughly with your dentist.

How long do the holes in my jaw stay after extractions?

The soft tissues that cover your sockets should be healed within a couple of weeks, although the hole in the underlying bone can take up to six weeks to fill in. In those initial two weeks, while the empty socket is not protected by healed soft tissue, patients must take precautions to avoid dislodging the blood clots that form in the sockets. If those clots are absent, the patient can face a painful condition known as dry sockets. You should also be extra diligent in keeping the site clean as the soft tissue heals to reduce your risk of infection.

When should I have my wisdom teeth removed?

It is recommended that patients have their wisdom teeth removed before they turn 25 years old. While it is possible to extract impacted wisdom teeth in older patients, the procedure is more complex, as the roots get longer and more entrenched in the jaw as we get older. Additionally, older patients take a longer time to recover after wisdom tooth extraction.

Some patients may have reservations about having their wisdom teeth removed if they are not symptomatic, but it is impossible to predict when issues like cysts, tumors, abscesses or other infections can develop in impacted wisdom teeth. In order to avoid these negative outcomes, we recommend the preventive extraction of impacted wisdom teeth even if they are not causing problems.