Oral and maxillofacial surgery corrects a variety of diseases, injuries, and defects associated with the head, neck, face, jaws, and the hard and soft tissues in the maxillofacial area. This type of surgery is one of nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.
Oral Surgeons: Changing Lives with a Smile
After they complete dental school, oral and maxillofacial surgeons undergo a four-year minimum residency at an American Dental Association-accredited hospital. During their training, they work side by side with medical residents. Many of these residents are in the field of internal medicine, anesthesiology, plastic surgery, otolaryngology emergency medicine, and other medical concentrations. Oral surgeons receive extensive training and focus almost exclusively on maxillofacial tissues.
Conditions and Treatments
Your oral and maxillofacial surgeon has the skills, knowledge, and experience to perform a variety of treatments for various conditions.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
Corrective jaw or orthognathic surgery repositions the upper jaw, lower jaw, or chin to repair dental and skeletal issues. This type of surgery is generally performed when your teeth or jaw are misaligned and can help with speaking, chewing and breathing. Common reasons for needing corrective jaw surgery include pain or discomfort when you chew, damaged or worn down teeth, extended jaw, retreating chin, or sleep apnea.
Wisdom teeth surface later than the rest of your permanent teeth. Often times they surface from your gum line and if there is enough space, they will grow comfortably into place. Unfortunately, it is more common that a patient's jaw doesn’t have enough space to support wisdom teeth, meaning they won’t surface correctly and become impacted. When wisdom teeth are impacted, they usually need to be extracted. In many cases, impacted wisdom teeth that surface become more prone to tooth decay, infections, and gum disease because they are harder to clean. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons advises patients have their wisdom teeth taken out in early adulthood to avoid any issues and to heal properly.
Cleft lip and cleft palate occur when your mouth and nasal cavity don’t develop as they should. A cleft palate can affect how you chew, speak, and hear, and must be corrected with surgery. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons work closely with a specialized team of medical professionals to fix these issues with several procedures over multiple years.
Maxillofacial injuries or facial traumas include any harm, such as broken bones, to your mouth, face, and jaw. Some injuries of the lower and upper jaw, palate, cheekbones, and eye sockets may affect your eyesight, breathing, speaking, and swallowing. To avoid these injuries, always wear a seatbelt and use protective equipment like a mouthguard or helmet when participating in sports or athletics.
Temporomandibular Joint Surgery
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects the skull and lower jaw. When you experience pain in this region of your jaw, it is referred to as Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD). This disorder can cause pain in your jaw and head region, restrict movement, and make grinding or clicking noises.
A variety of treatments can be performed, ranging from minor dental procedures to complex surgeries to help alleviate TMD symptoms and discomfort. In some cases, minor dental treatments aren’t enough to treat your TMD and surgery involving arthroscopy may be needed. If there is joint damage, we may use a similar surgical approach to help alleviate pain or discomfort caused by TMD.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons suggest all patients check themselves for oral cancer every month. Early detection is the best way to find, treat, and cure any type of cancer. You should contact your oral and maxillofacial surgeon if you find white or red patches, an atypical lump, experience a constant sore throat or discomfort swallowing, or a change in your voice. They will take a small piece of tissue from the problem area and run a biopsy to diagnose the issue.
Dental implants can be surgically placed into your jawbone by oral and maxillofacial surgeons to offer a substitute for missing teeth. These implants are made of titanium metal and bond to the jawbone, a process known as osseointegration, to ensure dental implants don’t slide or become infected. Since the dental implants connect to the jawbone, bone loss is rarely an issue.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are certified to administer patients with anesthesia, which includes local anesthesia, general anesthesia, nitrous oxide, and IV sedation. In part of their surgical residency, surgeons must observe the medical anesthesiology service, allowing them to evaluate patients for anesthesia, safely administer anesthetic and assess patients after a procedure.
Contact our team today at (208) 323-4800 to schedule your appointment or to request more information about oral and maxillofacial surgery.
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