Oral surgery is any medical procedure that is performed on the mouth, particularly involving the teeth, gums or jaw. Depending on the type of surgery being performed, it can either be carried out by the dentist or may require referral to an oral & maxillofacial department in a hospital. Oral surgery performed in a dental practice is quite common and normally only requires a local anaesthetic. Procedures include:
- Jaw surgery
If a broken or decayed tooth cannot be repaired with a filling or other restorative treatment, it may have to be extracted. Tooth extraction involves removing the tooth from its socket in the bone.
An extraction will either be a simple extraction, performed on a tooth that can be seen in the mouth, or a surgical extraction which is used for a tooth that has broken off at the gum line or has not yet emerged.
Dental implants are a long lasting solution to missing teeth and can also provide increased stability to a new or existing denture. They consist of tiny titanium posts that are surgically placed in the jawbone to act as substitute tooth roots. Once these metal posts have fused with the jawbone and healed, they are used as supports for replacement teeth.
This type of surgery is performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons and common reasons for carrying it out include:
- Temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) – the temporomandibular joint is located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet. Joint surgery can help with disorders of this small joint which can commonly cause headaches and facial pain.
- Trauma to the jaw
- Malocclusion (an incorrect ‘bite’)
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Improving the fit of dentures – surgery can be carried out to correct irregularities of the jaw so dentures will be a better fit.
- Difficulty chewing or eating, opening the mouth or talking
- Incorrect jaw position which may lead to an unbalanced facial appearance