Oral Surgery – What Every Patient Needs to Know
When a dentist recommends oral surgery, a patient may express concern. This individual needs to know, “what is oral surgery?” Why would a person need a procedure of this type?
What is Oral Surgery?
Any surgical procedure carried out on oral structures falls under oral surgery. Extractions, gum grafts, and dental implants qualify as this type of procedure, and oral surgeons usually complete the surgeries rather than a general dentist. So what do oral surgeons do, and how do they differ from other dental professionals?
When is Oral Surgery Needed?
Extensive tooth decay and severely broken teeth often call for oral surgery. Still, a dentist may recommend this procedure in various other situations. For instance, impacted or missing teeth could require surgery. In addition, a dentist might recommend surgery for gum disease or temporomandibular joint disorders. Sleep apnea and oral cancer treatments often involve surgery, as does the treatment of noncancerous tumors.
What Do Oral Surgeons Do?
General dentists typically refer a patient to an oral surgeon when they need a procedure of this type. This referral leads to the question, “what do oral surgeons do?” An oral and maxillofacial surgeon carries out surgical procedures on oral structures, including the mouth, face, and jaw. This individual undergoes three to four years of additional training upon completion of dental school to learn how to complete these procedures.
Before Oral Surgery
Before oral surgery, the specialist conducts a complete examination of the mouth, teeth, gums, and jaws. Then, they take X-rays and scans to get an in-depth look at these structures. The X-rays and scans allow the surgeon to establish a personalized treatment plan to address the patient's unique needs.
The Oral Surgical Procedure
Oral surgical procedures take place on an outpatient basis or in a hospital, depending on the nature of the surgery. The patient receives sedation before the procedure begins. The time needed for the surgery varies by the procedure and the structures involved.
Recovery Following Oral Surgery
Patients receive detailed post-operative instructions. Follow these instructions exactly, as doing so minimizes the risk of infection, bleeding, and other complications. Healing time varies by person and the procedure. However, most people find they recover fully in a matter of days.
The extent of the surgery dictates the recovery time, so more involved procedures lead to longer healing times. Oral surgeons offer medications when needed to ensure the patient's comfort. People typically find they can return to work or school within three days of their procedure unless they undergo an extensive procedure, such as corrective jaw surgery.
Don't eat hard or crunchy foods following the procedure. Soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, and eggs serve better options while the mouth heals. In addition, many people find ice cream, milkshakes, and popsicles to soothe the surgical site, so have these on hand after the surgery.
Will Insurance Cover the Procedure?
Patients often want to know if their insurance will cover all or part of the procedure cost. Most oral surgeries fall under dental benefits, but this isn't always the case. Surgical procedures required following an accident may qualify for coverage under a medical insurance policy if the procedure takes place in a hospital setting. Always check with your insurance providers before scheduling the surgery to learn how much each insurance provider will pay and how much will remain the patient's responsibility.
Benefits of Oral Surgery
Oral structures must work together for the highest oral health and function. At times, however, a problem arises that interferes with their ability to function as a unit. Oral surgery addresses any issues arising in these structures to improve the patient's oral health and overall quality of life.
Risks of Oral Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, oral surgery comes with risks. A patient may develop an infection or suffer from a dry socket. This condition arises when the patient somehow interferes with the blood clotting process following an extraction. Numbness and injury to adjacent teeth remain concerns, as do tooth root problems. In addition, some patients experience sinus problems following an oral surgical procedure. A person can reduce the risk of these complications by following all post-operative instructions provided by the oral surgeon and taking medications as prescribed.
When to Call the Oral Surgeon
Patients should call their oral surgeon when they experience pain following the procedure, and the medication isn't helping reduce or eliminate this pain. In addition, any fever of 100.4 or higher requires an immediate call to the surgeon, and the same holds when the surgical site is draining. These signs suggest an infection at the surgical site, which requires immediate intervention.
Oral surgeons benefit from modern surgical technology. Today, they provide patients with high-quality care using less invasive methods. Patients find oral surgical procedures restore the health and function of their oral structures, minimize or eliminate pain, and provide them with an improved quality of life. If your dentist has recommended one or more surgical procedures, contact an oral surgeon today for help. Then, when you get relief, you'll be glad you took this step.