Oral surgery is a dental procedure used to treat injuries, diseases, and defects of the human mouth, jaws, and surrounding structures. There are different oral surgical procedures such as tooth extraction, root canal, and removal of impacted wisdom teeth.
Your oral health is an essential aspect of your overall health and wellbeing. In addition to treating and correcting defects of the teeth, gums, and jaws, oral surgery may affect your appearance. Therefore, the outcome of these procedures may completely change your life. If you have a condition that requires oral surgery, you will need the services of a skilled dentist.
At Washington Dental, we work hard to ensure that our clients receive the best services to restore and maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. We serve clients requiring oral surgical procedures throughout Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita, CA.
Overview of Oral Surgery
Oral surgery is a surgical procedure that helps solve oral problems, including the ones related to the jaws, mouth, gums, teeth, and surrounding structures. Oral surgeries are invasive procedures ranging from tooth extraction to gum grafts and placement of tooth implants. Most oral surgeries require the dentist to use local or general anesthesia. In addition to anesthesia intolerance, other contraindications would make oral surgery not suitable for your situation, including:
- Active infections. If you have untreated infections in the mouth or surrounding areas, you should reconsider undergoing oral surgery. This is because the bacteria could transfer to the point of surgery, causing the infection to become worse. You need to undergo treatment for the infections before the surgery.
- High blood pressure. Anticipating surgery can be nerve-wracking. Additionally, if you have high blood pressure, you could have other concerns regarding how your blood pressure will react to the anesthesia. Having hypertension may increase complications after oral surgery. However, this may not be a reason to postpone the surgery. Before and during the surgery, the dentist must keep a close eye on your pressure.
- Severe osteonecrosis. Osteonecrosis is a condition that develops when there is an insufficient blood supply to your bones, causing them to die. Death of the bones could cause them to collapse and distort the structure around the affected area. If the point of surgery is an area affected by osteonecrosis, you may not be a good candidate for oral surgery.
- Risk of metastasis. Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells from the primary location to another region in the body. If there is a risk of metastasis resulting from your oral surgery, it may not be a wise idea to go through with the procedure.
Types of Oral Surgery
There are several types of oral surgery that you can undergo depending on the extent of the problem you want to solve. During oral surgery, your dentist may apply different types of anesthesia to numb the area and reduce pain or discomfort. Types of anesthesia available for oral surgery include:
- Local anesthesia. Your dentist may inject you with some medications to numb the gums around a tooth, which helps reduce pain from the surgical procedure. Your dentist is likely to apply local anesthesia when you undergo minor procedures like simple tooth extraction.
- General anesthesia. This form of anesthesia involves using intravenous medications to put you in a deep sleep, where you will be unaware of the procedure. General anesthesia is often used for more invasive procedures such as gum grafts.
- Intravenous sedation. This is a type of conscious sedation where you become relaxed, aware of the surgery but will not feel the pain from the procedure.
Tooth extraction is an outpatient procedure involving the removal of a tooth or multiple teeth. Tooth extraction can be done to treat overcrowding of teeth or remove highly decayed teeth. Tooth extraction is a safe procedure. However, complications could arise. Extracting your tooth is often the last result when saving your tooth is no longer possible. Therefore, you need to discuss your options with your dentist before you result in extraction. There are two main types of tooth extraction including:
- Simple extractions. This is a procedure used to remove teeth that you can spot from above the gums. A general dentist will often perform such a procedure using sedation or local anesthesia. A simple extraction will not require your dentist to cut open your gums.
- Surgical extraction. When you have broken teeth or a tooth that hasn’t completely emerged, you may require a more invasive procedure to remove it.
Your densest could recommend having the tooth removed if:
- Your baby teeth are yet to fall out.
- You have impacted teeth that grow in and affect other teeth.
- You have crooked or overcrowded teeth.
- You have severely infected or decayed teeth.
The tooth extraction process involves loosening your tooth and then removing it. Your dentist will then clean the space left by the extracted tooth. Depending on the type of extraction, your dentist may put in some stitches to help the space close.
Although tooth extraction is relatively safe, you may experience the following complications:
- Damage to the nerves of the lower jaw.
- Dry socket. If a blood clot does not form to heal the socket. The bones under the site of extraction may be exposed, causing a dry socket.
- Jaw fracture. As a result of the pressure exerted during extraction, you may suffer a jaw fracture which could be very painful.
- Failure to maintain proper hygiene could result in an infection of the area of extraction.
Extraction of Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth extraction is a procedure that a dentist uses to remove wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are the molars at the back corners of your jaws. The wisdom teeth often grow last in early adulthood and can be very painful. In addition to the pain associated with the growth of these teeth, they often cause gum disease, infection, or even damage to the neighboring teeth. Wisdom teeth grow between the ages of sixteen and twenty fine, and your dentist or oral surgeon could recommend their removal before they begin causing complications.
Some of the common reasons why our dentist could recommend the removal of these teeth include:
- An impacted tooth fails to emerge from the gums fully. Sometimes, an impacted tooth may be partially visible, and in other cases, they are completely covered by the gums. Impacted wisdom teeth are likely to damage the tooth roots and bones. Removing them as soon as they appear may help save other teeth and surrounding structures.
- When there is not enough space for the wisdom teeth to grow, they may begin to push other teeth, causing your mouth to look overcrowded. In this case, removing them may be the only option.
- Infection and decay. Wisdom teeth are further back in the mouth, and this can make it difficult to clean them. Accumulation of food particles and bacteria on the tooth could cause tooth decay or gum disease. Since severe gum disease causes the teeth to loosen, your dentist may recommend their removal.
Following wisdom teeth extraction, your mouth and gums may feel swollen. However, proper oral hygiene and care for the extraction site could help reduce complications associated with this procedure.
A root canal is an outpatient dental procedure used to treat infection and decay deep inside the teeth. Your tooth roots contain pulp which is filled with nerves and blood vessels. When your tooth is decayed or injured, the pulp becomes infected, causing severe pain. A root canal will help save your tooth by removing the infection and sealing the tooth to avoid further entry of bacteria.
Before opting for a root canal, your dentist may perform other procedures to assess the extent of tooth damage. These tests include:
- Electric pulp testing. This procedure helps determine whether the pulp in your tooth is alive. Also, your dentist can use it to detect the extent of the damage.
- X-rays. X-rays are imaging tests that use radiation to look into your mouth and teeth.
- Apex locators. Your dentist will use this device to measure the root canal length.
Often, your dentist will recommend a tooth canal when you suffer from severe tooth decay. Tooth decay, commonly known as dental caries, occurs when bacteria in your mouth produce toxins that damage the tooth enamel. When the bacteria eats through the enamel, it enters the softer and inner parts of the tooth, causing infection and pain.
Your root canal procedure will involve the killing of the nerves in the infected tooth. The dentist will drill a hole in the teeth during a root canal to clean it out and remove the infection. Also, your dentist can put a filling on the tooth to avoid further entry of bacteria. Following a root canal, you need to follow up with your dentist. Also, you should contact your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Severe pain on the tooth or gums.
- Difficulty chewing or biting.
- Excessive bleeding.
A dental implant is a procedure used to replace missing teeth with artificial teeth that are stronger and functional than your natural teeth. A dental implant consists of a metal inserted inside the jaws to act as a tooth root and an artificial crown. A dental implant restores the shape of your mouth and helps you chew. Loss of teeth can result in loss of bones and tissues in the surrounding areas. Loss of bones is likely to affect your facial structure and appearance.
Placement of the dental implant helps preserve your jawbone and facial structure while performing the functions of the natural teeth. There are several types of dental implants, including:
- Endosteal implants. These are screw-like devices that the dentist drills into your jawbone to act as a natural root.
- Subperiosteal implants. These are titanium frameworks secured under the gums. Subperiosteal implants are often used when the bone around the lost tooth is not enough to fit an Endosteal implant.
Before placing a dental implant, your dentist could perform the following procedures to strengthen and secure the implant:
- Sinus lift surgery. A sinus lift helps strengthen the upper jaw allowing it to hold the implant firmly. The procedure involves peeling a part of the gums to lift the bone to the sinus cavity.
- Ridge modification. This procedure helps build up bone in your jaw to hold the implant securely. The procedure involves the removal of the gum and placement of a bone from another body part to help support the implant.
- Tooth extraction. If you have a tooth beyond repair through filling or tooth canal, your dentist may recommend extracting it.
Gum tissue graft is a procedure used to correct receding gums. Receding gums may be a result of tooth loss or serious periodontal disease. During a gum graft surgery, the dentist removes some tissue from the roof of your mouth and attaches it to the area with damaged gums. There are three main types of gum graft: pedicle graft, connective tissue graft, and free gingival graft. Your dentist will discuss the options and advise you on the right decision based on your individual needs.
Complications associated with gum grafts are rare. However, failure to take proper care of your oral health may result in infections. If you notice any oozing or excessive bleeding around the graft site, it would be wise to seek emergency dental care. Two weeks after your surgery, you will need to schedule a follow-up appointment whether or not you feel fully recovered.
Common Complications Associated with Oral Surgery
Like other surgeries, oral surgery can be subject to some risks. Even some common procedures such as tooth extraction could result in serious complications. However, by following the instructions given by your dentist during the surgery and maintaining proper hygiene, you can avoid complications. Some of the complications associated with oral surgery include:
- Oral surgery can be an invasive procedure. Therefore, you are likely to experience some pain that could last several days. To help relieve the post-surgical pain, your dentist will offer some painkillers which you can use while the site recovers.
- Some people are prone to bruising. Using sharp surgical tools on your gums, teeth, and jaws may cause bruising on and around the surgical area. However, when you maintain proper hygiene and avoid infections, bruising resolves after several days.
- Post-operative infection. Oral infection is one of the most dreaded complications associated with oral surgery. Although no one goes into surgery expecting to suffer an infection, it is a common occurrence. The possibility of developing an infection after oral surgery depends on several factors, some of which you can control. As a patient undergoing oral surgery, you need to be in the best medical condition. Having a low immunity could increase your chances of developing an infection. Some of the signs of post-operative infections you need to look out for after a dental surgery include redness and swelling around the incision, fever, and drainage from the incision.
- Unfavorable scarring. In any instance where an incision is made on the body, there is a possibility of scaring. Some factors could influence your ability to heal without scarring. As you age, your skin and body layers become less elastic. Therefore, older people are more likely to develop unfavorable scarring after an oral procedure. Also, the size of your incision and the nature of the dental surgery could determine the level of scarring. After oral surgery, you can reduce the risk of scarring by practicing proper post-operative care.
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia. Depending on the nature of the oral surgery you need to undergo, the dentist will put you on local or general anesthesia. Several side effects are associated with the use of anesthesia for surgical procedures. Most people do not experience any issues in the time following surgery. However, the risk of reaction to anesthesia could increase if you have allergies to medication or suffer from heart, lung, or kidney disease.
- Excessive bleeding. Bleeding is one of the oral surgery complications that raise concern among patients. Some of the oral procedures, like tooth extraction, will cause some bleeding. However, the bleeding should stop after some time. The amount of bleeding associated with any dental procedure is dependent on your past medical history, age, and extent of the surgery. A skilled dental expert will examine your medical history before they begin the surgery. If your risk of bleeding post-surgery is identified early on, the dentist can make necessary adjustments to avoid it. If you experience abnormal bleeding after oral surgery, you need to seek emergency care.
- Limitation of mouth opening. Often the jaws joints and chewing muscles could be sore after oral surgeries such as tooth extraction. This could limit your ability to open your mouth. Further, if you develop an oral infection following the procedure, the mouth opening limitation could last longer.
Dos and Don’ts of Recovering from Oral Surgery
For many individuals, oral surgery is an outpatient procedure that takes place in your dentist’s office. Depending on the type of pain relief your dentist offers you after the dental surgery, you may even be able to drive yourself home. However, your dental problems will not resolve immediately after the procedure. The success of your procedure will significantly depend on the practices and behavior you engage in after the surgery. To promote proper healing and avoid complications, below are dos and don’ts you must follow after oral surgery:
- It would be best if you rested after oral surgery. Although some oral surgery procedures are not complicated and you continue living your normal life right away, the body needs to recover. If you want to rest after the surgery, you should keep your head elevated with a pillow for proper blood flow to the head, which reduces swelling of the mouth and face.
- Apply ice to your face. Swelling of the mouth and face is a common aftermath of oral surgery. Therefore, your surgeon may recommend that you apply ice to your face in the hours following the procedure.
- Tae pain relief medications. After the anesthesia wears out, you are likely to experience pain in the area of surgery. The severity of the pain you experience after oral surgery will depend on the nature and nature of the surgery. After the surgery, your dentist may offer a range of pain medications that you should take promptly to avoid discomfort and pain.
- Maintain oral hygiene. Your dentist may recommend that you rinse your mouth at least four times a day with warm salty water. This helps remove the bacteria left behind by food particles. Poor oral hygiene could result in infections in the incision area. Infection after oral surgery can be left threatening when left untreated.
- Eat soft foods. When the bleeding ceases, you can eat soft foods. In the first few days following the surgery, you should avoid foods that could put pressure on the point of surgery. Also, you should consume healthy foods to promote healing and ensure a faster recovery.
- You should avoid hot foods and drinks following oral surgery. Since your mouth can be quite sensitive after oral surgery, you can easily burn from the hot fluids and foods. Healing from oral surgery can be prolonged when you burn your tongue, jaws, or the roof of your mouth.
- Avoid alcohol consumption for 24 Hours. Alcohol can interfere with the healing process. Also, alcohol could interfere with the function of antibiotics and pain medications. Therefore, you should avoid consuming any alcoholic drinks during the healing process.
Find a Los Angeles Dentist Near Me
Oral surgeries are often used as the last form of treatment for different dental and oral problems. Depending on the condition and extent of the surgery, oral surgery may be performed, either inpatient or outpatient. Your dental health is a crucial and sensitive part of your overall health or wellbeing. Therefore, oral surgery outcomes may significantly impact your appearance and your health.
Therefore, you will not trust such procedures to be performed by just anybody. At Washington Dental, we offer a wide range of oral surgeries to help correct your dental and oral issues. Our group of experts has extensive experience to ensure the best outcome for the procedures. If you are in Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita, CA, you will need us by your side. Contact us today to book your appointment.