In dentistry, a number of conditions affecting the teeth, the gums or the jaw may require oral surgery. Most of us, at some point in our lives, will undergo some form of oral surgery or the other. Which are the most common conditions or disorders that require oral surgery?
Wisdom teeth removal
As the last set of teeth that develop, wisdom teeth are one of the teeth that most commonly cause problems and require surgical intervention for their removal. There are cases when these teeth don’t have enough space to emerge or fail to properly align with other teeth, or fail to fully emerge through the gum line. Thus, wisdom teeth will become trapped between the jawbone and your gum tissue, which can result in swelling, inflammation or infection. All these problems can make it necessary to remove wisdom teeth in order to avoid further complications or damage to nearby teeth, gums or even the jaw.
Tooth loss problems
Sometime patients lose their teeth because of an infection or an accident, and they may require dental implants. These are an alternative to bridges and dentures, and act as a substitute of the root of actual teeth. A titanium implant is anchored into the jawbone and fuses with your bone, allowing a proper stabilization of the artificial teeth. However, not every patient is a good candidate for dental implants. In the absence of proper bone density, bone grafting may become necessary before implants are placed. Oral surgeons perform bone graft surgery in order to augment the bone usually in the upper jaw of the patient, as the upper jaw is more likely to lack the adequate quality and quantity of bone to hold an implant.
Conditions affecting the jaw
Apart from dental implants and wisdom teeth removal, several jaw-related problems may also require oral surgery.
In some cases, the upper and lower jaw of some patients don’t grow properly resulting in unequal jaw growth. Patients with this problem have difficulties in speaking, swallowing, eating or even breathing. In serious cases, with the help of oral surgery, the misalignment can be corrected by moving part or all of the upper or lower jaw into a more functional position.
Oral surgery is used sometimes to improve the fit of dentures for first-time wearers or to supplement deteriorating bone in case of long-term denture wearers.
Temporomandibular joint disorders or dysfunctions can also be corrected with oral surgery, especially when other treatment methods have failed to improve the situation or when there is a specific problem in the joint where the skull and lower jaw meet.
Treatment of other conditions
Oral surgery can be used in a number of other cases. For example, if as a result of an accident a patient’s jaw or facial bone is fractured, oral surgery can repair the injury. Similarly, oral surgeons are called upon in cases of cleft lip and cleft palate repair surgeries or in cases of severe facial infections, when draining of the infected area may become necessary or when the extraction of certain teeth connected to the infection has to be performed.
Sometimes, when non-surgical treatment methods fail to improve sleep apnoea, patients often have to resort to surgery, which involves the removal of the tissue of the oropharynx.
Oral surgery is, of course, a last resort method, employed when other treatment methods are unable to successfully treat or alleviate a given condition.