Oral facial surgery involves treating a wide range of issues, including oral cancer, tooth extractions, and other surgical procedures. Unlike your dentist, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon has special training in the complex structures of the mouth and face.
Following dental school, an oral and maxillofacial surgical specialist spends four to six years in a hospital-based residency program. They may then pursue additional training in a subspecialty, such as head and neck surgery, microvascular reconstruction, or cosmetic facial surgery.
Dental implants are long-term replacements for missing teeth that can restore a person’s smile and chewing ability. Surgically placed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, periodontist or dentist, dental implants look, feel and function like natural teeth.
Implants replace both the tooth’s root and crown, preventing bone loss in the area and helping preserve facial structure. They also provide a stable foundation for fixed or removable replacement teeth.
The process for placing a dental implant starts with an examination and consultation by a team of specialists, including your dentist, oral surgeon and/or periodontist or prosthodontist. A medical history is reviewed, X-rays and 3D imaging are taken and models of the jaw and teeth may be made to determine suitability for implants.
Bone grafting can be done in oral facial surgery to build up or add bone structure to an area that is missing, thin or soft. This can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including bone loss from periodontal (gum) disease or injuries to the jaw.
During this procedure, bone material is harvested from your body or another donor site. This graft material is placed where it will fuse with existing bone, providing greater mass to support dental implants.
The graft material is then covered with a resorbable membrane, which encourages the bone to grow, heal and regenerate. This technique is called Guided Bone Regeneration and can be a useful tool for rebuilding and restoring jawbone height and width to prepare your mouth for implant placement.
Recovery from a bone graft is usually mild and only requires over-the-counter pain relievers, like aspirin, for a few days after the procedure. If you experience significant swelling or pain, call your doctor right away.
Wisdom Tooth Removal
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars in your mouth. They’re typically the last teeth to erupt. However, they can be impacted, partially erupted or vary in position.
The decision to remove these teeth can be made after a thorough consultation and X-rays of your oral cavity. This can include a discussion of the risks of extraction and how it will impact your future dental care.
Younger patients tend to have a lower risk of complications during this procedure because their roots have not yet formed and their jaw bone is more flexible and elastic. This can make the removal of the teeth easier and reduce the risk of bone fractures.
After wisdom tooth removal, you may experience some discomfort, swelling and bruising in your mouth. You can relieve this by using ice packs and resting. You should also avoid spitting or chewing on the area, as it can dislodge the blood clot that is protecting the socket.
Broken bones in the face can cause complications if not repaired correctly. These can impact vision, breathing, chewing and speaking.
In most cases, facial bones can be reconstructed with specialized plates and screws that hold the bone in place. These are similar to the plates and screws that are used in broken bones such as a leg or arm.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are uniquely trained to handle these types of traumatic injuries. They are also highly skilled at restoring facial proportions, repairing damaged or missing teeth and reestablishing the functionality of jaw joints and bites.