When it comes to dentistry, only certain dentists perform surgical procedures. Whether you are looking for a new dentist or are currently under the care of one and need more intensive procedures, we encourage you to reach out to us. Our team can examine you, give you an opinion regarding whether or not you need surgery, what procedure will benefit you, and what you can expect from the process.
Why do people get oral surgery?
There are three main reasons that a surgical procedure could be necessary. The first is your health. Tooth decay is incredibly common, and if you receive regular dental care, it is easy to catch and treat before it causes discomfort or spreads. Unfortunately, too many people do not visit the dentist on a regular basis, and this can allow infections to set in. Occasionally, the decay becomes so bad, the tooth has to be removed. Other times, it can be saved with a root canal, but regardless, immediate dental care is necessary to stop the discomfort. It may also be necessary for our dentist to perform oral surgery to correct a problem with your gums. If you have gum disease and suffer from gum recession, you could need a surgical gum graft, for example.
The second reason we perform oral surgery is to remove wisdom teeth. While they do not always pose an immediate health risk, they can grow in impacted and cause discomfort. Removing them can prevent future infections and stop your wisdom teeth from pushing your other teeth forward.
Lastly, our Marin patients receive oral surgery for cosmetic reasons. Primarily, this is to replace missing teeth with dental implants. An implant is the most secure and durable solution for tooth loss, because it is the only solution that replaces the root in addition to the tooth. To do so, our dentist implants a titanium post under the gums and secures it to the jaw bone. Titanium is used because it is a strong metal that the body treats like natural matter. As a result, the implant and jaw bone will fuse together through the process of osseointegration. This takes a few months, but once complete, a new root system is developed, and when the new tooth is attached, it will be as secure as a natural one.
How do I prepare for oral surgery?
At Greenbrae Dental Center, we will do whatever we can to keep you comfortable during your procedure, and part of that is helping you to be prepared. We believe in patient education and will go over the procedure with you step by step. Since each patient and surgery is unique, our overview here is more generic in nature, and our dentist will want to take time with you individually. Typically, however, you will want to avoid eating food for a few hours (possibly starting the night before). This is standard protocol when receiving anesthesia. We also recommend that you purchase some ice packs and place them in the freezer. You should plan ahead and buy soft foods, plenty of water, and anything you need to relax and stay comfortable, which should certainly include ibuprofen.
Is oral surgery used for orthodontics?
Yes, when an orthodontist straightens teeth, one of the issues they address is overcrowding. There are certain procedures that can create space in the mouth, and one of them is to extract teeth. While not always necessary, some orthodontists will make a recommendation to have one or several teeth removed as part of the treatment process. An orthodontist is also concerned about jaw alignment. Overbites and underbites can often be treated non-invasively. However, in severe cases, oral surgery is necessary to change the position of the jaw. Whether or not you will need oral surgery as part of your orthodontic treatment is something to discuss during your initial consultation.
Can you provide me with oral surgery if I am being treated by another dentist?
Yes, we can. When you visit our Greenbrae dental office, let us know if you are being treated by a dentist and if they mentioned you needing oral surgery. Not everyone performs surgery, so if you want to remain in their care after the procedure has been completed, you certainly can. Otherwise, we welcome you as a new patient to our practice.
What is the recovery time from oral surgery?
This really depends on the type of surgery being performed. As a general rule, you can expect there to be some level of bleeding that is temporary and can be controlled with the gauze that we give you. You can also expect there to be swelling. This is where most of the discomfort comes from. To control it, you will want to place an icepack on your face for 15 minutes at a time, rest for 15 minutes and then use it again. Just be careful not to irritate your skin, and use a light cloth if you need to. Simultaneously, you should use ibuprofen to keep the swelling and discomfort at minimum. The ice is typically only used for a day or two where the ibuprofen may be needed for a week or so. At Greenbrae Dental Center, we may also give you antibiotics to take in order to prevent an infection. When it comes to food, you will want to stick with things that are soft and either do not require chewing (like soup) or can be chewed very easily (like steamed vegetables). Buying these items ahead of time will make your recovery easier. Just remember to take it easy and not to push yourself. It is best to follow our dentist instructions than to risk irritating your surgical site.
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Dr. Andy Kim
Dr. Yun Sung