There are a number of conditions of the mouth that cannot be treated by a dentist alone. When conditions get more complicated and move into the bones of the face, the help of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) is required. Here is a list of a few conditions that would require a consult with an oral surgeon right away.
- Impacted Teeth. The last teeth to develop fully in the mouth are what we commonly call wisdom teeth. To dentists they are known as third molars and they usually emerge from the gums at the end of a person’s teenage years. In some people there is adequate room in the jaw for the teeth to fully emerge and stay, but for many there is not enough room and they must be removed. When a molar is impacted, it means that it was unable to emerge through the gums because it was trapped between the gum tissue and the jaw bone. The tooth will still try to emerge although it can’t, so the impacted tooth can cause swelling and pain and possibly even an infection. If a tooth stays impacted for too long, the surround gum tissue and bone can develop cysts or become permanently damaged. This is a problem that a dentist cannot treat without cutting into the bone and gum, therefore a surgeon is required.
- Other impacted teeth. Not only the third molars, or, wisdom teeth, can become impacted even though they are the most common. Other molars, cuspids, and bicuspids can also sometimes get caught and need surgical intervention.
- Dental Implants. Implants are an option when your natural teeth are past the point of repair. They may be too cracked, damaged, filled with cavities, discolored or otherwise unfit to do their job. When this is the case, these permanent teeth can be removed and dental implants can take their place. The implants are a permanent change and require drilling to be done into the bone, so once again an oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the only one certified to do the procedure. The new implants are placed on something resembling a screw which can then be “screwed” into a new opening created by the surgeon in the bone. The original teeth are completely extracted for this procedure, so it can be a bit risky but the end result is wonderful when done correctly.
- Bone grafting. After certain procedures that take out the tooth and its roots, the surrounding gums and bone tend to change anatomically due to the new gaping hole. Bone grafting can be done to refill this hole with grafts that continue to grow, keeping the gums and surrounding bone solid and able to maintain its shape and function. This procedure can save your mouth and is therefore very important and can only be done by a certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
If you ever need any of these procedures, or think you might, now you know who you should seek a consult with. Choose the right surgeon for the job.