An oral surgeon is a dental specialist trained to perform surgeries on the mouth, jaw and face. An oral surgeon is different from a dentist and is a more advanced specialist in oral surgeries than a dentist who can perform minor procedures. These specialists are also trained to administer anaesthesia to patients and provide care in a spate operating facility.
An oral surgeon can help patients with the following problems:
- Dental implants used to replace the missing teeth by embedding them into the jawbone, like natural teeth
- Developmental conditions such as treating cleft lip to improve functionality, speech and also physical appearance
- Cancer such as oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancer
- Facial injury and trauma including fractures, facial lacerations, etc.
- Skeletal and dental deformities such as misalignment of jaws and teeth
- Functional problems in chewing, speaking and breathing
- Facial pain caused due to temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction
- Obstructive sleep apnea
That said, an oral surgeon has expertise in the following procedures:
- Tooth extractions: An oral surgeon can help in the extraction of a tooth in cases such as wisdom tooth, tooth decay, root fracture, prolonged primary teeth and removing crowding.
- Cleft lip surgery: An oral surgeon can perform surgery to remove the cleft lip defect, enabling better feeding, drinking and speech.
- Corrective jaw surgery: An oral surgeon can perform orthognathic surgery to remove traumatic dysfunction of the jaw, incorrect bite, difficulty in chewing, eating or taking any functioning from the mouth. It can also correct the displaced jaw.
- Dental implants: An oral surgeon can put dental implants in place of missing teeth or provide stability to the new or existing denture. Cancer surgery: An oral surgeon can perform surgery to treat cancer of the head and neck including tongue, mouth, salivary glands, and throat.
- Facial cosmetic surgery: Oral surgeon can treat functional and visual features of the face, mouth, teeth and jaws.
Swelling and discomfort from the procedures eventually fade after 48 hours, though wisdom tooth extractions and other surgeries might take more than two weeks to properly heal. That said, before scheduling a consultation with an oral surgeon, it is important to know your priorities and need. More so, consultation with the surgeon is important to know all details before the surgery.
Remember these 10 questions that you must ask your oral surgeon during a consultation
- What is the best solution to my problem? Any alternatives to the suggested procedure?
- What is the suggested procedure? What are the risks and complications?
- What realistic results can I expect from the treatment?
- What will be the total cost of the procedure and treatment?
- What will be the surgery duration, recovery time? Will I need follow-ups?
- What food and beverages to eat before and after the surgery?
- What are the options for anaesthesia and what is the suggested type?
- Any pre-operative precautions?
- What are the post-operative instructions?
- What realistic results can I expect?
Important things to remember before the surgery
Some things must be discussed with the doctor and completed before-in-hand of surgery to ensure optimal results and recovery. Some of these things include:
- Wearing normal loose clothing with no jewellery or make-up
- Quitting existing medications as suggested by the doctor
- Preparing the home for effective and easy recovery
Certain tips can effectively help reduce pain and manage symptoms post oral surgery. These tips include:
- Keeping the head elevated for a few days
- Avoid strenuous activity after the surgery until full recovery
- Cold compress the swollen part
- Post 24-hours of the surgery rinse your mouth with lukewarm saltwater
- Brush and floss teeth regularly
That said, oral health is a very critical part of the overall health of the person. If you experience problematic symptoms, you must consult an oral surgeon and get examined. However, before agreeing to any course of treatment, remember to ask the 10 questions and analyse all options of treatment.