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Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Questions


Answers to common questions about oral and maxillofacial surgery


What is a tooth extraction?
A tooth extraction means having a tooth removed and is done for a variety of reasons. The decision to extract a tooth is typically made after disease is discovered, a tooth suffers a traumatic injury, or crowding in the mouth exists.


What is oral and maxillofacial surgery?
Oral and maxillofacial surgery is surgery to treat many diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral (mouth) and maxillofacial (jaws and face) region.


What does an Oral Surgeon treat?
Oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures include wisdom teeth removal, simple tooth extractions, reconstructive oral surgery, dental implants, treatment of oral infections, and the repair of facial, mouth, jaw and tooth injuries.


What is an Oral Surgeon?
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons require 4 to 6 years of additional formal university training after dental school. Oral surgery is an internationally-recognized surgical specialty. In some countries, including the United States, it is a recognized specialty of dentistry by the American Dental Associations.


When would a patient see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon?
Conditions that may require a maxillofacial surgical consultation include:

  • Missing teeth or tooth pain
  • Facial pain relating to temporomandibular joint disease (TMJ). Patients diagnosed with TMJ are referred out to a specialist. (This is the only specialty we commonly refer to an outside provider.)
  • Oral cancers


What are wisdom teeth?
Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, get their name by being the last teeth to erupt. Because eruption doesn’t happen until the age 17 to 21, there are often problems because there is little room left in the mouth for the wisdom teeth. The result can be wisdom teeth that erupt sideways or only partially erupt, becoming impacted. Learn more about wisdom teeth.


What are the symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth?
Symptoms of impacted wisdom teeth typically included pain and swelling of the gum line and lower face. If left untreated infection is possible, only intensifying the pain. Regular appointments with a dentist should identify problems with wisdom teeth before they become significant. Skipping trips to the dentist may lead to impacted wisdom teeth and problems like infection.

When any of these conditions arise, your dentist may determine that wisdom tooth extraction is necessary.


Does everyone need their wisdom teeth removed?
Not every person needs to have their wisdom teeth removed. In fact, some people never develop wisdom teeth. Your dentist will be the best judge of what is right for you based on your regular examinations and dental X-rays. Not having impacted wisdom teeth removed can lead to future problems like the shifting of nearby teeth (causing bite abnormalities), jaw issues, sinus problems, bone-destroying tumors or cysts, gum tissue problems, and a negative impact on orthodontic results for adolescents and troubles with dentures for the elderly.


How long is the recovery after wisdom teeth removal?
The recovery time after wisdom teeth extraction will vary from patient to patient. Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from a few days to one week for initial pain and swelling to subside. From there, the gums should be fully healed in about one month.

Your oral surgeon will provide instructions to assure as quick of a recovery as possible. This will include tips for dealing with swelling and medications to alleviate any pain and discomfort.


What are dental implants?
After a tooth extraction, an oral surgeon may recommend a dental bridge or dental implant to fill the void left by the extracted tooth. Dental implants are superior to a dental bridge because they offer a permanent replacement tooth that looks and functions just like a normal tooth without damaging any of the other nearby teeth. Learn about The Dental Implant Center at Dental Associates and how we offer the best dental implants in Wisconsin.


What type of sedation and anesthesia are used for oral and maxillofacial surgery?
Your Oral Surgeon will discuss the complete treatment plan prior to any procedure. For most patients, anesthesia is used to numb the treatment area and an appropriate process is used for sedation.