- Oral Surgery Center
- Slideshow: Top Problems in Your Mouth
- Teeth Whiteners That Work
- Dental (Oral) Health Quiz
- Find a local Doctor in your town
A number of conditions may require oral surgery, including:
Wisdom teeth, otherwise known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to develop. Sometimes these teeth emerge from the gum line and the jaw is large enough to allow room for them, but most of the time, this is not the case. More often, one or more of these third molars fails to emerge in proper alignment or fails to fully emerge through the gum line and becomes entrapped or "impacted" between the jawbone and the gum tissue. Impacted wisdom teeth can result in swelling, pain, and infection of the gum tissue surrounding the wisdom teeth. In addition, impacted wisdom teeth can cause permanent damage to nearby teeth, gums, and bone and can sometimes lead to the formation of cysts or tumors that can destroy sections of the jaw. Therefore, dentists recommend people with impacted wisdom teeth have them surgically removed.
It's not just wisdom teeth that sometimes become impacted and need to be removed. Other teeth, such as the cuspids and the bicuspids can become impacted and can cause the same types of problems described with impacted wisdom teeth.
Dental implants are an option for tooth loss due to an accident or infection or as an alternative to dentures. The implants are tooth root substitutes that are surgically anchored in place in the jawbone and act to stabilize the artificial teeth to which they are attached. Suitable candidates for dental implants need to have an adequate bone level and density, must not be prone to infection, and must be willing to maintain good oral hygiene practices.
Quick GuideCosmetic Dentistry Before and After Photos
Unequal jaw growth. In some individuals, the upper and lower jaw
fail to grow properly. This can cause difficulty in speaking, eating,
swallowing, and breathing. While some of these
problems -- likeimproper teeth alignment -- canbe corrected with braces and other orthodontic appliances, more serious problems require oral surgery to move all or part of the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both into a new position that is more balanced, functional, and healthy.
- Improve fit of dentures. For first-time denture wearers, oral surgery can be done to correct any irregularities of the jaws prior to creating the dentures to ensure a better fit. Oral surgery can also help long-term denture wearers. Supporting bone often deteriorates over time resulting in dentures that no longer fit properly. In severe cases, an oral surgeon can add a bone graft to areas where little bone remains.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Dysfunction of the TMJ, the small joint in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet, is a common source of headache and facial pain. Most patients with TMJ disorders can be successfully treated with a combination of oral medications, physical therapy, and splints. However, joint surgery is an option for advanced cases and when the diagnosis indicates a specific problem in the joint.
Other Conditions Treated by Oral Surgery
- Facial injury repair. Oral surgery is often used to fix fractured jaws and broken facial bones.
- Lesion removal and biopsy. Oral surgeons can take a small sample of abnormal growth or tissue and then send it for laboratory testing for identification. Some lesions can be managed medically or can be removed by the oral surgeon.
- Cleft lip and cleft palate repair. Cleft lip and cleft palate result when all or portions of the mouth and nasal cavity do not grow together properly during fetal development. The result is a gap in the lip and/or a split in the opening in the roof of the mouth. Oral surgeons work as part of a team of healthcare specialists to correct these problems through a series of treatments and surgical procedures over many years.
- Facial infections. Pain and swelling in the face, neck or jaws may indicate an infection. Infections in this area of the body can sometimes develop into life-threatening emergencies if not treated promptly and effectively. An oral surgeon can assist in diagnosing and treating this problem. Surgical treatment, if needed, may include cutting into and draining the infected area as well as extracting any teeth that might be involved.
- Snoring/sleep apnea. When conservative methods fail to alleviate this problem, surgery can be tried. Surgical procedures involve removing the soft tissues of the oropharynx (an area in the back portion of the mouth) or the lower jaw. Laser surgery is a newer treatment option. Depending on the surgical technique used, the laser is used to either slowly scar the palate, which tightens it, or to remove palate tissue.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of Dentistry.
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD,
on May 1, 2005.
Portions of this page © The Cleveland Clinic 2000-2005
Daily Health News
Oral Health Resources
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter
Top Oral Surgery Related Articles
Abscessed Tooth GuideAn abscessed tooth is an infection within a tooth that has spread to the root. Symptoms of an abscessed tooth may include pain, swelling, tenderness, redness, and the presence of a pus-filled lesion on the gum. A dental professional diagnoses an abscessed tooth and dental X-rays may be required. An abscessed tooth is treated with a root canal.
Cleft Palate and Cleft LipCleft palate and cleft lip are facial and oral defects that occur early in pregnancy. A cleft lip is a split of the two sides of the upper lip, and a cleft palate is a split in the roof of the mouth. Cleft lip the fourth most common birth defect in the U.S. Repair of a cleft palate or cleft lip may require multiple surgeries.
Cocaine and Crack AbuseCocaine is an addictive stimulant that is smoked, snorted, and injected. Crack is cocaine that comes in a rock crystal that is heated to form vapors, which are then smoked. Cocaine has various effects on the body, including dilating pupils, constricting blood vessels, increasing body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Dental BracesFind out more about how orthodontic braces and retainers can provide proper alignment to crooked teeth. Get information about the cost of braces, the different types of braces, and the procedure for fitting a patient with braces.
Common Dental ProblemsLearn about dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and oral cancer. Explore procedures such as root canals, crowns, and dental implants that help improve dental hygiene.
Dental ImplantsDental implants are replacement tooth roots that are anchored into the jawbone in order to secure and provide a foundation for replacement teeth. Implants look and feel like your own teeth, and they become permanent because they are designed to fuse with bone. Dental implants require the same care as reel teeth.
Dental InjuriesDental injuries range from a chipped or fractured tooth to a knocked out tooth. Treatment depends upon the severity of the dental injury. Dental injuries may be prevented by aligning protruding front teeth with braces and using face masks and mouthguards while playing sports.
Dry Socket OverviewA dry socket is a potential complication that can occur when a blood clot in the gums becomes dislodged after a tooth extraction. Dry socket signs and symptoms include pain, mouth odor, and unpleasant taste in the mouth. A dentist may treat a dry socket with analgesic dressing. Over-the-counter pain medications can also relieve symptoms. A dry socket usually heals within 7 days. Avoiding smoking, drinking with a straw, and vigorous rinsing and spitting may help prevent the formation of dry socket.
HyperdontiaHyperdontia is a condition in which a person has an excessive amount of teeth (more than 20 primary teeth or 32 permanent teeth). The cause is unknown. Treatment involves tooth removal.
Sleep ApneaSleep apnea is defined as a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep. The three types of sleep apnea are central apnea, obstructive apnea (OSA), and a mixture of central and obstructive apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by a failure of the brain to activate the muscles of breathing during sleep. OSA is caused by the collapse of the airway during sleep. OSA is diagnosed and evaluated through patient history, physical examination and polysomnography. There are many complications related to obstructive sleep apnea. Treatments are surgical and non-surgical.
SnoringSnoring, like all other sounds, is caused by vibrations that cause particles in the air to form sound waves. While we are asleep, turbulent air flow can cause the tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate and give rise to snoring. Any person can snore. Snoring is believed to occur in anywhere from 30% of women to over 45% of men. People who snore can have any body type. In general, as people get older and as they gain weight, snoring will worsen. Snoring can be caused by a number of things, including the sleep position, alcohol, medication, anatomical structure of the mouth and throat, stage of sleep, and mouth breathing.
Teeth PictureThe teeth are the hardest substances in the human body. See a picture of the Teeth and learn more about the health topic.
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome is a disorder that causes symptoms like pain, clicking, and popping of the jaw. TMJ is caused by injury to the temporomandibular joint. Stress, poor posture, jaw trauma, genetic predisposition, and inflammatory disorders are risk factors for the condition. A variety of self-care measures (application of ice, use of over-the-counter pain medication, massage, relaxation techniques) and medical treatment options (dental splint, Botox, prescription medications, surgery) are available to manage TMJ. The prognosis of TMJ is good with proper treatment.
Toothache OverviewA toothache is a pain on or around a tooth. It may be caused by a variety of things from a cavity, abscess, or even sinusitis. Toothache symptoms include pain, headache, ear ache, bad taste in the mouth, and gum swelling. Dental X-rays and other tests performed by a dentist are used to diagnose the cause of a toothache. Tootache treatment depends on the underlying cause. Taking proper care of the teeth and gums can help prevent toothache.
Wisdom TeethWisdom teeth are the third set of molars that people get in their late teens or early twenties. Impacted wisdom teeth that only partially erupt allows for an opening for bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness. Before your wisdom teeth are pulled, the teeth and the surrounding tissue will be numbed with a local anesthetic. Recovery from wisdom tooth removal depends upon the difficulty of the extraction.