Are you supposed to see an oral surgeon, based on the recommendation of your dentist?
If you’re like most people, you head to the dentist when you notice an oral or dental problem. And most of the time, your dentist can successfully treat the problem.
However, some conditions require the skills of an experienced oral surgeon. When that happens, your dentist will refer you to a local oral and maxillofacial surgery practice for treatment.
Reason No. 1: Wisdom Tooth Removal
Although general dentists can (and frequently do) perform routine tooth extractions, wisdom tooth removal is often beyond their scope of expertise.
Wisdom tooth extractions can be difficult, particularly for impacted teeth (those that are not fully emerged). Tooth decay and gum disease can also complicate wisdom tooth removal.
An oral and maxillofacial surgeon has the training to successfully navigate these issues with a minimal risk of complications. Oral surgeons are also trained and certified to administer certain types of anesthesia that are appropriate for a wisdom tooth extraction.
Reason No. 2: Impacted Canine Teeth
Impacted teeth cannot erupt into their proper positions. Because oral surgery is required for treatment in most cases, dentists don’t typically treat impacted teeth.
Wisdom teeth that are stuck in the gums can be removed, but impacted canines require a different type of procedure. The canines are crucial to a proper bite and must be preserved. Working together with a dentist or orthodontist, the oral surgeon can help release them from the gums and guide them into their proper positions.
Reason No. 3: Missing Teeth
Missing teeth cause changes in alignment and put extra pressure on healthy teeth, making fractures and breakage more likely. Missing teeth also cause bone tissue in the jaw to deteriorate — bone loss is inevitable without stimulation from tooth roots.
Some dentists can handle tooth replacement, but many prefer to send patients to a local oral surgeon. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons provide a range of options for missing teeth, including dental implants.
Reason No. 4: Bite Problems
Patients with misaligned teeth and crooked smiles need care from a specialist, not a general dentist. In many cases, an orthodontist is the specialist of choice. Braces or other dental appliances can straighten the teeth so that they fit together properly.
However, when the underlying jaws are also misaligned, treatment from an oral surgeon is necessary. Corrective jaw surgery, or orthognathic surgery, can correct an overbite, underbite, open bite and other bite problems.
Reason No. 5: Chronic Jaw Pain
Chronic jaw pain is one of the hallmarks of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ. Dentists can recommend conservative treatments, such as jaw relaxation techniques or oral appliances. But not all TMJ patients find relief through conservative measures.
For persistent TMJ, dentists often send patients to a local oral and maxillofacial surgeon for an evaluation. TMJ surgery isn’t appropriate for everyone, but in many cases, it works to relieve chronic jaw pain and restore joint function.
If you are looking for an experienced local oral surgeon in the greater Salt Lake City area, the professional team at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah has expertise with a wide range of oral surgery procedures, and our staff is committed to providing the highest level of care to every patient.
With three convenient offices in Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan and Tooele, scheduling an oral surgeon consultation couldn’t be easier — contact us today.