Most of us will experience some type of dental surgery in our lifetime. It’s critical to correct problems with tooth alignment, tooth decay or complications with our jaws. However, dental surgery doesn’t have to be as scary as it sounds. Many routine procedures are done quickly and painlessly and will allow you to maintain a happy and healthy mouth. If your dentist recommends undergoing surgery, be sure to get all the facts so you can make the right decision. With a little bit of research, you will discover that dental surgery procedures are relatively simple thanks to modern technology, and can help you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.
What is Dental Surgery?
In some cases, if oral health problems have progressed to the point that you experience pain or problematic symptoms, there is a chance you may have to undergo dental surgery. This involves removing teeth, realigning the jaws or removing gum tissue from the mouth. Some have a procedure for cosmetic reasons, but the majority of people who get dental surgery need it to maintain a healthy mouth.
Different Types of Dental Surgery
There are several different types of dental surgery. Some of the most common include: Wisdom teeth removal. Wisdom teeth often come in crooked or become impacted beneath the gum line. This can cause infections or damage to other teeth. Surgery is required to remove the wisdom teeth if they cause dental health problems.
Dental extractions. Besides removing wisdom teeth, surgeons may have to remove teeth that are decaying. In some cases, dentists do this because the tooth itself is beyond repair. But in most cases patients have to request extractions rather than repair, as dentists will try to repair teeth whenever possible. Patients who want to get dentures sometimes prefer to extract teeth so that they can get the false teeth they want.
Root canals. If the root of your tooth is infected, the dental surgeon removes the root canal and the tooth’s pulp. He or she then fills the tooth and puts a cap on it. Root canals are usually performed by dentists and require only local anesthesia.
Jaw surgery. If a jaw is misaligned, the dental surgeon must break it and then realign it. Some people do this for cosmetic reasons. However, most of the time this type of surgery is performed to help breathing and chewing problems that cannot be resolved through any other method.
What are Dental Implants?
Dental implants are metal posts or frames that are surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath your gums. Once in place, they allow your dentist to mount replacement teeth onto them.
How do Dental Implants Work?
Because implants fuse to your jawbone, they provide stable support for artificial teeth. Dentures and bridges mounted to implants won’t slip or shift in your mouth — an especially important benefit when eating and speaking. This secure fit helps the dentures and bridges — as well as individual crowns placed over implants — feel more natural than conventional bridges or dentures.
For some people, ordinary bridges and dentures are simply not comfortable or even possible, due to sore spots, poor ridges or gagging. In addition, ordinary bridges must be attached to teeth on either side of the space left by the missing tooth. An advantage of implants is that no adjacent teeth need to be prepared or ground down to hold your new replacement tooth/teeth in place.
To receive implants, you need to have healthy gums and adequate bone to support the implant. You must also commit to keeping these structures healthy. Meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental visits are critical to the long-term success of dental implants.
How to Prepare for Dental Surgery
Talk to your dentist about your upcoming surgery. Find out exactly what is being done, why, how much it will cost and how soon he or she recommends you receive the surgery. You should also ask for information about recovery times. Find out how long it takes to recover from the surgery and if there’s anything special you should do to speed up the process.
Talking to your dentist can help ease your fears as you find out exactly what your dental surgery will entail. Your dentist will also give you instructions on how you should best prepare for your surgery. For example, you may have to refrain from eating the night before your surgery or you may have to stick to a liquid diet for 24 hours prior. Some people also have to take antibiotics before dental surgery due to other medical conditions, which put them at a higher risk of contracting infections after dental surgery.
Dental Surgery Recovery
It only takes a few days to recover from most dental surgeries. If a longer recovery period is needed, your dentist will give you special instructions.
Expect to relax for the rest of the day after having surgery. You should lie down with your head propped up on pillows to limit the amount of bleeding from your surgery. Don’t move around too much on the first day of recovery, as physical exercise can contribute to excessive bleeding. You should also put ice packs on the outside of your cheek by the surgery site for fifteen minutes at a time to help reduce swelling in your face.
You may not be able to eat immediately after surgery. You should wait until you stop bleeding before you eat. Once this occurs, stick to soft foods. Start with liquids, but avoid drinking them from a straw. Sucking on a straw can loosen clots in your gums and cause your mouth to begin bleeding again. You should also avoid smoking for the first few days after surgery.
You can’t rinse your mouth during the first 24 hours because of bleeding, but afterwards you should rinse it four times a day with warm salt water. Always rinse after you eat to keep the surgery site clean and free from infections.
Finally, once you can eat regular food again, eat lots of fruits and vegetables. These foods are rich in Vitamins A and C, which help promote healing and stop bleeding.
While nobody enjoys having dental surgery, most procedures are nothing to be frightened of. You may experience some pain, discomfort or swelling after the surgery. But recovery times are usually quick and within a couple of weeks, you’ll be back to your old self. If you’re frightened about having dental surgery, your dentist is a great resource; the more you know about what to expect, the less frightened you’ll be.