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Types of Oral Surgery and What to Expect

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It's happened. The day has come when your dentist informs you oral surgery is required to resolve the problem you're experiencing in your mouth. You've never had more than a filling before, and the idea of a surgical procedure is daunting. Here are some common procedures oral surgeons perform, and what you can expect if you're in line for any of them.

Common Oral Surgical Procedures

  • Tooth Extraction
    A common dental surgery is tooth extraction, which is usually necessary to resolve disease, trauma or an overcrowded mouth. Teeth that are visible above the gumline and can be pulled with forceps are usually removed by a simple extraction. You may undergo a surgical extraction when bone or tissue must be cut to remove the tooth. Surgical extractions typically also require stitches to close the wound. Wisdom teeth can be particularly stubborn to remove, and often by the time they are surgically removed they may be half erupted or they may be impacted.
  • Prosthodontics
    Prosthodontics includes a range of aesthetic procedures, including the reshaping of individual teeth to accept crowns, veneers or bridges, and surgical insertion of dental implants for mounting artificial teeth or dentures.
  • Oral and maxillofacial surgery
    Oral and maxillofacial surgery is a complex form of oral surgery. Oral and maxillofacial specialists perform surgeries, such as corrective jaw surgery, dentoalveolar surgery, pre-prosthetic bone augmentation and nerve repositioning, and maxillofacial dental implants.

Preparing for Surgery

If you're facing any form of oral surgery, there are several measures you can take to ensure you're ready when the time comes. Your dentist will refer you to a dental specialist in the field of surgery you need. During your consultation with the specialist, they might take additional X-rays of your mouth and head to determine precisely what your needs are. They will review your medical history, and it's important to mention all medications you take including over-the-counter products, vitamins and supplements. Depending on the procedure planned and your medical history, your oral health professional may administer antibiotic prophylaxis. The American Dental Association explains that those who have prosthetic joints, have certain heart conditions or have a compromised immune system may benefit from premedication.

On Surgery Day

On the day of surgery, if you're expecting anesthesia, you should avoid food and drink for eight hours before the procedure. Patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, will be monitored during the procedure for any complications relating to the anesthetic, and the duration of your stay in the hospital will depend on the type of surgery you undergo. Some procedures require longer hospitalization than others. For example, jaw surgery may require a two- to four-day stay at the hospital, according to the Mayo Clinic. For a wisdom tooth extraction procedure, you should be able to leave your oral surgeon's office the same day, says the Mayo Clinic.

Recovering From the Procedure

Any form of oral surgery requires a recovery period, during which you may be limited to certain types or consistencies of food or methods of taking in nutrition. A surgical extraction will likely only require some over-the-counter pain medication, while double jaw surgery patients might need stronger prescription painkillers. During the recovery period, it's important to follow the instructions of your oral surgeon, and to contact your dentist if you have any questions or concerns. Don't wait until an oral infection develops or complications occur. Call your dentist as soon as you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Remember that your entire medical and dental team will be behind you every step of the way, from preparing for to recovering from your oral surgery. With their help, you'll return to feeling your best in no time.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.