Oral surgery conjures several unpleasant sounds and images in one’s mind: the constant buzzing of machines echoing across the dental house, the prick of a needle, the anesthesia running through the area, the blinding light shining on your face, and the sound of metal and teeth scraping against each other before the dentist pulls the latter out.
While partly true, tooth extraction is just one of the many procedures and expectations encompassing oral surgery. Here are two major must-know facts before undergoing one:
It’s Not Just About Your Teeth
The term oral comes from the term oralis, meaning mouth. Therefore, oral hygiene deals with keeping one’s teeth, gums, and tongue clean. Procedures that fall under this include:
- Tooth extraction - A simple procedure where the dentist pulls out a loose or milk tooth.
- Wisdom teeth extraction - A simple operation where the dentist pulls out the exposed wisdom tooth or conducts invasive surgery to remove the impacted tooth from the gum line and bone.
- Soft palate implants - A procedure to correct obstructive sleep apnea.
- Dental implants - The implementation of a crown, veneer, or bridge to improve oral aesthetics.
- Facial reconstruction - Surgery that corrects neck and face tissues after an accident.
- Fractured jaw repair - An operation that reconstructs a broken or dislocated jaw.
- Root canal - The cleaning of a root canal through the removal of tooth pulp and nerves.
Recovery Times Vary Per Procedure
Since several operations are under oral surgery and are considered simple or complex, any dental house will mention that recovery periods will vary. Some will take days, while others weeks.
Here are some general recovery time expectations per operation:
- Tooth extraction - A simple procedure, tooth extractions typically involve using dental forceps and – at times – anesthesia. Post-op instructions include biting down on the gauze for 30 minutes to minimize bleeding, avoiding drinking from a straw, and eating only soft foods for five days, at most, which is the shortest recovery time on this list.
- Wisdom teeth extraction - These are similar to regular tooth extractions if wisdom teeth are already protruding from the gum line. However, invasive surgery is necessary when wisdom teeth are impacted (meaning they are positioned incorrectly or have not yet come out).
Light sedation and local anesthetic are needed to relax a patient since dentists need to incise around the gum line carefully to expose the tooth. In some cases where the tooth is still underneath the bone, a drill is required to uncover or break the wisdom tooth before extraction. Finally, dentists suture the incisions for the wound to heal correctly.
Post-op care includes avoiding solid food and hot drinks while maintaining a strictly soft diet for a minimum of one week.
- Soft palate implants, dental implants, root canals, facial reconstruction, and fractured jaw repair - These complicated invasive and non-invasive procedures involve either the installation of a metal device onto your bone to accommodate a bridge or crown, a non-bone graft to correct snoring, or reconstruction of facial and neck muscles, nerves, and surrounding tissue.
The most uncomplicated procedure in this category involves veneers, where dental laminates are implanted onto a tooth’s surface. The recovery period is two weeks, accounting for the adjustment of tooth sensitivity and use.
For the rest, recovery ranges from a couple of weeks to a few months since they involve the manipulation of bone, tissue, and nerves.
As scary and complicated as they sound, oral surgery is completely safe when performed by an expert dentist. Consult with yours to determine whether you are due for any of these procedures to improve overall oral hygiene.
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