Various dental conditions can compel you to undergo oral surgery. We at the Northridge Dentist know that no one enjoys undergoing surgery. However, we can help make this procedure more comfortable for you, thanks to our state-of-the-art dental surgery equipment. We pride ourselves on offering high-quality services to our patients.

We are the go-to clinic if you have been looking for a local, reliable dental service provider in Northridge. We strive to be your lifelong partner in helping you maintain good oral health. We will ensure you get that beautiful, healthy smile you desire.

In this article, we will explain to you why you may require oral surgery. We will also explain to you how different oral surgical processes are done, and the aftercare needed. If you still have more questions about oral surgery, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. We are here to help you.

What is Oral Surgery?

The term ‘oral surgery’ refers to any surgical procedure performed inside your mouth and by qualified oral surgeons. During oral surgery, your surgeon may cut several tissues inside your mouth, including your jawbone and gum tissues. Oral surgery can treat a myriad of dental problems, including tooth decay, loose gums, and missing teeth. Oral surgery can cure both reconstructive and cosmetic dental health problems.

Oral surgery is also known as maxillofacial surgery. However, these two surgical procedures are slightly different from each other. Generally, maxillofacial surgery is more complex, and it is primarily used to rectify issues that cannot be corrected with only dental procedures.

Do not panic if your dentist informs you that you should undergo oral surgery. Most patients tend to believe that something is seriously wrong with them when their dentists recommend oral surgery. These patients usually think that oral surgery is an expensive, dangerous, and painful procedure. The truth is that oral surgery addresses common conditions, and can be completed on an outpatient basis. After oral surgery, you could resume your routine within a couple of days.

When visiting your dentist, he/she may refer you to an oral surgeon. Not all dentists are qualified to conduct oral surgery. If your doctor refers you to another practitioner, it is because he/she wants you to receive the best possible care. If you’re apprehensive about the referral, you should talk to him/her. Your dentist can provide further reassurance, and explain why he/she has made the recommendation.

Who is an Oral Surgeon?

An oral surgeon is a dentist who has specialized in treating specific dental issues that require extensive surgical procedures. All oral surgeons are dentists, but not all dentists are oral surgeons. Oral surgeons have advanced training in dental surgery and anesthesia. Their training period is more prolonged, in comparison to that for ordinary dentists.

Customarily, dentists are the primary care providers to help you maintain good oral health. At a dentist’s office, you’ll receive tooth cleaning, comprehensive dental exams, and X-rays. You will also get gum care, artificial crowns, bridges, veneers, and dental fillings. You will be advised on how to care for your teeth. Although a dentist can perform all these procedures, some complex and extensive surgeries are outside his/her scope of practice and competence.

Oral Surgeon vs. Maxillofacial Surgeon

All maxillofacial surgeons are oral surgeons, but not all oral surgeons are maxillofacial surgeons. The primary difference between an oral surgeon and a maxillofacial surgeon is that a maxillofacial surgeon has undergone more extensive training to solve complex medical and dental issues. Maxillofacial surgeons can handle problems associated with the head, neck, mouth, and jaws. This means that unlike oral surgeons, they do not concentrate on teeth only.

Your dentist may recommend you to visit a maxillofacial surgeon if facial trauma is involved. Some maxillofacial surgeons may opt to deal with simple procedures ordinarily conducted by oral surgeons, such as implants, jaw realignment, and root canals.

Types of Oral Surgery

There are different types of oral surgery. Here are the most common ones:

  • Tooth extraction

  • Jaw realignment

  • Wisdom teeth repair

  • Dental implants

  • Apicoectomy

  • Root canal treatment

Let us discuss each of them comprehensively.

  1. Tooth Extraction

There are several reasons why you may want to have your tooth extracted. The most common reason is tooth decay. Other reasons include having a crowded mouth or a periodontal infection.

Both dentists and oral surgeons can perform tooth extractions. However, dentists can only extract ‘easy-to-pull’ teeth. You will need an oral surgeon to remove an impacted tooth.

Before your surgeon pulls out the tooth, he/she will administer an anesthetic or a sedative. These medications will numb your sensory nerves and enable you to feel relaxed throughout the procedure.

If it is an impacted tooth, your surgeon will start the procedure by cutting open the gum and bone tissues covering the tooth. Then, he/she will use forceps to hold the tooth and gently rock it back and forth. This way, the tooth will be loosened from the ligaments and jawbone, holding it in its place. In some situations, your doctor can remove a hard-to-pull tooth in pieces.

After your doctor has extracted the tooth, a blood clot may form inside the socket. Your dentist will use a gauze pad to cover this socket and instruct you to bite it down. This will reduce bleeding. Sometimes, the surgeon can use self-dissolving stitches to close the gum edges over the extracted site.

Sometimes, this blood clot may break loose, exposing the socket bone tissues. This is an extremely painful condition referred to as ‘dry socket.’ When this happens, your doctor will cover the socket with a sedative dressing for several days to protect it and allow blood to clot.

  1. Jaw Realignment

Jaw realignment surgery is also referred to as 'orthognathic surgery.' The primary purpose of jaw realignment surgery is to correct jawbone problems and realign teeth to improve their appearance and functionality.

Your dentist will inform you if you require jaw realignment surgery. In most cases, individuals who undergo this surgical procedure put on braces before and after the procedure. When alignment and healing are complete, you will stop using braces.

Children cannot undergo jaw realignment surgery. This surgical option is only suitable for adults and teenagers who’ve stopped growing.

Here are some of the benefits of jaw realignment surgery:

  • It makes chewing and biting easier

  • It corrects speech and swallowing problems

  • It minimizes the excessive breakdown and wear of your teeth

  • It corrects jaw closure, or bites fit issues

  • It corrects facial asymmetry, including crossbites, small chins, overbites, and underbites

  • It improves your lips' ability to close comfortably

  • It relieves pain caused by temporomandibular joint (TMB) disorder and any other jaw conditions

  • It repairs congenital disabilities or facial injuries

  • It can help treat sleep apnea

Before the surgery, you must wear braces for 12 – 18 months. These braces will straighten your teeth in preparation for the procedure. Your dentist and oral surgeon will work together to design an effective treatment plan. You may be required to undergo X-rays, CT scans, and comprehensive dental exams.

Jaw realignment surgery is usually performed under anesthesia. Unlike oral operations conducted on an outpatient basis, you will be required to stay in the hospital for 2 – 4 days after realignment surgery.

Your doctor will start by cutting your jawbones and moving them into the right position. Once your doctor completes this process, he/she will secure the jawbones using rubber bands, screws, or wires.

In some instances, your surgeon will add extra bone tissue to the jaw. Also, in other situations, your doctor may reshape the jawbone to obtain the best results. Jaw realignment surgery can be conducted on the lower jaw, upper jaw, and chin.

  1. Wisdom Teeth Repair

Wisdom teeth are molars that are situated at the back of your mouth. They are large, and the last type of teeth to grow on your jaws. Many individuals grow wisdom teeth when they are 17 – 25 years old. Wisdom teeth appear and function just like any other teeth. They can decay, become impacted, develop a cavity, or get stuck inside or below the gum line.

If you’ve developed a wisdom tooth infection, you must consult a dentist. Your dentist will explain to you whether you require oral surgery. Not all wisdom teeth infections need oral surgery. Some may be simply cured by antibiotics, such as erythromycin, penicillin, clindamycin, metronidazole, and amoxicillin.

If you had developed a cavity, you might require a filling. Your surgeon might pull out the wisdom tooth if it was severely damaged. Your surgeon can also remove the gum tissue above the impacted wisdom tooth to enable it to grow through. In some situations, he/she can remove only the top part of the tooth. This procedure is commonly referred to as ‘coronectomy.’ It protects the tooth’s jawbone, nerves, and roots.

  1. Dental Implants

Having dental implants fixed is the best way to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are comfortable, cost-effective, and long-lasting. Unlike dentures, they cannot fall off or slip while sleeping or eating in public. Although dentures are cheaper, they are not cost-effective in the long-run. This is because you must replace them from time to time. Other benefits of dental implants include:

  • They prevent bone loss

  • They match with your natural teeth

  • They restore the biting force

  • They help prevent facial sagging

  • They improve your speech. They can assist you to speak more easily and naturally

  • They are easy to care for

  • They assist in preventing teeth misalignment

There are different types of dental implants. During consultations, you should ask your surgeon, which among them is the best fit for you. Some individuals are not eligible for dental implants due to various reasons. These reasons may include having insufficient jawbone mass, unhealthy gums, or damaged teeth because of cigarette smoking. These individuals should look for other alternative options to replace their missing teeth.

Just like any other surgical procedure, your doctor will first administer a sedative or anesthesia. He/she will initiate the procedure when this medication has taken effect, and you are fully relaxed. Dental implants can be inserted in one appointment. After the procedure, you will be able to resume your routine within 24 – 48 hours. However, healing may take up to six months.

Dental implants have two parts: the titanium screw and the crown. During insertion, a small hole will be drilled in your jawbone. Your surgeon must exercise great caution when drilling this hole. If he/she doesn’t do so, the surgery may have a negative outcome.

After this hole has been drilled, your doctor will insert the implant into it. The surrounding jawbone tissues will hold it firmly in its place. Then, your surgeon will cover the implant with a protective screw.

You may have to wait for six months to allow the implant to heal. During this period, the implant will fuse permanently with your jawbone. This process is normally referred to as ‘osseointegration.’

When osseointegration is complete, your surgeon will remove the protective screw cover. Then, he/she will place an abutment over the implant. This abutment will connect the implant to an artificial tooth crown.

  1. Root Canal Treatment

Your dentist may recommend you to undergo root canal treatment if your tooth is badly damaged or decayed. During root canal treatment, your surgeon will remove the pulp and nerves inside your tooth cavity, and then clean and seal it. The term ‘root canal’ refers to the cavity inside your tooth. This cavity hosts the pulp and the nerves.

A tooth can function properly without the pulp and nerves. The primary function of the nerve vessels is to detect pain. It is the nerve vessels inside your tooth that make you sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks. When these nerve vessels are absent, you won’t experience tooth sensitivity problems.

Certain situations can force you to undergo root canal treatment. For instance, your tooth may be cracked or chipped. Or, you may experience facial trauma.

If you fail to undergo root canal treatment, more bacteria will multiply inside the tooth. This may lead to an abscession, where pus develops at the tip of the tooth root. You may also suffer swelling at the neck, face, or head, in addition to bone loss.

During consultations, you will be subjected to an X-ray examination. Your doctor will use this X-ray to determine if you qualify for the surgery and assess your tooth’s extent and level of damage. Before surgery, you will receive a sedative or an anesthetic. This will enable you to feel relaxed and comfortable during the procedure.

Your doctor will initiate the surgical procedure by drying the tooth with rubber, to free it from saliva. Then, he/she will drill an access hole. Your doctor will remove the nerves, bacteria, and any other debris inside the tooth via this hole.

The final step is cleaning and sealing. The surgeon will clean your tooth using water and sodium hypochlorite. He/she can decide to seal off your tooth immediately or after several weeks. In most cases, your doctor will instruct you to wait for a couple of weeks before he/she seals the tooth, especially if you had an infection.

During this period, you may be required to take some medications. This way, you will remain infection-free. In such a situation, your doctor will cover the access hole with a temporary filling before he/she discharges you.

The empty tooth cavity will be sealed with paste and rubber. The access hole will be covered with a permanent filling. After root canal treatment, your tooth may remain weak. In this situation, you should consider some restoration options, such as an artificial tooth crown or a post, whichever is suitable. These restoration options will protect and strengthen your tooth.

Root canal treatment is 95% effective. You may feel some pain after the procedure, or your gums may become slightly inflamed or irritated. This pain can quickly be relieved by over-the-counter painkillers. Also, you should avoid chewing hard foods after root canal treatment. When you’ve recovered, your tooth will feel, look, and function like any other tooth. Root canal treatment is long-lasting, provided that you maintain good oral hygiene.

  1. Apicoectomy

You could opt for this surgical procedure if root canal treatment fails. Root canal surgery may fail due to various reasons, including tooth reinfection. In this surgical procedure, your doctor will remove the apex/tip of your tooth root. Before he/she starts the procedure, you will be administered an anesthetic or a sedative to make you feel more relaxed.

Once you’ve relaxed, the doctor will make an incision into your gums to remove inflamed or infected tissues. Then, he/she will remove the tip of your tooth root, and seal it with a small filling. After your surgeon has removed the apex of the tooth root, he/she will close the gum tissues with self-dissolving stitches. You will be able to resume your regular schedule within 24 – 48 hours after the procedure.

Sometimes, you may experience minimal pain, discomfort, and swelling. In these situations, you should call your doctor right away for advice. Also, you should make sure you follow postoperative instructions to obtain the best results.

The Cost of Oral Surgery

There is no fixed price for oral surgery. As you have now known, there are different types of oral surgeries. All these surgical options have varying costs. The cost of oral surgery varies depending on several factors. Some of these factors include the procedures involved and the expertise level of your surgeon.

Most people believe that oral surgery is expensive. This belief is not true. Most oral surgical options are cost-effective because they provide lifelong treatment. You can purchase a dental insurance plan to cut costs.

How to Prepare for Oral Surgery

The first step you should take when preparing for oral surgery is to book a consultation appointment with an experienced and reliable dentist. During the consultation, your dentist will inform you whether you require and are eligible for oral surgery.

On the day of the surgery, you can bring along a friend or a family member. If you intend to undergo sedation, you should make sure you have already organized for a ride back home after the procedure. This is because sedatives can make you feel drowsy, and you may be unable to drive yourself.

We recommend that you should fast for a couple of hours before the procedure. Sedatives or anesthetics can make your stomach bloat. Fasting helps prevent bloating. Also, you should arrive at the clinic at least twenty minutes earlier. This will enable you to finish your paperwork quickly and allow yourself enough time to relax before the doctor starts the procedure.

Choosing the Right Oral Surgeon

There are various factors that you should consider when choosing an oral surgeon. Some of these factors include:

  • Reviews – Select an oral surgeon who has numerous positive reviews.

  • Recommendations – Ask your friend or your dentist to recommend an oral surgeon to you. You can use their recommendations to narrow down your choices.

  • Training and experience – Choose a surgeon who is extensively trained and experienced in his/her practice area.

  • Convenience – It is wise to choose a surgeon who practices close to your neighborhood. The surgeon should also be reliable, and you should be able to count on him/her in the event of an emergency.

  • Financing options – Check whether the surgeon accepts insurance. Also, find out if he/she offers other alternative payment options.

Take note that it is crucial to pick the right oral surgeon. Oral surgery is a complex field, which combines medical, dental, and surgical expertise. If you do not choose the right surgeon, you may not get the best results, or you may end up developing certain health complications.

Find an Experienced Northridge Oral Surgeon Near Me

We at the Northridge Dentist provide high-quality oral surgery services. Our dentists are dedicated to making your visit to our clinic as comfortable and rewarding as possible. Get in touch with us if you or your loved one would like to undergo oral surgery. Call us today at 818-875-0216 for a free consultation.