Oral surgery as a dental speciality deals with various surgical procedures inside the oral cavity. Often oral surgical procedures can be performed by your general dentist. Having a tooth extracted is a good example of this.
There are a variety of circumstances where we may decide that a referral to a specialist oral surgeon is required. Examples include: impacted third molar (wisdom tooth) surgical extraction, surgical removal of cysts or other growths from the jaws and bone augmentation prior to implant placement.
Types of Oral Surgery
The list below is certainly not exhaustive but provides examples of common oral surgical procedures:
Wisdom tooth extraction
Adult teeth appear from around the age of six upwards. Wisdom teeth are the last to arrive, usually between the ages of 18 and 24. Sometimes, however, wisdom teeth cause problems in the mouth as they develop. When a wisdom tooth can’t grow through to the surface of the gum correctly, it’s referred to as an impacted wisdom tooth. Two of the most common reasons why this occurs are a lack of space at the back of the mouth for correct development, or other teeth being in the way.
For most people, an impacted wisdom tooth does not cause any problems. Unfortunately some people can suffer inflammation of the surrounding gum, a higher risk of tooth decay, gum disease around other teeth and possibly problems with teeth in later life.
If problems occur and the decision is taken to surgically remove a third molar, your oral surgeon will have very carefully assessed any risks associated with the treatment and you will be fully informed of these. Because of the proximity of other structures such as nerves, there is a small chance of damage to these during the surgical procedure.
One of the most important ways in which to try and limit the risk of these negative outcomes is for your surgeon to find out exactly where your tooth is in relation to these other structures. Specialised scanning x-ray images are often required.
At Space Healthcare we follow the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance on managing problems with wisdom teeth.
Download our white paper on the NICE guidelines, which explains this policy
This is where the root tip of a tooth is surgically exposed and removed. Often this treatment is provided when a conventional root canal filling has failed and for various reasons it is thought better to try and treat the root tip directly.
Once the root tip has been removed, any associated infection is also cleaned away and often a special root filling is placed into the root canal at the tip. This is called a retrograde root filling.
Surgical Cyst Removal
Cysts are hollow fluid filled swellings. They can develop in the jaws for various reasons, but one of the most common is due to a long-term chronic infection around the end of a tooth with a dead nerve. This type of lesion is called a radicular cyst.
When cysts are surgically removed, it is vital that all remnants of the cyst are successfully cleared away to prevent possible recurrence.