Oral health is a critical component of overall health and well-being. Neglecting oral hygiene and necessary dental work can lead to painful, expensive, and potentially dangerous health issues. When oral surgery is required, it is imperative to find a qualified and experienced oral surgeon to perform procedures safely and successfully. This article will discuss the importance of oral health, when you may need an oral surgeon, how to choose a qualified oral surgeon, what to expect during surgery, and how to properly care for your mouth after surgery. Maintaining good oral health doesn’t just stop at brushing and flossing regularly. Regular dental checkups are crucial for preventing and detecting potential problems early on. If you’re looking for a skilled and professional dentist in the local area, check out this dentist in pasadena ca. They offer a wide range of services to meet your dental needs and ensure a healthy, happy smile.

The Critical Role of Oral Health

Oral health goes beyond having a bright white smile. Problems in the mouth can indicate issues elsewhere in the body or lead to further complications if left untreated. Bacteria and inflammation in the mouth have been linked to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, premature birth, diabetes, osteoporosis, and pneumonia. Additionally, poor oral hygiene exacerbates issues like gingivitis and periodontal disease, which can lead to chronic pain, tooth loss, and bone damage if not treated properly.

Given the implications of poor oral health, it is essential to maintain a meticulous hygiene routine. This means brushing and flossing properly twice a day, using antiseptic mouthwash, and seeing a dentist for a cleaning and checkup twice per year. Catching problems early makes treatment easier and less expensive.

When to See an Oral Surgeon

While general dentists can provide exams, cleanings, fillings, crowns, bridges, and other essential treatments, oral surgeons undergo four additional years of education and training to be able to perform surgery within the mouth and facial area. There are several instances when someone might require an oral surgeon:

– Extracting impacted, infected, or problematic wisdom teeth. General dentists can sometimes remove wisdom teeth if positioning is easy, but oral surgeons are trained in surgical extraction.

– Reconstructive jaw procedures like correcting skeletal deformities, repairing traumatic injuries, or removing tumors/cysts. This may require precise bone grafting or tissue reconstruction.

– Dental implant placement to replace missing teeth with artificial roots and crowns for functionality and aesthetics. The surgeon embeds implants within the jawbone, which integrate over several months before attaching the visible crown.

– Managing serious infections requiring drainage or tooth extraction. If neglected infections spread deeper within facial tissues, oral surgery is necessary to remove infection sources and drain abscesses.

– Correcting bite alignment issues causing chronic pain through orthognathic surgery. This may involve breaking and resetting the jaw to properly fit the top and bottom arches.

– Removing pediatric oral problems like hyperodontia (extra teeth), cleft palate repair, exposure for orthodontia, etc. Children may need oral surgery for complications present from birth or after facial/dental injuries.

– Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) treatment like arthrocentesis, arthroplasty, discectomies, joint reconstruction, and disc repositioning.

– Sleep apnea surgery such as maxillomandibular advancement. This brings both jaws forward to open tighter airways during sleep.

Choosing a Qualified Oral Surgeon

With surgery involved, you must vet potential oral surgeons thoroughly first. Here are tips for choosing a qualified oral health professional:

– Ensure proper credentials. Oral surgeons must complete four years of dental school followed by an additional four years of surgical residency training. Verify that any provider graduated from an accredited dental school and residency program.

– Look for Board certification. Reputable oral surgeons pursue Board certification from either the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery or the American Board of Orofacial Pain. This involves intensive written and clinical testing.

– Seek experience, particularly with your specific procedure. More frequent and recent experience leads to better surgical skills and outcomes. Those who have completed an oral surgery residency generally have expertise across all common procedures.

– Read reviews and seek references. Past patients can provide insights a website cannot. Ask people you know who their oral surgeon was and if they were satisfied. Also, browse online reviews on both the practice’s website and third-party sites.

– Meet the surgeon. Schedule a consultation to discuss your situation, health history, surgical plan, and recovery. Pay attention to bedside manner, clearly communicating instructions, and thoroughly answering your questions. You want an oral surgeon who listens, answers questions, and customizes care.

What to Expect During Surgery

Once you select an appropriate oral surgeon, they develop a treatment plan catered to your specific ailment and health parameters. Steps generally include:

Medical history review and clinical exam

-The surgeon will discuss health conditions, medications taken, supplement/vitamin intake, alcohol/tobacco/recreational drug use, pregnancy status, allergies, previous reactions to medications, and more.

– Vital signs are checked, and medical records are requested if applicable.

– Clinical exam of the mouth, teeth, soft tissues, lymph nodes, bite alignment, range of motion, and imaging are done.

Pre-surgical planning and lab tests

– If imaging like an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI is needed, they are done in advance of the surgery date.

– Specifics of the surgery are planned – what tissue will be removed, repaired, or extracted, what materials might be used for reconstruction, what anesthesia method would work best, whether blood supply on standby is warranted based on health history, etc.

– Blood tests, EKG, medical clearance from the primary doctor, or other tests may be ordered based on parameters like health conditions and if IV sedation will be used.

Informed consent and preparation materials

– The procedure, instruments used, materials implanted, risks, side effects, benefits, and alternatives are explained thoroughly. Patients sign an informed consent approving the surgery.

– Anesthesia options like a local anesthetic, IV sedation/conscious sedation, or general anesthesia are reviewed, along with pre-op fasting instructions given.

– Prescriptions, dietary preparations, accommodations needed, and follow-up instructions provided.

Surgery completion

– Patient is monitored under anesthesia during the entirety of surgery. Vital signs are continually assessed.

– Procedure performed according to plan – tissue/teeth removed, implants inserted, incisions repaired, etc. Samples may be sent for biopsy.

– Post-op orders, medications prescribed, follow-up scheduled, and written aftercare instructions provided.

Recovery period overview

– Rest, apply cold compresses, keep the head elevated, and avoid smoking/drinking with straws as instructed.

– Soft foods and food/drink restrictions per wound site are recommended initially.

– Medications to control pain and prevent infection are prescribed. Follow all dosage instructions.

– Return promptly if excessive pain, bleeding, swelling, fever, or other issues arise.

Proper Post-Operative Oral Care

Depending on the type of surgery, special care is required during the healing process over subsequent days or weeks. Be diligent regarding:

Medications: Take all antibiotics and pain relievers as directed without missing doses. Do not take additional medications without surgeon approval first.

Oral hygiene: Brush gently around surgical sites after 24 hours. After a week, you can brush other areas more thoroughly. Use antiseptic mouthwash twice daily.

Diet and eating: Stick to a soft foods diet initially before attempting harder items. Don’t use straws or drink carbonated beverages, which can dislodge blood clots.

Activity level: Limit physical exertion for at least 72 hours. Do not smoke, consume alcohol, or make big plans needing energy. Get lots of rest.

Cold compresses: 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off helps minimize swelling and discomfort.

Wound care: Clean incisions gently. Don’t disturb stitches or implant sites. See the surgeon promptly if you have heavy bleeding beyond 36 hours.

Sensitivity: It is normal to have some numbness or tingling for weeks or months after surgery. This indicates the nerve is healing. Report severe or worsening sensitivity changes.

Follow-up appointments: It is critical to attend follow-up appointments so your oral surgeon can monitor healing, remove any stitches, ensure implants have integrated properly, and look for potential complications requiring intervention.


Finding a qualified, experienced oral surgeon and adhering to proper aftercare techniques leads to smooth surgery and optimal healing results. Be diligent in oral hygiene, diet, medication compliance, and follow-up visits. Report any concerns promptly rather than waiting for complications to worsen. Protect surgical sites throughout the healing process. With cooperation between patient and surgeon, oral surgery can significantly improve comfort and quality of life when deemed medically necessary.