Oral-Maxillofacial Surgery is a surgical specialty which involves the diagnosis, surgery and adjunctive treatment of diseases, injuries and defects involving both the functional and aesthetic aspects of the hard and soft tissues of the oral and maxillofacial region.
More simply put, the oral and maxillofacial surgeon is the orthopedic surgeon of the facial region. He or she is an individual who addresses problems ranging from the removal of impacted teeth to the repair of facial trauma.
What are some reasons to visit an Oral-Maxillofacial Surgeon?
- Have teeth replaced by having dental implants inserted.
- Have oral surgical procedures performed in the office under outpatient ambulatory anesthesia.
- Have a jaw, oral, or facial cyst or tumor diagnosed, removed and reconstructed.
- Have your jaw aligned with orthognathic surgery.
- Have your jaw joint(s) repaired with TMJ surgery.
- Have facial and jaw reconstruction following cancer surgery.
- Have your facial bones realigned after facial trauma.
- Have a consultation to determine whether you are a candidate for aesthetic surgery.
- Have a tooth extracted.
What are dental implants?
They are artificial roots and teeth (usually titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often enhance or restore a patient’s smile. Dental implants are very strong, stable, durable and will last many years; implant treatment has a record of reliable, long-term successful outcomes and is often considered “more predictable” than other treatments to repair or replace missing teeth.
There are many elements which impact the success of a dental implant procedure. Perhaps the most important consideration is the experience and qualifications of the dentist or oral surgeon performing the procedure. While the procedure boasts success rates of 95-98%, there are many factors that a provider must take into consideration to provide patients with the best possible outcome. For example, commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications such as serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been shown to have an impact on bone mineral density and the risk of fracture. A dentist will thoroughly review the patient’s medical history, and in the case of SSRI users, consult with the oral surgeon to employ a more cautious surgical approach when appropriate to guarantee the best chance of success.
Corrective jaw, or orthognathic surgery
Corrective jaw, or orthognathic surgery is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) to correct a wide range of minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities, including the misalignment of jaws and teeth. Surgery can improve chewing, speaking and breathing. While the patient’s appearance may be dramatically enhanced as a result of their surgery, orthognathic surgery is performed to correct functional problems.
Following are some of the conditions that may indicate the need for corrective jaw surgery:
- Difficulty chewing, or biting food
- Difficulty swallowing
- Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headache
- Excessive wear of the teeth
- Open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
- Unbalanced facial appearance from the front, or side
- Facial injury
- Birth defects
- Receding lower jaw and chin
- Protruding jaw
- Inability to make the lips meet without straining
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping, including snoring)
Your dentist, orthodontist, OMS and oral surgeon will work together to determine whether you are a candidate for corrective jaw, or orthognathic, surgery. The OMS determines which corrective jaw surgical procedure is appropriate and performs the actual surgery. It is important to understand that your treatment, which will probably include orthodontics before and after surgery, may take several years to complete. Your OMS and orthodontist understand that this is a long-term commitment for you and your family, and will try to realistically estimate the time required for your treatment.
Correction of Common Dentofacial Deformities