by Janhavi Rane DDS
An oral surgeon is a dental specialist who is trained to handle dental implants, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders, facial pain, and restorative surgical procedures such as wisdom teeth removals. In addition, an oral surgeon can also treat tooth and facial injuries, such as broken jaws, broken or knocked-out teeth, oral cancers and can perform facial cosmetic surgeries. An oral surgeon attends four years of dental school and at least four years of hospital surgical residency.
Your general dentist will recommend a visit to an oral surgeon when you require service beyond the general dentist’s scope. Oral surgeons, also called maxillofacial surgeons, are trained to detect, diagnose, and prevent defects and diseases that affect the mouth, jaw, teeth, and gums.
If a wisdom tooth is causing pain, you should immediately consult with your dentist to determine if your tooth should be removed. Wisdom teeth, which usually start to emerge during young adulthood, can cause problems if your mouth is too small to accommodate the teeth. During a checkup, your dentist will take x-rays to determine the position of your wisdom tooth. If it appears that the tooth is embedded or not growing in straight, your dentist may recommend surgery to extract the tooth and may refer you to an oral surgeon for this. Keep in mind that if there is a problem with your tooth, it is best to have it removed early on. Since wisdom teeth are the last to develop, it is possible to have them removed as soon as a problem is detected and before they are fully developed – making surgery a little easier.
The American Dental Association recommends having a wisdom tooth removed if:
• The tooth is embedded under the gum and in the jawbone and can cause damage to other teeth and bone. This will require the dentist to make an incision into the overlying gum and bone to remove the tooth.
• The tooth is partially emerged through the gum, leaving a flap of gum over the tooth. Wisdom teeth are already difficult to clean because they are so far back in the mouth. If food and bacteria get trapped under the flap of a partially emerged wisdom tooth, it can lead to tooth decay and gum infection.
• A cyst develops around the tooth. A cyst is a fluid-filled sac and can lead to infection in the gums.
• The tooth is growing sideways, forward, backward, or at some other odd angle that will cause discomfort and damage to surrounding teeth.
Recovery usually takes a few days and may require pain medication to alleviate any discomfort. Follow your dentist’s instructions for a safe and quick recovery. If your wisdom teeth (third molars) look healthy and have plenty of room to develop, your dentist may still want to discuss the benefits of removing them as sometimes they can lead to tooth decay and gum infection since they are difficult to brush and floss. Keep in mind, though, that just as there are risks to having wisdom teeth, there are also minor risks associated with the surgery involved in having them removed.
Consult with your oral care provider to determine the position and health of your wisdom teeth. If you have a wisdom tooth that is causing pain, see a dentist immediately or contact us at:
Rane’s Exclusively Yours Dental (General Dentistry), Plainsboro Shopping Center (Beside Powerhouse Gym and Dunkin Donuts), 10 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro, NJ. 609-275-1777. www.ranesdental.com
Rane’s Dental Aesthetics (Orthodontics, Periodontics and Oral Surgery), New Plainsboro Village (Beside 1st Constitution Bank), 11 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro, NJ. 609-750-1666.