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When Do You Need an Oral Surgeon?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform surgery on the mouth, jaw, and face. They undergo extensive training after dental school, usually a four to six-year residency program in a hospital setting. Their training is the same as plastic surgeons, internal medicine and emergency room doctors, except their focus is on the bones and soft tissues in the facial area, mouth, and jaw. They also learn how to administer IV sedation and general anesthesia safely.

Typical services include:

  1. Impacted wisdom teeth removal
  2. Implant placement, especially if there is a need for bone grafting first
  3. Treating facial trauma
  4. Correcting cleft lips and palates
  5. TMJ surgery when less invasive treatments do not work
  6. Treating severe sleep apnea
  7. Oral cancer treatment

While many dentists can perform simple surgical treatments, they usually refer patients to oral surgeons for complex procedures.

When Would I Need an Oral Surgeon?

Oral surgeons are dental specialists who place dental implants, remove impacted wisdom teeth and treat injuries, including broken jaws. They also treat oral cancers and perform a wide range of other services.

Another advantage for patients is that oral surgeons have advanced training in anesthesia. While some procedures only require local anesthesia that a dentist can offer. Oral surgeons can offer general anesthesia that puts a patient completely under. This is ideal for people who are having extensive surgeries.

Household Tips for Easier Oral Surgery Recovery

Ask your oral surgeon about what your recovery will be like. Having everything ready when you get home will make your recovery easier. If you’ll need an OTC pain reliever, have it ready. If you’ll need ice to reduce swelling, have some in your freezer. Bags of small frozen vegetables, like peas, also make good ice packs. Stock up on yogurts, ice cream, and other soft, nutritious foods you can eat. Instant breakfast drinks are also nutritious.

You’ll also need to avoid any strenuous activity after surgery. Try to get any household chores out of the way ahead of time so you can lie on the couch without guilt. If you have small children, see if they can stay at a friend’s or relative’s home for the night after you have surgery. If you have older kids, keep food in the house they can make for themselves.

Verify your oral surgeon takes your dental insurance. The office staff can give you an estimate of your out-of-pocket costs. In certain situations, medical insurance may cover a portion of your cost. If you do not have insurance, ask about payment options, so you do not have any surprises.

Can I Drive Home After Oral Surgery?

If you and your oral surgeon feel you’re having a fairly simple procedure, you may opt for a local anesthesia and maybe nitrous oxide (laughing gas), you can drive yourself home. If you opt for IV or oral sedation, you may feel groggy afterward and should arrange a ride home. If you’re getting general anesthesia, it is essential someone else drive you home. You may also want the person to stay with you for at least several hours.

How Can I Get Ready for Oral Surgery?

If you’re having IV sedation or general anesthesia:

  1. Do not eat or drink anything eight hours prior to surgery. Your oral surgeon will have gone over your medications with you, which you may be able to take with a very tiny sip of water.
  2. Do not smoke for 12 hours before surgery and at least 24 hours after surgery.
  3. Brush your teeth before surgery. It could be a few days before you can brush again.
  4. Do not wear contact lenses to your surgery. Your eyes may be closed for hours at a time.
  5. Avoid wearing cosmetics, nail polish or perfume.
  6. Wear comfortable clothing with short sleeves or sleeves you can easily roll up. Don’t wear high heels, flip flops or anything that may be hard to walk in if you feel groggy.
  7. Do not wear jewelry.
  8. Verify your ride is still available.
  9. Get a good night’s sleep before your surgery. A well rested body heals faster.
  10. If you have long hair, tie it back before surgery.
  11.  Tell your oral surgeon if you develop a cold, stomach upset or any other problem before surgery.

What Can I Eat and Do After Oral Surgery?

At first, you can only have soft foods that are room temperature or cool. Take the opportunity to indulge in ice cream and pudding. You should also have nutritious foods, like scrambled eggs or applesauce. Avoid using a straw for several days. You can also have Boost, Ensure or another drink with vitamins and minerals.

Rest for several days and avoid any vigorous activity or heavy lifting. Resting with your head elevated will help stop the bleeding and also help with the swelling. If you have general anesthesia, don’t drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours. If you have stairs in your home, be careful and avoid them whenever possible. Take your pain medicine and apply ice packs as directed. Use warm salt rinses as directed. Ask your oral surgeon about how much discomfort and swelling is normal. If you experience excessive amounts of either, or develop a high fever, call your oral surgeon’s office immediately.

If you need an oral surgeon in Florida, or your dentist recommended our office, please call us. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and address your concerns.

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