What Is Maxillofacial?
The maxilla is the upper jaw; maxillofacial refers to the jaws and facial area. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons diagnose and treat issues relating to the hard tissue (i.e. bone) of the jaws (mandible or lower jaw and maxilla or upper jaw) and the soft tissue (i.e. skin, muscle) of the face, mouth and jaws.
Surgical Extractions/Wisdom Teeth
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons routinely perform surgical extractions when necessary for the removal of teeth due to decay, injury or as part of orthodontic treatment. When wisdom teeth cannot break through the gums, or there isn’t enough room for them, they are considered impacted and should be evaluated by an oral surgeon to avoid complications such as damage to adjacent teeth, infections and the formations of cysts in the jaw.
Surgical Extractions/Wisdom Teeth
Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the last teeth to develop and appear in your mouth. They come in between the ages of 17 and 25, a time of life that has been called the “Age of Wisdom.” When a tooth doesn’t fully grow in, it’s “impacted”–usually unable to break through the gums because there isn’t enough room. 90% of people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth.
Dental Implants, Implant Secured Dentures
Dental Implants are a long-term solution to replace missing teeth. Seven out of ten adults ages 35 to 44 will lose at least one permanent tooth to an accident, gum disease, a failed root canal or tooth decay. One in four adults will lose all of their permanent teeth by age 74. Dental implants for single tooth replacement or to secure a denture mean less frustration with diet restrictions and discomfort from ill-fitting dentures. Implants help reduce bone loss in the jaw from missing teeth and they look and feel like natural teeth.
Today’s anesthesia options allow patients to undergo surgery with little to no discomfort. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have extensive training and experience in the appropriate administration of all forms of sedation and general anesthesia. Office-based anesthesia is convenient and cost-effective and the majority of oral and maxillofacial surgery procedures are performed safely and comfortably with anesthesia administration.
Orthodontists refer their patients to oral and maxillofacial surgeons for procedures that assist patient to achieve their orthodontic goals. Oral Surgeons help with erupting impacted teeth, a technique used to help blocked teeth, frequently the canine (or eye) teeth, through the gum and into the correct position. And they also place temporary anchorage devices (TADs), occasionally used for a short time during orthodontic treatment to reposition teeth using small titanium screws placed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons in their office.
Corrective Jaw Surgery
Corrective jaw surgery – called orthognathic surgery – is performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons to realign jaws and teeth. Orthodontists correct a person’s bite if only the teeth are misaligned. Corrective jaw surgery may be necessary if the jaw is misaligned. Jaw misalignment can be caused by injuries, birth defects or different growth rates of the jaws. Surgery can improve basic functions, such as breathing, chewing and speaking. Your dentist, orthodontist and OMS will work together to determine whether you are a candidate for corrective jaw surgery.
Pathology, Oral Cancer
50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year in the United States, and the fastest growing segment are non-smokers under the age of 50. The survival rates are 80% to 90% when found at early stages of development. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are unique within dentistry in their ability to diagnose and treat these conditions. Don't ignore any suspicious lumps or sores. Should you discover something, make an appointment for a prompt examination.
Sports injuries, automobile, motorcycle or bicycle accidents, falls and more can cause injuries to the face resulting in broken jaw and cheek bones, eye sockets, sinuses and noses. These in turn can cause difficulty in breathing, swallowing and talking. With their background and training, OMSs are the specialists most qualified to deal with these types of injuries.
Other Surgical Services
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons perform a variety of dental and soft-tissue procedures to improve function, appearance and oral health, including diagnosing and addressing oral cancers. In younger patients, OMSs assist with repositioning or blocking emerging teeth into the correct position during orthodontic treatment and in patients of all ages, OMSs also perform a variety of hard and soft tissue procedures to correct, repair or promote healthy gums and jaw bone tissue.