An oral surgeon is a dentist who specializes in treating diseases of the mouth, teeth, jaw, and tongue, particularly with surgery. Oral surgeons need to have a dental education background, then complete specialist education in the field of oral surgery.
The scope of fields handled by oral surgeons is quite wide. Oral surgeons need to have knowledge of dentistry as well as general surgery. In addition, oral surgeons also need to attend specialization education for 5-6 years (about 12 semesters) after becoming a dentist.
To treat various conditions experienced by patients, oral surgeons also often collaborate with other specialists, such as dentists and their branches of specialization, ENT surgeons, plastic surgeons, and oncologists.
Diseases that Oral Surgeons Can Treat
Oral surgeons have in-depth knowledge of the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases or conditions occurring in the mouth and jaw.
The following are various conditions that an oral surgeon can treat:
- Abnormalities in the mouth and jaw area, such as a cleft lip or palate.
- Abscess in the mouth and jaw area.
- Tumors or cancers and cysts in the mouth and jaw area, such as salivary gland cancer, oral cancer, tongue cancer, and dental cysts.
- Tooth impaction, which is the failure of the growth process of the teeth in the right position, so that part or all of the teeth are trapped in the gums.
- Disorders of the TMJ (tempromandibular joint), which is a joint that functions to move the jaw and connects the jaw to the skull.
- Infections of the teeth, gums and mouth. Examples are abscesses of teeth and gums, or abscesses of the tissues of the mouth and tongue.
- Jaw movement disorders, such as trismus or jaw stiffness.
- Disorders of the position and structure of the jawbone and teeth. For example, crooked teeth (overbite), overly developed mandible (underbite), or an overly receding mandible (retrognathia).
- Nerve disorders in the mouth and jaw area, such as trigeminal neuralgia.
- Injuries to the mouth and jaw area, including fractures or fractures of the jawbone.
- Sleep disturbances, such as snoring and sleep apnea.
Oral surgeons can also treat various problems with teeth and gums that require surgery including cavities, cracked teeth, gingivitis, and periodontitis.
What Oral Surgeons Can Do
In making a diagnosis, the oral surgeon will trace the medical history, as well as the symptoms felt by the patient. After that, the doctor will perform a series of physical examinations on the patient's teeth, mouth, and jaw.
To confirm the diagnosis, the oral surgeon may also suggest that the patient perform X-rays of the teeth and mouth or jaw, CT scan, or MRI. Blood tests and tissue sampling with a biopsy may also be done, if needed.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, the oral surgeon will determine the course of treatment. Treatment can be with drugs or medical procedures. The goal is to restore function to the affected area of the mouth, teeth, and jaw.
The following are some of the actions that an oral surgeon can perform:
- Extraction of teeth to the root.
- Dental implants involving bone grafts.
- Surgery orthognathic or jaw surgery.
- Removal of cysts, tumors, or cancer in the mouth, tongue, or jaw.
- Reconstruction of the jaw and face.
- Oral and jaw joint surgery.
- Surgery for deformities of the mouth and jaw, such as cleft lip surgery.
- Salivary gland surgery.
Oral surgeons can also perform radiation therapy, chemotherapy, plastic surgery, to the installation of assistive devices in the mouth, such as jaw-stretching devices.
When Should You See an Oral Surgeon?
Disorders of the mouth and jaw that are left unchecked, especially in the long term, can cause complications that can interfere with daily activities, such as chewing and speaking.
Therefore, you should immediately see a dentist or oral surgeon if you experience the following symptoms:
- Jaw pain, stiffness, or sound.
- Gums are painful, swollen, festering, or bleeding.
- The shape of the jaw is not in harmony with the teeth.
- Difficulty or pain when chewing and swallowing.
- There are deformities in the mouth and jaw area.
- Teeth are damaged or badly cavities.
- Bad breath or bad taste in the mouth.
- The jaw is difficult to move, even just to open the mouth.
The above symptoms may come and go or persist for a long time. Symptoms may also occur on only one side of the jaw or both.
Things to Prepare before Meeting an Oral Surgeon
You generally go to an oral surgeon after getting a referral from a dentist. Before going to an oral surgeon, there are several things that need to be prepared to make it easier for the doctor to determine the right treatment.
The following are some things you need to prepare and pay attention to before consulting an oral surgeon:
- Bring the results of examinations that you have done before, including a medical history from the dentist.
- Tell the symptoms and complaints that you feel in detail.
- Tell your doctor about your and your family's medical history. Some diseases, such as diabetes, make a person more susceptible to problems with the mouth and jaw.
- Prepare a list of medications you are currently taking (including supplements and herbal remedies), as well as any allergies you have.
- Tell your doctor about your habits, whether it's about oral hygiene or something else, such as smoking.
- Ask family or friends to accompany you, so that you feel calmer if surgery needs to be done immediately.
You can find out in advance about the costs required to conduct an examination to an oral surgeon. The costs you will incur may not be small, especially if immediate surgery is needed.