Oral Surgery FAQs
Why do I need to get my wisdom teeth out?
Wisdom teeth are a third set of molars that under ideal conditions would erupt into the mouth and serve as another set of chewing teeth. However, most people do not have enough space in their mouth for functional eruption. In such cases, the wisdom teeth only partially erupt or fail to erupt and become impacted. This can lead to:
- Chronic food trapping and subsequent inflammation
- Caries (cavities) and periodontal disease on both the wisdom teeth and neighboring teeth
- Exacerbate dental crowding and/or interfere with orthodontic correction
- Infection of the head and neck
- Development of cysts and tumors associated with impacted teeth, which can weaken the jaw
Extraction of wisdom teeth is a very routine procedure with minimal risk in adolescence. When the above conditions develop later in life, the procedure becomes more complicated due to the development of the tooth roots and maturation of the surrounding bone, and other factors that may be present.
My dentist sent me to get a biopsy. Do I really need one?
Yes. Most people see their dentist every 6 months, so their dentist is pretty adept at finding abnormalities and monitoring such findings over time. By the time a patient is referred to our office there is a reasonable need for a biopsy. In some instances, if both the dentist and the surgeon believe that the lesion is benign, we may develop a plan of observation with regular follow ups. However, the only way to truly identify a lesion, and to predict its behavior and consequences, is with a biopsy.
Are implants really expensive?
The answer to this question is relative to each individual patient. Implants are no longer considered strictly cosmetic by insurance companies, so usually there is some degree of coverage. For patients without insurance, the cost of an implant restoration is comparable to the cost of a bridge. From a value perspective, the possibility of having a potentially lifelong replacement of a tooth, restoration of aesthetics and function, and boosted confidence, is immeasurable.
How much will this cost?
We understand this part can get tricky with insurance. To make matters worse, many of the procedures that we perform can fall under medical or dental insurance, or both. Thankfully, we have very knowledgeable and dedicated staff who can answer this question after they have reviewed your treatment plan and your particular insurance policies.
How long is recovery?
Generally, inflammation, pain, and swelling may take up to 72 hours to peak. I would take time off from work/school/life during this period to avoid over-taxing the body. Simple things like lifting, bending over, straining, or eating the wrong foods can prolong recovery. Most importantly, dietary restrictions placed by the surgeon are key to optimal outcomes. Eating the wrong food can tear the incision, loosen sutures, compromise dressings, or weaken provisional restorations. Depending on the procedure, a soft, no chew diet may be required for a week, sometimes more, after surgery
How much pain should I expect after surgery?
This depends on the patient and the procedure(s). Generally, procedures of the upper jaw cause less pain than those on the lower jaw. Extractions hurt more than implants. Impacted teeth cause more soreness after surgery than erupted teeth. Most of our patients find that prescription strength ibuprofen, possibly taken with Extra Strength Tylenol, provide adequate pain relief. We recommend that patients avoid narcotic medications if possible. We also offer Exparel which is a long-lasting local anesthetic which will keep the site numb for about 3 days.
When can I smoke?
Both the smoke and the actual nicotine itself have a detrimental effect on healing. Smoking with gauze over the socket, vaping, or using other methods of nicotine delivery do not lessen the risk. However, because smoking is an addiction that cannot easily be stopped, we recommend that patients refrain from smoking for as long as they can stand it. A good start would be to refrain from smoking for 48 hours, if possible.
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