Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are unique among dental specialists in a number of ways. After completing four years of dental school, they go on to spend another four years in a hospital-based residency program for surgery. There, they are trained alongside other medical residents in the techniques of emergency medicine, general surgery and anesthesiology. In fact, they are the only health care specialists (aside from anesthesiologists) who can administer all levels of sedation, up to general anesthesia.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons focus on treating problems related to the hard and soft tissues of the face, mouth, and jaws (the upper jaw is referred to as the maxilla). While they sometimes work in a hospital, their practices are more often located in comfortable office settings. You may be referred to one of these specialists by your general dentist for a complex tooth extraction. Or, your orthodontist may send you for an examination if he or she suspects a problem with the alignment of your jaws.
It isn’t necessary to have an oral and maxillofacial surgeon perform every type of oral surgery; many dentists are expert at the more common procedures, such as simple extractions. However, for complex treatments that may require more invasive procedures or deeper levels of sedation, these specialists may be recommended.
Traumatic dental injuries often occur as a result of an accident or sports injury. The majority of these injuries are minor - chipped teeth. It’s less common to dislodge your tooth or have it knocked completely out but these injuries are more severe. Treatment depends on the type, location and severity of each injury. Regardless of the extent of the injury, your tooth requires immediate examination by a dentist or an endodontist. Sometimes, your neighboring teeth suffer an additional, unnoticed injury that can only be detected by a thorough dental exam.
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in treating traumatic dental injuries. With their advanced skills, techniques and technologies they often can save injured teeth. If you have a cracked or injured tooth, find an endodontist near you right away. Most endodontists offer tremendous flexibility in accommodating emergency cases, including weekends in some instances. You’ll have relief from your pain and likely save your tooth, so act as quickly as possible.
When you have a dental injury or infection, saving your natural tooth should always be your first choice. Even the most advanced implants or bridges cannot truly replace your natural tooth. For this reason, if you are experiencing dental pain or discomfort you should speak with a dentist or endodontist as soon as possible to discuss your options.
If your dentist recommends extracting your tooth, ask whether an endodontist can help save the tooth with root canal treatment. This procedure involves removing the injured pulp (soft inner tissue) of your tooth, then filling and sealing the space.
A dentist finishes the process by restoring your tooth with a crown or filling, enabling it to function as your natural teeth do, ensuring comfortable chewing and a natural appearance.
Endodontists can often save even the most severely injured teeth, so it pays to learn more about your treatment options. Do everything possible to save your teeth before considering extraction – always the last resort!
If an endodontic procedure can’t save your tooth and it must be extracted, you should consider a dental implant that will enable you to bite and chew properly, keep healthy teeth from shifting, and help you maintain a natural appearance. Carefully discuss your options for treatment with your dental team to ensure you pick the treatment that is best for your overall health.