When a patient’s regular dentist cannot fix an oral health issue they’re experiencing, they will visit an oral surgeon. Luckily, that is where someone like me comes in! I specialize in wisdom teeth, dental implants, corrective jaw surgery, facial cosmetic surgery, anesthesia, snoring and sleep Apnea, The Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ), oral cancer, and treating and preventing facial injury.
Being an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon out of Cleveland, OH, patients mainly visit me for three reasons: wisdom teeth extraction, infections and decay prevention, and implants. However, there are preventive measures patients can take before they potentially find themselves sitting in their dentist’s chair — or mine.
1. Wisdom Tooth Extraction
Wisdom teeth tend to grow between the ages of 15 and 25, and sometimes later. On rare occasions, a patient may never experience irritation and therefore they do not have to get them removed within their lifetime. Before a patient comes in for an extraction though – the top reason they visit an oral surgeon – I will recommend pulling the teeth in their development rather than once they are fully grown in. This way, recovery time is shorter for the patient, and the surgery goes smoothly. Though there is no way to prevent wisdom teeth from growing in, removing them in their early stages will alleviate the potential of any pain.
There are many cases where a patient will wait too long to get their wisdom teeth extracted, causing oral health issues to arise, such as cysts, decay, or an infection. The second common reason patients will see an oral surgeon is to prevent the pathology of those issues. Once they’ve matured, however, they must be removed, but using good oral care products can protect the wisdom teeth in the meantime, to intercept further issues. I always recommend Better & Better toothpaste to my patients, especially Energy, which contains vitamins B12 and D3 for whole body health.
2. Facial Trauma (Like Jaw Fractures)
The second reason people end up in my chair is because of trauma to the face. The most common facial traumas I see are mandible fractures (fractures of the lower jaw). The approach to fixing a mandible fracture depends on many factors: the severity of the fracture, the presence or absence of teeth, the age of the patient, and other medical factors of the patient. The procedure can either be through the mouth or through the skin. Ultimately, we reduce and then fixate the fracture segments together with plates and screws. As OMF surgeons we frequently utilize a patient’s existing teeth to help fix the fracture.
One word of advice: wear a helmet to prevent accidents. Full facial helmets are always better! Proper wound care is essential — which includes brushing your teeth even if they are wired shut. When your face and mouth are at their most vulnerable, using a natural toothpaste free of potential irritants is key.
3. Dental Implants
The third reason people end up in my chair is for dental implants. In the last 20-25 years, there has been an increase in the number of implant surgeries to replace missing teeth — another common reason people see an oral surgeon. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, approximately 178 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth, and nearly 40 million individuals are missing all of their teeth!
There are various reasons one might need a replacement, such as an accident, by eating, or simply aging. As statistics show people are living longer, there are more people losing teeth and looking to invest in implants. Losing teeth due to aging is unpreventable, and accidents happen, but you can protect yourself from preventable tooth loss by using oral care products that promote gum and tooth health to enhance longevity and strength.
The Bottom Line
Due to lifestyle factors, aging, and the way our mouths are built, it can be difficult to impossible to prevent wisdom tooth extractions, facial trauma involving the teeth and jaw, and having to get a dental implant. But you can always avoid further complications (and a visit to my office) by practicing good dental hygiene: regular dental visits, brushing twice a day minimum, flossing regularly, and using an electric toothbrush (which has been proven to prevent cavities better than a traditional toothbrush). I love my Better & Better Bamboo Sonic Toothbrush with my Bamboo Travel Case, but as long as you use an electric toothbrush you are already on your way to better dental hygiene success!
Dr. Jaclyn Tomsic, MD, DMD, FACS, is a board-certified Oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMF) based out of Cleveland, OH. OMF involves extensive dental and medical education and training to achieve surgical expertise and an unparalleled understanding of esthetics. Being an OMF surgeon qualifies Dr. Tomsic to treat conditions, defects, injuries, and esthetic aspects of the mouth, teeth, jaw, and face. Learn more about Dr. Jacci on her website, and follow her on Instagram at @DoctorJacci.