An OMS – also known as oral and maxillofacial surgeon – is the surgical expert of the dental profession. The extensive education and training, surgical expertise and understanding of esthetics and function qualify OMSs to treat diseases, defects, injuries and esthetic aspects of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
The first time many people interact with an OMS is to develop a plan for wisdom teeth management, but this is just one aspect of the broad scope of an OMS practice.
The result of such extensive training is a surgeon who is prepared to:
- Manage diseases of the teeth and their surrounding tissues.
- Extract infected, impacted or diseased teeth, such as wisdom teeth.
- Place dental implants.
- Perform surgery to assist orthodontics.
- Treat facial trauma , including lacerations and other facial injuries.
- Perform corrective jaw surgery to reconstruct inadequate structures.
- Diagnose and surgically treat pathology and cancers of the head, neck and mouth.
- Perform cleft lip / palate surgery.
- Serve as a member of the sleep team to help treat obstructive sleep apnea.
- Treat TMJ disorders and facial pain.
- Perform facial cosmetic procedures.
OMSs manage common conditions such as impacted wisdom teeth and the surgical placement of dental implants.
Wisdom Teeth: Understanding the wisdom behind wisdom teeth management:
Wisdom teeth, clinically known as 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."
Wisdom Teeth Growth
Wisdom teeth are easier to remove when the patient is younger since their roots are not completely formed, the surrounding bone is softer and there is less chance of damaging nearby nerves or other structures. Removal of wisdom teeth at a later age becomes more complicated as the roots have fully developed (and may involve the nerve), and the jawbone is denser.
What is an impacted wisdom tooth?
When a tooth doesn’t fully erupt into the mouth, it is usually impacted and unable to break completely through the gums because there isn’t enough room.
An impacted wisdom tooth can damage neighboring teeth or lead to infection. Because these areas of the mouth are difficult to clean, a wisdom tooth can develop a cavity or collect bacteria leading to gum disease. Oral bacteria can travel through your bloodstream and potentially lead to infections and illnesses affecting your heart and other organs. In some cases, a cyst or tumor can form around the impacted tooth, which can lead to more serious problems, including damage to adjacent teeth or other surrounding structures.
Generally, a wisdom tooth should be removed if it presents with:
- Dental pain
- Poor oral hygiene
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Cysts, tumors or other pathology
- Damage to neighboring teeth
Dental Implants: The long-term solution to your missing teeth
More people are getting dental implants to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are a long-term solution because they are imbedded in your jawbone – just like your natural teeth. They even go your natural teeth one better since they can't develop cavities. Plus, unlike fixed bridges or removable dentures, dental implants will not affect neighboring healthy teeth or lead to bone loss in the jaw. If properly cared for, dental implants can last a lifetime.
Components of a Dental Implant:
- Titanium implant
- The abutment
- The crown
Benefits of Dental Implants:
- No diet restrictions.
- Bone preservation because implants are imbedded into the jaw, preventing bone loss.
- Do not affect neighboring teeth.
- Look like natural teeth.
- No day-to-day frustrations or discomfort from ill-fitting dentures.
- Dental implants can last a lifetime! On average, bridges and dentures need to be replaced every 7 to 15 years.
To learn more and find an oral and facial surgeon in your area, visit MyOMS.org.
The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) represents more than 9,000 oral and maxillofacial surgeons in the United States, supporting specialized education, research and advocacy. AAOMS fellows and members comply with rigorous continuing education requirements and submit to periodic office anesthesia evaluations to ensure that office procedures and personnel meet stringent national standards.
The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is provided to help you communicate effectively when you seek the advice of your oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
© American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) 2022
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