Your tooth has been bothering you for weeks. Now the pain has become unbearable. Maybe your jaw has been sore lately. Or you lost a tooth recently.
Is a trip to the dentist enough? What if you need to see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon? How do you know?
Talk to Your Dentist First
If you have problems with your teeth, gums, or jaws, go see your dentist, even if the pain is in the area around your mouth or face.
If it’s an emergency and a dentist is not available, head to an urgent care clinic rather than the ER. It's best, though, to try to avoid both if possible. They will only administer medication for the symptoms and tell you to see a dentist. They may also charge 3 to 4 times what it may cost to solve the problem. Your dentist can handle most oral problems. If he thinks you need an oral surgeon, he’ll recommend one.
The Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon
If your dentist recommends maxillofacial surgery, he’s talking about a specialty of dentistry that relates to your face and jaws. It’s a surgery that treats disease and injuries of the areas around your mouth.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must complete extra training and education beyond what is normal for a dentist. Some get a medical degree (an MD) along with their oral surgery diplomas. They put in at least 4 years of training in a hospital-based surgical program alongside medical residents in many different specialties, including anesthesia. That includes various types of IV sedation, including "twilight sleep" and general anesthesia, where you're unconscious and can't feel any pain. It can also include local anesthesia, where only a small area of your body is numbed for your procedure.
An oral surgeon can help you out of several situations.
Impacted teeth: This mostly happens with wisdom teeth. But it can happen in other places in your mouth, too.
When the teeth come through the gums for the first time, it might be crowded, so they either don’t come out at all or don’t come out completely. This can cause sore gums and infections.