What Are the Most Common Oral Surgeries?

Reviewed on 7/6/2022
A smiling senior man sitting in a chair at the dentist
The most common oral surgeries include wisdom teeth removal, dental implants, bone grafting, corrective jaw surgeries, and corrective jaw surgeries.

Oral surgery refers to surgical procedures performed on or near the mouth, teeth, gums, and jaw. If you have pain or other problems with your mouth or teeth, see your dentist for a proper diagnosis. 

Dentists treat teeth and gums (gingivae), the muscles and nerves of the head, neck, and jaws; the tongue; and the salivary glands. They can perform oral surgeries and also refer patients to dental specialists or physicians when needed.

Why Is Oral Surgery Performed?

There are several reasons for your dentist to recommend oral surgery.  The most common oral surgeries include: 

1. Wisdom teeth removal

Wisdom tooth removal is the most common dental surgery. An average person’s mouth does not have room for the two extra teeth in the back so they often need to be extracted. 

What to expect

  • To remove a wisdom tooth, patients are given a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area
  • For patients who are anxious, sometimes a sedative will be given before the procedure
  • If the tooth has already pushed through the gum, it may be pulled
  • If the tooth hasn't come through the gum, an incision will be made in the gum to access it and in some cases, a small piece of the bone covering the tooth may need to be removed 
  • The tooth may need to be cut into smaller parts in order to remove it through the opening 
  • The removal of the tooth may cause a pressure sensation, but there should be no pain because the area will be anesthetized
  • The procedure usually takes just a few minutes, though more complicated extractions can take over 20 minutes

2. Dental implants

When adults lose a tooth, they don’t grow any back, but missing teeth may be replaced with artificial copies.

What to expect 

  • A dentist will customize a new tooth for the patient (a dental crown) based on size, shape, color, and fit, designed to blend in with the rest of the teeth
  • Patients may be given a temporary crown, bridge, or denture to help with eating and speaking while they wait for the permanent replacement to be made
  • Once the implant is ready, metal or ceramic screw is surgically inserted into the jawbone
  • The bone around the implant heals and the bone grows around it (osseointegration), holding it in place, making dental implants strong
  • It can take several months for the implant to become completely integrated before replacement teeth are attached to the implant

3. Bone grafting

If a person loses a tooth and it is not taken care of, such as with a dental implant or other procedure, the jawbone under the empty spot will weaken or be reabsorbed over time, resulting in the bone no longer being strong enough to support a dental implant. Bone tissue has the ability to regenerate completely if provided the space into which it has to grow.

What to expect

  • In a bone grafting procedure, the missing bone is replaced with material from the patient′s own body, an artificial, synthetic, or natural substitute
  • This allows the area to be able to receive a dental implant

4. Corrective jaw surgeries

A badly aligned jawbone can make eating, speaking, and breathing difficulties. Once the jaw is aligned, tiny screws and plates hold the bone into position and become integrated with the patient’s bone over time. The extra bone may also be grafted if there is insufficient bone.

  • Upper jaw surgery (maxillary osteotomy) corrects a notably receded upper jaw, cross bite, too many or too few teeth showing, or can adjust an open bite
  • Lower jaw surgery (mandibular osteotomy) corrects a considerably receded lower jaw
    • The jawbone is moved forward or backward depending on the optimal adjustment and bite alignment
  • Chin surgery (genioplasty): A deficient chin may accompany a severely receded lower jaw, and the jaw and chin may be restructured during the same procedure

5. Surgeries for the mouth and facial trauma

Trauma to the face can include:

  • Ocular or orbital (bones surrounding the eyes) fracture
  • Fractured cheekbone, jaw, forehead, and/or nose
  • Dental injuries including broken or missing teeth
  • Fractures to the bone surrounding your teeth
  • Jaw dislocation and injuries
  • Jaw tumors
  • The nasal cavity or sinus obstruction
  • Palate injuries
  • Soft tissue injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, and tissue loss 

Surgery may include: 

  • Open reduction with internal fixation
  • Closed reduction surgery
  • Stitches and skin grafts

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What Are the Downsides of Dental Implants?

Disadvantages of dental implants

Downsides, or disadvantages, of dental implants, include:

  • Not everyone is a good candidate for this type of procedure
    • Implants require healthy bones
  • Dental implants can be expensive, as much as two to five times more than bridges and dentures
  • Not all insurance plans cover dental implants
  • The process of getting dental implants takes longer to complete than other options
  • Because it is a surgical procedure, there is a small risk of infection and disease
Reviewed on 7/6/2022

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