Jaw surgery refers to any kind of surgery that involves the upper or lower jawbone. In dentistry, jaw surgery is typically either a pre-requisite for a procedure or a step in the process of a procedure.
Jaw surgery is often performed in the dentist’s office and the patient is usually able to leave the clinic on his or her feet, although not able to drive. It involves the use of anesthesia to avoid pain and there may be discomfort after the surgery. Sometimes, painkillers will be given for the patient to use after the anesthesia has worn off.
Preparation for jaw surgery will greatly depend on the purpose of the surgery. In some cases, little to no preparation is needed, while with some surgeries, the patient will need to modify his or her diet, medications, and other factors before surgery. Here are the most common types of procedures that involve jaw surgery.
1. Tooth Extractions
Sadly, in cases of extreme damage or infection, it may not be possible to save a tooth. In these cases, the tooth must be pulled out before it infects or damages the other teeth, or in order to insert a replacement. Anesthesia allows patients to undergo extractions with much less pain and generally does not require the patient to prepare before the surgery. Bleeding after surgery usually stops after 24 hours and total recovery is expected within a few days.
2. Dental Implants
Dental implants are routinely considered the best replacements for lost teeth. They typically involve at least two surgeries, although the second one is much less invasive. During the first surgery, the dentist removes the remains of the lost tooth, if any, and inserts the implant. During the second, he or she places a type of crown on top of the implant. This procedure requires more preparation and the patient will have to wait a few weeks or even months between surgeries to allow the implant to integrate with the bone of the jaw. There might be some necessary changes in lifestyle, the most important one being that the patient needs to stop smoking since smoking can cause infections during the procedure.
3. All-on-4 Solutions
These solutions, including the variations All-on-6 and All-on-8, are also based on dental implants, except that they are attached to a bridge that supports the replacement teeth. The bridge is mounted on 4 (or more) dental implants. The surgery for these procedures is very similar to the one for a single implant.
4. Bone Grafts
Bone grafts are sometimes a pre-requisite for dental implants or All-on-4 solutions. When there is not enough jawbone to support an implant, bone from another part of the body is used, typically from the chin. In very rare cases, the bone needs to come from the hip, in which case the surgery needs to take place in a hospital. This surgery is not usually done at the same time as the insertion of the implants, although some patients prefer to have both of them done at the same time.
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