February 3, 2010

Dentoalveolar Surgery

Dentoalveolar Surgery: The Basics

Dentoalveolar surgery is a special type of oral work. Unlike ordinary dental surgery, which is done to help restore teeth and help patients with things like crowns and bridges, this type of work helps with diseases that involve the teeth, jaw, and nearby tissues.

The name comes from the word “alveolus.” This is the part of the jaw in which the teeth are set. You may need this type of work if your gum tissue is damaged by misplaced or impacted teeth.

Tooth Extraction

The standard dentoalveolar procedure is a tooth extraction. This is most often due to impacted wisdom teeth or “third molars.” Teeth that are “impacted” may have failed to emerge from the gum tissue. On the other hand, they may have only broken through it, but only in part.

Wisdom teeth are more likely to have this problem than are your other teeth. This is because the jaw is often not large enough to permit these teeth to break through the gums fully or, if they do break through, to allow for proper tooth placement.

To extract an impacted wisdom or other type of tooth, the dentist or oral surgeon cuts through both hard and soft tissue. She does this so she can reach and sever the tissue that holds the tooth to the jaw. A local anesthetic helps to stop this work from causing pain for the patient. Swelling and some discomfort will follow the procedure, for which the dentist may prescribe a painkiller.

Other Forms of Dentoalveolar Surgery

This type of surgery can be done to treat the tissues that surround and support the teeth, to remove a cyst, to do a biopsy, or to treat an infection. The first type often takes the form of preprosthetic oral surgery. For instance, it may be done to prepare a patient for dentures by sculpting their gum tissue and bone ridge so the dentures will fit properly. In some cases, this work may also involve skin grafts or the removal of extra bone.

Speak with your dentist or an oral surgeon to learn more.

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