If you’re like most people, you probably make every effort to visit the dentist for routine check-ups and tooth cleanings at least once each year. In fact, the latest reports show that almost 70 percent of Americans see their dentists for preventative maintenance and basic procedures once or twice per year. That being said, not all dental services fall into the category of routine procedures. Some people require more in-depth care, such as dental surgeries. Those procedures are a bit more complex than x-rays, cleanings, and simple extractions, but they’re just as important to oral health as all the less invasive measures.
1) Surgical Extractions
Millions of people have cracked, broken, chipped, or severely decayed teeth extracted each year. Though procedures are available to repair dental damage, some teeth just can’t be saved. Extracting those unsalvageable teeth eliminates endless pain and misery and helps prevent decay from spreading to the surrounding healthy teeth. In cases where the teeth have sharp or jagged edges, extracting them prevents injury to the tongue and other soft tissues in the mouth.
Having said all that, extractions aren’t always as simple as pulling a damaged tooth. Surgical extractions that involve cutting into the gums to safely and effectively remove a damaged tooth are sometimes required. Some examples of those situations are when a tooth has broken off below the gumline and when a tooth’s roots have unusual curvature.
2) Root Canal Procedures
Root canal procedures are among the most common types of dental surgeries. Extraction is generally a last resort. In many cases, a local dental surgeon can save a broken or infected tooth by performing a root canal. In this type of procedure, the dentist drills into the infected tooth and removes the affected soft tissues within. Then, he or she disinfects the interior of the tooth, fills it in, and places a crown over it to prevent further damage and infections. These measures eliminate pain, bacteria, and other issues without having to extract the tooth altogether.
3) Dental Implant Surgery
Millions of people are missing several or all of their teeth. Many solutions are available for replacing those teeth, such as dentures, partials, and bridges. Dental implants offer a more permanent alternative to those options. In dental implant surgery, a dentist inserts titanium posts into the gums and jawbones. After allowing the gums to heal and the jawbones to fuse with those posts, the dentist places crowns on the implants. The crowns look and function just like natural teeth. While the implants themselves are designed to last a lifetime as long as the gums and jawbones remain healthy, the crowns may need to be replaced after 15 years or so.
Maintaining Oral Health with Surgical Procedures
Though the concept of dental surgery may sound a bit unnerving, the actual procedures aren’t quite as frightening as many people think. They offer a solution for dental issues that can’t be resolved by simpler means and keep patients from suffering through chronic pain and other problems. While most people experience slight pain after these procedures, healing periods are generally brief, and the long-term results are well worth the short-lived discomfort.