Oral surgery is a means of taking care of your maxillofacial (face, mouth and jaw) region in a functional and/or aesthetic way. Having oral surgery is more involved than a teeth cleaning, dental sealant application, or a cavity filling, as it is a specialized and more complex type of dental care. In most cases a general dentist is unable to perform oral surgery, but an oral surgeon is able to both diagnose and treat whatever your problem may be.
Facial trauma is a common problem that would require surgery. Any injury to the face, mouth or jaw would be considered facial trauma. For example, fractures, jaw dislocation or teeth being knocked out would require immediate attention and oral surgery. Although these types of injuries tend to be more common among athletes, accidents happen. It is not a surprise to see issues arise from car wrecks or even a knocked out tooth on a playground.
In addition to facial trauma, poor hygiene and lack of proper tooth care, natural causes or even possibly stress are other contributing factors to the need for oral surgery. Poor hygiene often leads to tooth loss or gum recession. Natural causes (i.e. the growth of wisdom teeth) are unavoidable. Teeth grinding or clenching is many times caused by stress and may exacerbate TMJ problems. Sometimes people are even born with conditions that either immediately or eventually require oral surgery, for example, someone born with a cleft palate.
As with general dentistry, prevention is always best. Take good care of your teeth by brushing and flossing regularly. If you play sports, consider a mouth guard. Do what you can to prevent potential problems, but in the worst-case scenario find a good oral surgeon and they will take care of you. You may not be able to prevent an accident but you can do what’s best for your smile.