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While the removal of wisdom teeth is the most well-known type of oral surgery, there are many reasons why oral surgery may be required. For example, to:

  • Diagnose, repair, or treat serious conditions affecting a patient's teeth, palate, lips, jaw, or face
  • Alleviate problems due to obstructed sleep apnea, infections, or facial pain
  • Augment a treatment plan prescribed by a Dentist or Specialist
  • Repair maxillofacial region damage caused by a serious accident or injury

About Oral Surgeons

Oral Surgeons, also known as Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, are qualified Dentists who have completed an additional 4-6 years of surgical residencies. Their advanced education and training includes anesthesiology and the diagnosis and surgical treatment of defects, injuries, and diseases of the mouth, jaw, teeth, neck, gums, and other soft tissues of the head. An Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon will work closely with your Dentist to improve your oral health.

Warning Signs

Your Dentist may recommend that you or your child see an Oral Surgeon when:

  • A tooth is impacted. This means that a permanent (adult) tooth has not yet erupted from the bone but is moving into or pushing against an adjacent tooth. This commonly occurs with wisdom teeth.
  • A lesion, tumor or other tissue of the mouth or jaw requires biopsy or removal, or if oral cancer is suspected
  • A dental implant is required to replace a missing tooth or support a bridge
  • One or more teeth must be removed
  • A tooth breaks off at the gum line and it (or its root fragments) must be removed
  • Corrective surgery to soft tissues or bones in the maxillofacial region is needed
  • Diagnosis and treatment of infections in the maxillofacial region are needed
  • Facial pain exists, including pain suspected from TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disease)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea is suspected

Common Surgeries


After the application of anesthetic to the area, special tools are inserted between the tooth and gum that surrounds the tooth. The tooth is moved back and forth within its socket (the bone that encases the tooth's root) until it separates from the ligament that holds the tooth in place. Sometimes a tooth is cut into small pieces (sectioned) before it is removed.


The method for removing an impacted tooth will depend on how many roots it has and its location under your gum. Patient sedation is often used in addition to the application of an anesthetic to the impacted area.

A gum tissue flap is created to access bone tissue, and a small opening is made in the bone that covers the impacted tooth. The impacted tooth is then cut into small pieces (sectioned) and removed through the opening. The gum tissue flap is then repositioned and sutured in place.


Third molars, also called wisdom teeth, are the last set of permanent teeth to erupt in a person's mouth and are the ones least needed for good dental health. Wisdom teeth can endanger a patient's dental health when:

  • They erupt through your gum but your jaw is too small to hold them. As a result, they force other teeth out of alignment and can damage your bite.
  • They do not erupt through your gum and are not in a normal position. As a result, they crowd the roots of other teeth, force them out of alignment, and can damage your bite.

When your jaw is too small to accommodate normal wisdom teeth, gum or jaw discomfort and swelling often occur. In addition, there is a greater risk of developing gum disease.

Surgery to remove wisdom teeth is typically the best course of action. If a wisdom tooth has fully erupted through the gum, a standard tooth extraction is performed. If the tooth has not erupted through the gum, an impacted tooth extraction method is used.