Getting in a car accident can be especially traumatic if your teeth are affected. Not being able to bite, chew, and speak properly can affect your self-esteem as well as your overall health and your ability to work. Luckily, your dentist can use oral reconstructive surgery procedures to rebuild your smile and give you functional, attractive teeth once again. However, oral reconstructive surgery is usually a series of processes rather than a single surgical procedure. Here's a look at three procedures that your reconstructive surgery may involve.
If your teeth were knocked out of your mouth during the accident, there's a good chance damage was also done to your jaw bone. As a result, your bone may not be strong and secure enough to support a dental implant. Your dentist can correct this problem by grafting some cadaver bone into your jaw bone. Within a few weeks of the surgery, the grafted bone will integrate with your natural jaw bone, providing a stronger surface to support the implants.
If you need bone grafts, this will likely be the first stage of your oral reconstruction surgery. Your dentist will place the bone grafts, stitch up your gums, and then wait a few months for the bone grafts to integrate before proceeding with the next steps. While you are healing from bone graft surgery, your dentist may fit you with a temporary denture that fits over the gums and allows you to chew and smile.
Orthodontic treatments are not surgical, but they are an important part of many reconstructive processes. If you lost some but not all of your teeth during the accident, your dentist may need to move the teeth that are remaining in your mouth in order to make more space for the implants that will later be inserted.
Usually, braces will be used to re-position the teeth. You may only need to wear them for a few months since your dentist is just shifting a few teeth rather than re-orienting your whole bite. The braces may further limit what you are able to eat as your teeth are being treated. You will need to stick to soft, easily chewed foods. Keep in mind, however, that wearing the braces and undergoing the other reconstructive procedures now is necessary if you want to eat normally in the future.
Any missing teeth can generally be replaced by dental implants. The most common style of implant consists of a metal screw that is implanted directly into the jaw bone, along with a ceramic portion known as the crown, which looks like a regular tooth. If you are missing many teeth, your dentist may implant just one or two screws and use them to fix a whole row of false teeth into your mouth. This is sometimes called an "implant supported denture." But rest assured, unlike a standard denture, you do not have to take it out at night and put it back in each day.
Dental implants are typically placed in two stages once your bone grafts have healed. During the first procedure, the screws are implanted into your jaw. Once you've had a few months to heal, the crowns are added. Implants can last a lifetime, and you care for them just like natural teeth. Once you're healed, nobody will be able to tell that the teeth in your mouth are not natural.
Every reconstructive process is different. In order to tell which of these procedures must be used, your oral surgeon, someone from a place like Central PA Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons LLC will need to evaluate the condition of your teeth, gums, and bone structure post-accident. They should be able to give you a good idea of your own personal treatment timeline and the procedures involved.