Oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS or OMFS) specializes in treating many diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral (mouth) and maxillofacial (jaws and face) region.
It is an internationally recognized surgical specialty. In countries such as the UK, and most of Europe, it is recognized as both a specialty of medicine and dentistry, and a dual degree in medicine and dentistry is compulsory.
Dento-alveolar surgery involves that part of the jaws (the alveolus) that contains or has contained teeth. This surgery is either undertaken under general anaesthesia in a hospital, or in a clinic under local anaesthesia, with or without sedation.
Surgery to align the jaws, also known as Orthognathic surgery, is used to treat problems associated with overgrowth, undergrowth, disproportion and asymmetry of the jaws and facial skeleton.
In Australia, by far the most common cancers of all affect the skin due to exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Cancers arising in the mouth, jaws and neck make up around 2% of all cancers diagnosed annually. Many of these are linked to smoking tobacco however a small proportion are associated with viruses (such as Human Papilloma Virus- HPV) similar to those that cause cervical cancer in women.
Dental implants are used to replace missing teeth in the jaws. The reasons for losing teeth can be varied, but no matter what the cause, their loss can impact on both appearance and function.
Implants are titanium “screws” that are place in the upper or lower jaws to act as supports to which individual or multiple teeth can be attached. They can also be used to connect to dentures to increase their stability. The implants fuse to the bone, in a process called “osseointegration”, which can take 2-6 months to occur after placement. In some cases, teeth can be placed on the implants as soon as they are inserted, but often, a healing period is needed to allow osseointegration before the teeth are attached to the implant.
In most cases, the provision of implants is a team effort, with your Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon placing the implant in the bone, and then a restorative dentist or specialist prosthodontist fitting the final teeth. In some cases, additional bone may be needed prior to or during the implant placement, and your surgeon will discuss this with you during the planning stages of the procedure.
Facial injuries may involve the soft and hard tissues of the forehead, eye sockets, nose and jaws. They commonly present to emergency departments throughout Australia and New Zealand usually from assaults, sporting injuries, falls and motor vehicle accidents. Such injuries may range from major traumatic deformities requiring reconstructive operations with hospital admission, to minor injuries to the mouth and tooth-supporting structures that may be managed in the emergency department or in an outpatient setting.
A cleft lip and/or a cleft palate can occur during the early stages of pregnancy, when either the tissue of the upper lip or the tissue of the roof of the mouth do not form and join correctly, resulting in a split or gap that is called a ‘cleft’. For a cleft lip, there may be a gap or opening in the upper lip either on one or both sides, which may spread to the nose. Clefts may also involve the upper jaw (alveolus). Clefts may be unilateral (one side) or bilateral (both sides).