Questions to Ask Your OMS
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons (OMSs) undergo extensive education and surgical training to ensure they will be well-prepared to answer your oral health questions. It’s common for patients to feel nervous about oral healthcare, especially if surgery is involved. It can feel intimidating to ask a doctor questions, but your OMS is here to answer them for you. Following are some essential questions to start with – and types of answers to expect.
Diagnosis and Treatment Questions
- What is my diagnosis?
It may sound like a simple question, but it’s the best place to start. Ask your OMS to explain what the diagnosis means, and ask for clarification if you don’t understand.
- How can I expect my condition to impact my daily life?
A lot of health issues related to the face, mouth and jaw impact a patient’s daily life. Before having surgery, it is good to discuss how a procedure can impact your life versus having your condition left untreated.
- Are there nonsurgical treatment options? Should I be considering surgery now?
Some common oral and maxillofacial procedures – such as removing impacted wisdom teeth and placing dental implants – often are recommended office-based surgical treatments. However, surgery is not always the first step for conditions such as TMJ disorders or obstructive sleep apnea. Your life is unique, and it’s essential to ask your OMS whether surgery may be right for you.
- Will I need surgery later in life?
While you may not require surgery now, conditions such as impacted wisdom teeth can lead to significant troubles later. If you are considering non-invasive options or simply avoiding surgery for now, you should ask whether surgery is likely months or years down the line. Risks may also be different if the surgery is done later; this may affect your decision-making.
- What are the benefits of surgery? How long will they last?
It is important to know all the ways you will benefit from surgery and whether surgery is a permanent solution or if future surgeries may be necessary.
- What are the costs of treatment?
Health and dental insurance is often complicated. Always speak to your OMS and insurance provider about the financial costs.
- What kind of anesthesia will be used?
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained in the use of anesthesia and can inform you of the risks and potential side effects. Anesthesia may be administered as a local anesthetic, moderate or deep sedation or general anesthesia. Each comes with its own risks and benefits.
- What should I do to prepare?
Depending on the procedure, patients may need to skip a meal or avoid eating and drinking entirely for a set number of hours beforehand. You also may need to have bloodwork done and could be asked to avoid specific medications. Some patients may need to consult with their primary physician.
- Is this an outpatient surgery? Will I need a ride home?
It’s important to have concrete answers to logistical questions so you can arrange for transportation and care after surgery.
- How will the surgery be performed?
Some patients love to know exactly what will be done during surgery, while others might prefer to avoid the specific details. Be sure to ask for at least a general summary of the procedure.
- Will I need to fill any prescriptions?
Although you may not need any prescriptions until after surgery, it’s often easier to have them waiting for you, if that is an option. Discuss the logistics with your surgeon and whoever will be caring for you after surgery.
- What should I expect within 24 hours of surgery? Under what conditions should I call my OMS?
Even the most routine surgery can require special care. It’s important to know what to expect immediately after surgery and potential warning signs that you may need additional care. Some of these include: fever, bleeding, unexpected swelling or pain that exceeds expected levels or duration.
- How long will it take before I can resume normal activities?
After many oral surgeries, it is recommended to have a tapered return to everyday life – with limitations on eating, drinking and physical exertion. Even the most common surgery may have special requirements for you, a unique patient. Be sure to ask your OMS about recovery timelines.
- What can I do to help with recovery?
It’s important to follow your OMS’s guidelines for recovery, but it never hurts to ask if there is anything else you can do to accelerate recovery. Some patients may be able to take extra time off work to reduce stress and promote healing, for instance.
- Should I schedule a follow-up appointment?
Depending on the surgery, you may have one or more follow-up appointments to ensure you are healing well.
Find an OMS Near You
Now that you know what to ask to take control of your oral healthcare, find an OMS to answer your questions and help make decisions.