Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates

What are the signs of oral cancer?

At your regular dental hygiene appointments, typically, the dentist drops in and takes a look at your teeth and mouth. One of the things the dentist is looking for during these exams is signs of oral cancer. If any of those signs are discovered, you may be referred to the oral surgeon for biopsy and diagnosis.

You don’t have to wait until your next dental appointment to have an examination for oral cancer. The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (known as AAOMS) recommends self-exam as a key to early detection, and it is something you can easily do yourself. Just as you would call your dentist if you get a toothache, contact your dentist if you notice any signs of oral cancer.

When completing an oral self-exam, look for the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Red patches (erythroplakia)
  2. White patches (leukoplakia)
  3. Red and White patches (erythroleukoplakia)
  4. Sores, especially ones that fail to heal or bleed easily
  5. Lumps or thickened tissue in the mouth or neck
  6. Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  7. Chronic sore throat or hoarseness

Remember, just because your dentist has referred you to the oral surgeon for further diagnosis, it does not necessarily mean that you will have a positive cancer diagnosis. Many patients seen by the oral surgeon don’t require biopsy, and many patients that do require biopsy are not diagnosed with cancer. Even if these signs and symptoms don’t end in a cancer diagnosis, they can still signal a serious medical condition that needs treatment and should not be ignored.

Each year an estimated 49,750 new oral cancer cases are diagnosed, and early detection is the key to treatment and survival.

This information and more can be found at www.MyOMS.org/OralCancerAwareness


Increase your dental dictionary: Impacted Tooth

Have you ever been told by your dentist that you have an impacted tooth? If so, it was most likely in reference to a wisdom tooth, known as a third molar, although other teeth can be impacted as well. Some patients know they have impacted teeth because they have pain, while other patients may not have symptoms and won’t know about these teeth until a dentist diagnoses them on a routine x-ray.

What is an impacted tooth?

Simply put, an impacted tooth is a tooth that is unable to erupt from the gum. Usually, a tooth is unable to erupt because there is not enough space, which is why you might be referred to an oral surgeon to have those teeth extracted. The pain you may feel from these impacted teeth is typically caused by the teeth attempting to erupt.

Why was I told my tooth is impacted? I can see it coming through the gum.

There are different levels of impacted teeth. You could have fully impacted teeth, meaning they are completely under the gum with no exposure. You might also have partially impacted teeth, meaning they have erupted somewhat but not completely. Sometimes these partially erupted teeth are angled towards and pushing on the teeth in front of them, which can cause pain and possibly damage to those teeth. In other cases, these teeth may be erupting straight but are not able to erupt to the same height as your other teeth. These teeth can be very hard to brush and are susceptible to cavities.

Do my impacted teeth need to be removed?

One of the many reasons to see your general dentist for regular checkups is that he or she will monitor impacted teeth. Especially in the case of wisdom teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may want you to get impacted teeth removed before those teeth develop symptoms. Sometimes, they may advise leaving an impacted tooth in place and only removing it if it becomes symptomatic.

You may think that everyone has wisdom teeth removed when they are younger, but oral surgeons treat impacted wisdom teeth in adults of all ages.


Can brushing my teeth prevent a heart attack?

February is American Heart Month, and while it might seem like oral health and heart health are not connected, this is not the case. Many studies have shown links between gum disease(periodontitis) and heart disease.

Now, this does not necessarily mean that bad oral health causes heart attacks. It means there is a correlation between the two. What does the correlation between oral health and heart health mean for us? Gum disease appears to worsen blood pressure and interferes with medications to treat hypertension. As well, certain heart valve infections can be associated with poor oral health. In addition, an overwhelming connection has been made between patients with good oral health and low heart attack rates.

If you notice bleeding gums, dental pain, or loose teeth, it might be a sign that your oral health is not optimal. So, what can you do to combat this risk? See your dentist twice a year! Make sure you provide the dentist with a complete medical history and a list of medications being taken. In addition, The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes with fluoride toothpaste and to floss regularly.


No Teeth? No Problem!

Are missing teeth causing you difficulty, discomfort or embarrassment? Don’t worry – we have all the facts about tooth replacement treatments and the effectiveness of dental implants as a long-term solution for missing teeth.
What are dental implants? No Teeth No Problem
Dental implants are replacement teeth made of titanium. They are composed of an artificial crown attached to a screw that is surgically implanted into the jaw for stability. Implants are an effective treatment for missing teeth because they maintain the strength of the jaw.
There are a few alternative treatment options, some more lasting than others:

Flippers are temporary, removable plastic teeth. They are attached to a retainer for easy removal. Flippers are one of the most cost efficient tooth replacement methods; however, they are the least durable alternatives to dental implants and are considered short-term solutions until a more lasting treatment can be performed.

Fixed bridges literally “bridge” gaps caused by one or more missing teeth. A dental bridge consists of a false tooth, called a pontic, and two abutment teeth, which are crowns that anchor the bridge to the teeth on either side of the gap. Abutment teeth can be secured to both natural teeth and dental implants; however, anchoring them to natural teeth can cause damage.

Dentures are a common treatment for individuals missing all their teeth in one or both of their jaws. They are made of a removable frame that holds an entire set of teeth.

Removable partial dentures are removable frames that hold a partial set of teeth rather than a full set of teeth. This option is often considered for individuals who are missing some but not all of their teeth in one or both jaws.

Why choose dental implants?
Implants are the longest lasting treatment for missing teeth. With proper care, dental implants can last up to ten years or longer. Because they are surgically anchored into the jawbone, they function like natural teeth.


Modern Options for Bone Grafting Technology

Bones, grafting, or any combination of the two are rarely the subject of casual conversation. Most of us, regardless of our profession, are happier discussing recent football scores, the price of gasoline, or the abnormally high number of Dunkin Doughnut franchise locations. Perhaps for it is for this very reason, however, that we should bring up this important topic–to raise awareness, maximize modern technology, and inform the public about the options offered in terms of dental implant surgery.  ModernOptionsForBoneGraftingTechnology

Bone grafting for dental implants is the process by which bone tissue is placed (grafted) into the mouth to act as a placeholder for tissue that has been lost. In the modern medical landscape this is a safe, painless, and routine process: indeed, more than two million bone-grafting operations occur worldwide each year, making bone the second most transplanted organ (after blood!).

As well as natural bone tissue, synthetic tissue is an alternative for patients seeking the best results. Structured as a ‘biodegradable scaffold’ that can be implanted within the body and trigger bone regeneration, this strong, flexible material has been compared to tire rubber! Dr. Karin Hing, author of the study and reader in Biomedical Materials at Queen Mary’s University of London Institute of Bioengineering stated that the challenge being tackled currently is the development of a graft that is as clever as bone. By mechanically evaluating the way bone adapts to its environment and reacts to chemical and physical components, progress is taking place in leaps and bounds.

What does this mean for the average person who just wants to be happy with their mouth? Comfortable outpatient procedures complete with local anesthesia or intravenous sedation make bone grafting a sensible and worry-free choice. Browse our procedures page for more information on maximizing your resources!


World Blood Donor Day: Blood Connects Us All

Safe blood supplies are a scarce commodity – especially in developing countries. Despite about 108 million yearly blood donations worldwide, safe blood is constantly on high demand!

World Blood Donor Day, celebrated every 14th of June, aims to encourage people to give blood and save lives without asking for anything in return. Blood is the most precious gift that anyone can give to another person — the gift of life. A decision to donate your blood can save a life, or even several if your blood is separated into its components; cells, platelets and plasma.

Blog, Blood Connects Us All

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these are some key facts on blood availability worldwide:

  • Of the 108 million blood donations collected globally, approximately half of these are collected in the high-income countries, home to 18% of the world’s population. This shows an increase of almost 25% from 80 million donations collected in 2004.
  • In low-income countries, up to 65% of blood transfusions are given to children under 5 years of age; whereas in high-income countries, the most frequently transfused patient group is over 65 years of age, accounting for up to 76% of all transfusions.
  • Blood donation rate in high-income countries is 36.8 donations per 1000 population; 11.7 donations in middle-income and 3.9 donations in low-income countries.
  • An increase of 8.6 million blood donations from voluntary unpaid donors has been reported from 2004 to 2012. In total, 73 countries collect over 90% of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors; however, 72 countries collect more than 50% of their blood supply from family/replacement or paid donors.

This year, the WHO and World Blood Donor Day aims to do the following:

  • Thank blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood.
  • Generate public awareness for the need for regular, unpaid blood donation, and inspire those who have not yet donated blood to start donating, particularly young people in good health.
  • Promote and highlight the need to share life by donating blood.
  • Focus attention on blood services as a community service, and the importance of community participation for a sufficient, safe and sustainable blood supply in your community, and globally.
  • Persuade ministries of health to show their appreciation to regular voluntary unpaid donors, and commit to self-sufficiency in safe blood and blood products based on 100% voluntary, unpaid donations.

This June 14th get involved, donate blood- save a life. Follow the link and find a blood drive near you!


Dental Implants: High Tech Teeth

What are dental implants? Dental implants are replacement tooth roots that provide a foundation for both fixed and removable replacement teeth. Like roots, dental implants are secured within the jawbone and not visible once surgically placed. Teeth replacement is not new to dental technology. Early civilizations practiced teeth replacements; archaeologists have discovered skulls where teeth have been replaced by cast iron and sea shells. Despite their primitive methods, some of these implants were fused with bone like modern dental implants! However, unlike the ancient cast iron or sea shell implants, modern implants are composed of titanium. Titanium is lightweight, strong, and biocompatible. Dental Implants-High Tech Teeth

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device — 98%. Dental implants are available in several designs that meet individual needs: single tooth replacement, multiple tooth replacement, implant supported prosthesis (removable), and an implant stabilized denture. Aside from meeting individual needs, there are a few other advantages to having dental implants:

  1. Improved appearance. Dental implants are designed to fuse with bone, and look and feel like your natural teeth.
  2. Improved comfort. Because dental implants become an extension of your natural mouth, implants remove the discomfort associated with removable dentures.
  3. Easier eating. Dental implants act as your natural teeth, allowing you to eat without the pain and discomfort that often accompany slipping of dentures.
  4. Improved self-esteem. Dental implants give your best natural smiling, helping build self-confidence!
  5. Improved oral health. Dental implants are the only proven way to prevent bone loss after the loss of natural teeth. The jawbone needs consistent chewing action to stimulate continual bone growth. Tooth/teeth replacement with dental implants offers a solution to prevent bone loss.
  6. With proper care, consistent brushing, flossing and routine dental visits, dental implants can last 40-years to life.

If you are interested in dental implants, or have any questions regarding the procedure, call the office today!


How Many Wisdom Teeth Do You Have?

Wisdom tooth removal has become somewhat of a rite of passage – puffy-cheeked post-extraction photos, a diet of Jell-O and mashed potatoes. But not everyone gets their wisdom teeth taken out. In fact, not everyone has wisdom teeth at all! Have you ever wondered why some people have four wisdom teeth while others have fewer or even none? We’ve got the facts behind how many wisdom teeth people have and why! ??????

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Third molars, or wisdom teeth, were once very useful to our ancestors. Because prehistoric man’s diet of hard-to-chew plants and uncooked meat required powerful chewing muscles, our ancestors’ jaws were large enough to fit 32 teeth, not just 28. Now that humans have evolved a better means of chewing and digesting our food, we no longer have large jaws, so we simply have no need or no room for wisdom teeth. Many scientists believe humans are currently evolving third molar hypodontia, or the lack of wisdom teeth, due to their inability to develop in the first place.

How many people have wisdom teeth?

About 20-25% of the human population is born with 1 to 3 wisdom teeth, and 35% is born without any wisdom teeth at all.

Why do some people have wisdom teeth and some don’t?

There are a few reasons why scientists believe that not everyone develops wisdom teeth:

  1. Genetics: Some evidence suggests that a genetic mutation occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago, causing some people to be born without wisdom teeth.
  2. Environment: Percentages of people who develop wisdom teeth varies from culture to culture. Certain ethnic groups are known for low percentages of wisdom teeth development, while others are known for high percentages. Environmental factors during dental development are also a possible explanation.

Will wisdom teeth become obsolete?

With the number of people lacking wisdom teeth steadily growing, it’s possible that we could someday completely evolve to not develop wisdom teeth at all. Scientists have experimented with chemically preventing the development of wisdom teeth.  Researchers have found that children ages 2-6 that are given local anesthesia for dental work have a higher chance of not developing wisdom teeth later on. Maybe in the future, simple injections at a young age will keep all of us from having to go through wisdom tooth extraction!


The Benefits of Jaw Surgery

As doctors, we always weigh the risks and benefits of any procedure or medication therapy. One of the most significant procedures that we perform in our office is orthognathic surgery, more commonly known as “jaw surgery”. The Benefits Jaw Surgery

Orthognathic surgery has the ability to enhance a patient’s life, giving him or her the comfort needed to eat properly and, often, the freedom from pain. Because the decision to have jaw surgery is such a serious one, we would like to take a moment to look at the positive side of the procedure in this blog, focusing on the benefits of orthognathic surgery:

  • Pain Relief – There are several reasons that a person may experience jaw pain bad enough to warrant orthognathic surgery. They may have unnecessarily been causing excessive wear and tear in the joints over many years and living with constant inflammation. Correcting the alignment of the jaws through surgery is sometimes the only way to set the jaw back on the correct path, reducing strain and therefore pain. Another common scenario occurs with injury to the jaw, often from trauma caused by car and sports accidents. If the jaw is knocked too far out of place or suffers significant trauma, it may not heal on its own and may require resetting through a surgical procedure. These two situations represent occasions where the benefits of orthognathic surgery far outweigh the risks.
  • Regular Eating Patterns – A misaligned jaw can make it difficult to chew and swallow, particularly if your teeth do not line up correctly. Often, braces are not enough to correct the alignment issues with the teeth and the jaw itself must be altered. Sometimes, patients don’t even know that they are working too hard to chew because they are used to it always having been that way. Once their bite is corrected through surgery, they are pleasantly surprised to find a significant enhancement in their quality of life.
  • Better Overall Health – The health of your body starts in your mouth. Proper nutrition is key to everything from longevity to happiness. Whether your jaws are misaligned from injury or genetics – if your bite is significantly affected, your nutritional habits may be as well, and orthognathic surgery may be the best option for getting your health back on track.

On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer screenings are performed regularly at dental exams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your dental hygiene between appointments. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to maintain your oral health. Not sure how to screen for oral cancer? We’ll show you! On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

What is oral pathology?
This branch of dentistry involves the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the mouth. The most dangerous, but not always the most obvious, of these diseases is oral cancer.
What should I look for?
Keep an eye out for these oral cancer symptoms during your self-screenings:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Lumps on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Chronic throat soreness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Mouth numbness

How do I perform an oral cancer self-exam?

  1. When performing your oral cancer self-screening, be sure to check all areas of the mouth, including the roof, floor, tongue, lips, cheeks and the back of your throat.
  2. Examine your face in the mirror for abnormal asymmetry and irregularities.
  3. Feel your neck and the back of your head with your fingers to look for any bumps or changes in texture.
  4. Examine your throat by placing your fingers around your thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) and swallowing.

How often should I perform a self-exam?
Self-exams should be performed at least once a month. Changes to your oral health can occur rapidly, so it’s important to stay on top of things. Treatment is most effective if we detect symptoms early.
Ask us about performing an oral cancer screening when you visit – we’re here to ease your mind and give you the tools you need to maintain your health!