Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates

Dental Implants: What to Expect

If you have been considering dental implant surgery, you might be concerned about what to expect. Questions such as: “Will I need to take time off of work?”, “Will I need bone grafting?” and “How quickly will I heal?” are not uncommon. We get that you’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers.

Dental Implants-What to ExpectPlacing a dental implant is a process that is different for each patient. The healing process and the steps required all depend on what’s going on in your mouth. The only way to know exactly what to expect is to consult with us at our office, but we’d be happy to give you an overview here:

Can I go back to work right away?
You may have read that it can take months to completely heal from a dental implant procedure. This is true, but a little misleading. Many patients are able to return to work the next day, but the mouth takes time to truly be ‘good as new’. It all depends on your specific procedure. We recommend that you plan to rest for a day. Keep in mind that your body will heal faster if you avoid exhausting yourself. If you take good care of yourself, you should be back to work very quickly.

How can I care for myself while I heal?
After the surgery, you will need to go easy on your mouth. Just like after any oral surgery, we recommend eating only soft foods for at least two weeks. You may be given antibiotics and instructions to rinse with salt water. Keeping your mouth clean is important to prevent infection. Avoid smoking.

About Bone Grafting
It may be the case that your bone is not strong enough to support the implant. In this case, bone grafting may be necessary. During this routine procedure, we take bone from a stronger part of your jaw or another part of your body, implant it into the jaw and are thus able to encourage your body to begin growing strong, new bone in its place. If you only need a small amount of bone, it may be possible to do the procedure during the same appointment as your implant surgery. However, it may be the case that you need to wait for bone growth to occur prior to us placing the implant. Every case is different.

Let us properly inform you on what you personally can expect! Schedule an appointment today!


How to Check Yourself for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is serious business. The good news is that you can do something about it. Regular self-examinations may help you pick up on warning signs in time to act on them. Oral health professionals are experts on mouths, but the only expert on you is YOU. If you notice something strange going on in your mouth, contacting a professional at our office is your best mode of action.

How to Check Yourself for Oral CancerThe first and most important thing to remember is oral cancer is often painless! The second rule to remember is that if you aren’t sure, ask! Its better to ask now and be sure than to wish you had asked. There are no dumb questions when it comes to looking for oral cancer. And, most importantly: any suspicious area that doesn’t resolve on its own in 14 days should be checked out ASAP.

The key to eliminating oral cancer is to act on it early. Here are some things to check regularly.

Your Tongue
Look for lumps and bumps on the upper and lower surfaces of your tongue. Feel around for odd textures, bumps, discoloration or swelling. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth to peek underneath. Don’t limit your search to the red flags above. Use your fingers and your vision.

Your Cheeks
Gently feel your cheeks for bumps and swelling. You can do this by placing your finger on the interior and your thumb outside your cheek. Lightly squeeze and feel around for anomalies.

Your Lips
Take a good look at the interior of your lips with a hand mirror. Keep an eye out for the same signs. Lips are harder to be sure about because they are constantly drying, wetting, and being scraped as we eat and speak. Nonetheless, lips are prone to cancer given that they re always exposed to sunlight. Better safe than sorry.

Your Head/Neck Area
Closely examine your head and neck for lumps and protrusions. A bump or lack of uniformity is absolutely worth checking out. Ask us at your next visit to check out your throat too. Keep an eye out for sensitivity and soreness.

With oral cancer, the key is to keep your eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Anything that seems strange is worth noting and calling our office about.

Call your dentist for a checkup!


Dental Implants: FAQ

Dental implants are becoming more and more popular these days, and we can see why. The ability to replace a missing tooth with a brand new one is an attractive concept.

Dental Implant FAQWe know that people often have questions about implants, so we have put together this page to answer those common questions:

What is a dental implant?
Implants are artificial teeth that function exactly like your natural teeth. We take a titanium screw, attach it to your jaw, allow the jaw to grow around the screw, and then fit the new tooth in right where the old one used to be. It will feel exactly like your old tooth used to when you had it.

How quick is the procedure?
It depends on just how strong and healthy your jaw is. Your jaw may very well be ready to receive the new tooth quickly, but it may also take time to grow around the screw. If your jaw is weak, we can also transplant bone from other parts of your body first, via another procedure called “bone grafting”, to grow a fresh, strong base where the screw can be inserted. If that is the case, the whole process takes more time, but again, it depends on your case.

Does it hurt?
No. Medications and anesthesia are available to reduce or eliminate pain. You shouldn’t feel a thing.

Since it’s an artificial tooth, do I need to care for it as if it were alive?
You should clean and maintain your implant exactly like you do with your living teeth. Though the implant isn’t going to die, it can still allow bacteria to build up, like your other teeth do. Clean all of your teeth with care, and they should all stay healthy.

How long do they last?
If your implant is taken good care of, it should last a long, long time. Perhaps 40 years and sometimes even a lifetime!

What should I eat after the procedure?
Eat soft food. We will help you decide on a diet that works for you depending on the specifics of your case and treatment.

Have more questions? Call us! We would be glad to set up an evaluation.


The Miracle of Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is something of a miracle. Although you only get one set of bones, it’s actually possible to convince your body to repair itself with new bone material where you need it most. We aren’t talking about growing a whole femur. We’re talking about growing just enough bone material to strengthen weak spots in your jaw.

The Miracle of Bone GraftingWhy would I ever need this?
Let’s say you need a dental implant. You’re sick of that hole in your mouth where one of your teeth used to be, and you’re ready for a shiny new tooth to fill the gap. The problem is, your bone just isn’t strong enough to support the implant. Maybe you have periodontal disease, and the jaw bone is just too weak. Bone grafting may be necessary.

How does it work?
Simply put, bone grafting is the process of taking a little bone material from another site in your body and placing it where it is most needed. The healthy bone then fuses with the weak bone and encourages your body to grow more bone in the site, rebuilding the area to the point where it can support an implant.

There are a few ways to do this.
Sophisticated sounding terms to impress your friends:

  • Autogenous bone graft: Bone is removed from another site in your body and transplanted to where you need it. If you need just a little bone, it can be taken from another site in your mouth. But if there is not enough good material in your mouth, or you need a sizable amount, it can be taken from your hip, or your shin.
  • Allograft: Synthetic bone can be grown in a lab, or taken from a cadaver bone. This is a perfectly safe, proven procedure, though your best bet is always your own bone material. Your body knows there’s just no place like home.
  • Xenograft: Cow bone. Yes. Your body will accept cow bone. In this scenario, no secondary donor site is needed, so it may be a great option if you are uncomfortable with having bone taken from another site in your body. This is a perfectly safe procedure. Your jaw can be beefed up with bovine bone.

No online article will let you know for sure whether or not you need bone grafting, but it is good to know something about it. Give us a call and come on down for a consultation, and we’ll let you know exactly what we think the best option is for you.


What is Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is a procedure, or set of procedures, that make corrections to the jaw. The jaw serves many functions. It isn’t just for chewing. A healthy jaw also plays an important role in your speech, ability to sleep well, as well as maintain a proper bite, airflow, and facial symmetry.

What is Orthognatic SurgeryYour jaw can be misaligned for a number of reasons. Perhaps you suffered an injury that wasn’t corrected properly. Maybe things just grew that way. It may very well be that a slight misalignment is no issue, but it’s worth giving us a call to find out just how severe your misalignment is, and what it means for your health.

Reasons to ask about jaw surgery:

Unexplained Pain
Sometimes, unexplained pain elsewhere in the body is caused by the activities of your jaws. Your headaches and even neck pain may be the result of excessive pressure in your jaw due to grinding or bite issues.

Air Flow
The position of your jaw can also restrict air flow while you sleep. Misaligned jaws are a common cause of sleep apnea. It could very well be that your fatigue and stamina issues stem from a misaligned jaw.

Mechanical Problems
If you have trouble chewing, meeting your lips together or can see a visible imbalance in your appearance, it may be that you have jaw misalignment issues that can be corrected with surgery. It is also worth noting that a great deal of jaw issues cannot be detected by looking in the mirror, but we think it’s a good place to start.

A Common Treatment Plan:

Your treatment plan will depend on your needs, but for a major jaw correction we often start with braces to move teeth into a better position, and then surgically correct the position of your jaw. This happens after a consensus is made between your family dentist, a maxillofacial surgeon an orthodontist and yourself.

Surgery is done under anesthesia, so you won’t feel a thing while the procedure occurs.

Afterward, you’ll be given a schedule to modify your diet, activity, and be given medication so as to heal as soon as possible

Contact us for a consultation to see if corrective jaw surgery is for you!


4 Surprising Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

4-Surprising-Signs-of-TMJ-DisordersCommon symptoms of Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder such as jaw pain, clicking or popping of the jaw and clenching are well known, but did you know that you can experience symptoms of TMJ disorders throughout your whole body? TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose when your symptoms are not restricted to the jaw area, so to make diagnosis easier we’ve listed some symptoms you might be surprised to find out are related to TMJ disorders!

  1. Earache: Because the jaw muscles run from ear to ear, TMJ related jaw pain can also trigger ear pain, which is often mistaken for an ear infection. The pain actually doesn’t come from the ear at all, but originates directly beneath or in front of the ear.
  2. Neck pain: The temporomandibular joint plays a major role in keeping the head balanced on top of the spinal chord. The head weighs roughly 8 pounds, but bad posture due to joint misalignment causes this weight to be distributed unevenly, putting added stress on the neck and spine and causing the head to have a 30-pound pull on your muscles. No wonder neck and back pain are symptoms of TMJ disorders!
  3. Pinched nerves: When TMJ alignment is skewed, your muscles overwork themselves to compensate for the imbalance. The back is prone to TMJ related pain, as it becomes strained in order to maintain the body’s balance. This tension can lead to numbness in your extremities, so if you’re experiencing any tingling sensations in your arms, legs, fingers or toes, it could be a sign of a TMJ disorder.
  4. Obstructed airways: The tongue is attached to the lower jaw, so the position of the tongue in the mouth depends on your jaw alignment. Misalignment of the lower jaw could cause your tongue to sit too far back in the mouth and obstruct your airways. If your breathing feels abnormal, especially while sleeping, a TMJ disorder could be the culprit.

We hope that reading about these lesser-known symptoms will answer some of your questions about TMJ disorders. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with us to learn about your treatment options!


6 Reasons for Considering Dental Implants

6 Reasons-for-Considering-Dental-ImplantsLoss of permanent teeth is more common than you’d think. The average adult age 20-34 is missing 1 permanent tooth, the average adult age 35-49 is missing 3 permanent teeth, and the average adult over the age of 50 is missing 6 permanent teeth! There are a variety of different tooth replacement options, but we believe that dental implants offer the most success, with the best aesthetics and functionality. Take a look at just a few of the many benefits of dental implants!

  1. Long-lasting. Dental implants are designed to be the permanent solution for missing teeth. Dental bridges last 5-10 years and crowns last 10-15 years, but dental implants can last 20 years, even a lifetime with proper dental care, making them a cost-efficient alternative to other modes of tooth replacement.
  2. No cavities. Because they are made of titanium, dental implants are not subject to decay. They also don’t put stress on other teeth, which helps avoid tooth erosion.
  3. Like natural teeth. Dental implants are natural-looking and fully functional. Unlike dentures, which are bulky and removable, cause sores and require the application of adhesive, dental implants are comfortable, permanent fixtures that don’t interfere with eating or speaking. And, because pressure is applied to the jaw bone when you bite down on dental implants, chewing with dental implants doesn’t feel any different from chewing with your natural teeth.
  4. Preserve jaw bone. Without a tooth to support, the jaw bone begins to atrophy, and this bone degradation makes the replacement of missing teeth nearly impossible without the help of jaw regenerative procedures such as bone grafting.
  5. Appearance. Your teeth play an important role in supporting your facial structure. Missing teeth can cause your features to sag and your face to lose shape, which tends to have an aging effect. Replacing missing teeth works wonders for improving your appearance and helping you look younger.
  6. Tooth stability. When you’re missing a tooth, your surrounding teeth are no longer stabilized and they start to shift out of position. Dental implants secure teeth in place and, as a result, prevent severe problems such as periodontal disease and further tooth loss.

Schedule a consultation with us if you’re ready to transform your smile!


Understanding Bone Grafting

Understanding-Bone-GraftingTooth loss as a result of periodontal (gum) disease, facial trauma or tooth extractions can cause the jaw bone to atrophy, as it no longer has something to support. As if bone deterioration isn’t bad enough, tooth replacement requires a solid foundation, meaning that patients with jawbone degeneration aren’t candidates for dental implants. Fortunately, our state-of-the-art restorative techniques allow us to augment areas with inadequate bone structure so we can restore your smile! We have the answers to all your bone grafting questions below, so keep reading!

What is bone grafting?
During a bone grafting procedure, the jawbone is restored so it can support a dental implant. An incision is made in the gum and the bone graft material is transplanted into the jawbone. There are four types of bone grafts:

  1. Autogenous: bone grafts are harvested from other parts of your body, such as the chin or hip. They are the most effective because using your own living cells promotes natural bone growth.
  2. Allogenic: bone grafts are donor grafts collected from tissue banks.
  3. Xenogenic: bone grafts are harvested from other species, typically bovine donors.
  4. Synthetic: bone grafts are artificial bone material composed of calcium phosphates

When is bone grafting necessary?
Bone grafting procedures are routinely performed in preparation for dental implants. This is due to the fact that the implants are unable to anchor themselves into a stable foundation unless the jawbone is adequate.

How long after bone grafting can I get dental implants?
Minor bone grafting can be done the same day as dental implants, but major bone grafting requires downtime between procedures. Dental implants will be placed 4-9 months after your bone grafting procedure once the major bone grafts have had time to fuse with your natural jawbone. We will decide the best time to place your dental implants based on your recovery.

Give us a call if you think bone grafting can get you on track to replace missing teeth for natural, lasting, functional results!


Wisdom Teeth FAQs

Our patients often wonder why we recommend wisdom tooth extractions, or what the purpose of wisdom teeth even is. We are eager to help you better understand the benefits of removal and the extraction process! Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions about those tricky third molars.

Wisdom-Tooth-FAQWhy do we have wisdom teeth?
Human ancestors used their wisdom teeth to grind up food that was hard to digest. They had large jaws and powerful teeth with plenty of room for a third set of molars.

Modern humans, however, eat cooked foods and have a more effective digestive system, so we have evolved smaller jaws and teeth. This means less room in our mouths for wisdom teeth.

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed? 
There are several reasons why you may benefit from having your wisdom teeth extracted, as wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term and long-term complications.

  • Impaction: If there is not enough room for your wisdom teeth to erupt, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. You may experience pain or discomfort while eating due to impaction.
  • Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can push against your second molars, potentially damaging them and making them more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Disease: Narrowed spaces between molars due to impaction also allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at risk of inflammation, cysts, and periodontal (gum) disease.

When should I get my wisdom teeth out? 
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, which means that many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. The longer you wait, the more complications may arise. The roots of your wisdom teeth continue growing as you get older and may eventually come in contact with a nerve. At this point, nerve damage is a possible outcome of wisdom tooth extraction.

When are wisdom teeth okay to keep?
Sometimes, wisdom teeth have room to erupt healthily and do not need to be extracted. If this is the case, your dentist may recommend you keep your third molars.

Make sure you are coming in for regular check ups so our team can keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Consult with our practice about the right course of action for your wisdom teeth, because everyone’s teeth are different.


10 Facts About Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgery, as with any operation, is a very serious matter, one that takes careful thought by both the patient and the doctor. If you have been considering jaw surgery but aren’t sure what to do, you may want to take into account some of these interesting facts:

  1. 10 Facts About Jaw SurgeryIn Latin, “orthognathic” means to straighten (“ortho”) the jaws (“gnathia”).
  2. The goal of reconstructive jaw surgery is to improve the bite and function. However, many patients also experience an improvement in appearance and speech after surgery!
  3. Misalignment of the jaws can be caused by birth defects, injuries or because the upper or lower jaw have grown at different rates.
  4. Aligning your jaws can also save your teeth by minimizing excessive wear and tear.
  5. Jaw surgery is sometimes used to improve TMJ symptoms and provide relief for sleep apnea.
  6. Jaw surgery can even improve “gummy” or “toothless” smiles!
  7. An orthodontist can straighten teeth. So if your bite or smile is crooked because of the position of your teeth, an orthodontist can treat you. However, if your bite is off because of the position of your jaws, only an oral surgeon can thoroughly remedy the situation. We work with your orthodontist before and after surgery for a comprehensive approach to your bite and smile.
  8. Some patients require a hospital stay for a few days, however the average patient returns home the day of surgery.
  9. The time range for returning to school or work post-surgery is 1-3 weeks.
  10. Healing is usually complete within 9-12 months.