Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates

Preventing Oral Cancer

While we cannot all necessarily prevent cancer from happening, with most cancers, including oral, head and neck cancers, there are things that you can do (or not do!) to reduce your risk.

  • Preventing-Oral-CancerQuit Smoking: After five years of quitting smoking, your risk of oral cancer is cut down to just half of that of a smoker.
  • Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use is the second largest risk factor for oral cancer. Limit drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
  • HPV Vaccine: HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer (the back of the mouth and throat). HPV is also responsible for a small number of oral cavity cancers (the mouth).
  • Self-Exams: Be an advocate for your own health by regularly examining your mouth with a mirror and flashlight. Don’t forget to look under the tongue! Watch for unusual bumps, patches, different coloring, and report any to us that don’t heal within 14 days. Feel your lips, cheeks, throat and neck for unusual bumps and masses. There are a number of online guides for performing a thorough at home oral cancer self-exam.
  • Have Regular Checkups: Oral health professionals such as dentists and oral surgeons are the second line of defense (after you) in terms of screening for oral cancers. Be sure to ask us any questions that come up during your exam.
  • Eat Well: A healthy diet includes plentiful vegetables and fruits, is low in sugar and saturated fats, and includes lean sources of protein and whole grains. Incorporate new foods into your diet slowly for long lasting results.
  • Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day or more!
  • Get Adequate Sleep and Minimize Stress: A lack of sleep and stress both contribute to inflammation which has long been recognized as a player in the cancer game.

 


Dental Implants: What’s All The Hype?

These days, we all know someone who has a dental implant, and you have probably heard us champion these teeth substitutes, as they become more and more the common cure for missing teeth!

Dental Implants What's all the HypeBut why?

We think that’s a valid question and it deserves a good answer!

Bone Loss
Any oral health professional will tell you that living with a missing tooth can have negative consequences that go well below the gum line. The problem doesn’t stop at the single tooth that goes missing. The jawbone also suffers. When there is not a tooth set in the jawbone offering regular stimulation, you lose bone mass in that area. That loss of jawbone contributes to a decline in facial aesthetics as the jaw shrinks away. The loss of jawbone also means that when you do have an implant later in life, you will likely require extensive bone grafting prior to the implant procedure. Traditional tooth “replacement” methods such as dentures and bridges do not solve the problem of bone loss.

In contrast, dental implants eliminate these problems and encourage a healthy, strong and adequate jaw by integrating with it (also known as: osseointegration). The implant then provides regular stimulation (as you chew food), and keeps the jawbone in proper health.

Lifestyle and Diet
Most people with dentures report that in addition to living in fear of their dentures falling out in social settings, they also must live with a restricted diet, unable to enjoy the foods that they previously ate. This same restricted diet goes for those with wobbly bridges and crowns as well. More often than not, those restricted foods are some of the healthiest ones, such as crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Dental implants look and feel nearly identical to your regular teeth, and are second only to your natural teeth when it comes to form and function. Dental implants allow you to eat and live freely with a healthy diet and without fear. In addition to that, dental implants have a 98% success rate and can often last you for a lifetime!


Facts About Modern Bone Grafting

Did you know that with today’s modern techniques, bone grafting is now considered a routine treatment? A bone graft can fix a variety of facial and dental problems and may be required in some cases. If you’ve been told in the past that you’re not an ideal candidate for getting a tooth implant, call us to ask about how a sinus graft makes it possible for many of our patients to receive dental implants. Here are a few things you should know if you’re thinking about getting a dental implant or think a bone graft could help you.

Facts About Modern Bone GraftingIt’s a routine procedure!

Bone grafting has become a standard practice. Depending on the quantity and quality of jawbone, most procedures take place in our office and we use local anesthesia or conscience sedation to relieve any anxiety.

Bone loss has been virtually eliminated!

The only reason our jaws have the amount of the bone that they do is because of the presence of existing teeth. Complicated procedures were developed in the past to attempt to rebuild jaws that had atrophied due to missing teeth and disuse but with the modernization of bone grafting and dental implants, we can prevent jawbone atrophy all together.

There are a variety of materials that can be used.

The bone grafting material you need could come from a variety of sources. Generally, we use bone taken from your hip, jaw, or lower knee but today we have the ability to grow bone where needed or obtain bone from a tissue bank. We also use special membranes to help protect the bone graft and encourage bone regeneration.

Bone grafting allows your body to rebuild itself.

The human body uses most bone grafting materials as a frame on which it can grow new bone. Over time the graft material will be replaced with new bone through your body’s own process of bone regeneration. Maintaining a healthy amount of bone tissue around your teeth is crucial in keeping up your oral health.

If you have a missing tooth, congenital defect, or have had a traumatic jaw injury, and you’re wondering whether you may need bone grafting, give us a call. We can answer your questions, and present the treatment options that are best in your individual situation.


Weighing the Costs of Dental Implants

When compared to the costs of other tooth replacement options, boy do dental implants seem expensive! Yet you may be surprised to learn that, in the long run, dental implants can be more affordable than their traditional counterparts. Understanding this procedure and the factors that determine the costs can help you decide if dental implants are a good investment for you!

Weighing Costs Implants 2What is a Dental Implant? A dental implant is a permanent replacement for lost teeth. It is made of an artificial tooth firmly held in place by a tooth root made of titanium (which is biocompatible) that is surgically placed into your jaw. Dental implants help stabilize the jaw and the bone around it to avoid future bone loss and maintain the shape of your jaw. They never have to be removed and feel more natural and comfortable than dentures. And unlike bridges or crowns, which are cemented in, the chances of slippage or shifting are eliminated. With implants, talking and eating become worry free.

Steps In a Dental Implant Procedure. We will first use extensive imaging to determine bone health, height, and thickness to assess your bone and teeth structure carefully. The surgery itself is done in our office in separate stages. First, the implant is surgically placed into your jawbone, completely hidden within your gum tissue. Once the implant has integrated into your bone, a healing process of about 4 to 6 months, the next stage is the placement of the abutment, or the post that penetrates the gum and will connect the replacement tooth to the implant. The final stage involves attaching your artificial tooth (made from impressions of your natural tooth) to the abutment. If more than one tooth is being replaced, a removable bridge is used, as it is more affordable than implanting each tooth separately. For a bridge, it takes only one implant on either side to span an area holding several teeth. The bridge snaps into place for a more permanent and natural fit than dentures.

Factors That Affect the Cost. While dental implant surgery is a safe and routine option, it is a complex procedure that takes time and expertise to be done effectively. There are many factors that will influence the final costs including what X-ray and CT scans are necessary to evaluate and assess the implant area and the brand and material of the post, abutment and artificial teeth. However, the biggest cost factor is the complexity of the surgery itself. For example, how many teeth are we replacing and what is the location? Will additional procedures, such as bone grafting or sinus elevation be required? We do our best to make sure that your estimate includes all of the possible costs of each of the steps of your procedure.

While dental implants may seem expensive, they are often more affordable in the long run than traditional restoration methods such as crowns and bridges, which are more vulnerable to damage and usually require repairs or replacement every few years.

Dental implants are known to have a 95% success rate when completed by professionals with the right experience and training, such as us! Because dental implants offer a permanent solution, are natural and comfortable, and require little maintenance, they are a cost effective choice for most of our patients.


Grow Your Own Bone? Bone Grafting Is Routine

It seems like something out of a science fiction movie, but with our help, you can easily re-grow bone to treat many common disorders in the mouth and make it dental-implant ready! Bone grafting is a common procedure done right in our office. Here is a simple explanation of this effective treatment option.

GrowYourOwnBoneReasons for Bone Grafting. There are many different reasons that a person loses bone support in the jaw. Sometimes it is due to injury, sometimes it because of missing teeth, and other times it is a due to a developmental defect or periodontitis. Bone graft surgery, also called regenerative surgery, is used to replace bone and soft tissue by actually stimulating the body’s natural ability to re-grow the lost tissue.   If your jawbone is inadequate to support dental implants, bone grafting can be used to build a sturdy foundation for implant-supported teeth.

It’s A Natural Process. With bone grafting surgery, a piece of bone is removed from another area of your jaw or your body, often the hip, and is transplanted into your jawbone. Sometimes we may use donor or synthetic graft material. Your body uses the implanted bone graft material as a frame on which it can grow new bone. Over time and with your body’s own healing mechanisms, the grafted bone fuses and becomes an integrated part of your existing bone. Bone grafting is a safe and very successful procedure that can be done in the office under local anesthesia. After the procedure, you will be given antibiotics and pain medication if needed. Swelling can be treated with ice packs applied to your face. Most patients proceed with their normal life the next day. Be sure to follow medication instructions and keep your mouth as clean as possible while you heal.

Healing Times. Healing time following bone grafting depends on the amount of bone loss and the location of the graft area. Maintaining a healthy amount of bone tissue around your teeth is crucial to keeping up your oral health. We are more than happy to explain different materials and techniques that can be used for an optimal outcome.

Bone grafting allows your body to rebuild itself. It can be a great way to restore your natural jaw line and smile. Let us help you decide if bone grafting is the right procedure for you!


Oral Cancer Self-Screening: Why Everybody’s Doing It (Or Should Be)

Oral cancer has a bad reputation for being more deadly than some other forms of cancer that you hear of more commonly. We are here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Oral cancer goes unnoticed, not because it is difficult to see or feel, but because the idea of regular oral cancer screenings (either at home or in our office) is rather new. It simply has not been on the public health radar until now.

Oral-Cancer-Self-ScreeningThat is why we want to get the word out, and we need your help! Examining the neck, throat and oral cavity is a relatively simple task when compared to other parts of the body such as internal organs. Early diagnosis leads to better prognosis!

We recommend that once a month, you give yourself the following exam. It should only take 2-3 minutes and could save your life, or the life of a loved one!

First, a word about the ever-changing mouth: We know that many patients avoid self-exams because the mouth is one area of the body that has constant change going on. For example, you may have a recent burn, bite or cold sore and probably don’t want to bother us every time you notice these things! That is why we offer this rule of thumb: any suspicious area that is not better after 14 days should be brought to our attention.

How to perform an Oral Cancer Self Exam:

  1. Use a mirror and a bright light.
  2. Remove dentures.
  3. Look and feel lips and front of gums. Grasp lips with your thumb and forefinger and feel for lumps.
  4. Tilt your head back and inspect the roof of your mouth
  5. Pull your cheek out to see the inside surface and gums in the rear.
  6. Pull out your tongue and look at all surfaces.
  7. Feel your neck and under the lower jaw for enlarged lymph nodes, swelling or lumps.

What are you looking for?

  1. White patches
  2. Red Patches
  3. Combination of red and white patches
  4. Sores
  5. Abnormal lumps or thickening
  6. Chronic sore throat/hoarseness
  7. Difficulty chewing/swallowing
  8. Masses or lumps in the neck

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

It’s estimated that 125 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. If you are one of them, you may be considering dental implants for tooth replacement. We think it’s important for you to know what factors make a person a good candidate for such a procedure. Here are a few things to consider.

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants2Most People Are Good Candidates. Dental implants can replace one, several, or all of your teeth. They can be used in place of bridges or dentures. Good candidates have healthy gums and are old enough so that their jawbone has stopped growing. You should also have enough bone to support and anchor the implants. Even if you have lost bone in your jaw, however, you may still be a good candidate for implants. In fact, dental implants may be recommended to prevent further bone loss. In these situations, bone can actually be rebuilt with grafting procedures as part of the implant process.

Evaluation. Successful implantation starts with a thorough evaluation of your jaw, teeth, mouth and overall health. You will receive a mouth X-ray and possibly a Computed Tomography (CT) scan. This will help us identify areas of bone loss and carefully see the shape of your sinuses and nerve location to make accurate assessments for your treatment. We will also do a thorough medical evaluation, as your overall health and history plays a big role in how well your implant will heal and fuse to the bone.

People At Risk of Poor Outcomes. Uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, radiation to the jaws, smoking, alcoholism, or uncontrolled gum disease are all risk factors that can adversely affect your outcome. You may still be a good candidate with one of these diseases, but we’ll want to thoroughly assess your situation and work with you and your doctor to increase your overall health and functioning. People who take certain medications, such as steroids or drugs that suppress the immune system may not be suitable candidates, either. And people with certain habits, such as people who severely grind or clench their teeth may put too much pressure on the implants, causing long term damage.

Overall, dental implants have a very high rate of success and patients tell us how happy they are with the outcome. If you are considering implants, we can complete a careful examination to determine what options are best suited for you. Call us today to make that appointment!


Wisdom Teeth: What do I Really Need to Know?

For the majority of people, the removal of their wisdom teeth is just another part of growing up. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy part! A combination of frightening stories from friends and false rumors online have may have you feeling anxious about your upcoming procedure. So we’d like to set the record straight and put your mind at ease.

Wisdom teethHere is what you really need to know about wisdom teeth:

  1. If you ignore them, there will be more (pain, that is).

Despite their name, it is not a smart idea to refuse surgery and live with your wisdom teeth. Most wisdom teeth are asymmetrical (they don’t grow evenly) which can cause complications. Asymmetric wisdom teeth have a high chance of developing gum disease and infections, which can become life threatening if not treated.

  1. Patience is not a virtue.

As wisdom teeth generally form roots during the teenage years, it is better to have them removed during that time. Waiting until you are 30 or 40 can increase the chance of them rupturing a nerve, leading to a longer and more complicated recovery.

  1. I scream for ice cream!

We recommend that you only ingest liquids for a day after the procedure. Ice cream, pudding and smoothies are all great choices (without straws). Softer foods are advised for the rest of the week, so make sure to stock up on pasta, eggs and mashed potatoes! And remember: NO straws during your recovery period.

  1. No pain, plenty to gain.

Thanks to anesthesia and/or laughing gas, your wisdom tooth extraction will be painless. However, most of our patients do experience some sort of discomfort in the days following the surgery, so we will suggest methods and medications to help with that while you are in our office.

  1. Rest is the best!

Post-removal recovery depends on the patient, but most people do not resume work for four-to-five days. Patients are also advised to not exercise vigorously or play any sort of wind instrument for a week.


Osseointegration: Big Word, Simple Concept!

Was this word the invention of an evil doctor who loves long and complicated words? No! Osseointegration actually derives from the Greek osteon, bone and the Latin integrare, to make whole. It’s a physical process that was first observed by Swedish researchers in the 1960’s and refers to the functional connection between a titanium implant and living bone. Simply put, without osseointegration, dental implants wouldn’t work!

osseointegrationOsseointegration is a natural process: When the titanium dental implant connects to bone cells, it is locked into the jawbone, forming a solid bond. While the process is natural, the implementation isn’t simple. Implant healing times and initial stability depend on implant characteristics and to a large extent on your doctor! We have ample experience in placing dental implants and therefore can ensure that you receive the best care and outcome when it comes to implant surgery and the healing process.

The first evidence of the bone bonding with the implant occurs after a few weeks, while a more robust connection progresses over the next months or years. The osseointegration process will make the implant resistant to external shocks over time, but it can still be damaged from trauma or poor care.

The benefits of dental implants can’t be overstated! Not only do they give you a fully functioning bite back, they also prevent your jawbone from deteriorating and protect your facial profile.

Give us a call if you have questions about the dental implant process!