Impacted Teeth

Impacted Teeth: What You Need to Know for Successful Removal and Recovery

Impacted teeth are pretty common, and happen with a tooth that doesn’t grow out, or erupt, naturally continues growing under the gum instead. While the most common impacted teeth are wisdom teeth, other teeth can be blocked from erupting properly as well.

If you have an impacted tooth, your dentist will recommend that you see a specialist for removal or assisted eruption. You’ll need to consult an experienced oral surgeon to ensure the success of the procedure and full, quick recovery. Here are a few things you need to know about treating impacted teeth.

 

Impacted Teeth: How Common Are They?

Studies show that up to 35% of people experience an impacted tooth, with wisdom teeth being the most common by far. Usually, these teeth don’t fully emerge due to a lack of space in the jaw or because they grow in at the wrong angle. In many cases, impacted teeth don’t cause any symptoms for some time. Your dentist is likely to discover the problem during a routine x-ray.

Besides wisdom teeth, other teeth can be impacted as well. The second most common impacted teeth are maxillary (upper jaw) canines. About 2% of the population needs surgery to uncover these teeth.

 

Symptoms of Impacted Teeth: Can You Feel Them?

While many people don’t notice any symptoms for quite a while, once the impacted tooth starts causing problems, you could experience:

  • Swollen or red gums
  • Tender and bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Problems opening your mouth
  • Jaw pain when biting and chewing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck

If the impacted tooth is erupting at an angle, it can also damage the nearby tooth, causing pain and inflammation.

An impacted wisdom tooth doesn’t affect your overall quality of life until it starts causing problems. Some people live with impacted wisdom teeth for decades without experiencing any discomfort.

If you have impacted or partially impacted maxillary canines, you may want to treat them to restore the aesthetic appeal of your mouth. Treating them requires a comprehensive approach by your dentist, oral surgeon, and orthodontist.

 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth Complications: Do You Need Treatment?

Besides physical discomfort, impacted and partially impacted wisdom teeth can cause a variety of problems if left untreated.

  • Pericoronitis — This is an inflammation of the gum tissue that surrounds the impacted tooth. Besides discomfort and a bad taste in your mouth, this condition can develop into more severe and painful symptoms.
  • Damage to nearby teeth — If an impacted wisdom tooth grows in at a wrong angle, it can push against the second molar. This could lead to damage or infection. Extensive pressure could also cause teeth crowding, which in turn would require orthodontic treatment.
  • Cysts — Wisdom teeth develop in a sac inside the jawbone. If a tooth doesn’t erupt, the sac can fill with fluid, which could result in a cyst. In rare cases, a benign tumor can develop. To deal with the problem, a surgeon may need to remove bone and tissue.
  • Caries — Partially impacted teeth are more likely to develop caries–or cavities–than fully erupted teeth. This is because tooth decay is more likely in areas of the mouth that are harder to clean.

All the above complications can be avoided with timely discovery and treatment of impacted teeth.

 

Treatments for Impacted Teeth

If your dentist discovers an impacted tooth during a routine x-ray, he or she will assess the severity and impact of the situation and either recommend waiting and monitoring the tooth, or seeing an oral surgeon whose treatments can include:

 

Surgical Removal

When an impacted wisdom tooth starts causing problems, you need to consult an oral surgeon. Surgical removal or extraction is a highly recommended solution for the problem of impacted wisdom teeth – for complicated extractions and for patient comfort, the procedure is usually done under general anesthesia – which means you can be asleep during the procedure.

Healing from an impacted tooth depends not only on the position of the tooth, but also on the age of the patient. As we age, our teeth ossify, or become, set into the jawbone, causing a longer healing time from an extraction procedure. Patients under the age of twenty-five usually heal more quickly from an extraction procedure as their teeth are not yet ossified. Keep in mind that everyone heals at a different pace, but typical healing times is 3-5 days of resting at home post-procedure. Pain management prescriptions may also be given depending on need and the patient’s medical profile.

 

Assisted Eruption

If it’s your maxillary canines that are impacted, the treatment usually requires a coordinated effort between your oral surgeon and orthodontist:

  • An oral surgeon cuts the gum to push it back and expose the impacted tooth. In some cases, the surgeon will also remove some of the bone surrounding the tooth’s crown.
  • An orthodontist attaches brackets and a chain to help move the tooth into its natural position.

The surgery is done under general or local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.

 

Working with an Experienced Oral Surgeon

If you think you have an impacted tooth, contact your dentist as soon as possible for a checkup and x-ray. Even if the tooth isn’t causing any discomfort, it needs regular monitoring.

If your dentist recommends surgical removal, you’ll need to consult an experienced oral surgeon. While common, both these procedures require extensive expertise in order to avoid complications and speed up the recovery process.
Contact us today for more information about surgical extraction or assisted eruption of impacted teeth.

Top 5 Tips for Recovering from Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is extremely common. From having your wisdom teeth removed to receiving dental implants, there are several types of oral surgeries you may need throughout your life. Although it’s normal to have minor discomfort after surgery, recovery is typically quick and stress-free. However, to reduce the chance of any complications after the procedure, there are some tips to keep in mind.

This article will explain five tips for getting back to normal after oral surgery.

1) Don’t Overexert Yourself

After your surgery ends, resting is essential. Following the procedure, make sure to take it easy for the remainder of the day. While most people can return to normal activities in 24 hours, you shouldn’t overexert yourself for the next week. It is best to avoid activities such as running, biking, or doing anything strenuous. If you lift something heavy or move in a particular position, this can dislodge a blood clot and cause bleeding.

For the rest of the day after surgery, make sure to limit activities that require concentration. Try to avoid driving a car, studying, or working. If you received a sedative for the procedure, concentrating on anything can be challenging. Resting is the best way to speed up the recovery process and limit the chance of any complications.

When resting, make sure to keep your head elevated, which will help with blood circulation. Try propping up your head with a few pillows before falling asleep.

2) Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

During your oral surgery recovery period, you’ll want to avoid anything that can disrupt the healing process, including drinking alcohol and using tobacco. It’s best to avoid these substances for at least a week following surgery. Using alcohol and tobacco can also cause excessive bleeding and increase the risk of infection. These issues can result in a great deal of pain and possibly more treatment.

As quitting these substances can be difficult, it’s essential to talk to your doctor if you need help. By limiting the use of alcohol and tobacco following surgery, you can experience a faster recovery.

3) Apply Ice

Icing the area following surgery is also essential. Once the healing process starts, you may have bruises or facial swelling. While these are entirely normal, applying ice can promote healing and limit pain. You’ll want to ice the area as directed for the next 24–48 hours following oral surgery.

Often, you’ll be instructed to apply ice to your jaw multiple times in that 24–48 hour period for the best results — for example, icing the area for 30 minutes, removing it for 15 minutes, then icing again for another 30 minutes. You’ll probably be asked to repeat these steps for at least 24 hours. If you had the procedure for both sides of your mouth, make sure to follow your oral surgeon’s directions about switching sides when applying ice. 

While applying ice is standard practice after oral surgery, it’s critical to follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They may recommend a specific process for applying ice.

4) Eat Soft Foods

As you’ll probably have some tenderness after oral surgery, it’s important to eat soft foods or drink liquid forms of nutrition. Not only will this be more comfortable, but it can also limit the chance of any complications. Make sure to avoid hard foods like candy, apples, or raw vegetables. You should also stay away from foods that are too cold, hot, or spicy. These can all irritate the area. 

Experts typically recommend consuming soft foods and drinks, such as applesauce, oatmeal, smoothies, and meal replacement shakes. However, make sure these aren’t too hot or cold. After about a week, you should be able to return to your regular diet. However, always refer to your oral surgeon’s guidance regarding what you should consume. If you notice sharp pain or discomfort after eating or drinking something, be sure to tell your surgeon.

5) Follow Your Oral Surgeon’s Instructions

Above all else, follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They will provide a detailed recovery plan based on the type of surgery you received. These instructions also depend on how the surgery played out, including your personal needs.

Your oral surgeon may encourage you to refrain from using mouthwash or brushing your teeth, as these can sometimes cause irritation and discomfort. On the other hand, they may recommend only avoiding the tender spots when brushing.

Rinsing with salt water is another standard oral surgery recovery tip. Rinsing with salt water helps reduce the chance of an infection. In addition, the salt speeds up recovery while also mitigating pain. Be sure to rinse with salt water every few hours and after eating meals for a week following surgery, if this is what is suggested by your oral surgeon. 

Another crucial tip is to follow your oral surgeon’s instructions regarding pain medication. People often take over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but your surgeon may also prescribe a more potent painkiller. Be sure to take these only as directed, and not to mix over-the-counter and prescription medications without your surgeon’s knowledge and approval.

Oral Surgery DC

If you’re looking for more oral surgery recovery tips or need an experienced oral surgeon in the Washington DC area, contact Oral Surgery DC today. Our surgeon, Tania Nkungula, DDS, and our team of skilled oral care professionals have years of experience in the industry.

Contact Oral Surgery DC today to learn more.

Making the Most of Your Smile: Healthy Habits that Protect Your Teeth

The benefits of good dental hygiene may start with a gorgeous smile, but they extend to promoting your confidence and your physical health on many levels. Good oral health helps make you feel great not only physically, but it also assists in making you feel good about yourself when you have a fresh smile. If your teeth aren’t taken care of properly, this can lead to a number of irritations and infections, some of which could cause serious medical issues if left untreated. However, practicing basic dental hygiene can increase your overall wellbeing and make your smile stand out.

Making the most of your smile with healthy habits to protect your teeth only takes a few minutes a day. Here’s how you can make your smile the healthiest –and most noticeable– in the room.

 

Start with the basics

To make the most of any smile, using basic dental practices like brushing your teeth daily can help prevent plaque build-up, which leads to cavities and potential gum disease. Depending on what toothpaste you use and what your dentist recommends, daily brushing can also help whiten your smile so that it looks nice and clean.

Using mouthwash to gargle with can also help reduce and kill harmful bacteria that may be lurking in hard to reach spots. This is great for preventing tooth decay and can get between your teeth and under your tongue.

 

Water pik vs. flossing

If you’ve heard the long-running debate on whether a water pik is better than flossing, we’ve got the answers for you. The truth is that both options are great and provide you with similar benefits.

Both flossing and a water pik help remove plaque. However, water piks are especially beneficial for people who wear braces, and for those who have non-removable bridgework, implants, or crownwork. Compared to flossing, a water pik enables people with braces or this type of dental work to still clean away bacteria and other particles since string flossing may be a little more difficult to maneuver.

The downside is that water piks are a little less accurate than regular flossing. With a water pik, you may not be able to get rid of all the plaque that’s settling on and around your teeth, and it can be a little messy when you’re first trying to figure out how to aim and what specific pressure level to use.

Flossing is a beneficial practice to build a habit out of because it allows you to work on each tooth in full, helping you thoroughly clean away bacteria and plaque before it turns into tartar.

Both options are great for removing plaque, and rather than choosing one over the other, utilizing both can ensure a clean and healthy smile.

 

Should I brush multiple times a day?

It’s true that brushing your teeth at least twice a day can prevent plaque build-up and the settling of bacteria. Plaque only needs 48 hours to fully harden, so brushing roughly an hour after eating a good meal is recommended as it doesn’t give bacteria the time to grow.

While brushing, ensure you’re using a toothbrush that’s less than 3-4 months old. Once a brush begins to have frayed bristles, it’s less accurate on keeping bacteria from growing and can be more harmful than good. Forgetting to replace your toothbrush regularly increases the likelihood you will be leaving plaque or bacteria behind.

 

Am I brushing too hard?

Finding the perfect balance in pressure when brushing can feel frustrating. You don’t want to lightly brush and miss out on removing dangerous bacteria, but you also don’t want to brush so hard that you damage your gums or cause bleeding. It’s recommended that you gently press your brush against the base of your teeth and the edges of your gums. As you brush, you can move side to side, up and down, and in circular motions to ensure you’re touching all areas. This isn’t only good for removing particles but it also helps encourage the blood circulation in your gums and around your teeth.

 

Foods to avoid

As much as we all have our guilty pleasures with food, some can be a nightmare for our teeth if consumed too frequently. From alcohol to candy, soda, and more, different foods and beverages contain acids that are harmful to our oral health. While indulging from time to time in your favorite treat is completely fine, you may want to avoid these foods if you’re trying to improve your dental health or have an oral infection you’re trying to treat.

Number one on the list to avoid? Acidic foods to avoid in large quantities, like:

  • Sour candies – Many sour candies are filled with acids and are chewy. When you eat them this leaves behind build-up on your teeth that can be more difficult to remove, often allowing sugar to erode your enamel and encourage tooth decay.
  • Bread – Believe it or not, when you’re chewing, your saliva breaks down the starches in bread and turns it into sugars that can increase plaque levels.
  • Oranges, grapefruits, and citrus-based products – These items are often rich in Vitamin C but their acid content erodes enamel, which makes your teeth more susceptible to decay.

There are various other foods, treats, and beverages you can limit your consumption of in order to improve the health of your smile.

Have questions or need a little extra help with your smile? We’re here to provide expert support and care? Contact us today for more advice on what you can do to make the most of your smile and improve your oral health.

 

Image Credits: Photo by Racool_studio on Freepik

Oral Surgery for Gum Disease: A Patient’s Guide

Oral Surgery for Gum Disease: A Patient’s Guide

Gum disease can be an uncomfortable and even painful condition. Non-destructive gum disease is called gingivitis and is caused by excess bacteria, which builds up as plaque on your teeth. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene but may also be due to mouth shape or illness. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can become periodontitis. This type of gum disease can eventually eat away at the teeth and even the surrounding bones. An oral surgeon may need to perform one or more procedures to get your oral health back on track in instances like these.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

One of the earliest signs of gum disease is bad breath. Bacteria build up in pockets around your teeth or under the gums. This bacteria, if left unchecked, multiplies and causes an unpleasant smell to emanate from your mouth.

Excess bacteria can also make your gums swell and become inflamed. You may notice that your gums seem redder than usual. They may be sore or soft to the touch. You may also detect blood when brushing your teeth.

As gum disease progresses, you may notice that your gums seem to recede or that your teeth seem longer or larger. It may also seem like your gums are pulling away from your teeth, creating even more gaps where bacteria can hide and spread.

You may also start to experience more intense pain if the inflammation or infection starts to damage the soft tissues or even your teeth.          

Preventing Gum Disease

The first line of defense against gum disease is oral hygiene. But, how do you know if your oral hygiene routine is up to par? Here are the steps you should be following every day to help prevent periodontitis or gingivitis:

  • Brush your teeth every morning as bacteria can spread while you sleep. 
  • Brush your teeth every night to remove food particles and acids that build up during the day.
  • Floss daily to remove food particles and bacteria from between the teeth.
  • Use mouthwash if you can, ideally an antibacterial version.
  • If you struggle to brush between your teeth, talk to your dentist about interdental brushes.
  • You may use a toothpick to help remove particles from between the teeth, but use these with care as hard toothpicks can cause damage to the gums or teeth.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush and make sure that you always brush along the gum line.

You can also help prevent gingivitis by stopping smoking and cutting down your alcohol consumption.

When To See an Oral Surgeon

You should speak to an oral surgeon about your options as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of gum disease. If gum disease has not progressed too far, they may recommend scaling and cleaning. This involves cleaning beneath the gum line to reduce plaque buildup. Deep scaling and root planing is another minor procedure that involves smoothing the surfaces of the teeth beneath the gum line. The smoother surface makes it harder for bacteria to embed and grow.

If you’re experiencing pain, your teeth feel loose, or bleeding from the mouth is common, it’s more urgent to see your oral surgeon. In these instances, periodontitis may have set in, and gum surgery may be a viable option. You must take action as gum disease is connected to heart disease and other major medical issues.

Treatments an Oral Surgeon May Perform

Your dental surgeon will examine you carefully and give you the options for treatment. The treatment offered depends largely on the severity of the gum disease.

Flap Surgery

During flap surgery, the surgeon manually lifts the gums away from the teeth. They then thoroughly clean the teeth and suture the gums back together, hopefully tightening them against the teeth to avoid pockets forming again.

Grafting of Bone or Tissue

Severe periodontitis can damage teeth and bones. If the bone around a tooth is damaged, you could lose the tooth. Bone grafting uses bone tissue from yourself or a donor to replace the damaged or destroyed bone and help the tooth grow stronger. Some oral surgeons may use artificial bone constructs for this procedure.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

When bone is destroyed, the gum can grow to fill the gap. This prevents the bone from healing itself and leaves the jaw and the teeth weaker than before. Guided tissue regeneration or GTR involves using mesh to stop the growth of new gum tissue. This encourages the bone to regrow instead.

Your oral surgeon will talk you through any procedure, including how to prepare and what to expect. You may need to stop taking certain medications before your procedure. You won’t be able to smoke or drink alcohol for 24 hours before a procedure, and you will need someone to drive you home in case you are still under the effect of sedation.

Recovering From Oral Surgery

Recovery time depends on the procedure you have. Slight discomfort is normal, as is some swelling and inflammation as your gums recover from surgery. Talk to the surgeon about what painkillers you can take and how often. Avoid hard, sharp, or crunchy foods. You may need to use a special mouth rinse to keep the surgery area clean. Don’t floss while recovering from gum surgery, and ask your surgeon if it’s okay to start brushing your teeth again right away or if a wait time is needed.

Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease and other dental issues. However, there are still occasions when you develop irritation or inflammation of the gums, even with the best daily hygiene routine. Talk to a professional for advice and contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.
 

Image credits: Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.
 

Understanding the Causes and Risks of Gum Disease

Understanding the Causes and Risks of Gum Disease

Almost half of all adults over 30 will experience some level of gum disease, or periodontitis, in their lifetime. Globally, it’s estimated to affect nearly half of the world’s population. The good news is, periodontitis has few long-term side effects if detected and treated early. However, if you ignore the signs of gum disease and fail to seek treatment, it can have severe implications, including tooth loss.

 

Here’s what you should know about the causes and risks of gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontitis is a serious infection in the gums. The build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth, caused by poor dental hygiene, creates an environment where bad bacteria thrive. That bacteria, along with the “good” bacteria your immune system releases to fight them, will over time break down the connective tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place. Eventually, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.

 

Healthy gums feel firm and are snug around the teeth, while someone with gum disease will notice puffiness, tenderness, bleeding, bad breath, pus, loose teeth, tooth loss, discomfort when chewing, pockets around the teeth, and receding gums. If you have any of these symptoms, you might be suffering from gum disease. 

 

Gum disease is easily diagnosed by a dentist or dental hygienist, and so is gum inflammation, which we call gingivitis. Gingivitis is a precursor to severe gum disease and is considered the mildest form of gum disease. Here’s what you need to know about how gingivitis begins and how it can advance into periodontitis if not treated properly. 

Causes of Gum Disease

The biggest cause of gum disease is not brushing and flossing often enough, which leads to the build-up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria and food particles. Brushing and flossing twice a day helps keep plaque at a minimum, but poor dental hygiene leads to the build-up of plaque (and the bacteria it contains), which leads to the gum inflammation and bleeding associated with gingivitis. 

 

If you don’t brush, floss, and rinse for some period of time, plaque starts to build up on the surface of your teeth, releasing acid that damages the outer shell known as enamel. This marks the beginning of tooth decay. In these early stages, plaque can be easily removed and gingivitis is easily reversible with consistent brushing and flossing. If left unchecked, however, gingivitis will begin to turn into periodontitis. 

 

In just 72 hours, plaque begins to harden into tartar, which is a hard layer that will begin to grow along your gum line. Tartar makes it impossible to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums unless it is scraped away by a dentist. The build-up of plaque and tarter starts to worsen a person’s dental hygiene, inflame the gums, and eventually pull the gum and bone away from the teeth.

 

With gum disease, pockets start to form between the teeth and gums, which opens the door to more plaque, tartar, and bacteria. As gum disease goes untreated, the bacteria release enzymes that break down the bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place. That’s how gum disease leads to loose teeth and, eventually, tooth loss. 

Reversing Gum Disease

Gingivitis and periodontitis are easily prevented with proper dental hygiene. Gingivitis is also easily reversible, so if you begin to notice some mild inflammation and bleeding, you probably just need to start brushing and flossing better. Check in with your dentist and they’ll let you know if you’re experiencing gingivitis and what you can do to treat it.

 

With that in mind, while gingivitis can often be reversed by merely improving dental hygiene, periodontitis is not so easily reversible. Treating periodontitis also requires improved dental hygiene, but brushing and flossing alone cannot remove the hard layers of tartar that begin to form at the gum line. Advanced gum disease will also cause pockets in the gums and these pockets must be cleaned out with special scaling tools. 

 

If you think you have periodontitis, you should schedule an appointment. Your dentist can perform a deep cleaning of your teeth in order to clean the visible tooth surface and go below the gum line to clean out any pockets. For someone who has severe periodontitis that has led to the destruction of bone or soft tissue, or the loss of teeth, seeing an oral surgeon is the best option.

How an Oral Surgeon Can Treat Periodontitis

Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth and tooth loss. Tooth loss is irreversible, but modern dentistry allows oral surgeons to reconstruct a healthy smile using implants and other methods of restoration.

 

If you’re suffering from periodontitis and it has led to the loss of soft tissue, bone, or teeth, an oral surgeon can help restore your healthy smile and your confidence. In our next article, we’ll explore all of the methods and techniques used in oral surgery to successfully restore the smiles of those who have suffered from periodontitis. 

 

At our clinic, we employ the latest technology and tools to speed recovery and restore oral health for patience experiencing periodontitis. If you have questions about gum disease or the best treatment path for you, contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.

  • Short title: Causes and Risks of Gum Disease
  • Teaser: Learn how gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, and how an oal surgeon can help.  
  • Summary: Gingivitis is a precursor to periodontitis, which is a severe gum disease. Over time, infectious bacteria break down the connective tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place. Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth and tooth loss. Tooth loss is irreversible, but modern dentistry allows oral surgeons to reconstruct a healthy smile using implants and other methods of restoration.
  • Excerpt: Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth and tooth loss. Tooth loss is irreversible, but modern dentistry allows oral surgeons to reconstruct a healthy smile using implants and other methods of restoration.
  • Tags: Oral surgeon, oral surgery, gum disease, periodontitis, gingivitis, tooth loss, tooth decay, plaque, tartar, enamel

 

Image credits: Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.

 

6 Ways Oral Surgeons Can Help Improve Your Quality of Life

When most people think about visiting the oral surgeon, it’s usually prompted by a pressing dental issue that needs to be addressed, such as wisdom teeth removal, or having dental reconstruction after an accident.

Although those are important and valid reasons to visit the oral surgeon, the reality is, oral surgeons also can help you improve your quality of life in a wide variety of situations, and maybe even a few you might not be aware of.

Tooth loss, for example, can affect your quality of life for normal oral function such as eating and drinking, and even extend to speaking and self-esteem. Through various approaches, an oral surgeon can quickly and effectively address many issues you may be experiencing and get you back to your normal life.

If you’re having problems with your mouth but have been held back from seeking solutions because of cost or fear, take a moment to consider the benefits of oral surgery.

Here’s a look at common procedures performed by an Oral Surgeon and how they can improve your overall quality of life:

 

Dental Implants

If you are missing a tooth or several teeth, dental implants not only improve the aesthetics of the mouth, but also restore functionality – improving overall quality of life.

A study by Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine found that osteoporotic women with dental implants compared to those who have missing teeth and use removable dentures, experienced a significantly higher quality of life in every aspect including occupational, emotional, and sexual health.

With dental implants, a medical-grade titanium post is inserted into the jaw replacing the missing tooth root. Over 3-6 months, the titanium osseointegrates with the bone, providing a solid foundation on which to attach an abutment and then the fabricated tooth, or crown. Not only do the implants look like natural teeth, but also with proper care, they can last a lifetime.

 

Sleep Apnea

Many who struggle with sleep apnea spend their nights attached to a sleep mask or hose to help ease the symptoms. However, through the use of laser technology, it is possible to decrease the excess tissue at the back of the mouth, keeping the airway clear while sleeping. The best part is that with the use of laser, there is no cutting or recovery period involved; the procedure is touchless and done in office, with each session lasting about 20-30 minutes. Most patients see improvement after 3-5 sessions.

If you’re experience severe symptoms of sleep apnea, it may be time to seek the help of an oral surgeon. They can help get rid of unnecessary tissue from the back of your throat, which often exacerbates sleep apnea symptoms.

After the removal, most patients find they are able to breathe more easily, and, as a result, sleep better.

 

Bone and Gum Grafting

Bone and gum grafting is sometimes necessary for people who have ignored missing teeth for a period of years.

This is because a missing tooth root can lead to a loss or melting away of the adjacent bone and tissue. Similar to how beach grass is often planted to abate beach erosion, tooth roots serve to anchor bone in the jaw.

If you already have a missing tooth and would like to have a dental implant placed, an oral surgeon will first determine if adequate bone is available to anchor the implant. Modern 3D scanning allows for precision bone measurement and a determination can quickly be made if a bone graft is needed before placement of the dental implant.

 

Reconstructive Surgery

Those who have suffered traumatic facial injuries from an accident or who have experienced losing several teeth may find it hard to complete everyday tasks such as speaking, eating, and drinking.

Reconstructive surgery, however, can help you replace damaged teeth, correct issues with your jaw, and address gum damage.

The starting point is a CT scan which will provide a 3D representation of the mouth and surrounding structures. Depending on the complexity of the case, your oral surgeon may recommend the procedure be undertaken in a hospital setting which provides a full range of anesthesia and surgical support options that maybe needed.

 

Biopsies

Sometimes, a routine visit to the dentist may find an unusual lesion, growth, or discoloration in the oral cavity, in which case you may be referred for a biopsy. Lesions are not always bad, however, a diagnosis cannot be made by visual inspection and x-ray imaging alone, so you may be referred to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.

A biopsy involves removing a small sample of the tissue from your mouth and sending it to a lab for analysis. Depending on the location of the lesion in the mouth, numbing medication maybe used for comfort. If access to the biopsy area is needed underneath the gum, a surgical procedure may be required, and this is sometimes done under sedation (put-to-sleep) for the procedure.

The lab is usually able to analyze the sample and issue results in 7-14 days, which provides a diagnosis for the issue, and the surgeon will then discuss treatment options. Starting treatment early leads to better prognosis and outcomes.

 

Jaw Surgeries

Jaw surgery can be necessary in a variety of circumstances: for an improperly aligned jaw, to correct issues with swallowing, or to minimize excessive breakdown of your teeth, to name a few.

An oral surgeon can assess your jaw and any symptoms you may be experiencing to let you know if surgery will correct it. By addressing the problem head on, you can ensure a lifetime of a happy, healthy mouth with restored tooth and jaw function.

 

In need of help?

If you find yourself experiencing any of the issues discussed above, or others related to oral health that aren’t listed here, contact us today. We’d love to set up a consultation to offer our expert advice for improving your health and quality of life.

 

Image credit: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

What is the Trigeminal Nerve?

By: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons – AAOMS

Located in the head and neck, the trigeminal nerve is one of a group of 12 cranial nerves – all with important roles in vision, hearing, and controlling the function of facial muscles. The trigeminal nerve provides feeling to most of the face and mouth, controls the motion of the lower jaw as well as biting and chewing. Problems with the nerve can lead to even the slightest movement causing excruciating pain. Due to its size and placement, it is possible for the trigeminal nerve to be damaged during trauma, from the growth of tumors, or from infections. It also can be injured during surgical procedures such as fracture repairs, orthognathic surgeryoncological surgerycosmetic surgery, or wisdom teeth extractions.

Patients can work with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to manage their trigeminal nerve damage through both surgical and non-surgical means.

Trigeminal Nerve Pain

Symptoms of trigeminal nerve pain can vary, and triggers of those symptoms may be inconsistent or vary from person to person. Potential signs of trigeminal nerve pain include:

  • Seemingly spontaneous attacks of shooting or stabbing facial pain.
  • Facial pain triggered by speaking, chewing, brushing teeth, or simply touching the face.
  • Constant aching or burning feeling that can evolve into spasm-like pain.
  • Pain in the cheek, jaw, gums, teeth, and lips (occasionally an eye or the forehead).
  • Attacks that increase in frequency and intensity over time.

While some patients may experience near-constant pain, others can experience long stretches of pain-free time. Trigeminal nerve pain typically affects one side of the face at a time.

Trigeminal Nerve Diagnosis & Treatments

Due to the broad trigeminal nerve functions, trigeminal nerve pain can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life. Significant pain can be caused by everyday behaviors such as chewing or by a light breeze crossing the face. An OMS can often diagnose trigeminal nerve pain based on a patient’s description of the pain, particularly the type and location of pain, as well as what triggers the pain.

From there, an OMS may conduct a neurological examination or have an MRI ordered to determine if there is a specific underlying cause of trigeminal neuralgia or sharp pain that follows the length of the nerve. Trigeminal nerve treatment often begins with medications, including:

  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antispasmodic agents
  • Neurotoxin injections (e.g., Botox)

While medication allows some patients to manage their trigeminal nerve pain, others may require surgical treatments, including:

  • Microvascular decompression: Relocating or removing blood vessels in contact with the trigeminal nerve can reduce pressure on the nerve.
  • Gamma Knife: A focused dose of radiation can damage the trigeminal nerve and reduce or eliminate nerve pain.
  • Rhizotomy: Destruction of nerve fibers through thermal lesioning, balloon compression, or glycerol injection.

Learn More from an OMS

Trigeminal nerve pain can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life, and any symptoms should prompt a visit to a doctor and a consult with an OMS.

Source: https://myoms.org/what-we-do/extractions-and-other-oral-surgeries/trigeminal-nerve-pain/

Full-mouth Restoration with Dental Implants

By: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons – AAOMS

While a single dental implant may replace a broken or lost tooth, it also can serve as an anchor for multiple replacement teeth. Full-mouth dental implants are what they sound like: a long-lasting replacement for most or all of a patient’s teeth.

Full Dental Implants vs. Dentures

With dentures, not only is there a risk of bone loss in the jaws, but the patient is opened up to potentially embarrassing situations at every meal. Advantages of dental implants include:

  • Full-mouth dental implants are anchored to the jawbone with titanium and the bone actually fuses to the implant through a process called osseointegration, reducing the risk of bone loss.
  • Dentures will wear out over time and need to be replaced.
  • Dental implants restore function on par with a patient’s original teeth. Eating with dentures can mean worrying about what’s on the menu.

A single dental implant is easy to imagine – it replaces the root of a tooth with a titanium implant with a crown on top. Full-mouth dental implants work differently. When replacing a mouth full of teeth, two or more titanium implants provide an anchor for the secure mounting of replacement teeth, preventing slipping and bone loss.

Cost of Full-mouth Dental Implants

No two patients have the same mouth, and the cost of full-mouth dental implants will vary from patient to patient. When planning for the procedure, it’s important to consult both with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) and any dental or medical insurance providers. Also, keep in mind:

  • The cost of full-mouth dental implants is not the cost of 32 individual dental implants. Each titanium implant can provide support for multiple replacement teeth.
  • Full-mouth dental implants may be partially covered under select medical or dental insurance policies.
  • When properly cared for, dental implants represent a potentially lifelong replacement for missing teeth (edentulism), making them a wise investment for the future.
  • Many OMSs are able to put patients in contact with affordable financing options specifically designed for oral healthcare.

Find an OMS for Dental Implants

Choosing a fixed bridge to replace a single tooth can lead to damage in adjacent teeth, potentially requiring the replacement of multiple teeth in the long run. A single dental implant can provide a true replacement for a missing tooth and prevent the need for future dental work. Similarly, full-mouth implants take the guesswork out of the future of a patient’s oral health. Whether a patient needs one tooth replaced or all of them, it’s essential to consult us and develop a plan as soon as possible.

Source: http:// https://myoms.org/what-we-do/dental-implant-surgery/full-mouth-dental-implants/

Edentulism

By: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Edentulism is the condition defined by the loss of at least one functional tooth. It can be classified as partial edentulism (one or more lost teeth) to complete edentulism (when a patient has lost all teeth). Whether due to decay, periodontal disease, or trauma, edentulism has a significant effect on a patient’s oral health. 

While there are many solutions to replace a patient’s missing teeth, dental implants are the only potentially long-term solution to this lifelong problem.  

Why Replace Missing Teeth 

For many patients, the thought of missing one or more teeth is a cosmetic issue. Smiling with one or more missing teeth might be embarrassing, but edentulism poses much greater risks. Missing one or more teeth can lead to: 

  • Impaired chewing ability and bite strength, limiting food choices, which could lead to a lower intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and carotene in favor of increased cholesterol and saturated fat.
  • Bone loss that impacts the soft-tissue profile of the mouth and face. 
  • Exacerbated jaw joint and TMJ problems (in patients prone to joint issues) due to missing teeth – especially the back teeth. 
  • Increased rates of chronic inflammation causing changes in the lining of the stomach. 
  • Increased rates of peptic or duodenal ulcers. 
  • Increased risk of noninsulin-dependent diabetes. 
  • Increased risk of chronic kidney disease. 

Edentulism also has an association with sleep-disordered breathing (such as obstructive sleep apnea). 

Treating Edentulism 

Although bridges and dentures can be used to restore the appearance and some functionality in patients with missing teeth, both will eventually need replacement and can damage the mouth. Fixed bridges can impact neighboring teeth, while dentures can lead to bone loss in the jaw. Dental implants have the following benefits:

  • Safety and long-term solution – Dental implants are a safe way to replace missing teeth and can offer a permanent solution when properly placed and cared for. 
  • One or more teeth – A single dental implant can replace one or more teeth. Patients who have lost most or all their teeth can have them replaced via full-mouth dental implants
  • Natural-looking – The dental implant procedure involves placing a titanium implant in the jawbone that fuses with the bone to create a solid anchor. An abutment and a crown are placed on top to create the appearance of a natural tooth.  
  • Restore the balance of teeth –Dental implants can help improve function and reduce unhealthy forces on the jaw joints (TMJs). 

Patients suffering from edentulism should consult an oral and maxillofacial surgeon as soon as possible to minimize the risks detailed above. While temporary solutions may help an edentulous patient’s smile, dental implants offer a long-term solution to missing teeth. 

Article source: https://myoms.org/what-we-do/dental-implant-surgery/edentulism/

Corrective Jaw Surgery

By: American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Corrective jaw surgery – also called orthognathic surgery – is performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon (OMS) to correct a wide range of minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities, including the misalignment of jaws and teeth. Surgery can improve breathing, chewing, and speaking. While the patient’s appearance may be dramatically enhanced as a result of the surgery, orthognathic surgery is performed to correct functional problems.

The following are some of the conditions that may indicate the need for corrective jaw surgery:

  • Difficulty chewing or biting food
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic jaw or jaw joint (TMJ) pain and headaches
  • Excessive wear of the teeth
  • Open bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed)
  • Unbalanced facial appearance from the front or side
  • Facial injury
  • Birth defects
  • Receding lower jaw and chin
  • Protruding jaw
  • Inability to make the lips meet without straining
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Sleep apnea (breathing problems when sleeping, including snoring)

Your dentist, orthodontist, and OMS will work together to determine whether you are a candidate for orthognathic surgery. The oral and maxillofacial surgeon determines which corrective jaw surgical procedure is appropriate and performs the actual surgery. It is important to understand that your treatment, which will probably include orthodontics before and after surgery, may take several years to complete. Your OMS and orthodontist understand this is a long-term commitment for you and your family, and they will try to realistically estimate the time required for your treatment.

Article source: https://myoms.org/what-we-do/corrective-jaw-surgery/