Oral Facial Surgery Center

Where Do Dental Implants Come From?

'children playing as archaeologists'Dental implants have a surprisingly rich and interesting history. Across centuries and throughout cultures around the world there is evidence of attempts at replacing missing teeth with various objects and materials.

The oldest dental implants can be traced back to 2000 BC in China, where missing teeth were substituted with bamboo pegs.

Fast forward a bit to around 1000 BC and you’ll find an ancient Egyptian King whose tomb was recently discovered along with his mummified remains; a copper peg hammered into place where a tooth once lived. This may have been the first time in history that we know of when metal implants were used.

Across the globe some time around 300 BC, an iron tooth was found in a French grave thought to be Celtic in origin. It is possible this implant may have been a post-mortem placement to honor the dead, as an attempt to perform the surgery using a live patient would have been an excruciatingly painful process.

Just 2000 years ago missing teeth were being substituted for animal teeth, and the poor were even selling their teeth to the wealthy, just to make ends meet! The body often rejected these surrogate teeth, causing infection.

More recently in 1931 in Honduras, Dr. Wilson Monroe and his wife found a jawbone amongst other artifacts, with teeth fashioned from shells and attached to the jawbone of an ancient man.

Today we are lucky enough to have dental implants that not only look and feel like real teeth, and anesthesia for the pain is also a plus. Thanks to studies conducted by Per-Ingvar Brånemark of Sweden in the 1950’s, oral surgeons have been able to perfect the process over the years to create today’s implants, which have a 98% success rate! Through a process known as osseointegration, metals and other implant materials are able to be skillfully placed so that your jaw bone actually attaches itself to the implant creating a seamless support system.

Missing a tooth or two? Give us a call at Oral Facial Surgery Center, Houma Office Phone Number 985-879-1972 to discuss your dental implant options today!

Impacted

'impacted wisdom tooth'When you hear this word in our office, it is most likely that we are talking about your wisdom teeth. And while we know that it may sound scary to have “impacted wisdom teeth”, we want you to know that, actually, it is very common.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

Throughout evolutionary history, human mouths (jaws) have become increasingly smaller. While the jaws have gotten smaller, the amount of teeth we have has not. So now we have the same amount of teeth squeezing into a smaller space. Because wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, they often become impacted – that is, blocked by the other teeth around them. Often they are growing in sideways or unable to erupt through the gums at all due to crowding.

Why do wisdom teeth need removal?

The inability to erupt properly means that wisdom teeth can cause a lot of pain and even become infected down the road. This is the main reason that we recommend the removal of all third molars (another name for wisdom teeth). The reason that we remove them during the teen years is that the bone is still soft and recovery from the surgery is taken by the patient much better at this age. If we were to wait, your teeth may become infected, your bite crooked, and it may be too late at some point for us to take them out.

Types of Impaction:

  • Vertical Impaction – In this case, the tooth is unable to break through the gum line. Vertical impaction is very common.
  • Mesioangular Impaction – Angled toward the front of the mouth, the tooth is probably pushing on its neighbor, causing pain and crowding. This type of impaction is also very common.
  • Distoangular Impaction – This tooth is angled toward the rear of the mouth, it is uncommon.
  • Horizontal Impaction – In this case, the tooth is a complete 90 degrees from where it should be, and is likely growing into the roots of its neighboring tooth. This is very rare.

What is the removal procedure like?

You will be completely pain-free during the surgery, which takes just about an hour. You will also be sent home with instructions for pain management, eating and rest orders.

What is recovery like?

You will recover comfortably at home. You can start drinking liquids and soft foods as soon as you feel ready, but should avoid crunchy foods, extra hot or cold items, and straws (NO STRAWS!). You can expect to resume some of your normal activities a few days post-operation.

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth removal or aren’t sure if you even need the procedure, give us a call at Oral Facial Surgery Center, Houma Office Phone Number 985-879-1972!

Preserving Your Jaw after Extraction: Socket Preservation

'human skeleton' 'jaw bone'If you come to see us for an extraction, you may hear us talking about “socket preservation” or ”ridge augmentation”, and you might be wondering, what is that?

Socket preservation is a procedure we will sometimes recommend when you are having a tooth extracted. The bones that hold your teeth require frequent use to maintain their size and shape, otherwise they start to recede as they are no longer needed.

When a tooth is extracted, it leaves behind a hole (or “socket”) in the alveolar ridge bone, making it vulnerable to shrinkage. In fact, some studies show that bone loss can be 50% in the first 12 months after extraction.

You may be wondering, “Why does bone loss matter if I don’t have a tooth there anyway?” Unfortunately, without teeth and adequate bone structure, several unwanted oral health problems may occur:

  • Aesthetics: Without adequate bone structure and teeth, your smile starts to cave in in that area, causing undesirable aesthetic consequences. Your skin may begin to look shriveled over time and your smile will be unbalanced and unnatural.
  • Alignment Issues: Your teeth are always moving, particularly into open spaces. A hole on one side of your smile can lead to a severe shift of your teeth over time, affecting your smile and subsequently requiring orthodontic treatment.
  • Implant Complications: The damaged and recessed bone often ensures complications if you plan on getting a dental implant to replace the extracted tooth in the future.

This is where socket preservation comes in. Typically done at the end of your extraction procedure, we place bone-grafting material into the socket and a collagen membrane on top to encourage bone growth in the area. Because the procedure can be done at the same time as your extraction, no additional anesthesia or appointments are necessary.

If you are facing extraction, call us at Oral Facial Surgery Center, Houma Office Phone Number 985-879-1972 to see if socket preservation is an option for you – it could save your smile!

Why do we have wisdom teeth anyway?

'woman wondering about wisdom teeth'Wisdom teeth were once an extremely valuable asset to our ancestors. When a typical diet consisted of chewy plants and uncooked meat, third molars (wisdom teeth), which fit easily into our ancestors’ larger jaws, were absolutely necessary. Wisdom teeth were the evolutionary answer to the need for chewing power to combat excessive wear.

Today, our diets are not as rough as those of our ancestors. With modern marvels like forks, spoons, and knives, as well as softer food, the need for wisdom teeth is virtually nonexistent. And yet, on average, about 65% of the human population is born with wisdom teeth which usually erupt between the ages 17 and 25.

Although wisdom teeth were incredibly advantageous for our ancestors, they pose a bit of a problem for the modern mouth. Humans have evolved to have smaller jaws, and so wisdom teeth are often either too big for the jaw or the jaws themselves are just too small. Either way, third molars crowd the mouth. Because of this lack of space, molars often grow sideways, only partially emerging from the gums, or actually get trapped inside the gums and jawbone.

These impacted wisdom teeth can be chronically contaminated with bacteria associated with infection, tooth decay, inflammation, and gum disease. And because they’re so far back in the mouth or trapped underneath gums, it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to keep them clean. Even when wisdom teeth come in fully, they are so far back in the mouth that it’s just too easy for food to get trapped, leading to plaque, cavities, and gum disease.

Although wisdom teeth were very important to our ancestors, nowadays, they pose a serious problem to oral health. Call Oral Facial Surgery Center to find out if your wisdom teeth are ready to come out!

3D Printers and Bone Grafting

3d bone graftingThere is exciting news in bone grafting technology that will hopefully find its way into the oral surgeon’s office over the next decade! Researchers have been able to create a synthetic bone material using 3D printers that may be better than what is being used now.

3D printers create three-dimensional objects out of a variety of materials using a computer as a precise guide. Although the concept has been in the news a lot recently, the practice actually dates back to before the 21st century. In fact, 3d printing’s roots go back to the early 1980s. Since then, everything from jewelry to synthetic human organs has been printed, much to the amazement of modern society!

And now, surgeons have successfully implanted the 3D-printed synthetic bone grafting material into animals with bone defects. This “hyperelastic bone” was made using just the right combination of bioactive materials and polymers to make a material that could be layered while still wet, allowing for better adherence between layers.

Here are some of the expected benefits of this new material:

  • Very elastic, allowing for cutting without crumbling, which can be a problem with current grafting materials.
  • Blood vessels move in quickly because the material is porous.
  • Biodegradable as the body replaces it with genuine tissue.
  • Doesn’t dry out right away.
  • So far the animals haven’t rejected the implant, which could mean less complications for humans as well.
  • Could be a great option for children since it will grow with them.

While human trials are potentially five or more years away, the news is very exciting for the surgical community, and we are can’t wait to see what benefits this will bring to our patients.

To find out more about bone grafting in general or to set up a consultation with our office, please call us at Oral Facial Surgery Center, Houma Office Phone Number 985-879-1972.

How Are Wisdom Teeth Removed

Don’t be worried about your wisdom tooth extraction, let us outline the whole process for you:

Treatment Development

wisdom teeth diagramDuring late adolescence, wisdom teeth start to appear and occasionally are accompanied by oral pain, as well as an increased risk of dental issues such as pericoronitis, gum disease, and tooth decay. Through evaluation, your oral surgeon will determine the number of wisdom teeth present, as well as how they are developing in relation to the rest of your teeth. Using advanced imaging technology, an oral surgeon will discover if the teeth are partially or fully impacted, and then will create a strategic treatment plan in order to remove the teeth and ensure successful recovery.

Preparation

Although sedation is not always necessary, many patients have found anesthesia to be helpful in relaxation and reducing pain during the procedure. If sedation is chosen, there are certain preparations that must be made: patients must enlist the help of family or friends to bring them back home after their surgery.

The Procedure

Local anesthesia is applied to the area. Then, a surgical tool is used to reveal the bone and tooth. After the tooth is clearly visible, it is removed. Once the tooth is extracted, the gums and bone are left to heal.

Healing

Following the procedure, there may be some swelling in the tissue and cheeks near the treatment site. To promote a successful recovery, patients should avoid strenuous activity, smoking, and eating hard foods. Patients should not touch the treatment area with their tongue, or use straws, as this could potentially dislodge the developing blood clots and expose the area to food and bacteria.

Wisdom tooth extraction can be an uncomplicated procedure that ultimately will protect your long-term oral health. For more information about wisdom tooth extraction, schedule your consultation at Oral Facial Surgery Center today!

Little Medium Big Bone Grafts

Bone grafting is a straightforward procedure that is immensely beneficial for numerous reasons. In the instance of a missing tooth (or teeth), the jaw bone can begin to slowly degrade. The jaw bone is holds teeth in place, and once a tooth is no longer present, the bone doesn’t have anything to support. There are different types of bone grafts, and depending on your situation. Outlined below are several different types of bone grafts:

'bone graft' 'bone tissue'Little Bone Graft

In the case of a simple, single lost tooth, the ideal course of action is to not lose excess bone. In this process, sterile, demineralized human bone granules are packed into the tooth socket immediately after tooth extraction. This procedure is very simple, and does not add anything to your recovery time. Over the next several weeks, your own bone will fill the tooth socket and preserve the bone height enough for you to have the area restored.

Medium Bone Grafts

If a tooth was removed a long time ago, there is likely to already be some bone loss impeding the restoration of the area. In this case, the area of the missing tooth is opened with a small incision, the bone surface is prepared, and demineralized bone graft granules are used to build up the area. Many surgeons prefer to use a little bit of the patient’s own bone in this procedure in order to ensure the best results possible. If your own bone is used, your surgeon will take it from another area of the jaw bone, usually near the wisdom tooth area, shaving off tiny granules and combining them with the demineralized bone. The bone graft will heal and integrate with the surrounding bone tissue. This type of graft can be used for one or multiple areas of missing teeth.

Big Bone Graft

Patients who have many missing teeth and who have been missing many teeth for many years, have often experienced advanced bone loss. In those who wear dentures, the lower jaw bone often recedes so severely that they can no longer wear them. Extensive bone grafting is necessary in order to consider restorative methods. A combination of demineralized, sterile human bone and the patient’s own bone is used to restore the jaw bone, creating enough width and height to consider dental implants. The patient’s bone is supplied by another part of the jaw, hip, or tibia. Bone granules are also used to enhance and strengthen the graft.

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that takes time. However, it plays an essential role in making new teeth possible, and will ultimately be a positive process! For more information, call 985-879-1972 today for a consultation with Oral Facial Surgery Center.

Dental Implant Recovery

Dental implants, titanium posts that are placed within your jawbone, are an excellent option for restoring missing teeth. The process of getting dental implants typically takes a few appointments over the span of several months, and since the strength of dental implants comes from their fusion with the jawbone, proper healing from this surgery is absolutely essential. Here are some tips for a speedy and well-healed recovery!

Prepare

dental implantsOne of the best ways to promote a speedy recovery is to properly prepare for dental implant placement. Get ready for your procedure by:

● Getting plenty of sleep
● Avoiding smoking or drinking excessively
● Maintain your oral health! Brush twice a day and floss once a day!
● Arrange for someone to drive you to and from your procedure
● Plan to take some time off work so you can really focus on resting and recovering
● Pick up post-surgical prescriptions, gauze, cold compresses, and any other supplies
● Ask for a recovery timeline

Getting ready before your dental implant surgery can make a huge difference in the recovery afterwards!

Recovery Time Factors

Recovery time for the dental implants procedure depends on several factors. While each patient’s case is slightly different, these following factors are the main contributors to healing time:

● The number of implants: Having a single implant may take less recovery time than multiple implant placement.
● Whether or not you require preparatory procedures such as bone grafting
● Your oral and overall health: the healthier you are, the easier it will be for you to heal quickly.

Your oral surgeon will explain your unique estimated recovery time based on these and other factors at your initial consultation.

After Your Surgery

After the procedure, the healing process can be sped up through:
● Biting down on gauze to staunch the bleeding
● Avoiding any activity that could put pressure on your mouth
● Taking proper prescribed medication
● Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing near the treatment area
● Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater between meals
● Using a cold compress to reduce swelling
● Gently retaining oral health routines like brushing and flossing

Following these guidelines, you will be able to heal comfortably and successfully!

To learn more about this treatment, or schedule a consultation, call 985-879-1972 and come see us at Oral Facial Surgery Center today!

Dental Implants 101

Dental Implants 101Whether you are missing a tooth, or at risk of losing many, dental implants may be a great solution   for you. Dental implants are an increasingly popular fix for missing or dying teeth, and have many benefits.

What is a Dental Implant?

Dental implants are high tech teeth. The root of your current tooth is removed, and replaced with a screw attached to a ‘cap’ that looks identical to a natural tooth. Many people report higher confidence and comfort after receiving their new tooth.

What’s so Great About Them?

The cool thing about implants is that if taken care of, they can last for life. Usually all that needs to be replaced, if anything, is the cap. The other great thing about implants is that they can’t die like natural teeth. You still have to clean and maintain them like your other teeth, but no roots are any longer at risk of causing that tooth to fail. In addition to that, many implants can last a lifetime!

What is the Surgical Process Like?

The process is done either all at once, or in steps. This depends on the recommendations for your particular case. The first step is to remove the root of your natural tooth, and place the implant in its place. If there is not enough bone to place the implant, we may encourage you to have bone grafting first. The gum is then stitched closed and allowed to heal. This can take five to six months. The next step is to reopen the gum and place an abutment on the implant, along with a temporary crown so you can heal while the permanent crown is made for you. You then return to get your permanent crown attached in a few weeks. In other cases, all of these steps can be done in a single visit, but it depends on your specific case.

If you have any questions, please call our office for more information, we would be glad to help!

Wisdom Tooth Removal – Aftercare

woman smiling after Wisdom Tooth Removal Having your impacted wisdom teeth removed is a serious surgical procedure, and post-operative care is extremely important! Read on for instructions on how to care for your sore mouth, and how to minimize unnecessary pain and complications.

Immediately Following Surgery

Keep a firm, yet gentle, bite on the gauze packs that have been placed in your mouth to keep them in place. You can remove them after an hour if the bleeding is controlled. If the surgical area continues to bleed, place new gauze for another 30 to 45 minutes.

Be careful!

Do not:
• Rinse vigorously
• Probe the area
• Smoke (hopefully you don’t!!)
• Participate in strenuous activities
You can:
• Brush gently (but not the area)
• Begin saltwater rinses 24 hours after surgery (mix 1 tbs of salt with 1 cup of water). Make sure to swish gently. These rinses should be done 2-3 times a day, especially after eating.

Enjoy some down-time!

Keep activity level to a minimum! Enjoy a day of couch or bed-rest, as being active could result in increased bleeding. Avoid exercise for 3-4 days, and when you do begin exercising again, keep in mind your caloric intake has been reduced so you may feel weaker.

Bleeding

As you’ve just had surgery, some bleeding will occur and it’s not uncommon to ooze blood for 24-48 hours after your procedure. REMEMBER-the blood you see is actually a little blood mixed with saliva, so don’t panic!
If excessive bleeding persists:
• Try repositioning the packs. They may not be putting enough pressure on the site.
• Sit upright and avoid physical activity.
• Use an ice pack and bite on gauze for one hour.
• You can also try biting on a moistened tea bag for 30 minutes (the tannic acid in tea promotes blood clotting).
• If bleeding persists, please call our office at 985-879-1972.

Pain

Unfortunately, some pain is to be expected after surgery. Try not to let the anesthetic wear off before taking your prescribed pain medication. Dr. Saal or Dr. Baughman will have discussed a plan to manage your pain, make sure you follow these instructions.

Diet

Eat nourishing food that takes little effort.
Avoid:
• Extremely hot foods
• Straws (for the first few days)
• Chewing (until tongue sensation has returned)
• Smaller foods that can become stuck in the socket area
• Skipping meals—while eating may seem like a lot of work, you need your nourishment to be able to heal and feel better!

Day 2 and 3 Following Surgery

Swelling

Swelling is a completely normal occurrence. Keep in mind, swelling will usually be at it’s worst in the 2-3 days after surgery. You can minimize swelling by applying a cold compress (covered with a towel) firmly to the cheek next to the surgical area. Apply the pack with 20 minutes on, and 20 minutes off for the first 24-48 hours. Also make sure to take the medication prescribed by Drs. Saal or Baughman. This helps with pain and swelling.

Keeping your mouth clean

Keeping your mouth clean is very important! Continue saltwater rinses as often as you’d like, but at least 2-3 times a day. Begin your normal oral hygiene (remember to brush softly and don’t do anything that hurts)!

Healing

Everyone heals differently, but your timeline should look similar to this:
• Day 1-2 will be the most uncomfortable and you will experience some swelling.
• Day 3 you should be more comfortable and while still swollen, you should be able to begin a more substantial diet.
• Day 4 and on you should see a gradual and steady improvement.

Other Normal Things

• Discoloration. Bruising is a normal post-operative occurrence you may notice 2-3 days after surgery.
• Stiff jaw muscles. You may find it difficult to open your mouth wide in the days following your surgery. This is normal and usually resolves itself within a week after surgery. Stretching these muscles may help to speed up recovery.
Since no two mouths are alike, do not take advice from friends (even well-intended advice could cause a healing set-back). The advice given to you from Drs. Saal or Baughman and the Oral Facial Surgery Center team are tailored to fit your needs. Please call us at 985-879-1972 if you have any questions or concerns about your recovery. Happy healing!