Oral Facial Surgery Center

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

 

Dental Implants: A Three-Step Procedure

One of the most common questions we hear from patients when it comes to dental implants is “Why does it take three separate procedures?”

Dental Implants - 3 StepIt helps to understand that within the entire dental implant process, there are not just three stages, there are also three important parts to the final product that replaces your tooth. First, there is the implant itself, which is the metal rod that we surgically implant into the bone. Next, there is the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth. And lastly, the crown (or prosthetic tooth) itself.

The fact that the process has three physical components alone doesn’t tell the whole story though. Here, we explain why the most commonly employed dental implant method is split up into three separate procedures.

Step One: Placing the Implant

The first stage of the dental implant process is to bury the implant in the jaw bone via a surgical procedure. The dental implant replaces the tooth root, and requires healing time. During this healing time, osseointegration (the integration of the bone with the implant itself) occurs. The bone cells actually attach to the implant rod, filling in the spaces to secure the implant in place for permanent residency.   The healing time usually takes from 3-6 months.

Step Two: Placing the Abutment

The abutment is a post that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Essentially, the abutment is a bridge that spans through the gum line so that the implant itself remains buried. As with the implant, the abutment has a healing period of its own. The gum around the abutment must heal and form a cuff or collar around it before the crown can be placed.

Step Three: The Prosthetic Tooth

Once the implant site and abutment have successfully integrated, the prosthetic tooth is fabricated and installed.

If you have any questions about the dental implant process, give us a call!

HPV and Oral Cancer: The Connection

With cases of oral cancer, specifically oropharyngeal cancer (the back of the throat), on the rise among those under 40 years of age, we as oral health professionals are trying to get the word out about the various causes of oral cancer and the importance of early detection.

HPV-Oral-CanerOral cancer has historically been attributed at the highest rates to smokers. However, with smoking on the decrease, HPV is expected to take over the role as the biggest contributor to certain types of oral cancer (oropharyngeal) in the coming years.

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about HPV and oral cancer:

  • What is HPV? HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a very common sexually transmitted infection. Typically HPV goes away on its own without causing any health problems. In fact, most people don’t ever know that they have it, which is also one of the reasons that it spreads so easily. Even if you are not symptomatic, you can still spread HPV.
  • How does HPV cause oral cancer? Occasionally, HPV does NOT go away on its own and causes problems down the road. There are specific types of cancer that HPV can lead to. For example, cervical cancer is almost always caused by HPV. Oropharyngeal cancer (the back of the throat, not the main oral cavity) is another type of cancer that can be caused by HPV.
  • Why is oral cancer on the rise among younger people? Studies show that most cases of oral cancer among young people are caused by HPV. Therefore, as the incidence of the virus grows, so does the incidence of oral cancer.
  • What can I do to protect myself? All girls and boys ages 11-12 years old should be vaccinated against HPV. The vaccine is also approved for other specific groups (check CDC.gov for more information). Those who are outside of the vaccination age group should practice safe sex.
  • What about early detection do I need to know? As with many cancers, early detection is the key to a good prognosis. Self-examinations by you and regular examinations by us are the most important things you can do to protect yourself.

Please note that this information is intended to inform, not scare. Although oropharyngeal cancers are increasing in incidence, they are still a very small risk in our world. Be informed and be proactive!

Facial Injuries: What Do I Do?

It’s important to know what to do when you or someone close to you has been injured, especially when it comes to facial injuries. The inside of your mouth is made up of delicate soft tissues that when cut can become infected and easily damaged if the wound isn’t taken care of quickly. Anyone who has had a facial laceration knows that there is a high degree of emotional and physical pain involved when it comes to a facial laceration. So what should you do?

Facial-InjuriesA laceration is a tear or jagged wound and is usually caused by blunt trauma. If you’ve been in an accident and there is any kind of trauma to your face, it is important to seek emergency assistance right away. Lip lacerations are one of the most common types of facial injuries and require careful repair. Lacerations are closed using silk or gut sutures and are done carefully in order to prevent any cosmetic damage. If a tooth is knocked out you should place it in salt water or milk as soon as possible. The sooner the tooth is placed back into the dental socket, the better chance it has of surviving. Do not clean or wipe off the tooth since there are crucial parts of the tooth that could become damaged.

Replanting teeth and treating tooth fractures can be handled by an oral surgeon along with facial trauma but if you have been involved in a serious accident you should go to the closest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Facial bone fractures cannot be treated with a cast like other parts of the body. The surgical placement of plates around the affected area is a recent development in medicine that allows for a faster recovery time and involves the fewest incisions necessary.

Any kind of traumatic injury to your face is serious and should be addressed immediately to prevent further damage and scaring. If you’ve had a recent injury and think you may have a facial bone fracture, call us immediately to schedule a consultation.

Dental Implants: Learning the Basics

Dental-Implants-learning-the-basicsDid you know that over 69% of adults in America are missing at least one tooth?  Whether it is from an accident, neglect, or even being born without certain teeth, not everyone is supporting a full set of teeth. There are many solutions to replacing missing teeth, each with its own benefits. With the influx of technology and precision of modern dentistry, dental implants are becoming more affordable, and are the premier long-term solution for missing teeth. Dental bridges tend to be a cheaper alternative to dental implants, but over time a single dental implant is generally more cost-effective. Dental implants can last decades or even a lifetime, which allows a patient to treat the implant as they would their real teeth, and continue on with life without having to worry about them. Whether you’re in the market for one tooth, or multiple teeth, dental implants not only can lower your overall healthcare costs, but also increase your quality of life!

How the implant works: 

In place of the original root where the tooth was, a dental implant is connected to the existing bone, as a base, and can then stably hold the new (fake) tooth in place.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

The quick answer is: “most likely yes.” Restrictions such as age do not apply to the possibility of receiving dental implants. There are very few restrictions that would prevent a patient from receiving dental implants and they include: Those who do not have enough existing bone in the jaw, and those who have had radiation to the jaw (from cancer or similar treatments), which could prevent fusion of implant to the bone. Recent studies have even shown that even patients with diabetes have little to no restrictions in the ability to receive dental implants.

If you are interested in dental implants, give us a call today and see how we can help you!

The Science Behind Oral Cancer

Can drinking coffee really help prevent oral cancer? What about different types of foods? Numerous studies have been published that claim certain foods and drinks can prevent oral cancer but when it comes to a disease that will affect 43,250 people this year, it’s important to get the facts.

The Science-Behind-Oral-CancerOral cancer, also referred to as mouth or head and neck cancer, occurs when there is a problem with the lifecycle of a normal, healthy cell. Cells are supposed to grow and divide into new cells as your body needs them but when this process goes wrong, your body over produces cells. These extra cells can cause a tumor to form. Depending on the type of cells in the tumor, it could be cancerous or benign.

Some studies may say they have proof that a specific food or drink helps to prevent mouth cancer but in reality the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid certain risk factors like smoking and drinking. Drinking in excess accompanied by smoking makes you highly susceptible to the disease and should be avoided.

Most oral cancers start in the tongue in what are called the flat cells and they can spread to other parts of the body if they aren’t caught early (in doctor lingo, cancer of these flat cells is called squamous cell carcinoma). Interestingly, when these oral cancer cells spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, they are still considered oral cancer cells rather than lung cancer cells. Where these abnormal cancer cells begin is what they will always be referred to as, regardless of where they spread.

Doctors still don’t know why one person gets oral cancer while another person does not, but it is important to note that oral cancer is NOT contagious. Avoiding risk factors and eating healthy is key to preventing oral cancer. Make sure to visit us regularly so we can check for signs of oral cancer!

Are Dental Implants Worth It?

What’s involved in a dental implant? Do they hurt? Can anyone get them? There are a lot of questions surrounding dental implants but one thing is certain; they’ve been reconstructing smiles for over 35 years with amazing results. But what’s the fuss surrounding dental implants and are they really worth it? Lets answer some question to help you decide for yourself.

Are Dental implants worth itCan anyone get a dental implant? Anyone who is healthy enough to get a dental implant can get one as long as they have enough bone to hold the implant. This is where bone grafting comes in for those who have been told their jawbone won’t hold an implant. Keeping up with regular oral hygiene is also an important factor and heavy smokers may be told it’s not a safe option.

What exactly is a dental implant? A dental implant replaces your tooth root with a metal rod. It provides a solid structure on which to place a new tooth that is made to match your real teeth. Dental implants not only improve the overall look of your smile but they’re durable, convenient, and easy to take care of.

What are the steps to getting a dental implant? As your doctor, we will want to develop an individualized treatment plan that focuses on your specific needs. Once we have agreed on a treatment plan, the next step will be the placement of the implant in your jaw. The implant is made of titanium and once placed the jawbone will actually begin to grow around it. In about six to twelve weeks the implant will have completely bonded to your jaw and it will be time to attach a small post that connects your new tooth to the implant. We create a mold of your bite that allows us to create your new tooth. This replacement tooth is then attached to the post and the implant process is complete!

Lastly, how painful are dental implants and are they difficult to take care of? Most patients have said they experienced very little discomfort when receiving their implant. Many have even said the process is much less painful than a tooth extraction. Mild pain that may occur for a few days after you receive your implant can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. Dental implants require the same care as your real teeth but generally they are much easier to clean and you don’t have to worry about cavities.

We hope this answers some of the questions surrounding dental implants. If you’re missing a tooth or teeth, give us a call to ask more about the procedure. We’ve seen many patients leave happy and comfortable with their improved smile!

What’s In a Bone Graft?

The practice of bone grafting is nothing new. In fact, it goes back hundred of years to a time when a Dutch doctor implanted a dog’s bone into an injured soldier’s skull. The soldier later wanted it removed but it could not be removed, as it had bonded so closely to the bone. This brings up a very common question that we hear in our practice: What is a bone graft made of?

Whats-In-a-Bone-GraftWhat the Dutch doctor didn’t know was that the implanted bone was likely resorbed by the patient’s body and replaced with his natural bone. This natural process is called “guided bone regeneration”, and it is one of the reasons that bone grafting has worked so well over time!

Naturally, patients are concerned about where their bone grafting material has come from. But in all cases, we stress that the material that we implant is not the final material that you will have in there. Bone grafting material is really just a place-holder, it encourages (and fools) your body into producing more bone in that site, and in the process resorbs the material that we have implanted.

Here are some common sources for bone grafts:

  • The skull, hip, and lower leg bones are very effective and common donor sites.
  • Tissue banks may be used when more bone is needed.
  • Shavings: If we drill into your jaw, naturally there will be shavings that are produced during the procedure, and often they make ideal bone grafting material!
  • Synthetic bone grafting materials.

It is natural to be concerned about what type of tissue we are implanting into your body! Please don’t hesitate to ask us questions about this or your other upcoming procedures.

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