Oral Facial Surgery Center

Understanding Bone Grafting

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

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

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

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

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

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

6 Reasons for Considering Dental Implants

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

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

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

10 Facts About Jaw Surgery

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

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

Common Causes of Facial Trauma

Injuries to the face and mouth are emotionally upsetting as well as physically damaging. It’s extremely important to have medical and dental care by experts who know how to address the psychological, medical, and aesthetic elements of recovery. This blog will cover the most common causes of facial trauma and the types of injures that may occur. As with most injuries, prevention is the best medicine, so we will cover tips in avoiding facial trauma all together!

types of facial traumaMost Common Causes of Facial Trauma: There are many ways in which the face can be damaged. Accidents, falls, automobile crashes, work related injuries, and interpersonal violence are among the most common causes for adults. For children, sports related injuries are the leading cause. Children who participate in contact sports, cheerleading, and gymnastics are especially at risk, especially for dental trauma. Dental trauma accounts for 17% of injuries to the body for children, according to the American Dental Association, compared to 5% across all ages. It is most frequently observed in males compared to females, and usually involves the front teeth.

Types of Injuries: Every year about 3 million people are treated for facial trauma according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Soft tissue trauma includes any cuts to the face or gums. Avulsed, or knocked out teeth are another type of injury, and must be dealt with immediately to increase the chances for reimplantation. Bone injuries, such as fractured jaws, cheekbones, and noses can also occur as well as damage to the nerves in the eyes, face and salivary glands. It is extremely important to have facial trauma assessed and treated by an expert in facial trauma. Besides the aesthetic reasons, serious health complications can occur, even from a small amount of damage. Depending on the location of the injury, speech, swallowing, and breathing can be affected. For dental injury, teeth that are loose in their sockets can make eating difficult and cause speech impediments. Chipped, broken, or misaligned teeth can cause TMJ and other functional problems, in addition to the loss of confidence in your appearance.

What You Can Do to Prevent Injuries: Using a mouthguard during sports or other high-risk activities is the most effective way to prevent injury. Studies in high-risk populations for facial trauma show relatively low compliance in using mouthguards. We can also recommend helmets, face shields, and protective eyewear that can further reduce your risks. The spring season seems to bring an increase of children to the emergency room as kids are eager to get on their bicycles, skateboards, and swing sets. As a parent, educate your child in safety measures and supervise their activity.

When facial trauma does happen, quick action is important. Please call us as soon as possible so we can best advise and support you in your recovery. Accidents happen, and when they do, we want to help!

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.

What You Should Know About Jaw Reconstruction Surgery

Sometimes jaw problems may require more than orthodontic treatment. Jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic (or-thog-NATH-ik) surgery, can be a great choice for moderate to severe jaw issues. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (OMS) are specially trained in orthognathic surgery that can dramatically improve chewing, speaking, breathing, and in the process enhance a patient’s appearance. If you are considering orthognathic surgery, here are some important things to know.

What-to-Know-Jaw-Surgery-2Why You May Need It. Most conditions that require corrective surgery are the result of abnormal growth of the jaws as they develop. These conditions are often inherited. Other less common causes are facial injury or arthritis of the jaw joints.

Orthognathic surgery may be indicated for the following conditions:

-Difficulty biting, chewing or swallowing food

-Excessive wear or breakdown of teeth

-Chronic jaw or jaw joint pain caused by TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) or other jaw problems

-Improve “gummy” smiles, where the lips don’t fully close and show large areas of the gums or “toothless” smiles, where the lips cover all of the teeth

-Facial imbalance, including underbites, overbites, crossbites, and deficient chins

-Sleep apnea

Treatment Team. While we will plan and perform the actual surgery, we will also be working with your dentist and orthodontist for the full course of treatment. Most treatment includes braces for 9 to 18 months before surgery to level and align your teeth. After your jaw heals from surgery, which typically takes about 6 weeks, your orthodontist will finish your alignment and remove the braces. Depending on the severity of your jaw problem, the entire treatment process can take from 12 to 24 months. We know that this is a long-term commitment and we will do our best to minimize the length of treatment and provide you with the best estimates of what will be required.

What to Expect. Jaw surgery can be performed on the upper jaw, lower jaw or both. It is best to perform the surgery after growth stops, usually ages 13 to 15 for females and 16 to 18 for males. Jaw surgery usually can be performed entirely inside your mouth, so no facial scars show. Once your jaws are properly aligned, screws and bone plates secure the bones into their new position. In some cases, extra bone may be added to the jaw. In this case, we transfer the bone from your hip, leg or rib and secure it with temporary wires.

Surgery can take place in an in-patient or outpatient setting, depending on the procedure required. Facial swelling, while variable, is common and increases for a couple of days following surgery before it subsides. More subtle changes in your appearance will continue for up to a year. For this reason, our students generally choose to have the surgery during school vacations. For adults, one to three weeks is usually required before returning to work.

Jaw surgery can enhance your comfort, appearance, and improve your overall health. We are here to answer any questions you have. Please make an appointment for a consultation so we can review the potential of this life changing treatment with you!

Osseointegration: Big Word, Simple Concept!

osseointegrationWas 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!

Osseointegration 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!

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!