El Dorado Oral Surgery

Oral Cancer: What you Need to Know

One of the most important jobs we have in our practice is to examine, monitor and diagnose head and neck pathology in our patients. What we are really looking for is any sign of oral cancer. Each year, about 42,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Unfortunately, more than 8,000 of those people will die from the disease because too often it is caught in a late, incurable stage.

Oral Cancer What you Need to KnowTo help you stay healthy and educated about your oral health needs, we have compiled a list of the most important things you should know about oral cancer:

  • Oral cancer affects more than just the mouth. Any cancer in the mouth, lips, throat or back of the mouth is considered oral cancer.
  • Since 90% of oral cancers begin in the surface area of the mouth, tongue and lips, we recommend regular self-exams.
  • Largest risk factors: Not surprisingly, tobacco and alcohol use top the list of biggest risk factors for oral cancer.
  • Other risk factors: Human papilloma virus (HPV), pre-cancerous oral lesion, betel quid use (common in Asia), excessive UV/sun exposure, certain drugs and genetic syndromes.
  • To diagnose oral cancer, we will examine the mouth and neck, ask about your risk factors, and possibly order biopsies and imaging of the head (CT, MRI, etc).
  • Pain is not associated with cancer in its early stages. Usually pain does not occur until the cancer has progressed to a later stage.
  • The most common oral cancer symptoms warrant a call to our office. They include: sores that don’t heal, lumps inside the mouth, white or red patches on soft tissues in the mouth, bleeding, pain when swallowing or chewing, numbness, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, lumps in the neck, hoarseness, and more.

Don’t hesitate to us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of oral cancer.

The History of Bone Grafting

The concept of bone grafting is nothing new. In fact it has been an History of Bone Graftingimportant part of medicine as far back as the early 1600’s and in recent years has become a standard procedure for people who need a dental implant or have had a traumatic jaw injury. Shortly after the invention of the microscope, the Dutch doctor Jacob van Meekeren performed the first bone grafting operation on a soldier with a damaged skull. Unfortunately, back then doctors didn’t have the knowledge or bone grafting materials that we have today and in order to save the soldier, Jacob van Meekeren was forced to use a piece of dog bone as implant material. Van Meekeren was pleased with the surgery’s success, but it wasn’t until the soldier returned asking to have the implant removed that van Meekeren discovered just how successful it really was!

In the 1600’s, the Christian church looked at things a little differently and this poor soldier with a piece of dog bone in his skull was excommunicated after the church considered him to be part dog. What was upsetting for the soldier aided in the discovery of how well bone grafting actually worked. In the process of attempting to remove the bone graft, van Meekeren discovered that the bone had healed too well and was actually irremovable!

Bone grafting developed over the next 150 years and by 1821 the first graft of tissue from one point to another of the same individual’s body, known as an autograft, was performed in Germany. During WWI and WWII, bone grafting continued to develop as more soldiers became crucially wounded and a need for advanced surgeries became necessary. After another fifty years the first synthetic ceramic product was cleared for use in 1991.

As you can see, bone grafting has a much longer history than you might have imagined! To find out if you are a good candidate for bone grafting, give us a call!

Dental Implants vs. Dentures and Bridges

Whether it was during a consultation in our office or perhaps while you were doing your own research online, you have probably come across the term “dental implant” at some point. A dental implant is a great way, often the best way, to replace a missing tooth.

Dental lmplants vs DenturesSo how do you decide if a dental implant is the right path for you, or if a more traditional tooth replacement method such as dentures or bridges is the best way to go?

We have been asked this question many times, and have compiled a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits that implants offer over their conventional counterparts. We hope that this guide will help make the decision process easier for you.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures and Bridges: Things to Consider

  • Longevity: Dental implants offer a long-term solution (often lasting a lifetime) to missing teeth, while dentures and bridges require replacement every 5 to 10 years. Not only does this mean less hassle, it also means that implants may be more affordable over time.
  • Quality of Life:
    • Simply put, dental implants look, feel and function more like natural teeth than do dentures and bridges.
    • With a dental implant, our patients can hardly notice the difference when biting into hard objects. They also look more natural.
    • In addition to that, dental implants are fixed – they are not going to fall out while you are talking or smiling, and you don’t have to put them away each night when you go to sleep. They remain in your mouth, anchored to your jawbone at all times.
  • Bone Stability and Health: Just like muscles, bones also need a “workout” in order to maintain their mass and health. So when a tooth is missing from the jawline, the bone underneath the old tooth site becomes atrophied and shrinks. Dentures and bridges do nothing to help this deterioration. However, dental implants actually screw into the bone and integrate with it, actually encouraging new bone growth.
  • Overall Health: Because implants allow for a normal range of food choices in the diet (a benefit not afforded by dentures), they encourage you to continue your healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life!

Do you still have questions? As always, we are here to answer any questions you have. Give us a call for more information!

On the Field and On the Court: Facial Injuries

It used to be that we would see most of our sports-related facial trauma patients in the fall and winter, when sports participation typically reached its highest point. But nowadays, we see a steady stream of sports injuries to the face in our office year-round. Because more children, teens and adults participate in sports in all four seasons (which is great), we see more sports-related facial injuries now than ever before (not so great).

On the FieldNot only is the face the most vulnerable part of the body during a game, it is also almost always under-protected. Facial injuries account for about 11-40 percent of all sports injuries. Even in a “no-contact” or “less-contact” sport where player-to-player injuries are rare, a person can still be hit by a ball, bat, club or other item and experience trauma to the face.

Two types of sports-related facial traumas make up the majority of cases we see:

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries: Lacerations are a common type of injury when playing a variety of sports. In addition to cleaning and suturing the cut, we also pay special attention to providing for the best possible cosmetic result and thoroughly examining any nerves, glands and ducts that may have been injured.
  2. T-Zone Fractures: Also very common with sports injuries are fractures of the nose, zygoma (cheek bone) and mandible (jaw).   Because we can’t put a cast on the face, sometimes fractures must be stabilized using wires, screws and plates.

How to Prevent Facial Injuries on the Field and on the Court:

Many of the most common sports-related facial injuries are also preventable. Here are some of the best ways to protect your face when playing any sport where injury to the tooth or face is a risk:

  • Mouth Guards: Simple, inexpensive and increasingly mandatory in many sports, mouth guards are the first defense against injury to the tooth, and may even help to lessen or prevent concussions!
  • Face Masks: As time goes on, you will see more and more sports, most recently softball, requiring facemasks to protect young players.

If you have any questions about how to protect yourself from sports-related facial trauma, don’t hesitate to ask us!

Facts About Modern Bone Grafting

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

Facts About Modern Bone GraftingIt’s a routine procedure!

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

Bone loss has been virtually eliminated!

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

There are a variety of materials that can be used.

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

Bone grafting allows your body to rebuild itself.

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

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

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!

Diabetes and Oral Health – A Two-Way Street

If you, a friend or a family member have diabetes, you may have heard that this common disease increases a person’s risk of gum disease and other oral health problems. But did you know that this relationship is a mutually distressing one? Not only does diabetes make gum disease worse, but gum disease can actually make diabetes worse too by interfering with blood-glucose management strategies.

diabetes oral healthHere, we shine some light on the relationship between diabetes and oral health, and what you can do about it.

Diabetes makes it difficult for the body to fight infection. Whether the infection is located in the mouth, the leg or any other part of the body, poor circulation suppresses the immune system, making it harder for the body’s natural infection fighting responders to do their job. This means that if you have diabetes, you are more prone to gum disease, and other oral health problems too such as thrush and dry mouth.

On the flip-side, gum disease can also make diabetes worse. Whenever the body is fighting illness or an infection (such as a cold or the flu or even gum disease), blood sugar spikes are harder to control with regular methods and thus extra monitoring and control-measures are required.

Are you wondering what you can do to minimize this damage? First and foremost, keep your blood sugar under control using the methods that your physician has prescribed. Next, practice good oral health maintenance with regular brushing and flossing. And finally, don’t skip regular trips to the dentist and other oral health professionals. If you have diabetes, you cannot afford to ignore this important part of your body.

Dental Implants: Are they Right for you?

Not everyone is blessed with perfect teeth. Many people would tell you they lack the smile they’ve always wanted due to genetics, disease, and sometimes even accidents. Fortunately, we have a solution. With dental implants, you will no longer feel self-conscious about your smile; but rather delight in having a new and improved grin!

Dental Implant FWhat are dental implants?

Technically, dental implants are replacement roots for missing teeth. First, the implant, a titanium screw, is inserted into the jawbone. Next, a removable or permanent replacement tooth is attached to the top of the implant to mirror the appearance of your natural teeth. Currently, over 3 million people worldwide have dental implants and the technology has reached a point where each procedure has a 98% success rate.

Why should I get dental implants?

Beyond simply improving the appearance of your smile, dental implants include many other benefits:

  • Oral health: Unlike other restorative procedures, dental implants do not necessitate the reduction or alteration of neighboring teeth, thus resulting in improved oral health overall. Additionally, dental implants do not interfere with access to neighboring teeth, so it is no harder to brush or floss.
  • Longevity: While other dental aides such as dentures and bridges inevitably require replacement, dental implants are extremely durable, lasting many more years and in some cases even a lifetime!
  • Convenience: Dental implants do not ever need to be removed for activities such as eating, drinking and brushing, and do not require adhesives. They act, look and feel just like natural teeth!

How much do dental implants cost?

Dental insurance does not always cover the cost of dental implants. However, in the long run, dental implants are usually cheaper than other restorative procedures. Because they do not need to be replaced, the initial investment for implants is well worth the price.

Dental implants are becoming a popular trend in the world! Call us to set up an appointment to upgrade your smile!

Wisdom Teeth: What do I Really Need to Know?

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

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

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

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

  1. Patience is not a virtue.

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

  1. I scream for ice cream!

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

  1. No pain, plenty to gain.

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

  1. Rest is the best!

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

Dental Implants: What Should I Believe?

Dental Implants have become commonplace, with over 3 million people worldwide hosting some sort of implant. Unfortunately, their rising popularity has been accompanied by an increasing number of misconceptions about what they can and can’t do.

Dental Implant eLet us help you to understand which of these common messages are true and which are fabricated.

Message #1: Dental implants are more expensive than traditional restorative methods.

Verdict: True and False. While the initial implant installation is more costly than other dental restorative procedures, over time, maintaining dental implants is much easier and cheaper. Other procedures require eventual replacement. For example, dentures require replacement after 5-10 years while dental bridges must be replaced every 7-10 years. So in the long run, dental implants can be less expensive than these alternative procedures.

Message #2: Dental implants are exceedingly painful.

Verdict: False. Like most forms of oral surgery, dental implant installation does involve some discomfort. However, patient accounts reveal that the pain is not worse than any typical tooth extraction as doctors use local anesthesia to address and minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

Message #3: Dental implant placement often fails.

Verdict: False. While dental implants do have the possibility of falling out, it is very rare for this to happen. In fact, reports show that 98% of dental implant surgeries are successful.

Message #4: Only young people should get dental implants.

Verdict: False. There is no reason healthy, elderly patients cannot receive implants. In fact, there are many cases of patients 90 and older undergoing dental implant placement surgery with great success!

Don’t let these common misconceptions get in the way of your decision to get dental implants. Give us a call…we’d be happy to discuss your concerns about dental implants with you to give you a better idea of what this procedure can do for you.