IOMSA

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

Has there ever been a moment in your life where you felt that you should be a part of something bigger than yourself? An organization, a charity, or a non-profit perhaps? Humans are born with the innate desire to help others, so it’s no wonder that we may feel the need to give back to the world in one way or another. And sometimes, it’s the simple acts that yield the most difference. This month you have the opportunity to get involved with a sweeping issue that goes unnoticed too often, and you may help save a life by doing it.

hncaApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month and we need to stir up some conversation. Oral cancer awareness in the American public is extremely low, with very little acknowledgment of its devastating realities. According to the AAOMS, oral and pharyngeal cancer (cancer of the upper throat and mouth) collectively kills nearly one person of every hour of everyday of the year. Approximately 48,250 people in the US will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year. While smoking and tobacco use are still major risk factors, the fastest growing segment of oral cancer patients is healthy, young, nonsmoking individuals. We know this sounds scary, but the truth of the matter is that it is scary, and we need to confront the concern head on.

Awareness is so much more than just knowing about an issue, it’s also about collective, meaningful action. Share this information with your family, friends, and coworkers. Help educate those around you about the importance of regular self-exams and screenings. Oral cancer is not a new phenomenon, but with advancing technologies and the ability to rapidly share information, we can have a new approach. It is possible for fatalities to be avoided! As reported by the AAOMS, the death rate associated with oral and pharyngeal cancers remains particularly high due to the cancer being routinely discovered late in its development. This means our voice can carry the power to make a difference in the world of oral cancers.

April 10-16th is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Week (OHANCAW).
A message from President Louis K. Rafetto, DMD, mentions that the AAOMS is joining a number of dental organizations in support of the Oral Cancer Foundation’s 17th annual observance this April. This designated week will support free oral cancer screenings and encourage practitioners, patients and other interested individuals (like YOU) to promote head and neck cancer awareness through the use of public service announcements, news releases, talks at middle and high schools, walk-a-thons, and other community-based activities.

As an Oral and Maxillofacial surgical care practice, we have the unique ability to diagnose and treat these conditions. Call Indiana Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates to discuss the steps that you and those within your community can take to help detect early signs of oral cancer.

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After Surgery: What to Feed a Delicate Mouth

There’s nothing like oral surgery to make you appreciate the solid foods and acidic drinks you can’t have right away. Sandwiches, chips, and orange juice should all be avoided after oral surgery such as wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, and orthognathic surgery. Too much chewing can re-open the sensitive areas of your mouth, and can cause bleeding or infection. But don’t worry–we have a few healthy food and beverage recommendations you can use while your mouth is delicate.

First 24 Hours

For the first 24 hours after your surgery, your teeth/jaw will need some time off. Therefore, smoothies, low-fat jello/puddings, and warm (not hot!) soups will be the most beneficial for your healing process. Soft foods are your friends! It is extremely important to refrain from using a straw, as the sucking causes excess strain, which can delay the healing process.

Here are a few recommendations for the first 24 hours:

After Surgery- What to Feed a Delicate Mouth

Banana Shake: A healthy, filling way to start the day after your surgery. Don’t use a straw! Also, bananas help replace electrolytes and maintain fluid balance within your body. Other milkshakes and smoothies work great too, as long as they don’t have seeds in them that can get stuck in wounds.

Applesauce: You can’t eat apples, but this is the next best thing!

Soup: Soup with soft ingredients is a great way to go. Don’t include chunks of food that need lots of chewing. Make sure that it’s the right temperature for your sensitive mouth.

Mashed Potatoes: The softest food around. Mashed potatoes require very little effort from your mouth and have great calories and nutrition. Try different toppings to make things interesting.

Next Few Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start easing into enjoying solid foods again. Here are some tasty transitional foods (some can even help the healing process!)

Gnocci: Gnocci is one of the softest pastas there is. Try it with tomato sauce, powdered parmesan cheese and a hearty meat filling.

Hamburger Stroganoff: Minced or finely sliced meat is a good place to start, and cooked mushrooms should be soft enough not to bother you. Added sour cream will give the dish a smooth consistency.

We hope that these recommendations help! We genuinely want you to heal as quickly as possibly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to call us with any questions about the post oral surgery process.

What is Orthognathic Surgery?

Orthognathic surgery is a procedure, or set of procedures, that make corrections to the jaw. The jaw serves many functions. It isn’t just for chewing. A healthy jaw also plays an important role in your speech, ability to sleep well, as well as maintain a proper bite, airflow, and facial symmetry.

Your jaw can be misaligned for a number of reasons. Perhaps you suffered an injury that wasn’t corrected properly. Maybe things just grew that way. It may very well be that a slight misalignment is no issue, but it’s worth giving us a call to find out just how severe your misalignment is, and what it means for your health.

What is Orthognatic Surgery

Reasons to ask about jaw surgery:

Unexplained Pain
Sometimes, unexplained pain elsewhere in the body is caused by the activities of your jaws. Your headaches and even neck pain may be the result of excessive pressure in your jaw due to grinding or bite issues.

Air Flow
The position of your jaw can also restrict air flow while you sleep. Misaligned jaws are a common cause of sleep apnea. It could very well be that your fatigue and stamina issues stem from a misaligned jaw.

Mechanical Problems
If you have trouble chewing, meeting your lips together or can see a visible imbalance in your appearance, it may be that you have jaw misalignment issues that can be corrected with surgery. It is also worth noting that a great deal of jaw issues cannot be detected by looking in the mirror, but we think it’s a good place to start.

A Common Treatment Plan:

Your treatment plan will depend on your needs, but for a major jaw correction we often start with braces to move teeth into a better position, and then surgically correct the position of your jaw. This happens after a consensus is made between your family dentist, a maxillofacial surgeon an orthodontist and yourself.

Surgery is done under anesthesia, so you won’t feel a thing while the procedure occurs.

Afterward, you’ll be given a schedule to modify your diet, activity, and be given medication so as to heal as soon as possible

Contact us for a consultation to see if corrective jaw surgery is for you!

How to Check Yourself for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is serious business. The good news is that you can do something about it. Regular self-examinations may help you pick up on warning signs in time to act on them. Oral health professionals are experts on mouths, but the only expert on you is YOU. If you notice something strange going on in your mouth, contacting a professional at our office is your best mode of action.

The first and most important thing to remember is oral cancer is often painless! The second rule to remember is that if you aren’t sure, ask! It’s better to ask now and be sure than to wish you had asked. There are no dumb questions when it comes to looking for oral cancer. And, most importantly: any suspicious area that doesn’t resolve on its own in 14 days should be checked out ASAP.

How to Check Yourself for Oral Cancer

The key to eliminating oral cancer is to act on it early. Here are some things to check regularly.

Your Tongue
Look for lumps and bumps on the upper and lower surfaces of your tongue. Feel around for odd textures, bumps, discoloration or swelling. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth to peek underneath. Don’t limit your search to the red flags above. Use your fingers and your vision.

Your Cheeks
Gently feel your cheeks for bumps and swelling. You can do this by placing your finger on the interior and your thumb outside your cheek. Lightly squeeze and feel around for anomalies.

Your Lips
Take a good look at the interior of your lips with a hand mirror. Keep an eye out for the same signs. Lips are harder to be sure about because they are constantly drying, wetting, and being scraped as we eat and speak. Nonetheless, lips are prone to cancer given that they re always exposed to sunlight. Better safe than sorry.

Your Head/Neck Area
Closely examine your head and neck for lumps and protrusions. A bump or lack of uniformity is absolutely worth checking out. Ask us at your next visit to check out your throat too. Keep an eye out for sensitivity and soreness.

With oral cancer, the key is to keep your eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Anything that seems strange is worth noting and calling our office about.

Call us today for a check up!

Dental Implants: FAQ

Dental implants are becoming more and more popular these days, and we can see why. The ability to replace a missing tooth with a brand new one is an attractive concept.

We know that people often have questions about implants, so we have put together this page to answer those common questions:

Dental Implant FAQ

What is a dental implant?
Implants are artificial teeth that function exactly like your natural teeth. We take a titanium screw, attach it to your jaw, allow the jaw to grow around the screw, and then fit the new tooth in right where the old one used to be. It will feel exactly like your old tooth used to when you had it.

How quick is the procedure?
It depends on just how strong and healthy your jaw is. Your jaw may very well be ready to receive the new tooth quickly, but it may also take time to grow around the screw. If your jaw is weak, we can also transplant bone from other parts of your body first, via another procedure called “bone grafting”, to grow a fresh, strong base where the screw can be inserted. If that is the case, the whole process takes more time, but again, it depends on your case.

Does it hurt?
No. Medications and anesthesia are available to reduce or eliminate pain. You shouldn’t feel a thing.

Since it’s an artificial tooth, do I need to care for it as if it were alive?
You should clean and maintain your implant exactly like you do with your living teeth. Though the implant isn’t going to die, it can still allow bacteria to build up, like your other teeth do. Clean all of your teeth with care, and they should all stay healthy.

How long do they last?
If your implant is taken good care of, it should last a long, long time. Perhaps 40 years and sometimes even a lifetime!

What should I eat after the procedure?
Eat soft food. We will help you decide on a diet that works for you depending on the specifics of your case and treatment.

Have more questions? Call us! We would be glad to set up an evaluation.

4 Surprising Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Common symptoms of Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder such as jaw pain, clicking or popping of the jaw and clenching are well known, but did you know that you can experience symptoms of TMJ disorders throughout your whole body? TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose when your symptoms are not restricted to the jaw area, so to make diagnosis easier we’ve listed some symptoms you might be surprised to find out are related to TMJ disorders!

  1. 4-Surprising-Signs-of-TMJ-DisordersEarache: Because the jaw muscles run from ear to ear, TMJ related jaw pain can also trigger ear pain, which is often mistaken for an ear infection. The pain actually doesn’t come from the ear at all, but originates directly beneath or in front of the ear.
  2. Neck pain: The temporomandibular joint plays a major role in keeping the head balanced on top of the spinal chord. The head weighs roughly 8 pounds, but bad posture due to joint misalignment causes this weight to be distributed unevenly, putting added stress on the neck and spine and causing the head to have a 30-pound pull on your muscles. No wonder neck and back pain are symptoms of TMJ disorders!
  3. Pinched nerves: When TMJ alignment is skewed, your muscles overwork themselves to compensate for the imbalance. The back is prone to TMJ related pain, as it becomes strained in order to maintain the body’s balance. This tension can lead to numbness in your extremities, so if you’re experiencing any tingling sensations in your arms, legs, fingers or toes, it could be a sign of a TMJ disorder.
  4. Obstructed airways: The tongue is attached to the lower jaw, so the position of the tongue in the mouth depends on your jaw alignment. Misalignment of the lower jaw could cause your tongue to sit too far back in the mouth and obstruct your airways. If your breathing feels abnormal, especially while sleeping, a TMJ disorder could be the culprit.

We hope that reading about these lesser-known symptoms will answer some of your questions about TMJ disorders. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with us to learn about your treatment options!

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!

Dental Implants: What’s All The Hype?

These days, we all know someone who has a dental implant, and you have probably heard us champion these teeth substitutes, as they become more and more the common cure for missing teeth!

Dental Implants What's all the HypeBut why?

We think that’s a valid question and it deserves a good answer!

Bone Loss
Any oral health professional will tell you that living with a missing tooth can have negative consequences that go well below the gum line. The problem doesn’t stop at the single tooth that goes missing. The jawbone also suffers. When there is not a tooth set in the jawbone offering regular stimulation, you lose bone mass in that area. That loss of jawbone contributes to a decline in facial aesthetics as the jaw shrinks away. The loss of jawbone also means that when you do have an implant later in life, you will likely require extensive bone grafting prior to the implant procedure. Traditional tooth “replacement” methods such as dentures and bridges do not solve the problem of bone loss.

In contrast, dental implants eliminate these problems and encourage a healthy, strong and adequate jaw by integrating with it (also known as: osseointegration). The implant then provides regular stimulation (as you chew food), and keeps the jawbone in proper health.

Lifestyle and Diet
Most people with dentures report that in addition to living in fear of their dentures falling out in social settings, they also must live with a restricted diet, unable to enjoy the foods that they previously ate. This same restricted diet goes for those with wobbly bridges and crowns as well. More often than not, those restricted foods are some of the healthiest ones, such as crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Dental implants look and feel nearly identical to your regular teeth, and are second only to your natural teeth when it comes to form and function. Dental implants allow you to eat and live freely with a healthy diet and without fear. In addition to that, dental implants have a 98% success rate and can often last you for a lifetime!

Preventing Oral Cancer

While we cannot all necessarily prevent cancer from happening, with most cancers, including oral, head and neck cancers, there are things that you can do (or not do!) to reduce your risk.

  • Preventing-Oral-CancerQuit Smoking: After five years of quitting smoking, your risk of oral cancer is cut down to just half of that of a smoker.
  • Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use is the second largest risk factor for oral cancer. Limit drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
  • HPV Vaccine: HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer (the back of the mouth and throat). HPV is also responsible for a small number of oral cavity cancers (the mouth).
  • Self-Exams: Be an advocate for your own health by regularly examining your mouth with a mirror and flashlight. Don’t forget to look under the tongue! Watch for unusual bumps, patches, different coloring, and report any to us that don’t heal within 14 days. Feel your lips, cheeks, throat and neck for unusual bumps and masses. There are a number of online guides for performing a thorough at home oral cancer self-exam.
  • Have Regular Checkups: Oral health professionals such as dentists and oral surgeons are the second line of defense (after you) in terms of screening for oral cancers. Be sure to ask us any questions that come up during your exam.
  • Eat Well: A healthy diet includes plentiful vegetables and fruits, is low in sugar and saturated fats, and includes lean sources of protein and whole grains. Incorporate new foods into your diet slowly for long lasting results.
  • Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day or more!
  • Get Adequate Sleep and Minimize Stress: A lack of sleep and stress both contribute to inflammation which has long been recognized as a player in the cancer game.

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.