IOMSA

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.

Wisdom Teeth FAQs

Our patients often wonder why we recommend wisdom tooth extractions, or what the purpose of wisdom teeth even is. We are eager to help you better understand the benefits of removal and the extraction process! Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions about those tricky third molars.

Wisdom-Tooth-FAQWhy do we have wisdom teeth?
Human ancestors used their wisdom teeth to grind up food that was hard to digest. They had large jaws and powerful teeth with plenty of room for a third set of molars.

Modern humans, however, eat cooked foods and have a more effective digestive system, so we have evolved smaller jaws and teeth. This means less room in our mouths for wisdom teeth.

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed? 
There are several reasons why you may benefit from having your wisdom teeth extracted, as wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term and long-term complications.

  • Impaction: If there is not enough room for your wisdom teeth to erupt, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. You may experience pain or discomfort while eating due to impaction.
  • Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can push against your second molars, potentially damaging them and making them more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Disease: Narrowed spaces between molars due to impaction also allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at risk of inflammation, cysts, and periodontal (gum) disease.

When should I get my wisdom teeth out? 
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, which means that many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. The longer you wait, the more complications may arise. The roots of your wisdom teeth continue growing as you get older and may eventually come in contact with a nerve. At this point, nerve damage is a possible outcome of wisdom tooth extraction.

When are wisdom teeth okay to keep?
Sometimes, wisdom teeth have room to erupt healthily and do not need to be extracted. If this is the case, your dentist may recommend you keep your third molars.

Make sure you are coming in for regular check ups so our team can keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Consult with our practice about the right course of action for your wisdom teeth, because everyone’s teeth are different.

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!

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.

Why You May Need It. Most conditions that require corrective surgery are the resuWhat-to-Know-Jaw-Surgery-2lt 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!

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 beenOral-Cancer-Self-Screening on the public health radar until now.

That 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

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!

Tips for Reducing Scarring After Facial Surgery

Facial lacerations can be a scary situation for anyone. That is why it’s best to visit experts, like us, who have experience in treating and repairing facial injuries and trauma. However, we know that your recovery doesn’t end the moment you leave our doors. We want you to have the best outcome following surgery, which is why we’re writing this to answer some of your most common questions and to give you our best tips for treating your wound as it heals.

  • Tips for Reducing Scarring After Facial SurgeryKnow the general timetable of healing. Within 2 days the cut should seal, and by 5 to 10 days it should be strong. In the first 3 months you may notice the skin around the scar may thicken and have a red or purple tint. By 4 to 6 months this process should reverse and the scar will flatten and the discoloration will fade. Usually by 6 months the scar will be completely healed, but there can be continued improvement for up to a year.

  • There are many factors that impact your healing. How deep your cut is, its location, your age, and the way your skin heals all determine how visible a final scar will be. Younger skin actually produces thicker scarring.

  • Apply ointment frequently to keep the wound moist. This can increase the speed of healing considerably and reduce scabbing, which actually increases the build up of scar tissue.

  • Apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. An infected wound will make a bigger scar. Be sure to continue to apply antibiotic ointment or cream as directed by our team to keep the wound moist and fight off any infection.

  • Make sure you know the signs of infection. Antibiotics will often be prescribed to prevent infection, especially if the wound is a result of injury. Contact us immediately if you see any signs of an infection including:

    • A large amount of pus coming from the wound

    • Increased redness or swelling

    • Fever

  • Massage the wound gently to increase blood flow. Sutures are usually removed between 5 and 8 days. Massage the wound after sutures have been removed using a moisturizing lotion with Vitamin E or Aloe. Gently massage the skin around the wound twice daily for the first two weeks, and then once a day for a month. This will increase the blood flow in the area and prevent scar tissue build up.

  • Be gentle and avoid scrubbing your wound. It is usually okay to allow clean shower water to wash over the wound as long as you don’t scrub it. If crusts of blood accumulate, lightly dabbing with clean gauze moistened with hydrogen peroxide is best.

  • Avoid sun exposure. It is extremely important that you do your best to avoid sun exposure. The scar may tan a much darker color than the skin around it, and this may become permanent. Cover the area as much as possible or use sun block of SPF 50 or greater.

Whether you have had elective surgery or surgery to repair a facial injury we hope that these tips help answer your questions. If you or your loved one ever requires a trip to the emergency room involving a facial injury or laceration, be sure to seek our consultation as soon as possible and please contact us with any additional questions that you may have.

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.

Oral 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!