Oral Surgery

dentist and patient discussion about planned teeth treatment in dental clinic office

A Patient’s Guide to the Cost of Dental Implant Surgery

Whether you’ve been missing a few teeth for a while or you have to get an infected tooth removed soon, you might be interested in some ways to restore your smile. Fortunately, one way an oral surgeon can help is by filling in gaps with dental implants. This dental treatment is a great way to provide you with replacement teeth that look and feel like the natural, healthy teeth you need to get a smile you can confidently show off.

If this sounds too good to be true, your thoughts might immediately turn to the cost of dental implants. After all, no matter how much of a worthwhile investment oral surgery is, you need to be able to budget for it. So take a look at what you should know about the typical dental implant cost, including how much you’ll pay for each step of this treatment and what factors influence the total price.

What’s the Average Dental Implant Cost?

First, it’s helpful to get a general idea of what you’ll pay for dental implants. Even learning a range of costs can let you know whether this type of oral surgery is something you can pay a lump sum for out of pocket right now or if it’s a procedure that you might want to make payments on.

Simply put, replacing a single gap in your mouth with a dental implant can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000. If you need to replace a few teeth with dental implants, the cost will be closer to $6,000 to $10,000. And if you need all your teeth replaced with dental implants, expect the cost to total anywhere from $20,000 to $60,000.

As you consider these costs, note that you’re not just paying for a dental implant. You’re also paying for the minor procedures your oral surgeon will have to do to prepare your mouth for dental implants — and the materials they will use to do so. The following is a breakdown of all the elements that go into the total dental implant cost.

X-Rays – $20 to $200

First, your oral surgeon will have to take x-rays of your mouth to make sure you’re a good candidate for dental implants. X-rays can show whether you have enough bone in your jaw for the dental implants to be successful — or if you need a bone graft before the procedure — so you don’t want to skip this step.

CT Scan – $250 to $1,000

Your oral surgeon might order a CT scan, either in addition to x-rays or instead of them. A CT scan can provide a 3D image of everything from your bones to the soft tissues and nerves in your mouth, which can help your oral surgeon determine how to proceed with the dental implants.

Tooth Extraction – $75 to $650

If you have an infected or broken tooth that your oral surgeon needs to remove before putting in dental implants, expect to see the cost for tooth extraction on your final bill. Note that this is the price for each tooth your oral surgeon removes.

Bone Grafts – $200 to $3,000

The x-rays and CT scan you get might show bone loss in the jaw, in which case bone grafts will be needed to ensure the dental implants can be put securely in place. Bone grafting involves taking bone from somewhere else and transplanting it into the jaw, creating a solid base to put the dental implant in.

Post – $1,000 to $3,000

The post is one of the most important parts of dental implants, as it serves as the root of the tooth. Your oral surgeon will drill a hole into the bone and securely place the metal post into the hole.

Abutment and Crown – $1,000 to $3,000

The final step in getting dental implants is putting a crown on the post. But first, the oral surgeon will need to place an abutment on the post for the crown to attach to. Then the crown will be placed, and your new, improved smile will be ready to show off.

What Factors Affect Dental Implant Cost?

Now you have some idea about the dental implant cost you can expect if you want to fill in any gaps in your smile. But as with any procedure, there are some factors that can increase or decrease this cost for you. Your location is just one, as some cities have a naturally higher cost of living, and the price of dental implants can reflect this. Another factor is how experienced your oral surgeon is, as one with years of experience and excellent reviews might cost more than average.

The materials your oral surgeon uses for dental implants can also affect the price. For example, the two most common materials for dental implants are titanium and zirconium. Each has a different price, so you can expect your dental implant cost to vary depending on which one your oral surgeon decides is best for you. Finally, the more procedures you need to prepare your mouth for oral surgery, the higher your total cost will be. This means if you need bone grafting, tooth extraction, care for an infection in your mouth, etc., you’ll pay more than average.

Fortunately, you may be able to get some help with the overall dental implant cost. First, while dental insurance doesn’t typically cover dental implants, most insurance providers pay for some costs, such as x-rays and tooth extraction. Plus, many oral surgeons offer payment plans so you can get dental implants now and pay them off over time.

If you’re thinking about getting dental implants and want to know more about the cost of this procedure, Oral Surgery DC can help. Our team is experienced and knowledgeable about dental implants and other oral surgery treatments, so contact us today to learn more!

Explaining Each Part of Your Wisdom Tooth Surgery Bill

Oral surgery can be quite expensive, and wisdom tooth surgery is no exception. If you’re wondering what each part of your surgery bill covers, read on to learn more. We’ll explain what determines the cost of surgery and if insurance will cover it. By understanding where your bill is coming from, you can feel more prepared to discuss it with your oral surgeon and make decisions about your dental care.

How Much Does Wisdom Tooth Removal Cost?

Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Wisdom tooth removal is a standard procedure that many people go through. There are many reasons why people have their wisdom teeth removed. For some, it’s because their wisdom teeth are impacted, meaning they’re growing in at an angle and pressing against other teeth. For others, wisdom teeth removal is recommended to prevent future problems. 

Wisdom tooth removal costs can vary depending on a number of factors, including the type of extraction and the credentials of the provider you are seeing. Below, let’s explain some factors that can affect the price of removing a wisdom tooth.

Type Of Extraction

There are two main types of extractions: simple and surgical. Simple extractions typically involve removing the wisdom tooth by applying pressure to it with forceps. Surgical extractions are more complex and can include making an incision to remove the tooth. Surgical extractions are generally more expensive than simple extractions due to the amount of work involved.

Type Of Anesthesia

The type of anesthesia used during the procedure will also determine the cost. Local anesthesia numbs the area around the tooth that is being removed. General anesthesia puts you to sleep during the procedure. General anesthesia is more expensive than local anesthesia, but it may be necessary if you are having a surgical extraction.

Credentials Of Your Provider

The credentials of your provider can also affect the cost of wisdom tooth removal. Wisdom tooth removal often requires the expertise of a specialist, such as an oral surgeon. While this can affect cost, it is vital to ensure you are seeing the appropriate professional for the level of care you need. 

Elements of Your Wisdom Tooth Removal Bill

The basic costs of wisdom tooth removal will vary depending on the type of procedure, as mentioned above. The foundation of your wisdom tooth removal bill will consist of the following:

  • The basic fee for extracting the tooth
  • Additional cost per extra tooth that needs to be removed
  • Anesthesia if needed
  • Nitrous oxide
  • If the wisdom tooth is impacted, then it will cost more to remove

Your geographical location will also influence your bill, with some areas being more expensive than others. Aside from the actual removal of the tooth, you may need other dental treatments to prepare for the procedure. These can include:

  • Dental X-rays
  • Dental cleanings
  • Dental exams

The cost of these additional treatments will be factored into the total cost of your wisdom tooth removal and should be taken into consideration.

Does Dental Insurance Cover Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Dental insurance typically covers at least a portion of the costs associated with wisdom tooth removal. Still, it is important to check with your specific insurer to determine precisely what is covered. In general, insurance will cover the majority of the cost of the procedure if it is considered medically necessary. However, if you choose to have your wisdom teeth removed for cosmetic reasons, you may have to pay more out-of-pocket.

What Are Ways to Save Money on Wisdom Tooth Extractions?

Wisdom tooth extractions can be expensive, but there are ways to save money. Here are some ways to cut down on costs:

Discount Dental Plans

The first is to join a discount dental plan. These plans offer 10-60% discounts on dental procedures, including wisdom teeth extractions. Many dental insurance plans do not cover wisdom teeth extractions entirely, so a discount dental plan can be a great way to save money on the procedure.

Payment Plans

Another way to save money on wisdom teeth extractions is to ask your oral surgeon about payment plans. Many providers offer financing options that allow you to spread the cost of the procedure over time. This can make wisdom teeth removal more affordable for those who don’t have dental insurance or who have high deductibles.

Dental Schools

Dental schools offer affordable services for those who need wisdom tooth extractions and other oral surgery. In addition, they often have a sliding scale for patients who cannot afford the full price of the procedure. This means that you can get your wisdom tooth extracted at a fraction of the cost.

When Should I Contact an Oral Surgeon About Wisdom Teeth Removal?

The American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS) states that nine out of ten people have at least one impacted wisdom tooth. They usually come up during the “age of wisdom” (between 17 and 25). However, some people may need to have their wisdom teeth removed sooner. Here are some signs that you should contact an oral surgeon about wisdom teeth removal:

  • You experience pain in your mouth or jaw
  • You have difficulty opening your mouth
  • You notice swelling around your mouth or jaw
  • You have problems biting or chewing food
  • Your teeth are overcrowded or crooked

The cost of oral surgery can add up, however, there are ways to save money. By understanding each part of your bill, you can make the most informed decision about how to proceed with your wisdom teeth removal. If you have any questions about wisdom tooth extraction or the bill it incurs, please get in touch with Oral Surgery DC today. We are happy to help!

Worth the Cost: How Oral Surgery Helps Avoid Emergencies in the Long Run

Welcome to our first article discussing the benefits of oral surgery and how it can prevent serious dental issues further down the line. Fears and anxieties around surgical procedures may deter some people from making an appointment with their oral surgeon, which could save them so much hardship in the long run. We hope that by increasing the understanding of how oral surgery works to halt dental issues in their tracks, we can help empower people to take that all-important step of booking a procedure they need.

Oral surgery is essential for dealing with many dental concerns, from wisdom tooth removal to surgery to realign your jaw. Delaying these issues doesn’t just mean the problem will continue — it all but guarantees the problem will get worse. Let’s explore the benefits of booking an appointment to get your dental issues dealt with right away.

Reduced Pain

Anxiety ahead of any surgery is normal. Various studies worldwide show that surgery is closely linked to increased anxiety levels due to a fear of increased pain, concerns about recovery time, and even a fear that a procedure might not go as planned.

The main point to remember if your oral surgeon recommends that you undergo a surgical procedure is that they are trying to reduce your level of pain. For example, an impacted wisdom tooth can be incredibly painful. It can push on other teeth, make your jaw ache, and even leave you reliant on daily painkillers — which can be detrimental to your health in different ways. Wisdom tooth removal is an oral surgical procedure with a possible recovery time of 1-2 weeks, during which time you may experience swelling, mild bruising, and stiffness in the jaw. But once that stiffness and swelling go away, you will be pain-free. Beyond that, you avoid the risk of further complications that could lead to you needing even more involved procedures in the future.

Fewer Complications

When you book an appointment with your oral surgeon for an essential procedure, you’re saving yourself from the risk of a whole range of additional complications. Let’s go back to the example of wisdom tooth removal. Leaving your wisdom tooth trapped under the gum or partially erupted will cause you ongoing pain. But did you know you also put yourself at risk of infection? Because impacted teeth can damage the gums, surrounding teeth, and even your jaw, they can create small wounds that allow bacteria to take hold. Those bacteria can lead to painful infections or even a serious form of gum disease called pericoronitis.

Dealing with severe gum disease can be a much more complex and lengthy process than oral surgery. It often calls for repeated appointments for gum scaling and root planing, a procedure where tools are used to physically smooth away the surface of your teeth under the gums. You may also need one or more courses of antibiotics, and if you don’t remove the wisdom tooth causing the problem, there is no guarantee the issues won’t return.

Another possible result of impacted wisdom teeth is that you can develop a cyst or even a tumor in your jaw. If this happens, you can require far more extensive oral surgery, even to the point of having part of your jawbone removed.

It’s clear that the much more efficient and straightforward wisdom tooth removal procedure is safer and far more beneficial for your overall health.

A Financial Consideration

One of the other factors that can stop people from choosing oral surgery is the potential cost. For example, if you’re playing sports and take a blow to the mouth that cracks one of your teeth, it can be tempting to leave it if you’re worried about the financial implications. But that cracked tooth can become a highway for infection to enter your body. The exposed inner tooth pulp is vulnerable to bacteria, and if the crack worsens, the tooth could even break completely. This can lead to pain, facial swelling, and even dental abscesses. Whatever the cost of your initial procedure, you will undoubtedly spend more money on dealing with the secondary complications of what was initially a relatively simple procedure.

Always discuss any financial conwith your oral surgeon or their team. They’ll be able to let you know what the best way forward is and compare the cost of a single procedure now with the potential future expense should you elect not to undergo surgery.

It’s important to note that your oral surgeon will only ever recommend a surgical procedure when it’s absolutely necessary. They will talk you through the process and what to expect so you can be as calm and prepared as possible. If you’ve been suffering from tooth pain or inflamed or bleeding gums, or if you have a dental emergency such as a cracked or broken tooth, talk to an oral surgeon and find out their expert recommendation. Contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.

Six Questions to Ask Your Oral Surgeon Before a Procedure

Six Questions to Ask Your Oral Surgeon Before a Procedure

Patients are often anxious at the thought of any surgery, and oral surgery is no exception. Fortunately, the experts at Oral Surgery DC are here to help. Dr. Nkungula is committed to ensuring you have the information you need to feel comfortable and confident before your procedure. 

Whether you were referred to Oral Surgery DC by your regular dentist or you are interested in an elective treatment, knowing what to expect is key to your peace of mind. These are the six questions to ask your oral surgeon as you review your treatment plan. 

What Can I Do to Prepare Before My Oral Surgery?

The best way to ensure that your oral surgery goes smoothly is to be fully prepared. You can ask your oral surgeon for details on what you can do before and after the procedure for best results. 

For example, in most cases, you should refrain from eating or drinking anything for at least six hours before your oral surgery. It’s also important to know that smoking and vaping are discouraged in the 12 hours before your oral surgery. Nicotine makes it harder for your body to heal. 

Asking how long the procedure takes is helpful for preparation. While your oral surgeon won’t be able to tell you the exact moment you will be ready to go home, it is possible to share the average duration based on experience with similar procedures. That allows you to make arrangements for transportation and any other support you will need after your oral surgery. 

Finally, your oral surgeon is likely to recommend that you spend at least 24 hours resting and recovering from your procedure. Driving, decision-making, and other important tasks may be difficult immediately following oral surgery. 

How Long Is the Standard Recovery Period?

There are two good reasons to ask how long the average recovery period is for your type of oral surgery. First, you can plan for time away from work and enlist extra help from friends, family, and caretakers if you will need it. 

Second, many patients find that it is easier to manage through periods of discomfort when they know that discomfort is likely to end soon – and if it doesn’t, they know when it is time to let their oral surgeon know that something isn’t quite right. 

What Are the Risks or Potential Complications of This Procedure?

No procedure is completely without risk, and complications can occur no matter how smoothly the actual surgical procedure goes. Understanding the risks and potential complications of your oral surgery is a must, so you can make the decision that is right for you. 

As your oral surgeon reviews the risks and complications of a procedure, they will also let you know what to look for once you go home. For example, if an infection is a common complication of your procedure, you will know how to identify the signs early so you can get the right treatment before it becomes a serious issue. 

What Are the Options for Sedation and Pain Relief?

Anxiety is common before and during oral surgery, and the procedures can be downright painful. Of course, local anesthesia during the procedure is standard practice. However, your oral surgeon wants you to be as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure and afterward, so they will offer additional sedation and pain relief options appropriate to your situation. 

Be sure to make your oral surgeon aware of your medical history and any prescribed or over-the-counter medications you already take. Talk through your concerns, your preferences, and any other relevant factors to create a sedation and pain relief plan that meets your needs. 

What Aftercare Is Required and What Restrictions Will I Have?

As with any other medical procedure, you will need time to heal after your oral surgery. That begins with taking special care to get the rest you need to recover. In addition, there may be strictly off-limits activities, like smoking, vaping, or sucking through a straw. This is relevant when wisdom teeth are removed, for example, because the sucking motion can dislodge the blood clot over your jawbone, leading to serious complications. 

You may also be required to refrain from certain foods while you are healing — in most cases, that includes hard foods like nuts and candies. Soft foods like yogurt, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, applesauce, and smoothies are much better for a healing mouth. 

There is often a special oral hygiene routine to follow until you are back to 100 percent. For example, you may be asked to rinse with a saltwater solution or pass on regular brushing for a period. Understanding aftercare and restrictions before your procedure allows you to plan ahead and obtain any supplies you will need beforehand. 

What Exactly Does My Procedure Involve?

Some patients like to know the details of their procedures, while others prefer a high-level overview. If you want a step-by-step explanation, let your oral surgeon know. On the other hand, if you are more comfortable with the basics necessary to give informed consent, that’s okay, too. It’s perfectly normal for patients to find that too much information increases their anxiety levels. 

Remember, open communication is a must when undergoing oral surgery and sharing any questions or concerns before your procedure will ensure the best possible outcome. With the right information, you can maximize the likelihood of a fast, uncomplicated recovery so you can get back to your normal routine as soon as possible. 

If you would like to learn more about oral surgery options, contact the experts at Oral Surgery DC today.

A Patient’s Guide to Preventing Tooth Loss

A Patient’s Guide to Preventing Tooth Loss

Mastering your own oral healthcare can be hard work. Without taking the right steps regularly, it can be easy to end up with an unhealthy mouth: cavities, staining, gum disease, and, eventually, tooth loss. Tooth loss can wreak havoc on your overall health and well-being. However, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed about the prospect of keeping your teeth, gums, tongue, and palette clean and healthy over time — or worried about your potential inability to properly care for your mouth, despite your best efforts. In reality, all it takes is learning a few oral care best practices in order to prevent tooth loss.

Dental care is a multi-part process. Your dentist is in charge of doing regular professional cleanings and work. It is your job to both visit the dentist regularly and maintain a regular schedule of routine oral maintenance. If you want to ensure tooth loss prevention, even as you age, learn the basics of dental care, what tooth loss treatment looks like if you think you might be at risk of losing a tooth (or teeth), and how to manage oral health challenges as they arise. Then, put what you learned into action — so you’ll have a smile you feel proud of for years to come.

The Dangers of Tooth Loss

Losing a tooth may be an aesthetically unappealing idea to you. However, adult tooth loss poses far more risks than simply putting a hole in your smile. First, when there are spaces between your teeth, they tend to shift. Losing a tooth may cause all of your teeth to shift, causing crookedness or crowding. Next, your gums may begin to recede if you’ve lost a tooth. This can not only make the teeth around the receded gum vulnerable to plaque and bacteria (and generally weaker), but can also lead to potential gum disease, which can spread throughout your gums (and not just in the spot where you lost the tooth). A tooth lost as an adult can also cause your jawbone to shrink.

How to Prevent Tooth Loss

  1. Stay on top of dental hygiene. Dental hygiene includes many steps, like brushing and flossing your teeth daily, going to the dentist regularly, and even asking your dentist to show you how to floss properly. If you make dental hygiene a focus in your life and part of your daily routine, you can greatly decrease the chances you’ll lose a tooth as an adult.
  2. Avoid tobacco. Don’t just stay away from cigarettes because they cause cancer. Avoid them (and all other forms of tobacco) because they are terrible for your teeth. Studies show that smokers lose twice as many teeth as non-smokers.
  3. Choose foods and drinks carefully. Some foods and drinks are simply terrible for your dental health. These things include dark-colored soft drinks, sugary candy, and alcoholic beverages. Eat a tooth-friendly diet for tooth loss prevention. This doesn’t only mean avoiding certain foods; it also means incorporating foods good for your teeth, like crunchy vegetables, which stimulate gums and get rid of debris stuck on your teeth.
  4. Take care of your body and focus on wellness. While some accidents and injuries can’t be avoided, you can do your part to ensure you protect your body (and teeth) in your daily life. For example, make sure you wear a mouthguard when you play sports, don’t open “stuck” lids using your teeth, and lower your stress levels so you decrease the chances you grind your teeth at night. Some people may lose a tooth in an accident or injury, but you can do your best to minimize the chances of that happening to you.
  5. Pay attention to dry mouth. Dry mouth isn’t only annoying. It can also be dangerous for your teeth since a lack of saliva can lead to a buildup of bacteria on your teeth and gums, gum disease, and, ultimately, tooth loss. Dry mouth can be the sign of a more serious health condition or a side effect of a medication, but there are medications and treatments for chronic dry mouth, and it is worth addressing if you experience it regularly.

Worried About Tooth Loss? Seek Out Dental Care

If you are worried that you may be experiencing tooth loss, or if you have already lost a tooth, the best thing you can do is seek out professional care. Oral Surgery DC has excellent oral surgeons who specialize in helping people with issues surrounding tooth loss. The team at Oral Surgery DC can help you take care of your dental health for improved well-being and quality of life. So, reach out to us today. We have solutions that can ensure your teeth don’t shift, you don’t get gum disease or lose more teeth, and that you stay confident about your smile.

How To Tell If You Need an Oral Surgeon Or a Dentist

How To Tell If You Need an Oral Surgeon Or a Dentist

Practicing good oral hygiene and dental health is an important part of life. To aid in keeping your mouth, teeth and gums healthy, your dentist provides routine checkups and cleanings. However, for more serious dental and oral problems or issues that affect your jaw, your dentist will probably recommend that you see an oral surgeon. Cosmetic dental procedures also require the services of an oral surgeon. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between a dentist and an oral surgeon, and why an oral surgeon is better equipped to perform complex dental procedures.

The Difference Between an Oral Surgeon and a Dentist

You are probably already pretty familiar with what a dentist does. Besides routine checkups, dentists will also provide fillings for cavities, treat early stages of gum disease, fit dentures, perform root canals, and apply crowns and bridges.

An oral surgeon focuses more on areas of treatment that require surgery, such as removing wisdom teeth, inserting dental implants, and treating advanced gum disease.

And while there is some overlap between the two, there is a large difference in the amount of training and education an oral surgeon receives before getting a degree.

A dentist must complete four years of study at a dental school after first receiving their bachelor’s degree. During this time, aspiring dentists will also complete clinical practicum experiences. These experiences provide in-depth, hands-on training with the actual diagnosis and treatment of dental issues.

An oral surgeon will spend an additional four to eight years studying oral surgery. During this time, they will also gain hands-on experience performing a number of complex and difficult surgical procedures. After this intensive surgical residency, oral surgeons must pass a board certification examination and a licensing exam.

Which One Do You Choose?

So, when do you see a dentist, and when do you see an oral surgeon? The answer is relatively simple. For common treatments and procedures, you would go to your dentist. For treatments that the dentist won’t or can’t perform, you’ll need to visit an oral surgeon.

Many people choose to visit their dentist first for an assessment of any dental issues they may be experiencing. Then, the dentist may recommend that you visit an oral surgeon as a next step. But it is also okay to contact an oral surgeon first if you know for certain that your problem requires their expertise.

Reasons You Might Need to See an Oral Surgeon

There are a variety of reasons that you might require oral surgery. These include:

Tooth Extraction

One of the most common procedures performed by an oral surgeon is tooth extraction. Your regular dentist might be able to extract easy-to-pull teeth, but wisdom teeth, for example, typically require an oral surgeon because they are more difficult to remove. Other reasons for tooth extraction include a damaged or diseased tooth, an impacted tooth, an abscessed tooth, or a tooth injured from some form of trauma or accident.

Dental Implants

Dental implants also require oral surgery. Whether you are seeking dental implants to replace teeth that have been extracted or if you just want to improve your smile and feel more confident, an oral surgeon can perform this procedure.

Jaw Pain

Chronic jaw pain is hard to live with. Oral surgeons treat chronic jaw pain and related issues. For example, oral surgery might be necessary to repair a jaw that is misaligned.

Oral Cancer

If your dentist notices any areas of concern, he or she will refer you to an oral surgeon, who can remove tumors or provide treatment for oral cancer.

Dental Bone Grafts

Bone grafts to the jaw are often necessary if there has been bone deterioration and an individual’s dentures aren’t fitting properly anymore. This is a procedure requiring the expertise of an oral surgeon.

Is There Sedation Involved in Oral Surgery?

Understandably, the idea of oral surgery can cause stress and anxiety in many patients. Oral surgeons typically offer a variety of sedation options depending on the procedure that will take place and your level of comfort.

Is Oral Surgery Covered by Insurance?

Just like your regular trips to the dentist, dental insurance will cover some oral surgery procedures. What is covered and how much will depend on your dental plan and the oral surgeon you choose. It is recommended that you do some research into different oral surgery practices with these questions in mind before making your choice.

Final Thoughts

Most oral surgery procedures can be performed and completed within a few hours. There really is nothing to fear from oral surgery, and having a procedure done often results in an improvement in both your oral health and your confidence. If you are experiencing any pain or other dental issues in your mouth, visit your dentist or contact an oral surgeon as soon as possible for a consultation.

If you are experiencing a dental emergency or are seeking to have a procedure performed that requires the services of an oral surgeon, contact Oral Surgery DC today. We will be happy to answer any questions you have and alleviate your concerns.

A Patient’s Guide to Choosing an Oral Surgeon

A Patient’s Guide to Choosing an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon

You may need to see an oral surgeon for a variety of issues so understanding how to work with one maybe helpful.  To this  end, it might be helpful to take a step back and look at how the dental profession is organized.   The American Dental Association (ADA) is the world’s oldest and largest national dental association.  Every dentist that practices within the United States must hold a valid dental license from the ADA.

Oral Surgery, or officially oral and maxillofacial surgery, is one of the nine recognized dental specialties.  Graduates of the program, known as oral surgeons, are specialized in the extraction of teeth using a surgical technique (as opposed to a simple extraction).  However, oral surgeons are trained in more than just extractions to include IV sedation, facial trauma surgery, corrective jaw surgery as well as bone grafting and dental implant techniques.


General Dentistry vs Oral Surgery 

A general dentist establishes the long-term relationship with the patient and is organized to regularly see the patient for six month checkups and cleanings. They are well positioned to spot changes to dental healthy early, thus providing  ample time for conservative approaches to fixing the issues and avoiding further complications..  However, sometimes the problem might be more complex or further developed that the general dentist may require more specialized expertise, if the issues involves surgery in or around the dental cavity, then an oral surgeon would be a good choice for referral.  

A general dentist establishes the patient’s dental home and for complex cases plays an important role in the coordination and sequencing of care.

There are many oral surgeons in the D.C. area. Before choosing one to perform your oral surgery, you should consider several factors. Doing so ensures you can make an informed decision in choosing an oral surgeon you are comfortable with. Consider the tips in this patient guide.

Oral Surgery – a recognized dental specialty

Oral Surgery, or rather officially Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, is one of the nine recognized specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. 

Oral surgeons, like general dentists, complete a four year postgraduate dental school course, however, the surgeons go on and complete an additional 4 years of training usually in a hospital-based residency program. During this residency, aspiring oral surgeons get hands-on experience treating patients and performing a number of complex oral surgery procedures. They are fully trained in oral pathology, anesthesia, oral surgery, and other areas related to the discipline. Officially, they are referred to as oral and maxillofacial surgeons.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are trained to assist your general dentist resolve complex surgical issues of the oral cavity.  A general dentist establishes the long-term relationship with the patient, and sees the patient regularly for checkups and cleanings – in essence the dental home.  An oral surgeon compliments the general dentist by resolving a specific issue, and then refers the patient back to their dental home for maintenance and on-going care.  Oral Surgeons are normally not setup to optimize communicating with patients are keeping up with their cleanings.

A good dental home will serve as an early warning system – by identifying teeth that might be showing initial signs of problems that usually can be resolved fairly easily.  Waiting until the tooth needs to be extracted are beginning to show signs of en usually will that affect the oral cavity.  tMany of the procedures an oral surgeon is trained to do are beyond the scope of a dentist’s abilities. That is why you might be referred to an oral surgeon when you visit your dentist for a particular issue.

What Does an Oral Surgeon Do?

Oral surgeons perform many different procedures and treatments, including:

  • Tooth extractions — Your dentist can sometimes remove teeth when needed, but more complex extractions, such as wisdom teeth, must be performed by an oral surgeon. A surgeon may also remove teeth that have been severely damaged or infected and can’t be treated.
  • Dental implants — Another common procedure performed by oral surgeons, dental implants can be used to replace missing or damaged teeth.
  • Treatment for facial and jaw injuries resulting from accidents.
  • Diagnosis of oral cancer and the removal of tumors.   
  • Soft tissue, tongue, lip, and tooth surgeries.
  • Corrective orthognathic (jaw) surgery.
  • Soft and hard tissue grafting.
  • Jaw alignment surgeries.

Choosing an Oral Surgeon

The following information will serve as a great patient guide to help you choose a professional and reputable oral surgeon.

1. Education

Oral surgeons need to have completed a residency, but you’ll also want to make sure that they went to an accredited dental school. It’s also recommended that you choose an oral surgeon who has training and experience with anesthesia as well as oral surgery. Oral surgeons who attend continuing education are also a wise choice, as they will be aware of the latest techniques and methods.

This is especially important if you are having a complex procedure done where outdated methods and technology could be particularly problematic.

2. Experience

While education is certainly important, so is experience. How long has the individual been practicing as an oral surgeon? Do they have a wealth of experience performing the oral surgery you require? Oral surgeons with a lot of experience will typically belong to one or more industry organizations, such as the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons.

3. What Services Do They Offer?

Not every oral surgeon will perform all types of oral surgeries. While almost all of them will perform tooth extractions, not all will handle corrective jaw surgery. Make sure the oral surgeon you are thinking about choosing offers the services you are looking to have done. You might also think about asking for testimonials or before and after pictures as further proof of their experience with a particular type of oral surgery.

4. Payment Methods

Oral surgery typically isn’t cheap. And you definitely don’t want to choose an oral surgeon simply based on the cost. But you do need to consider payment methods as a factor. Does the oral surgeon take insurance? Are they in-network with your dental or medical plan? Do they offer financing options for payment?

5. Reviews

You can find a wealth of information about a dental practice simply by reading patient reviews on various internet sites. Your dentist may have someone that they recommend, but you should take the time to do your own due diligence as well. It’s important to remember that one or two bad reviews are normal, and you shouldn’t be swayed by such when the majority of reviews are positive. Examine the practice’s ratings as a whole, not just on one or two reviews.

6. Do You Feel Comfortable?

Aside from all of the above, one of the most important factors in choosing an oral surgeon is how comfortable you feel with a particular surgeon. You can speak with a few over the phone or visit the practice in person for a consultation to get a better feel for the surgeon’s demeanor. Communication is important — the surgeon should take the time to answer any questions you have and do their best to make you feel at ease.

For professional care and an oral surgeon who takes the time to ensure that you feel comfortable throughout every step of any procedure, contact Oral Surgery DC today.

wisdom tooth

The Why’s and How’s of Adult Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Wisdom teeth are the final teeth to come in. For most people, they don’t make an appearance until the late teenage years or even into your 20’s. If everything goes correctly, erupted wisdom can last a lifetime with proper care. However, it is not usuals for many people to experience problems with the wisdom teeth many years after they erupt. Research shows that 90% of people suffer from at least one impacted wisdom tooth and 12% of wisdom teeth will eventually cause infection in the gums if they’re not removed.


Do You Need to Remove Your Wisdom Teeth?

If wisdom teeth are not bothering you, and your general dentist can not find any evidence of wisdom teeth contributing towards disease in the mouth, then there is usually no need to consider removal of your wisdom teeth. However, it is possible for wisdom teeth to develop issues years after they erupt.

Wisdom teeth that have fully erupted and can be reached for proper cleaning may not require removal. As long as they are correctly positioned, these teeth can be used for chewing and biting at the back of your mouth. Eventually, though, most people will need wisdom tooth extraction in addition to regular dental care.


Partially Erupted Wisdom Teeth

Since there is limited space in the mouth for your teeth, wisdom teeth may not have enough space to come in properly. This may result in the teeth coming in on an angle.

Decay is common in wisdom teeth, as they are so far back in the mouth that it is challenging to clean them properly. It’s also quite difficult to remove the food particles or plaque that can collect in pockets formed by partially erupted teeth. The result may be an infection that can destroy both teeth and gum tissue. Pericoronitis, an inflammatory gum disease, is also a risk in these circumstances.


Impacted Wisdom Teeth

An impacted wisdom tooth is a more complicated situation than a completely erupted wisdom tooth. Impaction simply means the tooth has grown at an angle that makes it impossible to fully break through the gums. An impacted wisdom tooth can stay symptom-free and remain under the surface of the gums for some time, but if the tooth becomes infected or begins to put pressure on nerves or other teeth, you may notice:

  • Bleeding or sensitive gums in the area of the tooth
  • Pain and swelling in the jaw
  • Swollen or reddened gums
  • A bitter or rotten taste
  • Pain when opening your mouth
  • Bad breath

The pressure from the wisdom tooth is not only painful but can shift your other teeth. This may undo years of orthodontic treatments, or it can push otherwise perfect teeth into odd positions. When teeth are pressed too closely together, it’s difficult to clean properly between the teeth, which may result in more cavities forming.

Finally, it’s possible for cysts to develop due to the sac where wisdom teeth form. This sac normally ruptures as the tooth erupts through the gums, but it may fill with fluid in some cases. This isn’t usually dangerous in itself, but it can cause damage to the surrounding nerves and jawbone. It may even end up creating a non-cancerous tumor that requires removal. This sort of cyst or tumor can damage surrounding tissue and bone, which is a very good reason to talk to an oral surgeon for any type of complex wisdom tooth removal.


When to See an Oral Surgeon

You should have regular checkups with a general dentist to ensure any problems are caught early. If you are between visits and notice any of the above symptoms or pain at the very back of your mouth where the wisdom tooth is erupting, talk to your dentist to get a referral to an oral surgeon.

Adult wisdom tooth extraction requires specialty dental care. An oral surgeon is necessary to ensure the problematic tooth is removed safely and without further impact to the other teeth. As you’ve seen previously in this article, some serious complications may occur and oral surgeons are trained to treat such issues.

An oral surgeon will let you know if your wisdom teeth need to be removed, and if they do recommend. It is usually a good idea to start with an initial consult appointment with your oral surgeon. At this time, the surgeon will review your x-ray and medical history to determine if the procedure should be done while sedated. This treatment plan will detail all the dental codes recommended for the procedure. This allows our insurance team to check with your insurance provider for coverage and determine if there is a co-pay. Many insurance plans offer pre-authorization and our office is more than happy to submit on behalf of the patient. For patients with dental anxiety it is also possible to provide pre-medication to start taking the night before.

Oral Surgery offices perform many extraction procedures everyday so with proper planning, your extraction appointment should be rather route, allowing you to get back home and start the healing process.


What to Expect From Adult Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Many people have their wisdom teeth extracted when they first erupt, usually at the end of the teenage years because the tooth may have erupted, but the tooth roots have yet to fully develop into the jawbone, a process that can take several years. Thus, it is easier to extract under-develped tooth roots with minimal damage to surrounding tissue, though this procedure still needs to be done by an oral surgeon. If you aren’t having any issues you can wait to have the teeth extracted, though your oral surgeon may suggest removal before problems occur to prevent any pain and irritation you may face later on.

As mentioned, a patient’s medical background determines the type of anesthesia to use during the extraction. IV General Sedation is sometimes recommended for complex cases or where the patient might not be able to keep still. Numbing medication is applied to the site, and the actual extraction takes place.

You will likely have sutures in the area where the tooth was removed. Typical healing period for wisdom teeth extraction is 3-5 days. If needed, we are more than happy to provide a school or work note for days missed.

No one wants to deal with the excruciating pain that comes with a toothache. If your wisdom teeth are causing you any pain or discomfort, make sure to contact Oral Surgery DC and schedule an appointment immediately.

tooth loss

Understanding Tooth Loss and Your Oral Surgery Treatment Options

According to the American College of Prosthodontists, approximately 178 million Americans have lost at least one permanent tooth, with some 40 million of them having no teeth left at all. Tooth loss does more than create challenges in eating, smiling, and talking; it can also affect your overall health. Fortunately, oral surgery procedures such as dental implants can help you regain your smile and optimize your dental function permanently. Take a look at the causes and effects of tooth loss, along with the treatment options available from skilled oral surgeons.


Causes of Tooth Loss

People may lose teeth for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common issues that might cause you to lose one or more teeth.

  • Periodontal disease – Most cases of tooth loss stem from this preventable inflammatory gum condition. When food particles and saliva get stuck to the teeth around the gum line, bacteria flock to the resulting plaque as a food source. The immune system reacts to the bacteria by mounting an inflammatory response against it. Unfortunately, the inflammation damages the gum tissue surrounding the teeth and weakens the ligaments that hold the teeth in their sockets, potentially leading to tooth loss.
  • Acute injuries or tooth problems – A blow to the face from a fist, ball, auto accident, or other high impact can knock teeth out of their sockets. (Emergency dentists can sometimes reseat these knocked-out teeth and secure them in place until they heal.) A tooth fractured down to the root, erupted at an angle that threatens neighboring teeth, or decayed beyond all hope of repair might require extraction, leaving you with a gap in your smile.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use – Tobacco use not only increases your risk for periodontal disease but also reduces your body’s ability to fight off infections, including oral infections that threaten the stability of your teeth. Excessive alcohol consumption can leave you with a chronically dry mouth, reducing the saliva that normally coats the teeth and helps to safeguard them against catastrophic decay.
  • Underlying conditions – Untreated malnutrition, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even arthritis can make you more vulnerable to tooth loss.


How Tooth Loss Affects Facial Aesthetics and Your Health and Functionality

Missing teeth affect the aesthetics of not only our smile, but also of the facial contour and symmetry. Each tooth and tooth-root provide support to our jaw bones and facial muscles. Similar to how grasses at the beach provide anchor to sand, the roots of our teeth help to anchor bone. Missing roots eventually causes surrounding bone to melt away, causing facial structures to have a hollowed out look and show signs of premature ageing.

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When you have missing teeth, you can’t chew food efficiently. Poor chewing function can make you prone to indigestion, malabsorption of nutrients, and other digestive complaints. You may also develop a heightened risk for gum disease that threatens not just your other teeth, but every system in your body, as bacteria migrate from your gums to major organs.

Tooth loss can affect your ability to talk clearly and smile with confidence in conversations. However, that gap in your smile may prove only the beginning of a more long-term change in your looks. Without constant stimulation from tooth roots, the bone in the jaw stops remodeling itself. The loss of bone density can reduce the height of your jaws, eventually giving your face a “collapsed” look.


How an Oral Surgeon Can Help You Deal with Tooth Loss

Adults who have lost teeth have traditionally done whatever they can to fill those gaps in their smile through dental restorations, from bridges that replace individual teeth to full upper and lower dentures. Unfortunately, these replacements have their limitations. For instance, a removable bridge or denture plate can feel loose in the mouth or even get dislodged, making chewing an adventure and threatening public embarrassment. More critically, bridges and dentures only restore the part of the teeth that used to sit above the gum line, not the root structures that anchored the natural teeth to the jawbone, so they can’t stop you from losing bone density.

Your oral surgeon can help you avoid these issues by performing dental implant surgery. Dental implants feature screw-like threaded metal posts capped with permanent crowns. Once the metal posts go into your jawbone, the bone responds by growing into(and in between) the posts’ threads, a phenomenon called osseointegration. This process takes a few months to complete, but you’ll end up with strong, tightly anchored artificial tooth roots that actually promote continuous bone remodeling. The oral surgeon will then add permanent crowns to the posts, giving you a beautiful smile and dental restorations you can rely on for decades to come.

If you have already lost some jawbone density from going without teeth, don’t panic. Your oral surgeon can often surmount this challenge as well by performing a bone graft. In this form of oral surgery, a small amount of organic or synthetic bone fills out the thin parts of the jawbone, providing the firm foundation your implants will require. Just keep in mind that you must heal completely from your bone graft before proceeding with the implant surgery.

Dental implant surgery can work equally well for you whether you seek to replace a single tooth or a whole mouthful of teeth. Oral surgeons can create entire denture plates that snap onto just a handful of implanted posts in the upper and/or lower jaw. You may hear this kind of restoration referred to as a four-on-one or six-on-one dental implant.

Don’t let tooth loss rob you of your ability to smile, talk, and eat with confidence. Contact Woodview Oral Surgery today to learn more about your dental restoration options!


Image credits: Photo by jeltevanoostrum on Pixabay.

Reconstructive Surgery

Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery: What Can An Oral Surgeon Do to Help?

The structures of your face and jaw perform a variety of functions. Ideally, the arrangement of bones and soft tissues allows you to eat, breathe, and talk effortlessly. These structures also provide your face with its characteristic contours and appearance. Whether an injury or medical condition has harmed these structures and reduced their functionality, or you simply would like to give your face a new, preferred look, you may see substantial benefits from cosmetic or reconstructive oral surgery. Let’s examine these forms of surgery to discover what an oral surgeon might do to give you a better quality of life.


Reconstructive Oral Surgery vs. Cosmetic Oral Surgery

The difference between reconstructive oral surgery and cosmetic oral surgery lies mainly in the result you wish to achieve. Reconstructive oral surgery focuses on procedures that correct damage and functional abnormalities. When expertly performed, reconstructive oral surgery can help you speak more clearly, chew more effectively, experience less pain or stiffness from structural alignment errors, or restore tissue lost in an accident or previous surgery.

Cosmetic oral surgery focuses on improving the aesthetics of your oral and facial structures. For example, an oral surgeon can change the shape or size of your jaw, bringing the jawbone forward or making it recede for a more attractive facial balance. An oral surgeon has the expertise to perform a variety of procedures to improve both the looks and the function of your teeth.


Conditions and Challenges Treated by Cosmetic and Reconstructive Oral Surgery

Depending on your individual needs, you may schedule either or both forms of oral surgery to address different conditions and challenges. Common problems tackled by reconstructive oral surgeons include:

  • Malocclusion (abnormal bite) – This problem typically stems from an abnormal jaw position and/or uneven tooth wear.
  • Diseased or impacted teeth – A hopelessly decayed, infected, or impacted tooth may threaten your comfort and health.
  • Broken or weakened teeth – Root canal therapy or tooth fractures can leave the affected teeth in a fragile state while making them vulnerable to future infections.
  • Palate issues – Deformities such as a cleft palate may call for surgical reconstruction.
  • Jaw or facial trauma – Auto accidents and other crises can shatter bones in your jaw and face, making normal jaw function impossible.

Cosmetic surgeons can address some of the same issues, assuming that those issues affect your appearance as well as your oral and dental function. These specialists typically deal with:

  • Chipped or broken teeth – Even if such teeth don’t suffer from any deeper damage or hurt your chewing ability, they may make you self-conscious to smile or talk in public.
  • Overbites and underbites – A misaligned jaw may make you unhappy with your looks, even when it doesn’t seriously affect your ability to speak or eat.
  • An oversized or undersized lower jaw – Even a perfectly aligned jaw may appear too prominent, or not prominent enough, for your taste.
  • Soft tissue abnormalities – If you have noticeable facial scars or missing facial tissue, you can have these issues cosmetically repaired.


Types of Oral Surgery Procedures

Modern medical techniques and technologies have opened the door to many kinds of cosmetic and reconstructive oral surgery procedures. Your oral surgeon may recommend and administer:

  • Dental implants, which replace missing teeth while helping to stimulate jawbone regeneration.
  • Bone grafts to help dental implants root themselves securely in the jaw.
  • Extractions of wisdom teeth or other problematic teeth.
  • Craniofacial surgery to reassemble broken facial bones or correct abnormal facial formation.
  • Orthognathic surgery to alter your jawbone structure.
  • Soft tissue trauma repair to fix lacerations, mend severed nerves, and reconnect or reroute damaged blood vessels.


A Whole New You

Oral surgery can improve your life in a variety of ways. On a purely functional, physical level, procedures that improve your chewing ability can help your digestive system break down food more efficiently, giving your body more of the nutrients it needs for optimal wellness. Surgery that addresses sinus or airway issues (including jaw alignment problems that may affect your breathing) can help you avoid or overcome potentially serious health risks. Psychologically, reconstructive or cosmetic oral surgery can help you feel less stress and self-consciousness, boosting your confidence to live the life you want to live.


What to Expect from Oral Surgery

Oral surgery procedures can vary widely in the amount of preparation and recovery that they involve. As a general rule, you and your oral surgeon should discuss your medical history, current medication list, and lifestyle factors that can influence the procedure’s success. If you smoke, you’ll need to kick the habit as far ahead of your surgery as possible, since smoking can slow healing.

Some oral surgeries such as tooth extractions require only sedation and a local anesthetic, while more extensive surgeries that rebuild portions of the face require general anesthesia and a hospital stay. During your recuperation, you may need to adhere to a soft diet and/or small meals. If your procedure requires the jaw to remain wired shut for a time, your oral surgeon will prescribe a liquid diet until the surgeon removes the wires.

Contact Woodview Oral Surgery to schedule a consult appointment, which is an in-depth analysis of your medical history and dental x-rays and is an opportunity to discuss with the Surgeon the treatment approaches.