dental implants

A Guide to Caring for Your Dental Implants

Dental implants work and feel just like your own teeth, but these marvels of oral surgery still require the same hygiene and maintenance that you’d devote to the genuine articles. Even the most durable implants, installed by the most skilled oral surgeon, may suffer damage or even fail altogether if you neglect these dental restorations. Certain foods can chip or wear down the realistic simulated enamel, while poor hygiene can promote an implant-loosening inflammatory condition known as peri-implantitis.

Fortunately, you can boost your chances of enjoying many years of optimal chewing function and an attractive smile simply by looking after your dental implants properly. Take heed of these useful dental implant care tips.

 

1. Clean Your Dental Implants Regularly and Thoroughly

Although dental implants can’t develop cavities like organic teeth, they can still develop problems at the gum line. The permanent crowns that cap your implants don’t actually extend all the way to the gums, meaning that food and bacteria can find their way into tiny gaps and set the stage for gum disease.

Thankfully, you can prevent this issue by using the same basic brushing and flossing techniques that keep natural teeth healthy. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to each tooth, brushing upward or downward in a sweeping motion from the gum line to the edge of the tooth. Spend two to three minutes repeating this process for all your teeth, both natural and implanted. Follow this phase of dental hygiene with careful flossing, paying special attention to the spaces between your implants and your natural teeth (since trapped food or tartar in these spaces can promote decay of the natural enamel). If you have a four-on-one bridge that supports multiple implants, take care to floss underneath the bridge as well.

 

2. Choose Your Dental Hygiene Tools Wisely

Either a manual toothbrush or an electric toothbrush will do a good job of removing biofilm and trapped food from your dental implants. Whichever tool you select, choose one with the softest bristles you can find, along with a toothpaste low in abrasion, to protect the gums against irritation and avoid unnecessary crown wear. Because the spaces between implants can prove tricky to floss, consider investing in some super floss. Super floss uses a floss threader with a stiffened end combined with a spongy, flexible midsection and a normal length of thread at the “business end.”

If you can’t use floss easily because of manual dexterity issues, purchase a water flosser and use it every evening after brushing. This handy device can blast debris away from tight spaces. To clean out the tiny gap between the base of an implant and your gum tissue, trace this area with a rubber-tipped gum stimulator. An ADA-approved mouthwash or oral rinse can help kill any remaining bacteria.

 

3. Schedule Dental Checkups and Cleanings

Dental implants require a healthy mouth. Keep up your regular schedule of routine dental wellness checkups and cleaning per your dentist’s recommendations. These evaluations can detect potential concerns such as bone loss in the jaw, early gum inflammation (gingivitis), and cavities in the teeth seated next to your implants. Professional cleanings can remove built-up tartar and hard-to-reach debris that may escape even the most careful home dental hygiene practices.

 

4. Watch for (and Respond to) Trouble Signs

Dental implants and/or their surrounding tissues can develop infections and other problems even when they receive the best of care. The more quickly you respond to these issues by scheduling immediate dental evaluation and treatment, the better. Signs of implant-related trouble may include:

  • Loose or wobbly implants
  • Gums that bleed when you brush
  • Pus or discoloration at the gum line
  • Bad breath
  • Pain underneath an all-on-four bridge

 

5. Steer Clear of Potentially Damaging Foods and Habits

Right after your dental implant surgery, your oral surgeon will warn you to avoid crunchy or hard-to-chew foods, sugary items, and alcoholic beverages. These products can raise your risk for postoperative complications. Even after you’ve completely recovered from the surgery, however, you must still treat your implants with a certain amount of care.

Approach harder objects such as nuts with caution. You can eat most soft candies as long as you follow up with thorough brushing and flossing to get those damaging sugars away from your natural teeth and gums. Avoid crunching on ice (which can break your crowns) or popcorn (which can deposit hard-to-remove hulls in your gum pockets).

Bruxism (habitual, unconscious tooth grinding) can wear down the crown on your implants while also damaging your remaining natural teeth. If you show signs of this condition, ask your dental professional to recommend strategies to combat it, from stress reduction techniques to correction of bite alignment errors that might encourage tooth grinding.

Don’t smoke if you have dental implants. Smoking can directly affect your bones’ ability to remodel themselves and maintain the proper density. If you lose bone in your jaw, the metal posts that hold your implants firmly in place may loosen.

Woodview Oral Surgery can perform your dental implant surgery and help you keep your implants in good shape. Contact our clinic today with questions!.

 

Image credits: Photo by Wilfried Pohnke on Pixabay.

dental implants

Dental Implants: A Great Alternative to Dentures and Bridges

Maintaining a terrific smile as you age can be difficult and if teeth are not properly taken care of, they become compromised and have to be extracted. As the American College of Prosthodontics notes, approximately 178 million Americans are currently missing at least one tooth.

Historically, several civilizations have come up with some unique approaches to missing teeth including ancient Egypt, where archaeologists have discovered several examples of teeth that had dental bridges or “prosthetic appliances.”

More recently, our nation’s first President, George Washington, suffered frequent toothache and had several missing teeth and eventually had to have a partial denture fabricated from ivory and wired in place to the remaining teeth. A full set of the President’s denture is on display at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George and Martha Washington.

More recently, the dental implant has evolved to be the first choice for replacement of a missing tooth/teeth. First placed in the 1960’s the implant has developed various solutions capable of providing permanent solution to a compromised tooth or teeth. If you have lost one or more teeth, you need to understand why dental implants are the go-to option.

 

What Are Dental Implants?

Unlike other tooth replacement methods, implants are a more natural and permanent solution. Dental implants include an anchor, usually ceramic or titanium, placed into the jawbone. After a period of 4-6 months the implant fuses, or technically, osseointegrates with the surrounding bone, creating a solid foundation for placement of a crown or fabricated tooth.

The implant also serves as an anchor in the jaw bone. Bone loss is often associated with a missing tooth, which in turn leads to a hollow look in the cheeks since the bone tissue is no longer present and can be viewed as premature ageing. Unlike a bridge, a dental implant is able to anchor surrounding bone and avoid the bone loss that often accompanies missing teeth.

Dental implants have few if any side effects and are the nearest thing to having your real teeth back. Keep in mind that an implant can support more than one tooth. For instance, four implants can be used to support a replacement upper or lower arch or both, depending on the extent of tooth loss.. Unlike a denture, the teeth are not removable and having much greater biting power of natural teeth up to 90% according to some studies. Dentures have 20-30% biting power.

 

Who Should Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants are appropriate for most adults, even those of advanced age. In fact, implants can benefit the health of older patients because they eliminate the discomfort of sliding dentures and allow the patient to eat the foods they enjoy, and also make sure they get the nutrition that they need. Your oral surgeon will evaluate your medical history to determine if implants are a good choice for you. You may be a suitable implant candidate if the following are true:

  • You have enough healthy bone to hold the implants.
  • Your gums and other oral tissues are healthy.
  • You do not smoke.
  • Your jawbone has reached full growth.

 

What Are the Advantages of Dental Implants?

For a good reason, dental implants have become the best solution compared to other tooth replacement options.

  • Implants have a look and feel more like natural teeth, including a functional capacity of 90% of natural teeth, unlike dentures that provide 10-30% function.
  • Implants have proven that with proper care, they can last a lifetime.
  • Third, the lifetime costs of an implant contrasted to a denture are very competitive as one has to consider the expenses of denture adjustments, chair-time fees to the patient for increased dental visits, and replacement costs as most dental appliances have a 5-7 year lifetime.
  • A dental implants does not need special daily care, simply floss and brush as you would natural teeth. In contrast, dentures must be removed and cleaned daily to maintain their appearance and to keep your mouth and gums healthy.
  • Finally, implants give you more confidence since they are a permanent solution that means no one will see you, night or day, without a bright and beautiful smile.

 

What Should You Expect from the Dental Implant Procedure?

A tooth implant is an outpatient procedure done under general anesthesia. Your surgeon may complete the implant process in several phases. After you’ve had a regular dental exam and medical assessment, your oral surgeon may need to do the following:

  • Remove a damaged tooth
  • Graft bone onto your jaw if necessary
  • Place the dental implant
  • Allow for healing
  • Place an abutment (an attachment that holds the artificial tooth in place)
  • Attach the artificial tooth

The process may require several months for your oral surgeon to complete, particularly if you need a bone graft, but an implant that is properly taken care of can last a lifetime.

Sometimes, your surgeon can complete an immediate load procedure that allows them to attach the artificial tooth immediately after placing the implant.

 

What Happens After the Procedure?

Most people only have minor after-effects from their implant surgery. You may experience facial and gum swelling, some bruising, pain at the surgical site, or minor bleeding. You might need to stick to soft food for a few days and take pain relievers and antibiotics.

Most dental implant surgeries are successful, with issues or infections being very rare.

 

How Woodview Oral Surgery Can Help

Missing and severely decayed teeth are a painful and often embarrassing problem that can affect your overall health and self-esteem. You may not want to try traditional options such as dentures, which can be uncomfortable and look unnatural. Fortunately, a skilled oral surgeon can correct your dental issues.

In the DC area, Woodview Oral Surgery offers you the latest and safest oral surgery techniques. You can regain your oral health and your confidence by booking an appointment. If you are interested in dental implants, contact us today for more information.

 

Image credits: Photo by Bogdan Condr on Unsplash.

When and Why Your Dentist Will Refer You to an Oral Surgeon

When it comes to the health of your mouth, it’s important to know which type of professional is best suited to handle the particular issues you are facing. Dentists focus on preventative care and also do cosmetic and restorative work like fillings, bridges, and even teeth whitening. On the other hand, oral surgeons are highly-trained specialists who concentrate on surgeries of the face and jaw. The two work together, and dentists will often refer patients to an oral surgeon if there is a problem that needs more advanced care.

In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most common reasons your dentist may refer you to the specialized care of an oral surgeon.

 

1. Removal of impacted teeth

Removing impacted wisdom teeth is a common procedure in most oral surgeons’ offices, but impaction can occur in other areas of the mouth as well. Impaction happens when a tooth doesn’t fully erupt from the gums. The most common causes of impaction are crowding or lack of space.

The third molars, often referred to as wisdom teeth, are the last to erupt and the easiest to become impacted. This can lead to adjacent tooth decay and gum disease, which is why dentists will often refer patients to an oral surgeon to take care of the problem.

 

2. Facial pain and jaw issues

Facial pain, popping sounds, and headaches are common symptoms of temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders. This joint connects the jaw to the skull. Research shows that about 5%-12% of the population suffers from it. Other jaw and joint disorders, either caused by accidents or present at birth, are common sources of oral surgeries.

Depending on the severity of the problem, there are different options for surgery — some ranging from minimally invasive (arthrocentesis) to full-on open joint surgery.

Because this is a focused area of the face, it’s important to have an oral surgeon evaluate and perform any procedures necessary. They have the advanced training and surgical knowledge to help alleviate pain and resolve jaw issues.

 

3. Dental implants

Dental implants are a surgical procedure that replaces the root with metal rods. Artificial teeth can also be added to aid in function and add a natural appearance. Because this is a surgery, it’s important to work with an oral surgeon in order to achieve the proper placement of the implants. Oral surgeons have experience dealing with the ins and outs of implant work and are also well versed to deal with any complications or issues that may arise.

Dental implant surgeries have increased in recent years because they are a solid alternative to dentures. Ill-fitting dentures can cause pain and various other dental issues, making implants a more desirable choice for many.

 

4. Snoring and Breathing Issues

Snoring is an uncomfortable and troubling sleep disorder that disrupts sleepers, or their partners. Snoring occurs when tissues in the throat relaxes enough and partially blocks the airway causing a vibrating sound, which can be soft or loud. Contrasted with sleep apnea, which is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep and may or may not be accompanied by snoring sound. Both conditions are potentially dangerous.

While the first step to eliminate the problem often comes in the form of weight loss, patients may also need to use a CPAP machine at night to help them breathe more easily.

For many people, snoring and sleep apnea may sound the same, but the two are different and it is sometimes possible to eliminate the snoring, yet have the characteristic stopping-and-starting of breathing during sleep of the sleep apnea persist. For this reason, a sleep analysis is recommended first.

Oral Surgeons get involved in severe forms of snoring. Usually after sleep analysis, the oral surgeon assesses the patient’s breathing obstruction and then if needed, perform surgery. Traditional surgery involves removing excess tissue near the throat. However, advances in the field of oral surgery now allow for excess tissue reduction to be done in office with the use of a laser. With no cutting or recovery period involved, snoring sufferers now have a much easier path to good sleep and health.

 

5. Cosmetic or reconstructive surgeries

Oral surgeons also work on correcting jaw and facial issues due to accidents, deformities, or traumas from pathology removal. These surgeries can often involve the restructuring of bones, tissues, and nerves. Extensive training, clinical practice, and years of study are needed to perform these complex procedures.

Some examples of these surgeries include cancer treatment and the removal of tumors, cysts, and lesions, along with cleft lip and cleft palate surgery.

 

6. Bone grafts

In order to support dental implants, a healthy jaw bone is necessary. Because of this, many oral surgeons recommend bone grafting before a patient receives their implants. This ensures there will be enough healthy bone in the mouth to secure the implants. Many patients looking to get dental implants do not have strong enough gums, so bone grafts are needed.

Bone grafts require the transplant of tissue, either from the patient or a donor, to initiate growth where bone is absent or limited. The procedure is a common one in oral surgeons’ offices, and they are able to leverage proven techniques to help encourage bone growth.

In addition to the procedures performed above, oral surgeons are also knowledgeable about general anesthesia, as many extensive surgical procedures may be better performed while the patient is asleep. Prescribing medications is another big job of oral surgeons. Depending on the extent of the surgery, surgeons will determine the level of pain management needed to ease patient discomfort while keeping them safe.

While your dentist is generally looking out for the health of your mouth and trying to prevent tooth and gum disease, there are some situations where an oral surgeon is needed. If you’re looking to get more information about Woodview Oral Surgery and the types of procedures we perform or how we can assist you, contact us today.

 

Image credits: Photo on Freepik.

Impacted Teeth: What You Need to Know for Successful Removal and Recovery

Impacted teeth are pretty common, and happen with a tooth that doesn’t grow out, or erupt, naturally continues growing under the gum instead. While the most common impacted teeth are wisdom teeth, other teeth can be blocked from erupting properly as well.

If you have an impacted tooth, your dentist will recommend that you see a specialist for removal or assisted eruption. You’ll need to consult an experienced oral surgeon to ensure the success of the procedure and full, quick recovery. Here are a few things you need to know about treating impacted teeth.

 

Impacted Teeth: How Common Are They?

Studies show that up to 35% of people experience an impacted tooth, with wisdom teeth being the most common by far. Usually, these teeth don’t fully emerge due to a lack of space in the jaw or because they grow in at the wrong angle. In many cases, impacted teeth don’t cause any symptoms for some time. Your dentist is likely to discover the problem during a routine x-ray.
Besides wisdom teeth, other teeth can be impacted as well. The second most common impacted teeth are maxillary (upper jaw) canines. About 2% of the population needs surgery to uncover these teeth.

 

Symptoms of Impacted Teeth: Can You Feel Them?

While many people don’t notice any symptoms for quite a while, once the impacted tooth starts causing problems, you could experience:

  • Swollen or red gums
  • Tender and bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Problems opening your mouth
  • Jaw pain when biting and chewing
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck

If the impacted tooth is erupting at an angle, it can also damage the nearby tooth, causing pain and inflammation.

An impacted wisdom tooth doesn’t affect your overall quality of life until it starts causing problems. Some people live with impacted wisdom teeth for decades without experiencing any discomfort.

If you have impacted or partially impacted maxillary canines, you may want to treat them to restore the aesthetic appeal of your mouth. Treating them requires a comprehensive approach by your dentist, oral surgeon, and orthodontist.

 

Impacted Wisdom Teeth Complications: Do You Need Treatment?

Besides physical discomfort, impacted and partially impacted wisdom teeth can cause a variety of problems if left untreated.

  • Pericoronitis — This is an inflammation of the gum tissue that surrounds the impacted tooth. Besides discomfort and a bad taste in your mouth, this condition can develop into more severe and painful symptoms.
  • Damage to nearby teeth — If an impacted wisdom tooth grows in at a wrong angle, it can push against the second molar. This could lead to damage or infection. Extensive pressure could also cause teeth crowding, which in turn would require orthodontic treatment.
  • Cysts — Wisdom teeth develop in a sac inside the jawbone. If a tooth doesn’t erupt, the sac can fill with fluid, which could result in a cyst. In rare cases, a benign tumor can develop. To deal with the problem, a surgeon may need to remove bone and tissue.
  • Caries — Partially impacted teeth are more likely to develop caries–or cavities–than fully erupted teeth. This is because tooth decay is more likely in areas of the mouth that are harder to clean.

All the above complications can be avoided with timely discovery and treatment of impacted teeth.

 

Treatments for Impacted Teeth

If your dentist discovers an impacted tooth during a routine x-ray, he or she will assess the severity and impact of the situation and either recommend waiting and monitoring the tooth, or seeing an oral surgeon whose treatments can include:

 

Surgical Removal

When an impacted wisdom tooth starts causing problems, you need to consult an oral surgeon. Surgical removal or extraction is a highly recommended solution for the problem of impacted wisdom teeth – for complicated extractions and for patient comfort, the procedure is usually done under general anesthesia – which means you can be asleep during the procedure.

Healing from an impacted tooth depends not only on the position of the tooth, but also on the age of the patient. As we age, our teeth ossify, or become, set into the jawbone, causing a longer healing time from an extraction procedure. Patients under the age of twenty-five usually heal more quickly from an extraction procedure as their teeth are not yet ossified. Keep in mind that everyone heals at a different pace, but typical healing times is 3-5 days of resting at home post-procedure. Pain management prescriptions may also be given depending on need and the patient’s medical profile.

 

Assisted Eruption

If it’s your maxillary canines that are impacted, the treatment usually requires a coordinated effort between your oral surgeon and orthodontist:

  • An oral surgeon cuts the gum to push it back and expose the impacted tooth. In some cases, the surgeon will also remove some of the bone surrounding the tooth’s crown.
  • An orthodontist attaches brackets and a chain to help move the tooth into its natural position.

The surgery is done under general or local anesthesia on an outpatient basis.

 

Working with an Experienced Oral Surgeon

If you think you have an impacted tooth, contact your dentist as soon as possible for a checkup and x-ray. Even if the tooth isn’t causing any discomfort, it needs regular monitoring.

If your dentist recommends surgical removal, you’ll need to consult an experienced oral surgeon. While common, both these procedures require extensive expertise in order to avoid complications and speed up the recovery process.

Contact us today for more information about surgical extraction or assisted eruption of impacted teeth.

Making the Most of Your Smile: Healthy Habits that Protect Your Teeth

The benefits of good dental hygiene may start with a gorgeous smile, but they extend to promoting your confidence and your physical health on many levels. Good oral health helps make you feel great not only physically, but it also assists in making you feel good about yourself when you have a fresh smile. If your teeth aren’t taken care of properly, this can lead to a number of irritations and infections, some of which could cause serious medical issues if left untreated. However, practicing basic dental hygiene can increase your overall wellbeing and make your smile stand out.

Making the most of your smile with healthy habits to protect your teeth only takes a few minutes a day. Here’s how you can make your smile the healthiest –and most noticeable– in the room.

 

Start with the basics

To make the most of any smile, using basic dental practices like brushing your teeth daily can help prevent plaque build-up, which leads to cavities and potential gum disease. Depending on what toothpaste you use and what your dentist recommends, daily brushing can also help whiten your smile so that it looks nice and clean.

Using mouthwash to gargle with can also help reduce and kill harmful bacteria that may be lurking in hard to reach spots. This is great for preventing tooth decay and can get between your teeth and under your tongue.

 

Water pik vs. flossing

If you’ve heard the long-running debate on whether a water pik is better than flossing, we’ve got the answers for you. The truth is that both options are great and provide you with similar benefits.

Both flossing and a water pik help remove plaque. However, water piks are especially beneficial for people who wear braces, and for those who have non-removable bridgework, implants, or crownwork. Compared to flossing, a water pik enables people with braces or this type of dental work to still clean away bacteria and other particles since string flossing may be a little more difficult to maneuver.

The downside is that water piks are a little less accurate than regular flossing. With a water pik, you may not be able to get rid of all the plaque that’s settling on and around your teeth, and it can be a little messy when you’re first trying to figure out how to aim and what specific pressure level to use.

Flossing is a beneficial practice to build a habit out of because it allows you to work on each tooth in full, helping you thoroughly clean away bacteria and plaque before it turns into tartar.

Both options are great for removing plaque, and rather than choosing one over the other, utilizing both can ensure a clean and healthy smile.

 

Should I brush multiple times a day?

It’s true that brushing your teeth at least twice a day can prevent plaque build-up and the settling of bacteria. Plaque only needs 48 hours to fully harden, so brushing roughly an hour after eating a good meal is recommended as it doesn’t give bacteria the time to grow.

While brushing, ensure you’re using a toothbrush that’s less than 3-4 months old. Once a brush begins to have frayed bristles, it’s less accurate on keeping bacteria from growing and can be more harmful than good. Forgetting to replace your toothbrush regularly increases the likelihood you will be leaving plaque or bacteria behind.

 

Am I brushing too hard?

Finding the perfect balance in pressure when brushing can feel frustrating. You don’t want to lightly brush and miss out on removing dangerous bacteria, but you also don’t want to brush so hard that you damage your gums or cause bleeding. It’s recommended that you gently press your brush against the base of your teeth and the edges of your gums. As you brush, you can move side to side, up and down, and in circular motions to ensure you’re touching all areas. This isn’t only good for removing particles but it also helps encourage the blood circulation in your gums and around your teeth.

 

Foods to avoid

As much as we all have our guilty pleasures with food, some can be a nightmare for our teeth if consumed too frequently. From alcohol to candy, soda, and more, different foods and beverages contain acids that are harmful to our oral health. While indulging from time to time in your favorite treat is completely fine, you may want to avoid these foods if you’re trying to improve your dental health or have an oral infection you’re trying to treat.

Number one on the list to avoid? Acidic foods to avoid in large quantities, like:

  • Sour candies – Many sour candies are filled with acids and are chewy. When you eat them this leaves behind build-up on your teeth that can be more difficult to remove, often allowing sugar to erode your enamel and encourage tooth decay.
  • Bread – Believe it or not, when you’re chewing, your saliva breaks down the starches in bread and turns it into sugars that can increase plaque levels.
  • Oranges, grapefruits, and citrus-based products – These items are often rich in Vitamin C but their acid content erodes enamel, which makes your teeth more susceptible to decay.

There are various other foods, treats, and beverages you can limit your consumption of in order to improve the health of your smile.

Have questions or need a little extra help with your smile? We’re here to provide expert support and care? Contact us today for more advice on what you can do to make the most of your smile and improve your oral health.

 

Image credit: Photo by Racool_studio on Freepik

6 Ways Oral Surgeons Can Help Improve Your Quality of Life

When most people think about visiting the oral surgeon, it’s usually prompted by a pressing dental issue that needs to be addressed, such as wisdom teeth removal, or having dental reconstruction after an accident.

Although those are important and valid reasons to visit the oral surgeon, the reality is, oral surgeons also can help you improve your quality of life in a wide variety of situations, and maybe even a few you might not be aware of.

Tooth loss, for example, can affect your quality of life for normal oral function such as eating and drinking, and even extend to speaking and self-esteem. Through various approaches, an oral surgeon can quickly and effectively address many issues you may be experiencing and get you back to your normal life.

If you’re having problems with your mouth but have been held back from seeking solutions because of cost or fear, take a moment to consider the benefits of oral surgery.

Here’s a look at common procedures performed by an Oral Surgeon and how they can improve your overall quality of life:

 

Dental Implants

If you are missing a tooth or several teeth, dental implants not only improve the aesthetics of the mouth, but also restore functionality – improving overall quality of life.

A study by Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine found that osteoporotic women with dental implants compared to those who have missing teeth and use removable dentures, experienced a significantly higher quality of life in every aspect including occupational, emotional, and sexual health.

With dental implants, a medical-grade titanium post is inserted into the jaw replacing the missing tooth root. Over 3-6 months, the titanium osseointegrates with the bone, providing a solid foundation on which to attach an abutment and then the fabricated tooth, or crown. Not only do the implants look like natural teeth, but also with proper care, they can last a lifetime.

 

Sleep Apnea

Many who struggle with sleep apnea spend their nights attached to a sleep mask or hose to help ease the symptoms. However, through the use of laser technology, it is possible to decrease the excess tissue at the back of the mouth, keeping the airway clear while sleeping. The best part is that with the use of laser, there is no cutting or recovery period involved; the procedure is touchless and done in office, with each session lasting about 20-30 minutes. Most patients see improvement after 3-5 sessions.

If you’re experience severe symptoms of sleep apnea, it may be time to seek the help of an oral surgeon. They can help get rid of unnecessary tissue from the back of your throat, which often exacerbates sleep apnea symptoms.

After the removal, most patients find they are able to breathe more easily, and, as a result, sleep better.

 

Bone and Gum Grafting

Bone and gum grafting is sometimes necessary for people who have ignored missing teeth for a period of years.

This is because a missing tooth root can lead to a loss or melting away of the adjacent bone and tissue. Similar to how beach grass is often planted to abate beach erosion, tooth roots serve to anchor bone in the jaw.

If you already have a missing tooth and would like to have a dental implant placed, an oral surgeon will first determine if adequate bone is available to anchor the implant. Modern 3D scanning allows for precision bone measurement and a determination can quickly be made if a bone graft is needed before placement of the dental implant.

 

Reconstructive Surgery

Those who have suffered traumatic facial injuries from an accident or who have experienced losing several teeth may find it hard to complete everyday tasks such as speaking, eating, and drinking.

Reconstructive surgery, however, can help you replace damaged teeth, correct issues with your jaw, and address gum damage.

The starting point is a CT scan which will provide a 3D representation of the mouth and surrounding structures. Depending on the complexity of the case, your oral surgeon may recommend the procedure be undertaken in a hospital setting which provides a full range of anesthesia and surgical support options that maybe needed.

 

Biopsies

Sometimes, a routine visit to the dentist may find an unusual lesion, growth, or discoloration in the oral cavity, in which case you may be referred for a biopsy. Lesions are not always bad, however, a diagnosis cannot be made by visual inspection and x-ray imaging alone, so you may be referred to an oral surgeon for a biopsy.

A biopsy involves removing a small sample of the tissue from your mouth and sending it to a lab for analysis. Depending on the location of the lesion in the mouth, numbing medication maybe used for comfort. If access to the biopsy area is needed underneath the gum, a surgical procedure may be required, and this is sometimes done under sedation (put-to-sleep) for the procedure.

The lab is usually able to analyze the sample and issue results in 7-14 days, which provides a diagnosis for the issue, and the surgeon will then discuss treatment options. Starting treatment early leads to better prognosis and outcomes.

 

Jaw Surgeries

Jaw surgery can be necessary in a variety of circumstances: for an improperly aligned jaw, to correct issues with swallowing, or to minimize excessive breakdown of your teeth, to name a few.

An oral surgeon can assess your jaw and any symptoms you may be experiencing to let you know if surgery will correct it. By addressing the problem head on, you can ensure a lifetime of a happy, healthy mouth with restored tooth and jaw function.

 

In need of help?

If you find yourself experiencing any of the issues discussed above, or others related to oral health that aren’t listed here, contact us today. We’d love to set up a consultation to offer our expert advice for improving your health and quality of life.

 

Image credit: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

What is Diastema?

By: Jayne Leonard, Medical News Today

A diastema is a gap between the teeth. It is not harmful, and it appears in children and adults. In children, the gap typically closes when their permanent teeth come through.

A diastema is a gap between teeth that is wider than 0.5 millimeters. It can develop between any teeth.

Treatment is not usually necessary for medical reasons. But if a person dislikes the appearance of their diastema, it is possible to close or narrow the gap.

In this article, we explore the causes of diastemas and describe their treatment and prevention.

Causes

A diastema may result from the following:

The size of the teeth in relation to the jawbone

If a person’s teeth are too small, relative to the size of their jawbone, gaps may develop between the teeth.

Jawbone and tooth sizes can be genetic, which is one reason that diastemas can run in families.

Missing or undersized teeth

If some teeth are missing or smaller than others, a diastema can develop.

This often involves the upper lateral incisors — the teeth to either side of the two upper front teeth. If the upper lateral incisors are missing or relatively small, a gap can develop between the two front teeth.

Oversized labial frenum

The labial frenum is the tissue that extends from the inside of the upper lip to the gum above the upper front teeth.

If this tissue is especially large, it can cause a gap to form between these teeth.

Gum disease

Tooth migration is a typical sign of advanced gum disease.

In people with gum disease, inflammation results in damage to the bone that supports the teeth.

Eventually, the teeth may become loose, and gaps can appear.

Incorrect swallowing reflex

When the swallowing reflex happens correctly, the tongue presses against the roof of the mouth.

A person may instead push their tongue against their front teeth when they swallow. Over time, this repetitive pressure against the front teeth pushes them forward, causing a gap to form.

Habits

Thumb sucking, lip sucking, tongue thrusting, and similar habits can put pressure on the front teeth, pushing them forward.

This can lead to diastemas.

Loss of primary teeth

Children can develop temporary diastemas when their primary teeth, or baby teeth, fall out. When their permanent, or adult, teeth come in, these gaps typically close.

This type of gap is common enough that dentists consider it to be a normal developmental phenomenon in children. No treatment is usually necessary.

A 2012 study reports older findings that these diastemas may be present in approximately two-thirds of children in whom only the central incisors have erupted. The central incisors are the two flat teeth at the front of the upper jaw.

Symptoms

The only indication of a diastema is a visible gap between teeth.

If the teeth become loose because of gum disease, the person may experience pain and discomfort, especially while eating.

Other symptoms of gum disease include:

  • bright red gums
  • swollen, tender gums
  • bleeding gums
  • receding gums
  • bad breath
  • loose teeth

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of a diastema is straightforward — the dentist spots the gap while examining the teeth.

Typically, the individual will notice the gap first, while brushing or flossing.

Treatment

Treatment for a diastema may not be necessary — especially if the gap arises from a mismatch between the size of the teeth and the jawbone, or if it results from the loss of primary teeth.

If treatment is not medically necessary, but the person wishes to close the gap for aesthetic reasons, a dentist can help determine the best approach.

Treatment options include:

Braces

Dentists commonly treat diastemas with braces. The braces put pressure on the teeth, closing the gap over time.

It may be necessary to wear a full set of braces, even if there is just one gap, because moving any teeth affects the entire mouth.

Veneers or bonding

As an alternative to braces, a dentist can fit veneers or perform dental bonding.

These options may be especially suitable if the diastema results from having smaller teeth.

Dental bonding involves applying resin to the surface of the teeth, then hardening the resin with a light source.

Fitting veneers involves securing thin, custom-made pieces of porcelain to the surface of the teeth.

Dental implants or a bridge

If a diastema exists because the person is missing teeth, they may need more extensive dental work, such as implants or a dental bridge.

Placing dental implants involves inserting metal screws into the jawbone and attaching the replacement teeth.

A dental bridge is a false tooth held in place by a device that attaches to the teeth on either side of the gap.

Surgery

When a diastema results from an oversized labial frenum, the dentist may recommend a frenectomy — a procedure to remove the excess tissue.

Older children and adults may then require braces or another treatment to close the gap. In younger children, the space may close on its own.

Gum disease treatment

Gum disease requires treatment to stop the infection and prevent complications such as tooth loss.

Treatment may include scaling to remove tartar from the gums. Scaling also removes the bacteria causing the infection. In addition, topical or oral antibiotics may help.

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove deep tartar from beneath the gums.

Once the gums are healthy again, the dentist may use one of the above treatments to close the gap.

Prevention

It is not possible to prevent all cases of diastema.

However, if gum disease or habits are the cause, it can help to practice good oral hygiene, by:

  • brushing the teeth twice daily
  • flossing daily
  • seeing a dentist for regular examinations and cleanings
  • avoiding thumb sucking and helping children break the habit
  • correcting improper swallowing reflexes

Outlook

The outlook varies, depending on the underlying cause. However, treatment can eliminate or reduce most diastemas.

The gap will typically remain closed after treatment, unless the individual returns to habits such as thumb sucking or does not follow their dentist’s instructions.

When to see a dentist

People should speak to their dentists if they or their child have a diastema and are concerned about it.

The American Association of Orthodontists recommend that orthodontists evaluate all children by the age of 7.

A dentist or orthodontist can diagnose the underlying cause and, if necessary, recommend a course of treatment.

Summary

A diastema is a gap between the teeth.

A range of factors can cause a diastema — from gum disease to the ratio of tooth size to jawbone size. A dentist can determine the exact cause.

In many cases, treatment is not necessary. Some people decide to have treatment anyway, for aesthetic reasons.

There are many methods of treating a diastema, and the results are usually permanent.

Article source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/diastema#prevention

Vaping changes oral microbiome and raises infection risk

By: Eleanor Bird, M.S., Medical News Today

Researchers from New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry are the first to show that the use of e-cigarettes may allow infection-causing bacteria to flourish in the mouth.

An increasing number of people are turning to e-cigarettes, or vapes, as an alternative to conventional cigarettes. However, questions remain about the safety of these devices and their long-term health effects.

Now, research from NYU College of Dentistry shows that vaping changes the community of bacteria in the mouth — the oral microbiome — in a way that puts users at higher risk of infection than cigarette smokers and nonsmokers.

The new study appears in the open-access journal iScience.

Toxic components

E-cigarettes are popular among cigarette smokers because they offer a way of getting a nicotine hit without the health risks of tobacco, such as lung damage and a higher risk of cancer.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that almost 55% of former cigarette smokers and 48% of current cigarette smokers have turned to vaping.

However, e-cigarettes have also become popular with people who have never smoked, especially among those between the ages of 18 and 24 years. More than 20% of high school students and 5% of middle school students use vapes, according to 2018 CDC data.

The rise in vaping, particularly among young people, has raised concerns, as no long-term data are available on its health effects.

Reports of lung disease among teen and young adult users, as well as the identification of diethylene glycol (a toxic compound present in antifreeze) and potentially cancer-causing agents, such as aldehydes, in e-cigarette cartridges, have highlighted the need for more research in this area.

Oral bacteria

The new research assessed the effects of these compounds on the first part of the body that they reach: the mouth. As well as being a route for air to enter the lungs, the mouth is also a gateway for microbes.

Having microbes in the mouth is not necessarily a bad thing. There are trillions of bacteria living in the body — on the skin, in the gut, and in the mouth — where they help us fight infections and digest food.

In this paper, researchers evaluated the effect of vaping on the bacterial community in the mouth, which exists in a delicate balance. Changes to this microbial community can contribute to oral disease.

The researchers compared the oral microbiome of three groups of people: e-cigarette users, cigarette smokers, and nonsmokers.

“Given the popularity of vaping, it is critical that we learn more about the effects of e-cigarette aerosols on the oral microbiome and host inflammatory responses in order to better understand the impact of vaping on human health,” explains co-senior author Xin Li, Ph.D.

Periodontal pathogens

The scientists profiled the microbial communities present in the saliva of 119 people across the three groups, using a specialized type of genetic sequencing.

They found significant changes to the oral microbiome of the vapers.

In comparison with the cigarette smokers and nonsmokers, vapers had higher numbers of bacteria called Porphyromonas and Veillonella, which have an association with gum disease and are a reflection of “compromised periodontal health,” according to Li.

They also found higher levels of two inflammatory markers in the group of vapers, which suggests that vaping affects the local immune system.

Vulnerable cells

To look at the effects of e-cigarette fumes on individual cells, the scientists cultured cells from a human pharynx with bacteria and exposed them either to the aerosol from an e-cigarette or to air.

They found that many more cells became infected by the bacteria when they were exposed to e-cigarette aerosols. These cells were also more likely to become inflamed.

“Our study suggests that vaping electronic cigarettes causes shifts in the oral environment and highly influences the colonization of complex microbial biofilms, which raises the risk for oral inflammation and infection.”

– Co-senior author Deepak Saxena, Ph.D.

What is the risk?

Experts have linked oral microbiome changes with diseases ranging from tooth decay and bad breath (halitosis) to diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer.

Although this study does not show that vaping can cause these diseases, it does show that it is associated with significant changes to the bacterial community in the mouth.

These findings also suggest that, like smoking conventional cigarettes, vaping increases the risk of oral infections.

However, it is important to remember that some of these findings came from cells that the scientists had cultured under controlled conditions, which do not behave in the same way as cells in the human body.

The scientists say that more detailed studies are necessary to understand how e-cigarette aerosols interact with so-called good bacteria and the implications that this may have for oral, respiratory, and cardiovascular health.

Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/vaping-changes-oral-microbiome-and-raises-infection-risk#What-is-the-risk?

Notice: Rescheduling Elective Dental Procedures

The Maryland State Dental Association and the American Dental Association issued guidelines that elective dental procedures should be put off until at least April 1st.

If you have an upcoming appointment before that date, we will need to reschedule. Our office will be in contact with you in the coming days.

We apologize for any inconvenience, but we believe this approach is the best way to protect each other and our community during this time.

– The Woodview Oral Surgery Team


Here is the message we received from the CDC Division of Oral Health:

Dear Colleagues,

As the expanding global outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) continues, the federal government continues to work closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners, as well as public health partners across the globe to respond to this public health threat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Oral Health (DOH) is diligently working with CDC’s Emergency Operations Center to develop tailored COVID-19 guidance for dental health care personnel (DHCP). Once this guidance is available online, DOH and partners will promote these resources as well as any related events (e.g., informational webinar, Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity) to the dental community. 

It’s unknown at this time what the full impact of COVID-19 will be in a U.S., however CDC is preparing as if this were the beginning of a pandemic. All healthcare facilities should take steps now to prepare for the possibility of a widespread and severe COVID-19 outbreak to prepare their practices and protect both their patients and staff. CDC urges providers to be familiar with the information on CDC’s 

COVID-19 website. Specific information is available for Healthcare Professionals, including a Healthcare Professional Preparedness Checklist, instructions on Evaluating and Reporting Persons Under Investigation (PUI), and a page on What Healthcare Personnel Should Know. DHCP can also consider signing up for communications from CDC’s Health Alert Network, which is CDC’s primary method of sharing cleared information about urgent public health incidents.

Standard precautions, including the use of proper personal protective equipment, should be followed when caring for any patient. These practices are designed to both protect DHCP and prevent DHCP from spreading infections among patients.

CDC’s guidelines note that, if not clinically urgent, DHCP should consider postponing non-emergency or elective dental procedures in patients who have signs or symptoms of respiratory illness. For procedures which are considered clinically urgent, dental health care personnel and medical providers should work together to determine an appropriate facility for treatment. The urgency of a procedure is a decision based on clinical judgement and should be made on a case-by-case basis.

The Division of Oral Health will communicate through partners as soon as tailored guidance is available for the dental community. Thank you for all you are doing to keep our country safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

CDC Division of Oral Health

Black History Month Spotlight: Dr. Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany

For Black History Month, we’d like to pay tribute to trailblazers and honor lesser-known people of color in the dental and oral surgery fields. 

In 1919, Dr. Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany entered the freshman class at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (at the time known as the School of Dental and Oral Surgery) where she was one of only 11 women, and the only African-American woman, out of 170 students. ? In 1923, she graduated and became the second African-American dentist to be licensed in New York state. 

During her career, Dr.  Delany took care of the teeth of many Harlem notable figures, such as nightclub owner Ed Small, civil rights leader Louis T. Wright, and author James Weldon Johnson. ? Known in her community as Dr. Bessie, she was applauded for treating the rich and poor equally as well as performing thousands of free children’s dental exams. 

? In 1994, Columbia’s School of Dental and Oral Surgery awarded her its Distinguished Alumna Award for “her pioneering work as a minority woman in dentistry”, a year before her death at 104.