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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!

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.

Oral Surgery for Gum Disease

Oral Surgery for Gum Disease: A Patient’s Guide

Gum disease can be an uncomfortable and even painful condition. Non-destructive gum disease is called gingivitis and is caused by excess bacteria, which builds up as plaque on your teeth. It can be caused by poor oral hygiene but may also be due to mouth shape or illness. If gingivitis goes untreated, it can become periodontitis. This type of gum disease can eventually eat away at the teeth and even the surrounding bones. An oral surgeon may need to perform one or more procedures to get your oral health back on track in instances like these.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

One of the earliest signs of gum disease is bad breath. Bacteria build up in pockets around your teeth or under the gums. This bacteria, if left unchecked, multiplies and causes an unpleasant smell to emanate from your mouth.

Excess bacteria can also make your gums swell and become inflamed. You may notice that your gums seem redder than usual. They may be sore or soft to the touch. You may also detect blood when brushing your teeth.

As gum disease progresses, you may notice that your gums seem to recede or that your teeth seem longer or larger. It may also seem like your gums are pulling away from your teeth, creating even more gaps where bacteria can hide and spread.

You may also start to experience more intense pain if the inflammation or infection starts to damage the soft tissues or even your teeth.          

Preventing Gum Disease

The first line of defense against gum disease is oral hygiene. But, how do you know if your oral hygiene routine is up to par? Here are the steps you should be following every day to help prevent periodontitis or gingivitis:

  • Brush your teeth every morning as bacteria can spread while you sleep. 
  • Brush your teeth every night to remove food particles and acids that build up during the day.
  • Floss daily to remove food particles and bacteria from between the teeth.
  • Use mouthwash if you can, ideally an antibacterial version.
  • If you struggle to brush between your teeth, talk to your dentist about interdental brushes.
  • You may use a toothpick to help remove particles from between the teeth, but use these with care as hard toothpicks can cause damage to the gums or teeth.
  • Consider an electric toothbrush and make sure that you always brush along the gum line.

You can also help prevent gingivitis by stopping smoking and cutting down your alcohol consumption.

When To See an Oral Surgeon

You should speak to an oral surgeon about your options as soon as you notice any of the symptoms of gum disease. If gum disease has not progressed too far, they may recommend scaling and cleaning. This involves cleaning beneath the gum line to reduce plaque buildup. Deep scaling and root planing is another minor procedure that involves smoothing the surfaces of the teeth beneath the gum line. The smoother surface makes it harder for bacteria to embed and grow.

If you’re experiencing pain, your teeth feel loose, or bleeding from the mouth is common, it’s more urgent to see your oral surgeon. In these instances, periodontitis may have set in, and gum surgery may be a viable option. You must take action as gum disease is connected to heart disease and other major medical issues.

Treatments an Oral Surgeon May Perform

Your dental surgeon will examine you carefully and give you the options for treatment. The treatment offered depends largely on the severity of the gum disease.

Flap Surgery

During flap surgery, the surgeon manually lifts the gums away from the teeth. They then thoroughly clean the teeth and suture the gums back together, hopefully tightening them against the teeth to avoid pockets forming again.

Grafting of Bone or Tissue

Severe periodontitis can damage teeth and bones. If the bone around a tooth is damaged, you could lose the tooth. Bone grafting uses bone tissue from yourself or a donor to replace the damaged or destroyed bone and help the tooth grow stronger. Some oral surgeons may use artificial bone constructs for this procedure.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

When bone is destroyed, the gum can grow to fill the gap. This prevents the bone from healing itself and leaves the jaw and the teeth weaker than before. Guided tissue regeneration or GTR involves using mesh to stop the growth of new gum tissue. This encourages the bone to regrow instead.

Your oral surgeon will talk you through any procedure, including how to prepare and what to expect. You may need to stop taking certain medications before your procedure. You won’t be able to smoke or drink alcohol for 24 hours before a procedure, and you will need someone to drive you home in case you are still under the effect of sedation.

Recovering From Oral Surgery

Recovery time depends on the procedure you have. Slight discomfort is normal, as is some swelling and inflammation as your gums recover from surgery. Talk to the surgeon about what painkillers you can take and how often. Avoid hard, sharp, or crunchy foods. You may need to use a special mouth rinse to keep the surgery area clean. Don’t floss while recovering from gum surgery, and ask your surgeon if it’s okay to start brushing your teeth again right away or if a wait time is needed.

Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent gum disease and other dental issues. However, there are still occasions when you develop irritation or inflammation of the gums, even with the best daily hygiene routine. Talk to a professional for advice and contact Oral Surgery DC for more information.

Recovering from Oral Surgery

Top 5 Tips for Recovering from Oral Surgery

Oral surgery is extremely common. From having your wisdom teeth removed to receiving dental implants, there are several types of oral surgeries you may need throughout your life. Although it’s normal to have minor discomfort after surgery, recovery is typically quick and stress-free. However, to reduce the chance of any complications after the procedure, there are some tips to keep in mind.

This article will explain five tips for getting back to normal after oral surgery.

1) Don’t Overexert Yourself

After your surgery ends, resting is essential. Following the procedure, make sure to take it easy for the remainder of the day. While most people can return to normal activities in 24 hours, you shouldn’t overexert yourself for the next week. It is best to avoid activities such as running, biking, or doing anything strenuous. If you lift something heavy or move in a particular position, this can dislodge a blood clot and cause bleeding.

For the rest of the day after surgery, make sure to limit activities that require concentration. Try to avoid driving a car, studying, or working. If you received a sedative for the procedure, concentrating on anything can be challenging. Resting is the best way to speed up the recovery process and limit the chance of any complications.

When resting, make sure to keep your head elevated, which will help with blood circulation. Try propping up your head with a few pillows before falling asleep.

2) Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco

During your oral surgery recovery period, you’ll want to avoid anything that can disrupt the healing process, including drinking alcohol and using tobacco. It’s best to avoid these substances for at least a week following surgery. Using alcohol and tobacco can also cause excessive bleeding and increase the risk of infection. These issues can result in a great deal of pain and possibly more treatment.

As quitting these substances can be difficult, it’s essential to talk to your doctor if you need help. By limiting the use of alcohol and tobacco following surgery, you can experience a faster recovery.

3) Apply Ice

Icing the area following surgery is also essential. Once the healing process starts, you may have bruises or facial swelling. While these are entirely normal, applying ice can promote healing and limit pain. You’ll want to ice the area as directed for the next 24–48 hours following oral surgery.

Often, you’ll be instructed to apply ice to your jaw multiple times in that 24–48 hour period for the best results — for example, icing the area for 30 minutes, removing it for 15 minutes, then icing again for another 30 minutes. You’ll probably be asked to repeat these steps for at least 24 hours. If you had the procedure for both sides of your mouth, make sure to follow your oral surgeon’s directions about switching sides when applying ice. 

While applying ice is standard practice after oral surgery, it’s critical to follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They may recommend a specific process for applying ice.

4) Eat Soft Foods

As you’ll probably have some tenderness after oral surgery, it’s important to eat soft foods or drink liquid forms of nutrition. Not only will this be more comfortable, but it can also limit the chance of any complications. Make sure to avoid hard foods like candy, apples, or raw vegetables. You should also stay away from foods that are too cold, hot, or spicy. These can all irritate the area. 

Experts typically recommend consuming soft foods and drinks, such as applesauce, oatmeal, smoothies, and meal replacement shakes. However, make sure these aren’t too hot or cold. After about a week, you should be able to return to your regular diet. However, always refer to your oral surgeon’s guidance regarding what you should consume. If you notice sharp pain or discomfort after eating or drinking something, be sure to tell your surgeon.

5) Follow Your Oral Surgeon’s Instructions

Above all else, follow the instructions from your oral surgeon. They will provide a detailed recovery plan based on the type of surgery you received. These instructions also depend on how the surgery played out, including your personal needs.

Your oral surgeon may encourage you to refrain from using mouthwash or brushing your teeth, as these can sometimes cause irritation and discomfort. On the other hand, they may recommend only avoiding the tender spots when brushing.

Rinsing with salt water is another standard oral surgery recovery tip. Rinsing with salt water helps reduce the chance of an infection. In addition, the salt speeds up recovery while also mitigating pain. Be sure to rinse with salt water every few hours and after eating meals for a week following surgery, if this is what is suggested by your oral surgeon. 

Another crucial tip is to follow your oral surgeon’s instructions regarding pain medication. People often take over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but your surgeon may also prescribe a more potent painkiller. Be sure to take these only as directed, and not to mix over-the-counter and prescription medications without your surgeon’s knowledge and approval.

Oral Surgery DC

If you’re looking for more oral surgery recovery tips or need an experienced oral surgeon in the Washington DC area, contact Oral Surgery DC today. Our surgeon, Tania Nkungula, DDS, and our team of skilled oral care professionals have years of experience in the industry.

Contact Oral Surgery DC today to learn more.

Understanding the Causes and Risks of Gum Disease

Almost half of all adults over 30 will experience some level of gum disease, or periodontitis, in their lifetime. Globally, it’s estimated to affect nearly half of the world’s population. The good news is, periodontitis has few long-term side effects if detected and treated early. However, if you ignore the signs of gum disease and fail to seek treatment, it can have severe implications, including tooth loss.

 

Here’s what you should know about the causes and risks of gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontitis is a serious infection in the gums. The build-up of plaque and tartar on your teeth, caused by poor dental hygiene, creates an environment where bad bacteria thrive. That bacteria, along with the “good” bacteria your immune system releases to fight them, will over time break down the connective tissue and bones that hold your teeth in place. Eventually, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.

 

Healthy gums feel firm and are snug around the teeth, while someone with gum disease will notice puffiness, tenderness, bleeding, bad breath, pus, loose teeth, tooth loss, discomfort when chewing, pockets around the teeth, and receding gums. If you have any of these symptoms, you might be suffering from gum disease. 

 

Gum disease is easily diagnosed by a dentist or dental hygienist, and so is gum inflammation, which we call gingivitis. Gingivitis is a precursor to severe gum disease and is considered the mildest form of gum disease. Here’s what you need to know about how gingivitis begins and how it can advance into periodontitis if not treated properly. 

Causes of Gum Disease

The biggest cause of gum disease is not brushing and flossing often enough, which leads to the build-up of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that contains bacteria and food particles. Brushing and flossing twice a day helps keep plaque at a minimum, but poor dental hygiene leads to the build-up of plaque (and the bacteria it contains), which leads to the gum inflammation and bleeding associated with gingivitis. 

 

If you don’t brush, floss, and rinse for some period of time, plaque starts to build up on the surface of your teeth, releasing acid that damages the outer shell known as enamel. This marks the beginning of tooth decay. In these early stages, plaque can be easily removed and gingivitis is easily reversible with consistent brushing and flossing. If left unchecked, however, gingivitis will begin to turn into periodontitis. 

 

In just 72 hours, plaque begins to harden into tartar, which is a hard layer that will begin to grow along your gum line. Tartar makes it impossible to thoroughly clean your teeth and gums unless it is scraped away by a dentist. The build-up of plaque and tarter starts to worsen a person’s dental hygiene, inflame the gums, and eventually pull the gum and bone away from the teeth.

 

With gum disease, pockets start to form between the teeth and gums, which opens the door to more plaque, tartar, and bacteria. As gum disease goes untreated, the bacteria release enzymes that break down the bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place. That’s how gum disease leads to loose teeth and, eventually, tooth loss. 

Reversing Gum Disease

Gingivitis and periodontitis are easily prevented with proper dental hygiene. Gingivitis is also easily reversible, so if you begin to notice some mild inflammation and bleeding, you probably just need to start brushing and flossing better. Check in with your dentist and they’ll let you know if you’re experiencing gingivitis and what you can do to treat it.

 

With that in mind, while gingivitis can often be reversed by merely improving dental hygiene, periodontitis is not so easily reversible. Treating periodontitis also requires improved dental hygiene, but brushing and flossing alone cannot remove the hard layers of tartar that begin to form at the gum line. Advanced gum disease will also cause pockets in the gums and these pockets must be cleaned out with special scaling tools. 

 

If you think you have periodontitis, you should schedule an appointment. Your dentist can perform a deep cleaning of your teeth in order to clean the visible tooth surface and go below the gum line to clean out any pockets. For someone who has severe periodontitis that has led to the destruction of bone or soft tissue, or the loss of teeth, seeing an oral surgeon is the best option.

How an Oral Surgeon Can Treat Periodontitis

Periodontitis can lead to the destruction of soft tissue and bones that support the teeth, causing loose teeth and tooth loss. Tooth loss is irreversible, but modern dentistry allows oral surgeons to reconstruct a healthy smile using implants and other methods of restoration.

 

If you’re suffering from periodontitis and it has led to the loss of soft tissue, bone, or teeth, an oral surgeon can help restore your healthy smile and your confidence. In our next article, we’ll explore all of the methods and techniques used in oral surgery to successfully restore the smiles of those who have suffered from periodontitis. 

 

At our clinic, we employ the latest technology and tools to speed recovery and restore oral health for patience experiencing periodontitis. If you have questions about gum disease or the best treatment path for you, 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.

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.