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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.

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.

Reconstructive Surgery

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

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

 

Reconstructive Oral Surgery vs. Cosmetic Oral Surgery

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

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

 

Conditions and Challenges Treated by Cosmetic and Reconstructive Oral Surgery

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

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

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

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

 

Types of Oral Surgery Procedures

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

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

 

A Whole New You

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

 

What to Expect from Oral Surgery

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

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

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

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.