5 Reasons You May Need Wisdom Teeth Removed

Sometime between the ages of 12 and 25, four new molars will emerge (or try to emerge) in your mouth — two molars on each side of your jaw, top and bottom. These outermost molars are commonly called “wisdom” teeth because they appear at maturity. However, it might not be “wise” to keep them, as wisdom teeth often cause a variety of problems in the mouth as they come in, some of which can be painful and cause lasting damage. Your dentist can advise you more specifically as to whether this is a right choice for you, but here are 5 common reasons why you might need your wisdom teeth removed.

1. Impacted Teeth

Wisdom teeth frequently become impacted, meaning they are blocked from coming in, either by bone or other teeth. Impacting can lead to a wide range of other issues, including inflammation, infection, tooth damage and tooth/gum loss, and cyst and tumors. If your wisdom teeth are impacted or are expected to be, your dentist may recommend extraction to prevent further complications.

2. Overcrowding

Wisdom teeth are large molars, and when they try to emerge, they can cause overcrowding, pushing your other teeth out of alignment. This not only affects your smile in general, but it can also cause other complications like inflammation and infection. Your dentist may determine your other teeth will remain healthier and better aligned if the wisdom teeth are extracted, and to avoid damaging your orthodontic results.

3. Tooth Damage

As wisdom teeth try to come in, they can put undue pressure on neighboring teeth and damage them. Your dentist may want to remove the wisdom teeth to eliminate this threat.

4. Cysts and Tumors

Wisdom teeth that don’t emerge properly are also a breeding ground for abnormal tissue growths to occur — most commonly cysts (fluid-filled growths) or even tumors. Cysts or tumors can cause serious complications in the mouth, such as hollowed-out areas, jaw pain, tooth/gum damage and nerve damage, jaw fracture, etc. An oral surgeon needs to remove these growths, as well as extracting the wisdom teeth that are causing the growths to occur.

5. Sinus Issues

The presence of wisdom teeth can cause problems in places other than the jaw. The upper teeth, in particular, can begin crowding and pushing against your sinus cavity, causing infections, sinus pain and other issues. In many cases, the best way to eliminate this sinus pressure is to remove the wisdom teeth.

Your board certified oral surgeon is the best person to evaluate your teeth and help you determine whether you are a good candidate to have your wisdom teeth removed. To learn more, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

What Happens During a Dental Implant Procedure

Oral CareThe prospect of getting dental implants can be a scary thought for some people, even if it’s the best option for them, or even if it’s what they want to do. Replacing one or more teeth with implants sound involved, possibly painful, and certainly invasive. To ease your mind, let’s talk about what happens during dental implant procedure so you know what to expect and can make informed choices about your oral health.

The implant process usually involves two surgeries with a waiting period of several months in between. Here’s what to expect at each stage of the process.

Stage One: First Surgery

Since your new implants will be permanent replacement teeth, the first step in the process is to create an anchor mechanism in the jaw that will support these new teeth. During this first surgery, the oral surgeon will make an incision in your gum for each tooth being replaced and will insert titanium posts into your jawbones. These posts will become the roots to hold your new teeth. If this process sounds painful, never fear; the dentist will make sure you have the proper anesthetic. The doctor may use conscious sedation (oral of IV), or general anesthesia as the most comfortable option.

Stage Two: Taking Root

The next step is to allow several months for the titanium post to bond permanently (called osseointegration) with your jaw bone, then the permanent replacement teeth will be manufactured. The dentist will provide you with temporary dentures or replacements during this time, so after a brief recovery period from the first surgery, you should be able to chew soft foods.

Stage Three: Getting Your Permanent Teeth

Once the titanium posts have properly taken root, it’s time for you to receive your permanent teeth. During this procedure, the doctor will remove your temporary teeth or dentures (if affixed), attach a small post (Abutment) to each implant, and affix your new teeth to these posts. As with the first procedure, you’ll be given proper anesthesia to mitigate pain and discomfort. Once these new teeth are in place, they will look and feel like your real teeth, and with proper care they can last a lifetime.

We’re happy to answer any further questions you may have regarding what to expect during a dental implant procedure so you can determine if implants are the right choice for you. To learn more, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

Wisdom Teeth Removal Complications: What is Dry Socket?

After having wisdom teeth removed, you’re likely to experience some mild to moderate pain and swelling, which should go away after a few days. But if you begin to experience severe pain within 3-4 days at or near the extraction site, chances are you’re experiencing dry socket (alveolar osteitis) — a complication that occurs in roughly 20 percent of patients who have their wisdom teeth removed.

What Is Dry Socket?

After you have a tooth extracted, a blood clot naturally forms over the extraction site, forming a protective layer for the bone and nerve endings underneath while healing takes place. Dry socket occurs if this clot fails to form or somehow gets dislodged prematurely. The sensitive nerves and bone are exposed, causing acute pain at the extraction site and often radiating through the nerves along the side of the face. Frequently, food particles also accumulate in the socket, causing further inflammation.

What Can Cause Dry Socket?

Dry socket can happen for many reasons, but some factors may increase the risk. These include:

 

  • Smoking/tobacco use. Harmful chemicals in cigarettes and other tobacco products can reduce the blood supply needed to form a clot, slow the healing process and promote infection. Also, the sucking action and the heat when drawing on a cigarette can dislodge a clot.
  • Pre-existing infection. Sometimes bacteria already present at the wound site can prevent clotting.
  • Being female. Women tend to develop dry socket more often than men, possibly due to hormonal balances. (Oral contraceptives may also increase the risk.)
  • Impacted tooth. If the wisdom tooth was impacted at the time of extraction, the increased trauma at the wound site may increase the risk.
  • Failing to heed the dentist’s instructions. Sucking on a straw within the first few days, for example, can dislodge a forming clot (the same as smoking a cigarette). Also, failing to keep the wound area clean or eating crunchy foods too soon after the procedure can cause the clot to dislodge.

How Dry Socket Is Treated

If you experience the symptoms of dry socket, you need to return to the dentist for treatment, as it will probably not go away on its own. The dentist will gently clean away food debris from the area, then pack the extraction site with a protective layer, which should provide immediate relief. The dentist may also recommend over-the-counter pain medications or prescribe a brief round of stronger meds. Follow the dentist’s home care instructions, and the dry socket should heal within a week to ten days.

 

If you’re need wisdom teeth removed or are experiencing tooth pain, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570. We are happy to help.

The Difference Between Dental Implants, Dentures and Bridges

DenturesIf you are missing one or more teeth — or if it becomes necessary to extract them — it’s important to replace those missing teeth to prevent more serious complications down the road, such as infections, shifting teeth and further tooth loss. You basically have three possible solutions to replace missing teeth: dental implants, dentures or bridges. What’s the difference between them? Let’s take a look.

Bridges

A dental bridge is so named because it “bridges” the gap left by one or more missing teeth. A bridge consists of one or more artificial teeth (depending on how many teeth are missing), suspended in place by two crowns that are attached to your real teeth on either side of the gap. This bridge covers and protects your gum line, holds your other teeth in place and look and feel like real teeth. While bridges are more economical than implants (at least in the short term), they usually must be replaced in 7-10 years.

Dentures

Another economical solution to replacing lost teeth, dentures are removable false teeth designed to fit your mouth. Dentures may be partial (meaning they fill existing gaps) or complete (replacing all your teeth). Typically dentures are worn during the day, then removed and cleaned at night. The primary drawback to dentures is that they are not affixed. They must be held in place inside your mouth with adhesive, and sometimes they shift and move. They look like real teeth, but you may not be able to chew the same types of foods as you could with your real teeth. Dentures must also be eventually replaced. Dental implants can help anchor in dentures.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are the most financial investment of the three tooth replacement options, but they are also the most permanent and most like your natural teeth. Implants require a series of procedures in which the surgeon will install titanium posts into your jaw to anchor your new teeth, then affix permanent replacement teeth to them. When complete, these implants look and feel like real teeth and may be cared for as such — and with proper care, implants can last a lifetime.

 

Which option is best for you — dental implants, dentures or bridges? That depends on several factors such as your oral health and your budget. To learn more about the difference between dental implants, dentures and bridges, and to discover whether you are a good candidate for each of these procedures, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

7 Causes of Tooth Loss in Adults

Wisdom teeth at dentistNo one is surprised when children of a certain age lose teeth — their “baby teeth” are being replaced by new adult ones. But when an adult experiences tooth loss, not only do the teeth not grow back, but the missing teeth can cause many other complications in the mouth. Let’s look at 7 of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults.

1. Poor Dental Hygiene

Simply put, the fastest way to lose adult teeth is not to take care of them. Brushing infrequently, incorrectly or not at all; neglecting to floss; failing to get regular professional cleanings and checkups; all these factors can contribute to the development of periodontal disease — a disease of the gums caused by excess bacteria and plaque that eventually erode the teeth and bones of the jaw. Technically, periodontal disease is the top cause of tooth loss in adults, and poor dental hygiene is the top cause of periodontal disease. Take care of your teeth, and your chance of keeping those teeth raises exponentially.

2. Poor Nutrition

Did you know you could lose teeth as a result of not eating right? Diets rich in fruits and vegetables help strengthen all the systems in your body, including your oral health. On the other hand, diets specifically low in calcium can weaken bones over time, and eating too many acidic and sugary foods can leave residue on the teeth that can erode them.

3. Smoking

Smoking can lead to all sorts of health problems (especially in the heart and lungs), but the chemicals in cigarette smoke also weaken your immune system and encourage the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth. This bacteria leads to plaque, which leads to tartar build-up, which leads to periodontal disease.

4. Tooth Grinding

If you grind your teeth at night, the undue pressure placed on the jaw can chip away at teeth and weaken the bones that hold them in place in your mouth, eventually resulting in tooth loss. Have your dentist make you a mouthpiece/Niteguard to sleep in.

5. Trauma

If you experience a fall, accident or blunt impact — especially one that impacts the face and jaw — the impact can dislodge teeth or cause them to break off.

6. Other Lost Teeth

Tooth loss begets more tooth loss. If you don’t replace lost teeth, the gap left behind can lead to a wide variety of other problems (e.g., bone loss, gum disease, undue pressure on other teeth), any or all of which can promote the loss of more teeth.

7. Other Diseases

Tooth loss in adults can sometimes happen as a secondary response to other health conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases.

While you may not be able to control some risk factors like trauma or other diseases, the key takeaway from this list is that the vast majority of tooth loss in adults is preventable. Quitting smoking, getting treatment for grinding teeth and maintaining proper oral hygiene can almost completely eliminate your risk for tooth loss — and replacing teeth you’ve already lost can keep you from losing more. To learn more about tooth loss in adults and how to replace them with dental implants, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

How to Care for Your Dental Implants

Dont Be Affraid Of The DentistYou have successfully gone through the process of getting new dental implants, and the procedure is now complete. Congratulations? Now how do you take care of your new teeth? Proper care is essential to making sure your implants last, hopefully for the rest of your life. Let’s discuss some basics to caring for your dental implants, beginning immediately after surgery.

The Day of Surgery

Once you’ve gone through recovery and are released from the dentist’s office, treat your new teeth very gently the first day to prevent irritation and complications. Resist the urge to touch and probe the area(s) for now, and avoid smoking, which may disrupt the healing process. Avoid strenuous activities — take the rest of the day off and relax, if possible. You should brush your new teeth tonight, but gently.

The Days Following Surgery

A bit of light bleeding is normal for the first 24-48 hours after your implants are installed. As your dentist instructs, you may pack the area with gauze. After the first 24 hours (not before), regular salt water rinses will help keep the area clean to prevent infection.

You may also experience some pain and swelling for the first 2-3 days. You can treat this with an ice pack applied to the jaw (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off), as well as over-the-counter pain medicines or any additional medicines your doctor may prescribe — including any antibiotics prescribed to prevent infection.

Eat healthy foods to promote healing; avoid hot foods for the first few days, and avoid using a straw as the sucking action can cause irritation.

Ongoing Care and Maintenance

Once you’ve recovered from surgery, taking care of your dental implants looks basically the same as good oral hygiene for your regular teeth. If you haven’t already begun doing so, brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss daily and use an antimicrobial mouth rinse as directed by your doctor. Your dentist may also recommend other brushing aids (waterpik) to remove plaque from the sides of the teeth. Keep regular checkups and cleaning appointments, usually twice a year or as recommended by your doctor.

By taking proper care of your new teeth in this fashion, your dental implants should last for decades, possibly for the rest of your life. To learn more, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

Get Your Smile Back with Pain-Free Dental Implants

full arch restorationIf you have significant tooth loss or numerous diseased teeth, you’re likely experiencing changes to your smile, not to mention more than your fair share of pain. Fortunately, modern advances in dentistry have made it possible to get your smile back with pain-free dental implants.

Pain Free?

Many people assume getting dental implants is a painful procedure. In fact, many people who have received them say it is less difficult than a tooth extraction. This is in part because we aren’t just removing teeth — we’re replacing them. The procedure is performed with IV sedation plus a local anesthetic, and once the implants are in place, many patients report little or no discomfort. In addition, permanent implants look and feel very much like your original teeth, unlike bridges and dentures, which often cause discomfort.

How Does It Work?

Dental implants essentially require two surgical procedures. The first step is to install titanium posts into the jaw below the gum line in place of your missing teeth. Over the next several months, these implants will bond to your jaw, during which time you can function with temporary dentures while your permanent replacements are being made.

The next step is to install your permanent replacement teeth, which will be installed on the posts (or abutments) that have now bonded to your jaw. Upon completion, your smile should be completely restored, pain-free!

Within a Single Day?

For some candidates, yes. Our teeth-in-a-day procedure allows certain patients to receive an entire upper and/or lower arch of teeth on the same day the titanium posts are installed during the first procedure. These prosthetics are temporary, but they look and function like natural teeth. You’ll still receive permanent replacements at a later time (4-5 months later).

Advantages of Dental Implants

  • Permanently eliminates the need for uncomfortable, painful or ill-fitting dentures
  • Restores your natural facial appearance (the absence of teeth can affect the contours of your face)
  • If you keep any of your natural teeth, these are less likely to be compromised with permanent implants as opposed to crowns or bridges
  • A permanent solution (implants can last a lifetime with proper care)

If you believe you might be a candidate for pain-free dental implants, we’d love the opportunity to help you get your smile back. Call Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery for an appointment at 706-235-5570.

Tips for Choosing a Cosmetic Surgeon in North Georgia

Cosmetic Surgeon Examining Senior Female Client In OfficeIf you are looking for a cosmetic surgeon in North Georgia, your options may feel overwhelming at first. Many facilities offer some sort of cosmetic surgery, but not every plastic surgeon or cosmetic surgeon is right for your needs, nor are you always assured of quality standards. Here are some helpful tips to help point you in the right direction.

Do the Research

The internet can be a great resource for vetting medical professionals, especially for those with no prior knowledge of them. Start with a basic Google search for cosmetic surgeons in your area, then once you have a few names, search for ratings and reviews. (Helpful hint: The Internet is also the “wild west” as far as reviews are concerned — not every review is accurate or truthful — but if you notice a number of different people saying the same thing about a doctor, chances are the information is reliable.)

Ask Your Friends

Another strategy is to ask for referrals from any friends or family who may have had a similar procedure to what you want. Where did they go to have the procedure done? Whom did they use? What was their experience?

Check Credentials

This step is very important because while cosmetic surgeons must go through some form of training, there is no standard for board certification for cosmetic or plastic surgeons. Be sure to check for any certifications or credentials, and look up the organizations providing those credentials to make sure the doctor is in good standing. If no credentials are readily available, ask. If you have any doubts, move on.

Look for Someone Who Specializes

Still another way to improve your chances of choosing a good cosmetic surgeon is to look for one who concentrates on the type of procedure(s) you’re looking to have done. If you’re seeking body contouring or breast reduction, for example, look for a surgeon who specializes in these procedures. This approach can be especially helpful for cosmetic procedures on the face or jaw, especially if the practitioner is an oral and facial surgeon.

At Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery, we provide a full array of cosmetic procedures for the face and jaw, including facial/jaw enhancement, cheek and chin implants, eyebrow lifts and eyelid surgery, rhinoplasty, face and neck lifts, scar revision and more. To learn more or schedule an appointment, give us a call today at 706-235-5570.

5 Dos (and 5 Don’ts) after Major Oral Surgery

Initial ConsultationAlthough oral surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis, it’s still a major procedure that inflicts at least a small amount of trauma on the body. Many people underestimate their need for rest and recovery after a major oral surgery, and sometimes find themselves aggravating their injuries. If you’re scheduled for an oral surgical procedure, here are five dos and five don’ts to help you recover afterward.

5 Dos After Major Oral Surgery

  • DO give yourself a chance to rest. Take the whole day off after the procedure is finished, maybe even two to three days. Spend plenty of time relaxing and lounging if you like. Give yourself this time.
  • DO take any/all medications your doctor prescribes. You may be prescribed pain medication for the initial recovery period, as well as a round of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories (Advil/Motrin) to prevent infection. Take these as indicated.
  • DO apply ice packs to your jaw to reduce swelling. The general rule is 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off, as needed for the first 2 to 3 days after your surgery.
  • DO stick to liquids for the first day. Once the bleeding stops, you can eventually move on to soft foods. Eat a nutrient-rich diet to accelerate healing.
  • DO keep your wound clean. A lukewarm saltwater rinse is best to protect against infections. Avoid rinsing for the first day; after that, rinse mornings, evenings and after every meal.

5 Don’ts After Major Oral Surgery

  • DON’T eat or drink hot liquids or foods, for at least 24 hours after surgery. If you have any lingering numbness from the anesthetic, you could sustain burns and not even know it or increase bleeding.
  • DON’T do any heavy lifting. Overexertion of any kind can aggravate your injury. Avoid bending over or picking up heavy items for the first few days.
  • DON’T smoke or drink alcohol. Tobacco smoke can aggravate your wound, and both tobacco and alcohol can inhibit your body’s recovery process. Abstain from drinking for at least 24 hours after surgery and while taking pain pills. Avoid smoking for as long as possible; in fact, now might be the perfect excuse to quit altogether.
  • DON’T brush or floss near the surgical site. It seems odd to say this, but in this instance brushing or flossing can aggravate your injury. Don’t brush or floss near your incision until your dentist says it’s okay; until then, clean the area gently with gauze.
  • DON’T chew crunchy foods near the surgical site for up to 6-8 weeks, or as directed by your dentist. Items like popcorn, peanuts, and carrots can aggravate your injury, and forceful chewing can open your wound.

At Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery, we’re committed to helping you achieve a quick and safe recovery after major oral surgery. To learn more, call us at 706-235-5570.

How Does Bone Grafting for Dental Implants Work?

If you’re considering getting dental implants, your oral surgeon might bring up the term “bone grafting” to you. Perhaps the mention of bone grafts sends a chill up your spine. Indeed, it sounds frightening and serious, but actually, it’s a fairly painless and routine procedure. In fact, for many dental implant patients, it’s essential to success.

So how does bone grafting work for dental implants? What does it entail, and in what cases is it necessary?

The Way Your Jawbone Works

close up of dentist showing teeth model to patient

The teeth in your mouth do more than just help you chew food; they represent an integral part of the skeletal structure of your face. Your teeth connect with your jawbone in a mutually dependent manner. Not only do your teeth rely on a strong jawbone to keep them firm and in place, but your jawbone also depends on your teeth to keep it strong and healthy. When you lose teeth and they don’t get replaced, your jawbone begins to atrophy, becoming weaker and thinner and sometimes causing deformity in the face. (This frequently happens with denture wearers, as well, because dentures don’t connect to the jaw bone.) It’s the old use-it-or-lose it adage in play: When your jaw doesn’t have teeth to support, it withers/atrophies.

If you decide to get dental implants, there’s a decent chance that your jawbone is not yet able to support new teeth — especially if you’ve been without your natural teeth for a while, or if your present teeth have been damaged or diseased. This is why your oral surgeon may recommend a bone grafting procedure before attempting to place the implants, both to ensure that the implants actually stay in place and that your jawbone is not damaged in the process.

How Bone Grafting Works

Traditionally, bone grafting involves taking a segment of bone from another part of the body and grafting it onto the weaker area of bone in order to strengthen it. However, it’s become more commonplace to use sterile bone material harvested from animals (usually cows) or human tissue donors, rather than invade another part of the patient’s body to harvest bone. Sometimes the jaw is only mildly or locally atrophied, and only a small graft will be needed. Occasionally, a larger section of the jaw may require grafting. Typically, the longer your natural teeth have been absent, the thinner and weaker the jawbone is, and the larger the graft will have to be.

Once the graft is in place, the oral surgeon will take steps to hold the bone in place so it can bond successfully. In many cases, this involves covering the affected area with a special membrane; with more significant grafts, screws and plates may be used to hold the new bone material in place. The patient must then wait 4 to 5 months for the new bone material to bond with the jawbone. When the jaw is sufficiently healed and the surgeon is convinced the bone graft is successful, he will schedule next steps to begin the implant procedure.

When Do You Need Bone Grafting for Dental Implants?

If you are replacing bad teeth with implants and the doctor determines that you are a candidate for having implants at the same time as your old teeth are extracted, chances are the new teeth will be sufficient to protect the jawbone from decay. However, for many patients this is not feasible. It doesn’t take long for the jawbone to begin losing density after an extraction, so unless your extraction and implants take place in the same visit, there’s a moderate chance you’ll need at least a minor bone graft. Since many people don’t even consider implants until they’ve suffered for a while with tooth loss, larger bone grafts are more common than you might think. Regardless of how much atrophy your jaw has experienced, most bone grafts are highly successful, especially when performed by an experienced oral and facial surgeon.

Will you need bone grafts prior to getting dental implants? This is a decision to be determined by your oral surgeon. The best thing to do is schedule an appointment so your surgeon can do a complete evaluation and work with you on a game plan for your implant procedure. To learn more, call Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery at 706-235-5570,