9 Questions to Ask Your Oral Surgeon Before Dental Implants

Advantages of Dental ImplantsDental implants can completely renovate your smile, restore your ability to chew food and improve your confidence. Most people are extremely satisfied with their new set of teeth; however, having implants done is a significant procedure, one that you should only entrust to a qualified oral surgeon with whom you feel comfortable. Before you commit to the procedure, here are 9 important questions you should ask an oral surgeon before dental implants.

1. Am I a good candidate for dental implants?

Most people are, in fact, excellent candidates for this procedure, from the young to the elderly. However, there are certain instances in which you might not be a qualified candidate — for example, if you suffer from certain medical problems or low bone density in the jaw. Make sure your oral surgeon takes a close look at your situation to determine whether the procedure is right for you.

2. What are the risk factors?

Getting dental implants is a fairly low-risk procedure, but there is an inherent risk anytime you drill into the jaw or introduce a new object into the mouth. Have your doctor explain to you the potential risks of the procedure (for example, infection or failure of the implants o fuse to the jawbone), and help you prepare to compensate for those risks.

3. How many times have you performed this procedure?

As with any type of surgery (oral or otherwise), the more experience the surgeon has with the procedure, the more confident you can be that he/she will do a good job in your case. Ask about your surgeon’s experience, how many implants done in the past year, etc. Also, feel free to ask about the surgeon’s training. Keep asking questions until you’re comfortable with the answers.

4. What are the odds of success/rejection?

The vast majority of dental implant procedures are completely successful (generally 93-98 percent). That said, every patient is different, and every situation is different. Ask your surgeon to tell you his personal success rate, and the odds for success in your case — and make sure you’re satisfied with the answer.

5. How long will the implants last?

Dental implants are considered a permanent solution, and most are designed to last for decades with proper care. In many cases, you may never need to replace them. Talk to your oral surgeon for specifics on the life expectancy of your implants and how to extend their life with care and maintenance.

6. How long does the process take?

Generally speaking, most dental implant procedures take place in two steps with several months between them. First, the surgeon will install implants into your jawbone, providing you a temporary set of teeth while the implants bond to the jaw. Several months later, your permanent teeth will be affixed to the implants. The entire process takes between 4-8 months.

In certain cases, for the right candidates who require a full arch restoration, your surgeon may be able to affix an immediate temporary prosthesis that will look and function just like your original teeth, eliminating the need for loose fitting dentures in the process. (We refer to this process as “teeth in a day.”) Ask your doctor if this is an option for you.

7. How should I prepare for the procedure?

Like any surgery, a dental implant procedure requires a bit of advance preparation. Ask your oral surgeon about what is required of you to prepare for the procedure, as well as what to expect afterward.

8. How do I take care of my dental implants?

In the vast majority of cases, you’ll take care of your implants the same way as you would your original teeth, with regular brushing/flossing and periodic dental checkups. However, your oral surgeon may recommend specific tips such as a daily Water Pik treatment to care for your new implants in a way that extends their life. Be sure you know what to expect, and be prepared to protect your investment and your smile!

9. Do you have any references I can contact?

When making a final decision to work with an oral surgeon, this may be the most important question you ask. One of the best ways to decide whether to trust this person with your mouth is to talk to others who have gone through the procedure. Ask specifically to contact people who have had dental implants; call them and ask them about their experience, and whether they would recommend the surgeon to others.

If you’re interested in learning more about getting dental implants and are ready to ask an experienced oral surgeon about it, we are here to help! Give Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery a call today at 706-235-5570.

Tips for Finding a Top Oral Surgeon in North Georgia

For significant oral/facial needs like treatment for sleep apnea, facial skin cancer or oral/facial trauma — or for dental needs like wisdom teeth extractions or dental implants — you naturally want to find an oral surgeon you can trust. But how do you find a top oral surgeon in North Georgia, someone with years of experience and a good reputation? Here are a few tips to point you in the right direction.

Initial ConsultationAsk for Referrals from Friends or Your Dentist

If you’re new to the North Georgia area and don’t know how to start researching oral surgeons, start by asking any friends or family in the area whom they might recommend. In particular, ask people who may have had the same procedure done that you need. If you already have a dentist in the area, ask whom she would recommend for your specific procedure.

Research Possibilities Online

Once you’ve begun compiling names of top oral surgeons in the North Georgia area, you can vet them further by doing an online search for each one. In many cases, you’ll be able to find out how many years the surgeon has been practicing, their areas of specialty, where they got their education, and so on. You may also find patient reviews for each oral surgeon, which may be helpful in deciding if that surgeon is right for you.

Check Board Certifications

All oral surgeons must be legally licensed to practice, but the best oral surgeons will also usually be certified by the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (ABOMS). Board certification means the surgeon has voluntarily met an advanced set of criteria and accountability standards as held by the board, adding greatly to the trust level. The Board’s website has a search feature to help you find board-certified practitioners in your area; you can also type in the surgeon’s name to make sure he is certified and in good standing.

Check References

So you’ve decided to reach out to an oral surgeon in your area. If you still have concerns, ask the doctor for a few personal references. Call those references and ask about their experiences. This additional step should convince you either way as to whether this is an oral surgeon you can trust.

Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery is proud to be one of the top facilities in our area, headed by one of the top oral surgeons in north Georgia. Dr. Hunt is certified both by ABOMS and by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, and he has been performing successful oral/facial surgical procedures for more than three decades. To learn more about the services we offer, call us today at 706-235-5570.

5 Signs You Might Need Dental Implants

Healthy dental implantsPermanent dental implants are growing in popularity these days as an alternative to other forms of tooth replacement like crowns, bridges and dentures. While implants aren’t for everyone, they can solve many problems permanently that other solutions solve only temporarily. Perhaps you’re wondering whether this is a solution for you. Let’s look at four telltale signs that you need dental implants.

1. You are missing one or more teeth.

If you have had a tooth extracted but haven’t replaced it, this can eventually cause problems in your bite. Teeth effectively rely on one another to stay in position, and a gap can cause other teeth to migrate, creating unwanted gaps, affecting your smile, and even affecting your ability to chew food. Exposed gums can also open the door to infection and diseased teeth. If you have one or more gaps that haven’t been filled, you might just be an excellent candidate for dental implants.

2. You need to have one or more teeth extracted.

Preserving your natural teeth is always the best option when possible, but if you have cracked, damaged or diseased teeth that need to be extracted, you need a new tooth to fill each gap for the same reasons given in the previous point. Crowns and bridges are often used to fill these gaps, but they wear out over time. Dental implants are permanent and when properly cared for can last a lifetime. While they are more expensive up front, they may actually cost less over time because they don’t need to be replaced.

3. You need to replace most or all of your teeth.

For one reason or another — whether by disease, injury or accident — some people simply need a full replacement set of teeth. Permanent dental implants are safer and more reliable than bridges, crowns or floating dentures. They are also less prone to infection.

4. You are facing crown or bridge replacement.

Let’s say you already have a crown or a bridge in place from a broken or extracted tooth. That crown or bridge is now several years old and needs to be replaced. You already know now from experience that you will soon need to replace the replacement. Rather than spend that money over and over again, you might consider dental implants as a once-and-done solution rather than repeating the cycle.

5. You are unhappy with your smile.

For many different reasons, some people are just not happy with the way their teeth look. Perhaps your teeth are uneven, discolored or damaged; perhaps existing gaps have affected how your teeth are positioned. Perhaps you’re reluctant to smile because of how your teeth look. Most people fitting this description find a huge surge of confidence after having dental implants; some even say it changes their life.

If you think you might need dental implants, it’s time to talk to an oral surgeon to find out more about the procedure and see whether you are a good candidate. To learn more, call Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery today at 706-235-5570.

Getting Wisdom Teeth Extracted Later in Life? Here’s What to Expect

For many of us, our third molars (or “wisdom teeth”) can cause problems in our mouths as they emerge, especially if they are impacted, incorrectly positioned or begin crowding other teeth in the mouth. Wisdom teeth are frequently extracted as a preventative measure in young adults age 13-20 because they are easier to remove before the roots have taken hold. But what happens if they start causing problems into adulthood? What if you need to remove your wisdom teeth later in life?

The good news is that under the care of a good oral surgeon, adults of all ages may have their wisdom teeth removed with few complications, if any. However, there are a few additional considerations for having these teeth removed later in life. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can expect.

Longer Recovery Times

As an adult, your wisdom teeth have taken root, which means it may cause a bit more trauma in the jaw to remove them. As such, it may take you longer to recover than your younger counterparts, especially if the teeth are impacted. Your oral surgeon will give you a realistic time frame as to how to prepare.

Increased Risk of Infection

Adult wisdom tooth extraction is by its nature a bit more invasive than the same procedure in a young adult. As a result, your oral surgeon may monitor you more closely for the risk of infection. If you experience fever, swelling or prolonged pain in the days following the extraction, talk to your doctor.

Risk of Nerve Damage

Due to the deep roots of wisdom teeth, in some cases (not all), certain patients may have an increased risk of damage to nerves during the extraction process. If this is a particular risk factor with you, your surgeon will discuss the ramifications of the procedure and its risks so you can make an informed decision together.

Despite these potential complications, many oral surgeons may still recommend extracting your wisdom teeth later in life as an alternative to further pain and infection risks. The vast majority of older adults experience few or no complications from the procedure. However, due to the additional risk factors, it’s important to have this extraction performed by an established oral surgeon with years of successful experience. To learn more about what to expect with wisdom teeth extraction, call Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery today at 706-235-5570.

4 Treatment Options for Replacing Missing Teeth

If you are missing one or more teeth or need to have teeth removed, it’s important for your long-term oral health that you have those teeth replaced as soon as possible. There are a number of treatment options available for replacing missing teeth, and the right option for you will depend on such factors as how many teeth need to be replaced, your current oral health, your personal desires and your budget.

What Happens if You Do Nothing?

Of course, you have the option of simply not replacing your missing teeth. However, this decision is likely to open the door for many complications down the road — complications that can be both painful and expensive to deal with. Here are just a few of the risks involved:

  • Problems with your bite. The open gaps left by missing teeth may allow your other teeth to drift, making it more difficult to chew food.
  • Digestive problems (due to inadequate chewing of food).
  • Increased risk of mouth infection and gum disease.
  • Increased risk of oral bone loss.
  • Facial deformity. Gaps in your bite will affect support for other bones and muscles in your face.
  • Accelerated aging and increased wrinkles.

On the other hand, given the number of options available, there is generally a solution for every budget and circumstance to fill the gaps where one or more teeth are missing. Let’s look now at four common treatment options for replacing your missing teeth, and the advantages and/or disadvantages of each.

Option 1: Removable Partial Dentures (RPD)

One low-cost solution is for your dentist to create a set of removable partial dentures to fill in the gaps in your bite. An RPD can be customized to replace one tooth or several, and you may have dual dentures for upper and lower teeth. RPDs are designed to be inserted and removed at will, often secured by a hook that wraps around existing teeth.

This solution helps preserve the natural contour of your face and at least partially restores your ability to chew. However, RPDs come with certain disadvantages as well—for example, they don’t always look realistic; they are more difficult to keep clean, increasing the risk of infection; they can be physically uncomfortable; and the hooks that hold them in place may actually encourage bone loss in your existing teeth. Furthermore, RPDs generally need to be replaced every 3-5 years, resulting in ongoing expense.

Option 2: Fixed Bridge Treatment

With this tooth replacement solution, as an alternative to removable dentures, your dentist or oral surgeon will attach a customized bridge to your existing teeth containing fake teeth to match the gaps in your bite. This bridge is affixed permanently in your mouth by grinding down adjacent teeth and attaching the bridge to those teeth using cement. While it may take awhile to adjust, this fixed bridge may eventually feel more natural to the patient, making it easier to chew and process food, and of course restoring the smile. However, it comes with its own set of disadvantages. For one thing, the dentist must permanently alter some of your good teeth to accommodate the bridge, which may compromise those teeth and shorten their life expectancy. For another, the cement eventually deteriorates, encouraging bacteria growth and increasing the risk of infection. And finally, fixed bridges need to be replaced every 5-15 years.

Option 3: Single-Tooth Replacement via Dental Implant and Crown

A third, and often more viable, option is to replace one or more missing teeth permanently through a dental implant and crown. With this two-stage procedure, your oral surgeon will surgically place a dental implant into the gap left by your missing tooth. Once this implant has fused to the jaw bone, the dentist will attach a permanent crown to the implant, effectively replacing your natural tooth. There are a number of advantages to this process. For one thing, the restoration process mimics nature by allowing the implant to become part of your permanent skeletal structure. For another, the replacement looks, feels and behaves very much like a real tooth. The implant also preserves jawbone. This solution also lasts much longer than bridges or removable dentures.

Option 4: Complete Teeth Replacement with Implants (Teeth In A Day)

For people with multiple missing teeth, a fourth, more permanent option is to replace your entire set of teeth (top and/or bottom) with a complete set of dental implants customized to your mouth. This process is similar to the single tooth replacement except that the oral surgeon will remove any remaining teeth, install a complete set of implants, 5-7 per jaw (usually with temporary teeth attached), then you dentist will attach your permanent replacement teeth once the implants have infused to the bone 4 months later. (For certain candidates, the replacement therapy can even be accomplished in a single day.)

Senior woman in the dental office.Many people with multiple missing teeth prefer this fourth option because they receive an entirely new set of teeth, preserving their facial structure and restoring their smile completely. Once the procedure is complete, your new teeth look, feel and act just like your natural teeth, and with proper care and cleaning they can last a lifetime.

Which of these treatment options is best for you? We invite you to call us to discuss the pros and cons of each, to evaluate your situation and help you make an informed decision. To schedule an appointment, call Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery today at 706-235-5570.

How to Prepare for a Dental Implant Procedure

Thanks to advances in modern dentistry and oral surgery, getting dental implants is frequently less invasive, requires fewer office visits, involves less pain and requires less recovery time than was expected just a few years ago. That being said, implants still require a bit of advance preparation. If you’re about to receive implants, here’s a quick guide on how to prepare for a dental implant procedure.

Preliminary antibiotics

In advance of your procedure, your oral surgeon may prescribe a round of antibiotics for a few days prior to surgery as a preventative measure. Make sure you take your medicine exactly as the surgeon prescribes it. You may also be asked to use an antibiotic mouthwash just prior to surgery.

Don’t smoke

Refrain from smoking for a minimum of 24 hours prior to your surgery. In fact, this is a great time to quit. Smoking depresses your immune system and makes you more prone to infection, and it’s often part of the reason smokers require dental implants in the first place. Also, do not smoke for 2 week after surgery.

Brush, floss and use mouthwash

Simply put, a clean mouth reduces the risk of infection.

Wear loose, comfortable clothing and avoid jewelry

To be comfortable during the procedure, wear loose clothing, preferably short sleeves. The surgeon and staff will do their best to make sure your clothes are protected from staining, but just in case, wear something you wouldn’t mind getting stained. Jewelry tends to get in the way, so just leave it at home for today.

Address any concerns or fears with your doctor

Dental implant surgery is fairly routine, but if you have any concerns or experience fear prior to the procedure, communicate these with your surgeon beforehand so he/she can make you as comfortable as possible with the procedure.

Arrange transportation home

You may experience a bit of physical weakness or trauma immediately following the surgery, or you may be a little woozy. It’s best not to drive yourself home after a dental implant procedure, so make sure you arrange for a ride home.

At Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery, we offer state-of-the-art dental implant surgery in a comfortable environment with minimal downtime. To have a conversation to determine whether you are a candidate for dental implants, contact us today.

What’s the Difference Between Cosmetic Surgery and Plastic Surgery?

People commonly use the terms cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery interchangeably, leading to a misconception that they are referring to the same medical specialty. In fact, while the two are related in some of the techniques used, they are two very different disciplines. Let’s look briefly at some of the primary differences between cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery.

Face of woman and doctor hands. Plastic surengy concept.Plastic surgery is reconstructive; cosmetic surgery is elective.

Perhaps the most notable difference between these two surgical disciplines is the end goal of each. Plastic surgery deals with correcting and reconstructing parts of the face or body that are defective, whether by birth, disease or accident. Examples might include skin grafts for burn victims, reconstructing a broken nose or repairing a cleft palate. Plastic surgery is generally considered necessary and may even be covered by insurance.

Cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, describes any surgical procedure that is aesthetic in nature, serving to improve physical appearance—for example, liposuction, tummy tucks, breast reduction/augmentation or any of a number of facial enhancements like eyebrow lifts or rhinoplasty. Because these body parts are functional prior to surgery, cosmetic procedures only change the appearance, and are therefore elective surgeries.

Different educational paths

In terms of medical education, plastic surgery is considered a specialty practice similar to other surgical specialties, meaning the surgeon goes through medical school and a general surgical residency before receiving specialized training in plastic surgery—a process lasting 6-8 years.

Cosmetic surgery requires a separate training path, either in addition to this process or alongside another path. Some plastic surgeons go on to become cosmetic surgeons, but any medical specialist may receive the training and certification for cosmetic surgery, not just plastic surgeons. Some specialists opt to incorporate cosmetic procedures that relate to their particular discipline. For this reason, it’s important to ask any doctor claiming to be a cosmetic surgeon about their credentials and board certification.

At Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery, our surgeons are trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons — a medical/dental specialty discipline that incorporates both plastic and cosmetic surgical training for procedures of the face and jaw. As a result, we are highly qualified and board certified to perform necessary reconstructive facial procedures as well as elective physical enhancements. To learn more about the services we offer, call us today at 706-235-5570.

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

One of the more common questions we get from dental implant candidates is “how long do dental implants last?” The answer to that question largely depends on the patient—but the short answer is they are designed as a permanent solution, and with proper care and upkeep, they may last a lifetime.

Comparing to other tooth replacement solutions

For decades, bridges and crowns were the “go-to” as far as tooth replacement solutions. Although bridges and crowns can last 10 years or more with proper care and good oral hygiene, eventually they will wear out and require replacement. Because these were the best options for many years, most dental patients assume replacement is inevitable, even with dental implants.

What these people don’t realize is that our dental implants are the closest substitute to your real teeth that has ever been available. In theory, with proper hygiene, your original adult teeth can last throughout your entire life span. In effect, the same holds true with dental implants. The better care you take of your new teeth, the longer they are likely to last.

Tips for extending the life of your dental implants

For best results with your new implants, we recommend the following:

  • Brush and floss at least twice daily. If you weren’t in the habit of brushing and flossing your original teeth, get in the habit now. Use a brush with soft bristles and tartar control toothpaste. Brush and floss carefully to cover as much of the surface of your teeth as possible. Optimally, you should brush after meals. Ask your dentist to show you the best way to brush and floss.
  • Use antimicrobial mouthwash daily. Plaque, gingivitis and mouth infections pose the greatest risk to your implants. A germicide mouthwash will kill the germs that cause plaque and help you keep clean the parts of your teeth you can’t reach by brushing and flossing.
  • Visit your dentist every 3-6 months for cleaning and tooth exams. Early detection of issues is the best source of prevention. Regular visits to your dentist will help keep your teeth in optimum condition.
  • Contact your dentist at the first sign of trouble. If you’re experiencing tooth/gum/jaw pain or inflammation, don’t write it off as insignificant. Call your dentist to have it checked out.

woman having toothache

We can never predict the unexpected, but with proper care and oral hygiene, your new dental implants may never need replacing. To learn more about dental implants and determine whether they are right for you, call Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery today at
706-235-5570.

Teeth in a Day: Restore Your Smile with Immediate Full Arch Restoration Therapy

If you need full arch restoration for either your upper or lower teeth (or both), you may be able to enjoy a whole new set of teeth within a day! For qualified candidates, Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery now offers immediate full arch restoration therapy to restore your smile and help you get on with your life. With this unique program, which we call “teeth in a day,” you can come into our office with your current teeth and leave with a whole new smile the same day!

The dangers of missing teeth

Anytime you lose teeth, it’s important to replace them, either with a crown, a bridge or implants. Failing to do so can cause many problems. For example:

  • Your remaining teeth may shift in your mouth
  • You may not be able to eat certain foods
  • Missing teeth can cause a sagging facial appearance with increased aging
  • The begin to deteriorate, causing bone loss and additional missing teeth
  • The way you speak can be affected; you may develop a lisp
  • Missing teeth increase your risk for gum disease

In certain cases, it makes sense to replace an entire row (or arch) of teeth rather than replace one at a time. This is where full arch restoration comes into play.

What is full arch restoration?

When a significant number of teeth in your mouth are diseased, damaged or missing, your dentist may recommend replacing the entire row of teeth in the upper jaw, lower jaw or both. We refer to this as full arch restoration.

With traditional implant methods, replacing all the teeth is an involved, complicated and sometimes painful process requiring numerous visits full arch restorationover many weeks. Your remaining original teeth are pulled, and your oral surgeon gives you temporary replacements (often dentures, which can be loose and painful). When the mouth is healed (usually in about 5 months), your oral surgeon installs a set of implants in your jaw bone. In a subsequent visit, 3 months later, a new row of teeth will be permanently attached to these implants.

 

Alternatively, with immediate full arch restoration therapy, your old teeth are removed, your implants installed and a fixed temporary prosthesis attached, all in the same day. 4 months later, your permanent fixed new teeth are made, and you return to the dentist to have the new teeth attached. This process reduces the number of visits needed while eliminating those embarrassing gaps of missing teeth. Only you and your oral surgeon need know about your fixed permanent prosthesis.

What about my temporary teeth? Will they function normally?

Yes. Your prosthetics are fully functional, great looking, and act like real teeth. You’ll be able to chew food, talk and smile normally through the entire process.

Why implants?

Dental implants are in many cases your best option for lost teeth because they keep your natural jawbone intact. Implants are an excellent alternative to dentures, which are difficult to clean and may breed infection. Finally, implants represent a permanent solution to tooth loss, as opposed to bridges and crowns which may need to be replaced every few years.

Not everyone is a good candidate for immediate full arch restoration therapy, and only a knowledgeable oral surgeon can evaluate your situation to see if they are right for you.

At Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery, we’re committed to providing the latest state-of-the-art technologies to provide our patients with the best care possible. This is why we are so pleased to offer qualified patients the option for immediate full arch restoration therapy—teeth in a day! To learn more, call us today at 706-235-5570 or look at our website @ www.riversideoralfacialsurgery.com.

4 Tips for Finding a Dental Implant Specialist in Rome, Georgia

Dental implants can fill in gaps in your bite, keep your teeth from shifting or give you a whole new smile. Dental implants can be permanent, so you want to exercise care in choosing the right person to perform the procedure. For best results, you want a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon to handle your implants. If you’re looking for dental implants in Rome, GA, here are four helpful hints to point you in the right direction.

Ask your dentist for a referral

If you have a general dentist you visit regularly, they may be a good first person to ask about dental implants. For best results, you should have an oral and maxillofacial surgeon perform the procedure, so ask your dentist to provide you with a referral. A well-connected dentist should be able to recommend at least one reputable oral surgeon.

 

Check for board certification 

Healthy dental implantsBefore allowing a dental implant specialist to work in your mouth, take the time to find out whether the specialist is board certified. Board certification assures that your surgeon has solid credentials and adheres to the highest professional standards. A good place to check for certification is the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. If your specialist isn’t listed there, be sure to ask about his/her certifications and follow up to make sure they are in good standing.

Ask your friends 

Of course, word-of-mouth is still the best form of advertising, and if someone you know has had a good experience, chances are you will, too. If you know anyone in Rome, Georgia who has had dental implants, ask which specialist they used and whether they would recommend that specialist.

Check patient reviews

For an expanded “word-of-mouth” review experience, do an Internet search for oral surgeons in your local area and see if anyone has left a review. Bear in mind that anyone can write anything on the web, so one negative review here or there may not be an accurate reflection of the doctor’s abilities. Instead, look for a trend where multiple reviews lean positive or negative to help you make an informed decision.

 

At Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery, we pride ourselves on providing high-quality dental implant services in our state-of-the-art surgical facilities. Dr. Hunt is board-certified with the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, and is highly recommended by his patients and colleagues. For more information on dental implant services in Rome, Georgia, call 706-235-5570 or check our website out @ www.riversideoralfacialsurgery.com