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,

Where to Replace Missing Teeth in North Georgia

If you have missing teeth, it’s important to have those teeth replaced as soon as possible for the sake of your long-term oral health. However, many people don’t know where to start the process. If you live in North Georgia, where do you look to find someone you can trust to replace those missing teeth?

Signs of Gum Disease

Why It’s Important to Replace Missing Teeth

People who experience tooth loss often simply try to live with it, rather than go to the supposed expense and inconvenience of having those teeth replaced. However, your jaw and mouth are designed for a full set of teeth. In fact, your teeth aren’t just there to chew your food; they are part of your skeletal structure, which means they play a role in supporting other parts of your body. When you have one or more missing teeth and you don’t replace them, any or all of the following can happen:

  • Your other teeth may migrate, creating more gaps between teeth, which affects your smile and makes it even more difficult to chew food.
  • The exposed gums become more prone to infection, putting your other teeth at risk of decay and loss.
  • With multiple missing teeth, your facial structure may begin to sag, creating deformities in your facial features without the proper skeletal support.

Options for Replacing Missing Teeth

Once you’ve decided to replace those missing teeth, you have several options available, each with its advantages and disadvantages:

Tooth-supported or resin-bonded bridge

Effectively, a new crown is installed in place of your missing tooth, bonded to and held in place by your adjacent teeth. A bridge may cost less in the short term, but it can permanently damage your adjacent teeth in the process and will eventually have to be replaced — perhaps several times.

Removable complete or partial dentures

In this case, a wearable prosthetic is created to fill in the gaps left by missing teeth, which can be removed and cleaned periodically. The downside is primarily looseness and discomfort; you may not be able to eat certain foods, and you must be careful of gum infections. Also, with no permanent bonding to the jaw, your jawbone may deteriorate underneath the dentures, affecting the look of your face.

Dental implants

While a bit more expensive in the short term, permanent dental implants look and feel the most like real teeth, preserving your gum line and restoring your smile. With proper care, implants can often last a lifetime without a need for replacement.

Who Should Perform Tooth Replacement?

For best results, you should only have teeth replaced by a qualified oral and facial surgeon, a dental specialist. Dentists may perform crown and bridge procedures and simple tooth extractions, but an oral surgeon can do complex extractions and dental implants. An oral surgeon specializes in restoring your smile.

Tips for Finding a Good Oral Surgeon in North Georgia

  1. Ask your dentist. If you have a dentist you trust, ask him/her about a recommendation and referral to a trusted oral surgeon.
  2. Ask friends and family. The best advertisement is often word-of-mouth. See if anyone you know has undergone tooth replacement, which North Georgia oral surgeon they went to, and what their experience was.
  3. Check with your insurance, if you have it. If your healthcare plan covers dentistry and/or oral surgery, check the directory for oral surgeons in your area who accept your plan.
  4. Do your own research online. Even when you have gathered several names of oral surgeons, don’t just take one person’s word for it. The internet offers a wealth of helpful information nowadays. Look up the oral surgeon or facility online. Check their website. Look up ratings and reviews. Double check their credentials to be sure they are board-certified and in good standing with their board.
  5. Talk with the oral surgeon. Ask detailed questions about the procedure, and listen to his/her answers. Does the surgeon listen to your needs? Does he take the extra time to make sure you know your options? Are you comfortable with this person?

There are plenty of qualified oral surgeons in North Georgia who can replace your missing teeth, but not all of them are for you. It’s important to choose someone with plenty of experience, someone with good rapport with patients, someone you believe you can trust. At Riverside Oral & Facial Surgery, our surgeons are highly skilled and experienced in dental implants and other tooth replacement options. We’d love the opportunity to meet you and see if we are right for you. Call us for an appointment at 706-235-5570.

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.