Can Children Get Dental Implants?

As many parents already know, children are not immune to tooth loss or the problems associated with it. The loss of baby teeth is natural, of course, and their teeth will soon replace them. But what if an accident, tooth decay or gum disease causes one of these new teeth to be lost? Can these teeth be replaced? Are dental implants an option for children?

Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple. Children are not good candidates for dental implants, at least not until well into their teen years. Let’s explain.

Developing Jawbones

A child’s jawbone continues to grow and develop from childhood through adolescence. Even though permanent teeth grow in during this time, they are able to shift and develop with the growing jawbone in a way that implants cannot. If a child receives a dental implant too early, it can affect the growth of the jawbone itself and adversely affect how the new teeth come in, causing all sorts of unwanted long-term complications. For these reasons, an oral surgeon will not recommend dental implants until the jawbone is fully developed.

At What Age Is It Safe to Get Dental Implants?

The answer to this question often depends on the child himself/herself as well as the opinion of the oral surgeon. Some have suggested minimum ages of 15 for girls and 17 for boys; however, sometimes the jawbone continues growing all the way up to ages 18-20. Thus, to be safe, it’s usually best to wait until at least age 18 before considering dental implants.

Alternatives in the Meantime

Implants aren’t a good option for children, but that doesn’t mean tooth loss shouldn’t still be addressed. Missing teeth in the mouth can cause complications in children the same as in adults, not to mention the effect it can have on their self-esteem. If your child lost a baby tooth prematurely, it’s likely safe enough just to wait until the permanent tooth grows in unless your dentist indicates otherwise. If a permanent tooth is lost, the surgeon may recommend a more temporary solution like dentures, which can be refitted and adjusted as the jawbone grows, until the jawbone is fully developed and implants become an option. If your child needs braces, the orthodontist might also attach an artificial tooth to the braces to keep the other teeth in place.

Tooth loss can be a challenge for kids as well as adults, but there are solutions available to restore your child’s smile and give you peace of mind. To learn more, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

Dental Implant Questions to Ask Your Georgia Oral Surgeon

full arch restorationFor many patients suffering from tooth loss, dental implants are a permanent solution that restores their smile and can last a lifetime with proper care. That said, dental implants require oral surgery that comes with minimal risk and at least a brief disruption to your schedule — not to mention implants should only be placed by a skilled surgeon. If you live in Georgia and are thinking about getting dental implants, here are some important questions to ask your Georgia oral surgeon.

What does a dental implant procedure entail?

Your surgeon should discuss the entire procedure with you from beginning to end, detailing every step from preparatory work to sedation, to temporary teeth and the implants themselves. Make sure you understand the steps so there are no surprises when the surgery begins.

How many visits will this procedure require?

Most implant surgeries consist of at least two procedures — one to install the posts into the jawbone (covering them with temporary prosthetics) and one to install the permanent implants onto the posts once they’ve fused with the bone. Typically, these visits are several months apart. However, be sure to ask your surgeon about the number of visits required, as well as recovery times after each visit.

How much experience do you have with this procedure?

Don’t be embarrassed to ask this question. It may seem like you’re challenging the surgeon’s expertise in this area, but a skilled surgeon will actually welcome the question. The more successful procedures the surgeon has performed, the more confidence you can have in his/her abilities.

Have you been specifically trained in dental implant procedures?

In tandem with the previous question, you might be a little shy about asking this one, but don’t be. The fact is, implants are a specialized skill and not every dental school offers this training — yet an oral surgeon may be legally allowed to perform it even without the training. It’s your mouth, so ask the question, and make sure you’re satisfied with the answer before agreeing to the procedure.

What will the implants cost?

Dental implants are an investment in your oral health, and they are more expensive than other solutions like crowns and dentures. However, with proper care, they can outlast all other solutions and actually be more cost-effective in the long run. Ask your surgeon to detail the costs of the procedure, including the costs spread over the life expectancy of the implants. Find out if any part of the procedure is covered by insurance, and find out whether payment plans are available. Chances are your surgeon can help you find a way to afford the implants, but understanding the costs and benefits beforehand will give you greater peace of mind going into the procedure.

For any other questions about dental implants, we are here to help. Give Riverside Oral Facial Surgery a call at (706) 235-5570.

7 Types of Dental Prostheses

Dental implantThe rows of teeth in our mouth have something of a symbiotic relationship; they don’t just exist to help us chew our food, but they also rely on each other to maintain the mouth’s shape and function. When a person experiences tooth loss or needs one or more teeth removed, it leaves a gap in the tooth line that can cause many different types of complications unless the gap is filled. The remaining teeth may drift, making it more difficult to chew and distorting the person’s smile, even changing the structure of the face. There is also at greater risk of infection, disease, tooth decay and further tooth loss. For this reason, oral surgeons and dentists highly recommend filling the gap with one of a variety of dental prostheses.

What is a dental prosthesis?

A dental prosthesis is considered any oral object or device installed in the mouth to reconstruct the natural structure of the teeth, either to replace missing teeth, replace parts of missing teeth or prevent tooth loss — to restore function and to help keep other teeth in their place. In this manner, a dental prosthetic is very much like any other type of prosthetic you might use for a missing body part, like a prosthetic arm or leg. Depending on the type and function, a dental prosthetic can be either fixed or removable. Let’s look at seven different types of dental prostheses and how they are used.

1. Crowns

A crown is a dental cap designed to fit over a broken or damaged tooth that could otherwise be lost or cause infection. The existing tooth and parts of nearby teeth may be ground down to make room for the crown, and if necessary, a root canal will be performed on the damaged tooth. A crown is a fixed prosthetic that when installed will restore the tooth to its proper function. Crowns wear out over time and may eventually be replaced.

2. Bridges

A bridge is designed to fill the gap left between teeth by one or more missing teeth. The bridge is affixed by caps over the adjacent teeth (called “Bridge”), which must be prepped and may be ground down to support the bridge itself. An impression will be taken off the abutments after prepping them so the caps can be molded to match the shape of those teeth when the bridge is installed.

3. Inlays/Onlays

Inlays and onlays are fixed prosthetics used to repair and restore an existing tooth that is decayed, cracked or damaged, effectively restoring the tooth’s shape and function. Inlays and onlays are constructed of harder material like metal or a composite substance; they are created in a lab and are usually used to replace an old filling with a more permanent solution. Inlays reconstruct part of a tooth, while onlays are larger and effectively reconstruct the cusp of the tooth.

4. Veneers

Dental veneers are thin, porcelain shells designed to fit atop existing teeth (usually the front teeth). They serve a primarily cosmetic function and are usually used to cover discolored or chipped teeth to restore an attractive smile. Veneers are permanent prosthetics that bond to the front of the teeth.

5. Partial Dentures

A partial denture is a reconstruction designed to fill in the gaps for several missing teeth. An impression is taken of the patient’s mouth and a framework is devised with false teeth (dentures) affixed to replace the missing teeth. When installed properly, the framework fits snugly in the mouth to replicate the full set of teeth. Partial dentures are removable and must be kept clean to prevent infections. Patients with partial dentures may also need to avoid certain foods. (nuts, sesame seeds, etc.)

6. Full Dentures

When the entire top or bottom arch of teeth (or both top and bottom) is completely missing or needs to be extracted, a set of full dentures may be created to replace those teeth. Full dentures are removable, typically worn during the day using an adhesive and removed and cleaned at night. Dentures are more affordable than some other dental prosthetic options, but they don’t solve all problems. Without permanent replacement teeth, the patient will experience bone loss in the jaw.

7. Dental Implants

While dental implants are the most expensive among the dental prostheses, they are also the most permanent and long-lasting solution for patients with missing teeth. Implants are fixed prosthetics that can replace a single tooth, several teeth, an entire row or a complete set of teeth. Implants are installed in two stages: First, titanium posts are implanted into the jaw bone where the natural teeth used to be. The posts bond to the jaw over several months, at which time the permanent prosthetic teeth are created. When the posts are ready, the dentist installs the permanent teeth on the implanted posts. When finished, these implants look and act like your natural teeth, and with proper dental care can last for many years without replacement — often for the remainder of the patient’s life.

As you can see, there are many types of dental prostheses, and not every solution is right for everyone. To discuss your options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

How Long Will I Be Out of Work After Oral Surgery?

Initial ConsultationLike any other surgical procedure, oral surgery requires a bit of recovery “down time.” Almost all oral procedures are outpatient, meaning you can go home the same day, but many patients understandably ask, “How long will I be out of work after oral surgery?” The answer to that question is slightly different for everyone and depends on a number of factors, including the scope of the procedure and the type of work you do.

General Recovery Guidelines

Under normal circumstances, most oral surgery patients should be able to resume their normal routine, including their job, within a couple of days after the procedure. We highly recommend that you go home and rest for the first 24 hours. Have someone drive you home, especially if you were given a sedative during the procedure. Avoid strenuous activities or heavy lifting, as these can disrupt clotting in your mouth and cause bleeding. Barring any complications, you should be ready to return to work in about 48 hours to 72 hours.

Factors that May Affect Your Return to Work

On occasion, we may recommend you take a little extra time out of the office (up to 1 week) after your surgery. This can hinge on a number of different factors.

Extent of the Surgery

If you had a single tooth extraction, a root canal procedure or something at that level, chances are your recovery time will be quick, and you’ll feel ready to return to work in 24 hours. However, if you had all four wisdom teeth pulled or began the process for complete dental implants, the trauma of those procedures may require another couple of days of down time to recover.


If there are complications during the surgery that extend your time in the operating room or increase the amount of surgical trauma, you may need additional time to recover. Also, post-surgery complications like excessive bleeding, unusual amounts of pain or infection may affect your ability to perform your job. If you get medical attention for these issues, the extra down time shouldn’t be more than a few days.

The Nature of Your Job

Sometimes, the type of work you do can actually affect your recommended recovery time. If you work in construction, industry or some other job requiring strenuous work or heavy lifting, you may need to wait an additional few days to ensure you don’t open up the surgical wounds. Additionally, you may experience swelling and discoloration in your face for several days after the procedure, so if your job hinges on your physical appearance (e.g., actor or model), you may need to wait a few more days before resuming work.

We are happy to answer any other questions you might have about your recovery times out of work after oral surgery. Give Riverside Oral Facial Surgery a call at (706) 235-5570.

Should I Get a Dental Implant or Root Canal?

Asking Cosmetic Surgeon QuestionsWhen a tooth is severely decayed or damaged, dental patients commonly ask, “Should I get a dental implant or a root canal?” Left untreated, the damaged tooth can continue to cause extreme pain as well as create further complications in the mouth. Should you have your dentist or endodontist perform a root canal to save the tooth, or is it simply better to remove the tooth and replace it with an implant?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem; every case is different, and your dental health professional can discuss the details of your situation to help you decide which route is best for you. For now, let’s begin by describing and comparing both procedures, then discussing a few of the pros and cons of each.

What Is a Root Canal Procedure?

When a tooth is seriously damaged, dead or dying (whether due to a cavity or a broken tooth), the soft tissue (pulp) inside the tooth is compromised and typically infected. This pulp initially helps your teeth to grow and strengthen, but once a tooth is mature, the pulp provides hydration and sensation to the tooth. During a root canal procedure, the Dentist/Endodontist cleans out the infected pulp from the tooth and its roots, hollowing out the infected space. He then fills the open space with a biocompatible substance and sealant. Afterward, because the root canal leaves the tooth weakened and vulnerable, the doctor will cover the tooth with a permanent crown. The result is that the natural tooth is saved and protected, and the crown will function like a normal tooth. However, root canals are not permanent and may fail within a few months to years later.

What is a Dental Implant Procedure?

As an alternative to performing a root canal to save a dying tooth, your oral surgeon may also recommend extracting the tooth and replacing with a permanent dental implant. This procedure occurs in two stages. First, your oral surgeon will remove the bad tooth, clean out the affected area, bone graft the socket and maybe install a titanium post into your jaw bone in place of the tooth. A temporary tooth may be installed over the post. You will then be sent home to wait while the titanium post bonds to the jaw, during which time your permanent tooth will be manufactured. Several months later, you will return to the dentist to have your permanent implant affixed to the titanium post. Your new implant will function exactly like your natural tooth once did, and with proper care it can last a lifetime.

Pros and Cons of a Dental Implant versus a Root Canal

Is it better to get a root canal or a dental implant? There are advantages and disadvantages to each. From a pure standpoint of oral health, most dental professionals agree it’s best to save a natural tooth, if possible; on the other hand, keeping a natural tooth is not always worth the risk of recurring problems that could be prevented by removing it. Let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of both procedures.

Root canal pros

  • Keeps the natural tooth: In cases where the damage is not severe, this may be the best option.
  • Less expensive procedure: Root canals cost less than implants, and they are covered by most insurance plans.
  • Less intrusive: The root canal and installing the permanent crown can happen over a couple of visits, and the entire procedure is complete within a couple of weeks.

Root canal cons

  • Not a permanent solution: Crowns wear out and must be replaced every few years, which can actually cause the overall cost to go up over time.
  • Risk of root canal failure: Root canal treatments don’t always work, and if your problem resurfaces, you’ll have to go through the procedure again.

Dental implant pros

  • Permanent solution: Once the implant is in place, it looks and acts like a natural tooth, and with proper care it can last as long as your other natural teeth.
  • Removes the threat: The damaged tooth is permanently removed so it can no longer cause other complications to your gums, jaw or other teeth. Implants preserve bone as well.

Dental implant cons:

  • More invasive: The entire procedure takes at least two surgeries and several months to complete.
  • More expensive: Not only is the procedure itself more costly than a root canal, but many insurance plans don’t cover implants, resulting in higher out-of-pocket costs.

Which Procedure Is Right for You?

In determining whether you should get a dental implant or a root canal, your oral surgeon will evaluate the particulars of your damaged tooth and discuss with you the risks versus benefits of keeping your natural tooth intact. If cost and insurance is a factor, you may want to choose the root canal procedure; if the tooth is beyond saving or if you simply want to eliminate the threat completely, a dental implant is the next best thing to a natural tooth, and many people prefer it because it resolves the problem permanently. To discuss your options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.

The Risks of Not Replacing Missing Teeth

woman having toothacheFor people who have lost one or more teeth, the temptation is not to replace them — just to leave the gaps and get used to them. Perhaps it’s a concern about cost, or perhaps fear of possibly painful dental procedures — or even an aversion to dentists in general. However, the risks of not replacing missing teeth can actually cost more in the long run — not only in money, but also in general health and well-being down the road. Let’s look at some of the consequences of avoiding this issue.

Shifting Teeth

Your teeth are designed to function together — to keep each other in place while helping you chew your food and supporting your smile. When teeth go missing, the remaining teeth begin to shift along the jawbone, creating even wider gaps between your remaining teeth. As a result, the teeth have even less support, it becomes more difficult to chew food, and more teeth may be eventually lost.

Bone Loss

Your jawbone is designed to thrive under the ongoing pressure of biting and chewing. When you don’t replace missing teeth, the section of the jawbone underneath those missing teeth doesn’t get the pressure or stimulation it needs, and it eventually begins to shrink and wither — a very real use-it-or-lose-it scenario. Not only can this change the structure of your face, but the bone loss can also weaken your remaining teeth, causing the loss of additional teeth in a cascading effect.

Gum Disease and Infection

As your remaining teeth begin to shift, it becomes more difficult to brush and floss them. The open gaps encourage the growth of plaque and bacteria, increasing incidents of gingivitis and other painful infections.

Difficulty Speaking

You use your teeth to pronounce words properly. When teeth go missing and don’t get replaced, your manner of speaking may change for the worse — you may develop a lisp, find it more difficult to say certain words, and even your voice may change.


A weakened chewing ability means you may not be able to eat certain foods. For many people, they don’t find a way to replace the nutrients in those foods, resulting in malnutrition and a lowered quality of health.

Increased Expenses

If you avoid replacing missing teeth due to the cost, consider that the resulting complications we’ve described above are even more costly to fix. In the long run, replacing your missing teeth will cost much less than leaving those gaps.

There are many possible options for replacing those teeth and preserving your dental health. To learn more, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery a call at (706) 235-5570.

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.


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.


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.