Highland Park Perio

What’s In a Bone Graft

Whats-In-a-Bone-GraftThe practice of bone grafting is nothing new.  In fact, it goes back hundred of years to a time when a Dutch doctor implanted a dog’s bone into an injured soldier’s skull.  The soldier later wanted it removed but it could not be removed, as it had bonded so closely to the bone.  This brings up a very common question that we hear in our practice:  What is a bone graft made of?

What the Dutch doctor didn’t know was that the implanted bone was likely resorbed by the patient’s body and replaced with his natural bone.  This natural process is called “guided bone regeneration”, and it is one of the reasons that bone grafting has worked so well over time!

Naturally, patients are concerned about where their bone grafting material has come from.  But in all cases, we stress that the material that we implant is not the final material that you will have in there.  Bone grafting material is really just a place-holder, it encourages (and fools) your body into producing more bone in that site, and in the process resorbs the material that we have implanted.

Here are some common sources for bone grafts:

The skull, hip, and lower leg bones are very effective and common donor sites.

Tissue banks may be used when more bone is needed.

Shavings: If we drill into your jaw, naturally there will be shavings that are produced during the procedure, and often they make ideal bone grafting material!

Synthetic bone grafting materials.

It is natural to be concerned about what type of tissue we are implanting into your body!  Please don’t hesitate to ask us questions about this or your other upcoming procedures.

Head & Neck Cancer Self Exam How-To

Head-and-Neck-Cancer-Self-ExamRegular oral pathology exams are extremely important when it comes to preventing head and neck cancer. When you visit us make sure to ask about the exam if you haven’t had one before or have noticed anything strange on the inside of your mouth. It’s also good to perform an oral pathology check on yourself from time to time. Let’s go over how to do an at-home check and what you should be looking out for.

Step 1: Know what you’re looking for. Oral cancer signs include:

• A difference in color in one particular area

• A change in texture

• Lumps of any kind (especially if it’s something you haven’t noticed before)

• Lesions

Step 2: Take a bright light such as a flashlight and while looking in a mirror, check the following:

• Tongue

• Lips

• Cheek walls

• Top and bottom of mouth

• Back of throat

If you notice any of the above signs, give us a call immediately to schedule an appointment. It’s also beneficial to perform an extra-oral screening.  When performing an extra-oral exam on yourself, you want to feel for any lumps or bumps. Here are the steps for doing this exam at home:

Step 1: Place your hands on the back of each side of your jaw under your ears. Open and close your jaw while feeling for any bumps.

Step 2: With your hands in the same position work your way down your neck.

Step 3: Turn your head to the right and feel your left side-neck muscles. Turn your head left and feel your right side neck muscles.

Step 4: Grab your gullet and swallow.

Step 5: Put your chin down and with your palms facing away from you feel the underside of your jaw with your fingers.

We hope we don’t have to see you in the office if you’ve discovered something wrong but we are here to help. We can catch the early signs of oral cancer! If you feel anything strange, call us to schedule an appointment.

Are Dental Implants Worth It?

Are Dental implants worth itWhat’s involved in a dental implant? Do they hurt? Can anyone get them? There are a lot of questions surrounding dental implants but one thing is certain; they’ve been reconstructing smiles for over 35 years with amazing results. But what’s the fuss surrounding dental implants and are they really worth it? Lets answer some question to help you decide for yourself.

Can anyone get a dental implant? Anyone who is healthy enough to get a dental implant can get one as long as they have enough bone to hold the implant. This is where bone grafting comes in for those who have been told their jawbone won’t hold an implant. Keeping up with regular oral hygiene is also an important factor and heavy smokers may be told it’s not a safe option.

What exactly is a dental implant? A dental implant replaces your tooth root with a metal rod. It provides a solid structure on which to place a new tooth that is made to match your real teeth. Dental implants not only improve the overall look of your smile but they’re durable, convenient, and easy to take care of.

What are the steps to getting a dental implant? As your doctor, we will want to develop an individualized treatment plan that focuses on your specific needs. Once we have agreed on a treatment plan, the next step will be the placement of the implant in your jaw. The implant is made of titanium and once placed the jawbone will actually begin to grow around it. In about six to twelve weeks the implant will have completely bonded to your jaw and it will be time to attach a small post that connects your new tooth to the implant. We create a mold of your bite that allows us to create your new tooth. This replacement tooth is then attached to the post and the implant process is complete!

Lastly, how painful are dental implants and are they difficult to take care of? Most patients have said they experienced very little discomfort when receiving their implant. Many have even said the process is much less painful than a tooth extraction. Mild pain that may occur for a few days after you receive your implant can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. Dental implants require the same care as your real teeth but generally they are much easier to clean and you don’t have to worry about cavities.

We hope this answers some of the questions surrounding dental implants. If you’re missing a tooth or teeth, give us a call to ask more about the procedure. We’ve seen many patients leave happy and comfortable with their improved smile!

Heart Disease – The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Did you know that poor oral hygiene could increase your chances of developing heart disease? Practicing good oral health habits isn’t just an important part of preventing tooth decay; it’s crucial in maintaining your overall health. But how are heart disease and oral health connected? What we’ve come to understand is that bacteria from infected gums can dislodge, enter the bloodstream and attach to blood vessels, which can increase clot formation. Clots decrease blood flow to the heart and in turn cause an elevation in blood pressure thus increasing the risk of a heart attack.

We can help patients who have a history of heart disease by examining them for any signs of oral pain, infection or inflammation. Brushing and flossing combined with annual check-ups will help to fight the harmful bacteria that cause inflammation and eventually lead to heart disease. Check out these oral hygiene facts and make sure to establish a routine to ensure a great smile and a healthy life.

According to the American Dental Hygienists Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Eating healthy snacks like celery, carrots, or apples help clear away food loosely trapped in-between teeth.
  • The leading oral health problem for infants is baby bottle tooth decay, which can be caused when babies are given a bottle filled with sugary liquids, like milk or juice, when put to bed.
  • Nearly 78% of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17.
  • Men are more likely than women to have more severe dental diseases and oral cancer occurs twice as frequently in men as women.
  • Dental fluorosis (overexposure to fluoride) is higher in teens than in adults and highest among those aged 12–15.
  • Three out of four patients don’t change their toothbrush as often as is recommended. Toothbrushes should be changed every two to three months and after illnesses.

Issues that go untreated can end up costing a lot more than routine visits to your dentist. Prevention through daily cleaning and regular office visits is the best for both your health and your budget. Remember, regardless of how old you are, it’s never too late to start taking serious care of your teeth and mouth.

Facts About Bone Grafting

Did you know that with today’s modern techniques, bone grafting is now considered a routine treatment? A bone graft can fix a variety of facial and dental problems and may be required in some cases. If you’ve been told in the past that you’re not an ideal candidate for getting a tooth implant, call us to ask about how a sinus graft makes it possible for many of our patients to receive dental implants. Here are a few things you should know if you’re thinking about getting a dental implant or think a bone graft could help you.

It’s a routine procedure!

Bone grafting has become a standard practice. Depending on the quantity and quality of jawbone, most procedures take place in our office and we use local anesthesia or conscience sedation to relieve any anxiety.

Bone loss has been virtually eliminated!

The only reason our jaws have the amount of the bone that they do is because of the presence of existing teeth. Complicated procedures were developed in the past to attempt to rebuild jaws that had atrophied due to missing teeth and disuse but with the modernization of bone grafting and dental implants, we can prevent jawbone atrophy all together.

There are a variety of materials that can be used.

The bone grafting material you need could come from a variety of sources. Generally, we use bone taken from your hip, jaw, or lower knee but today we have the ability to grow bone where needed or obtain bone from a tissue bank. We also use special membranes to help protect the bone graft and encourage bone regeneration.

Bone grafting allows your body to rebuild itself.

The human body uses most bone grafting materials as a frame on which it can grow new bone. Over time the graft material will be replaced with new bone through your body’s own process of bone regeneration. Maintaining a healthy amount of bone tissue around your teeth is crucial in keeping up your oral health.

If you have a missing tooth, congenital defect, or have had a traumatic jaw injury, and you’re wondering whether you may need bone grafting, give us a call. We can answer your questions, and present the treatment options that are best in your individual situation.

Oral Cancer- What You Need to Know

One of the most important jobs we have in our practice is to examine, monitor and diagnose head and neck pathology in our patients. What we are really looking for is any sign of oral cancer. Each year, about 42,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Unfortunately, more than 8,000 of those people will die from the disease because too often it is caught in a late, incurable stage.

To help you stay healthy and educated about your oral health needs, we have compiled a list of the most important things you should know about oral cancer:

  • Oral cancer affects more than just the mouth. Any cancer in the mouth, lips, throat or back of the mouth is considered oral cancer.
  • Since 90% of oral cancers begin in the surface area of the mouth, tongue and lips, we recommend regular self-exams.
  • Largest risk factors: Not surprisingly, tobacco and alcohol use top the list of biggest risk factors for oral cancer.
  • Other risk factors: Human papilloma virus (HPV), pre-cancerous oral lesion, betel quid use (common in Asia), excessive UV/sun exposure, certain drugs and genetic syndromes.
  • To diagnose oral cancer, we will examine the mouth and neck, ask about your risk factors, and possibly order biopsies and imaging of the head (CT, MRI, etc).
  • Pain is not associated with cancer in its early stages. Usually pain does not occur until the cancer has progressed to a later stage.
  • The most common oral cancer symptoms warrant a call to our office. They include: sores that don’t heal, lumps inside the mouth, white or red patches on soft tissues in the mouth, bleeding, pain when swallowing or chewing, numbness, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, lumps in the neck, hoarseness, and more.

Don’t hesitate to us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of oral cancer.

History of Bone Grafting

The concept of bone grafting is nothing new. In fact it has been an important part of medicine as far back as the early 1600’s and in recent years has become a standard procedure for people who need a dental implant or have had a traumatic jaw injury. Shortly after the invention of the microscope, the Dutch doctor Jacob van Meekeren performed the first bone grafting operation on a soldier with a damaged skull. Unfortunately, back then doctors didn’t have the knowledge or bone grafting materials that we have today and in order to save the soldier, Jacob van Meekeren was forced to use a piece of dog bone as implant material. Van Meekeren was pleased with the surgery’s success, but it wasn’t until the soldier returned asking to have the implant removed that van Meekeren discovered just how successful it really was!

In the 1600’s, the Christian church looked at things a little differently and this poor soldier with a piece of dog bone in his skull was excommunicated after the church considered him to be part dog. What was upsetting for the soldier aided in the discovery of how well bone grafting actually worked. In the process of attempting to remove the bone graft, van Meekeren discovered that the bone had healed too well and was actually irremovable!

 

Bone grafting developed over the next 150 years and by 1821 the first graft of tissue from one point to another of the same individual’s body, known as an autograft, was performed in Germany. During WWI and WWII, bone grafting continued to develop as more soldiers became crucially wounded and a need for advanced surgeries became necessary. After another fifty years the first synthetic ceramic product was cleared for use in 1991.

As you can see, bone grafting has a much longer history than you might have imagined! To find out if you are a good candidate for bone grafting, give us a call!

The Benefits of Periodontal Laser Treatment

Traditionally, the methods used for periodontal treatment included scaling and root planing, a way of physically removing plaque and tarter deposits beneath the gum line. We now have, however, an additional tool for treating periodontal disease: the laser.

Laser treatment for gum disease is the use of laser light energy to vaporize bacteria and infected tissue in a deepened gum pocket. During the procedure, topical local anesthetic is provided.

It is important to note, however, that laser gum therapy is not usually prescribed as a treatment alone. Most often it is used in conjunction with scaling and root planing. You may be wondering, “What benefits does laser treatment provide that are not afforded by traditional periodontal therapies?”

Here are the five top reasons why we recommend laser periodontal treatment to our patients when it is an appropriate treatment option:

  1. Less pain = less anesthesia. Because laser treatment is less invasive, it tends to cause less discomfort. This means that usually, the only pain blocker needed is a simple topical anesthetic.
  2. Sterilization: Simply put, lasers sterilize the treatment site as they work and leave a sterile wound behind when finished, reducing the risk of further infection.
  3. Minimal Bleeding: A bonus for anyone, especially those taking blood thinners, laser gum therapy causes less bleeding than scaling and root planing.
  4. Less Swelling: The less invasive nature of laser therapy equates to less swelling in patients.
  5. Almost No Post-op Pain: Because swelling is minimized, we send you home with less discomfort.

Ask us how we can help you take good care of your gums with a combination of laser and traditional periodontal therapies.

Sedation Dentistry- Could It Be Right for You?

Have you ever felt anxious before a dental appointment? Well, you’re not alone. Dental surgery, while very common and safe, is usually not something people look forward to. Thankfully, we have a solution to this common scenario. With sedation dentistry, we can literally calm your nerves and send you off with a bright and grateful smile when you leave our office.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

Sedation dentistry is the administration of drugs called sedatives that are used to calm patients before and during a dental procedure. These drugs directly affect the central nervous system, depressing the areas related to awareness.

These sedatives can be administered in different ways. One option is inhalation: patients inhale a combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide (also known as “laughing gas”), a mixture that provides an adequate level of sedation for the patient. Another method is oral administration: the patient swallows pills or fluids to ensure an anesthetic and calming effect. And finally, sedatives can be taken intravenously with the medication being injected directly into the bloodstream via needle.

Why should I consider Sedation Dentistry?

The main benefit of taking sedatives is to eliminate anxiety during a procedure. You will be relaxed, comfortable and more accepting of the procedure.

Advantages of sedation dentistry include:

  • Movement: As sedation depresses the nervous system, you will be less prone to moving and reacting to the procedure with potentially damaging motions.
  • Cooperation: Children or patients with mental disabilities may have a hard time sitting still during a visit. Sedation dentistry allows them to relax and thus cooperate more readily.
  • Time: Longer appointments are sometimes harder for patients to sit through. Fortunately, sedation dentistry ensures that you will be more comfortable and less exhausted, simplifying the appointment even during a long procedure.

Contact us to find out how we can make your next appointment worry-free with sedation dentistry!

Traveling and Oral Health – Tips for the Holidays

We don’t have to tell you: the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year. With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time. If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

  1. Don’t leave home with a toothache! If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town. Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.
  2. No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.
  3. Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!
  4. Toothbrushes don’t last forever! Generally, dentists recommend that you buy a new toothbrush every two to three months when at home. However if you are traveling, your toothbrush is exposed to even more bacteria. It’s best to toss it when you return home and swap it for a fresh brush, even if it hasn’t hit the three-month mark yet.
  5. Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.