South Park Periodontics & Implant Dentistry

Osseointegration: Big Word, Simple Concept!

 

osseointegrationWas this word the invention of an evil doctor who loves long and complicated words? No! Osseointegration actually derives from the Greek osteon, bone and the Latin integrare, to make whole. It’s a physical process that was first observed by Swedish researchers in the 1960’s and refers to the functional connection between a titanium implant and living bone. Simply put, without osseointegration, dental implants wouldn’t work!

Osseointegration is a natural process: When the titanium dental implant connects to bone cells, it is locked into the jawbone, forming a solid bond. While the process is natural, the implementation isn’t simple. Implant healing times and initial stability depend on implant characteristics and to a large extent on your doctor! We have ample experience in placing dental implants and therefore can ensure that you receive the best care and outcome when it comes to implant surgery and the healing process.

The first evidence of the bone bonding with the implant occurs after a few weeks, while a more robust connection progresses over the next months or years. The osseointegration process will make the implant resistant to external shocks over time, but it can still be damaged from trauma or poor care.

The benefits of dental implants can’t be overstated! Not only do they give you a fully functioning bite back, they also prevent your jawbone from deteriorating and protect your facial profile.

Give us a call if you have questions about the dental implant process!

 

 

Oral Cancer Self-Screening: Why Everybody’s Doing It (Or Should Be)

 

Oral cancer has a bad reputation for being more deadly than some other forms of cancer that you hear of more commonly. We are here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Oral cancer goes unnoticed, not because it is difficult to see or feel, but because the idea of regular oral cancer screenings (either at home or in our office) is rather new. It simply has not been on the public health radar until now.

That is why we want to get the word out, and we need your help! Examining the neck, throat and oral cavity is a relatively simple task when compared to other parts of the body such as internal organs. Early diagnosis leads to better prognosis!

We recommend that once a month, you give yourself the following exam. It should only take 2-3 minutes and could save your life, or the life of a loved one!

First, a word about the ever-changing mouth: We know that many patients avoid self-exams because the mouth is one area of the body that has constant change going on. For example, you may have a recent burn, bite or cold sore and probably don’t want to bother us every time you notice these things! That is why we offer this rule of thumb: any suspicious area that is not better after 14 days should be brought to our attention.

How to perform an Oral Cancer Self Exam:

  1. Use a mirror and a bright light.
  2. Remove dentures.
  3. Look and feel lips and front of gums. Grasp lips with your thumb and forefinger and feel for lumps.
  4. Tilt your head back and inspect the roof of your mouth
  5. Pull your cheek out to see the inside surface and gums in the rear.
  6. Pull out your tongue and look at all surfaces.
  7. Feel your neck and under the lower jaw for enlarged lymph nodes, swelling or lumps.

What are you looking for?

  1. White patches
  2. Red Patches
  3. Combination of red and white patches
  4. Sores
  5. Abnormal lumps or thickening
  6. Chronic sore throat/hoarseness
  7. Difficulty chewing/swallowing
  8. Masses or lumps in the neck

 

Gum Disease Risk Factors

 

Here’s a concerning statistic: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of Americans who are over the age of 65 have gum disease. Although brushing and flossing are key factors in preventing gum disease, there are other elements that can contribute to tooth loss as well.

Smoking:GumDiseaseRiskFactors

Smoking may actually be one of the most significant risk factor in the development of gum disease. Tobacco is a powerful substance that can damage teeth permanently and actually aid in the progression of periodontitis. Studies have shown that using any kind of tobacco product increases the risk of gum disease.

 Stress:

You might not believe it, but stress is actually a risk factor and can cause gum disease to progress more quickly. Stress is linked to many health issues such as cancer and hypertension. Stress takes a toll on your body and makes it hard to fight off infections. Even infections in your gums!

Genetics:

Sadly, some people just may be more susceptible to gum disease than others. These people need to try harder and brush more often to fight off gingivitis and plaque build up.

Clenching and Grinding:

Grinding your teeth is bad for your teeth’s overall health. Excess force on the tissues that support your teeth can encourage gum disease to progress.

Medications:

Certain medications can upset your oral health and cause gum disease to progress faster. Anti-depressants and certain heart medications are the biggest culprits. If you’re taking any meds and begin to see a change in your overall oral health, please let us know at your next appointment.

Poor Nutrition and Obesity:

Your diet is incredibly important and affects your overall health. Eating foods low in important nutrients weakens your immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight infections. Gum disease starts with infections, which is why it’s important to take care of your body and think about your overall health.

Make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you think you might be in the early stages of gum disease!

 

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

 

Did you know that gingivitis isn’t actually gum disease? Most are surprised to find out that gingivitis is actually the inflammation of your gums that if untreated will lead to periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease. Rest assured, not all gingivitis progresses into gum disease, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it seriously. Early on in the stages of gingivitis, plaque starts to build up that causes gums to become inflamed but at GingivitisvsPeriothis stage no irreversible harm has been done. So what’s the story and how do you know if you have periodontitis?

When your teeth start to become affected after untreated gingivitis, that’s when you need to start worrying. Not brushing and flossing will cause gingivitis to progress to periodontitis. When the inner layer of gum and bone pull away from each other and form pockets, food and sugars get stuck and cause further infections that can lead to tooth loss. Preventing the disease is as simple as brushing and flossing! Plaque build up is the #1 cause of gum disease and tooth loss.

The gums anchor teeth in and when periodontitis occurs, your gums have eroded to the point teeth actually become loose. This is a dangerous stage but there’s still hope! We are able to measure the amount of exposed tooth in patients with periodontitis and are trained to clean deep pockets that have formed, allowing gums to heal.

Remember: it all starts with plaque! Brushing and flossing keep gingivitis from occurring and reduce the chance of tooth loss in the long run. It’s easy to let gingivitis get out of control! Make sure to visit us regularly to ensure you’re not in the early stages of periodontitis.

 

 

 

Considering the Costs of Dental Implants

When compared to the costs of other tooth replacement options, boy do dental implants seem expensive! Yet you may be surprised to learn that, in the long run, dental implants can be more affordable than their traditional counterparts. Understanding this procedure and the factors that determine the costs can help you decide if dental implants are a good investment for you!

What is a Dental Implant? A dental implant is a permanent replacement for lost teeth. It is made of an artificial tooth firmly held in place by a tooth root made of titanium (which is biocompatible) that is surgically placed into your jaw. Dental implants help stabilize the jaw and the bone around it to avoid future bone loss and maintain the shape of your jaw. They never have to be removed and feel more natural and comfortable than dentures. And unlike bridges or crowns, which are cemented in, the chances of slippage or shifting are eliminated. With implants, talking and eating become worry free.

costs of Dental ImplantsSteps In a Dental Implant Procedure. We will first use extensive imaging to determine bone health, height, and thickness to assess your bone and teeth structure carefully. The surgery itself is done in our office in separate stages. First, the implant is surgically placed into your jawbone, completely hidden within your gum tissue. Once the implant has integrated into your bone, a healing process of about 4 to 6 months, the next stage is the placement of the abutment, or the post that penetrates the gum and will connect the replacement tooth to the implant. The final stage involves attaching your artificial tooth (made from impressions of your natural tooth) to the abutment. If more than one tooth is being replaced, a removable bridge is used, as it is more affordable than implanting each tooth separately. For a bridge, it takes only one implant on either side to span an area holding several teeth. The bridge snaps into place for a more permanent and natural fit than dentures.

Factors That Affect the Cost. While dental implant surgery is a safe and routine option, it is a complex procedure that takes time and expertise to be done effectively. There are many factors that will influence the final costs including what X-ray and CT scans are necessary to evaluate and assess the implant area and the brand and material of the post, abutment and artificial teeth. However, the biggest cost factor is the complexity of the surgery itself. For example, how many teeth are we replacing and what is the location? Will additional procedures, such as bone grafting or sinus elevation be required? We do our best to make sure that your estimate includes all of the possible costs of each of the steps of your procedure.

While dental implants may seem expensive, they are often more affordable in the long run than traditional restoration methods such as crowns and bridges, which are more vulnerable to damage and usually require repairs or replacement every few years.

Dental implants are known to have a 95% success rate when completed by professionals with the right experience and training, such as us! Because dental implants offer a permanent solution, are natural and comfortable, and require little maintenance, they are a cost effective choice for most of our patients.

Grow Your Own Bone? Bone Grafting Is Routine

It seems like something out of a science fiction movie, but with our help, you can easily re-grow bone to treat many common disorders in the mouth and make it dental-implant ready! Bone grafting is a common procedure done right in our office. Here is a simple explanation of this effective treatment option.GrowYourOwnBone

Reasons for Bone Grafting. There are many different reasons that a person loses bone support in the jaw. Sometimes it is due to injury, sometimes it because of missing teeth, and other times it is a due to a developmental defect or periodontitis. Bone graft surgery, also called regenerative surgery, is used to replace bone and soft tissue by actually stimulating the body’s natural ability to re-grow the lost tissue.   If your jawbone is inadequate to support dental implants, bone grafting can be used to build a sturdy foundation for implant-supported teeth.

It’s A Natural Process. With bone grafting surgery, a piece of bone is removed from another area of your jaw or your body, often the hip, and is transplanted into your jawbone. Sometimes we may use donor or synthetic graft material. Your body uses the implanted bone graft material as a frame on which it can grow new bone. Over time and with your body’s own healing mechanisms, the grafted bone fuses and becomes an integrated part of your existing bone. Bone grafting is a safe and very successful procedure that can be done in the office under local anesthesia. After the procedure, you will be given antibiotics and pain medication if needed. Swelling can be treated with ice packs applied to your face. Most patients proceed with their normal life the next day. Be sure to follow medication instructions and keep your mouth as clean as possible while you heal.

Healing Times. Healing time following bone grafting depends on the amount of bone loss and the location of the graft area. Maintaining a healthy amount of bone tissue around your teeth is crucial to keeping up your oral health. We are more than happy to explain different materials and techniques that can be used for an optimal outcome.

Bone grafting allows your body to rebuild itself. It can be a great way to restore your natural jaw line and smile. Let us help you decide if bone grafting is the right procedure for you!

 

The Many Faces of Tooth Pain

The Many Faces of Tooth PainMany people think that a painful tooth means they need a root canal treatment.  While that is sometimes true, it’s not always the case.  In fact, there are many other reasons that teeth can hurt!

Here, we offer a guide to some common types of tooth pain and what that pain may be trying to tell you:

Sensitivity to hot and cold foods:

If the pain is short-lived, you probably do not have a serious problem, but more likely a loose filling or a small amount of gum recession that has resulted in root surface exposure. Use sensitive teeth toothpaste and a soft brush with an up and down motion.  If this doesn’t help after a week or so, give us a call.

Heat sensitivity after an appointment:

Some types of dental work can inflame the pulp inside your teeth, causing sensitivity for several weeks. If it lasts longer than that, let us know.

Sharp pain when biting:

Sometimes sharp pain can be caused by a loose filling, other times it may signal that there is a crack in your tooth.  Either of these scenarios requires evaluation by a professional, so please give us a call.

Pain/Sensitivity lasting longer than 30 seconds:

Often this means that the pulp (innermost part of your tooth) has been damaged.  Without intervention, you may lose this tooth so it is important to call us to find out if you may need root canal treatment.

Frequent, dull aching in the jaw.

This can happen when excessive grinding of the teeth happens (bruxism), or it could even be a sign of a sinus headache or infection.  Please call us for more information.

Severe pain, pressure or swelling of the gums:

This may mean that you have an abscessed, infected tooth that may have spread to other tissues in the mouth.  This is a serious situation that requires an immediate call to our office for instructions.   

Is Periodontal Disease Contagious? And Other Questions…

Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?  And other questions…

In our practice, we hear many great questions about periodontal disease and gums in general.  So, to help educate our patients better, we have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions for you here:

Q:  Is periodontal disease contagious?

A:  Yes and no.  The disease, which is an inflammatory response to bacteria under the gums, itself is not contagious.  However, that bacteria can be spread through saliva, which could in turn cause periodontal disease in another person.  To be safe, don’t share utensils or toothbrushes in your house.

Q:  Can children get periodontal disease?

A:  No.  Periodontal disease has only very rarely been found in children and adolescents.  However, it’s never too soon to adopt good healthy gum habits!  Teach your kids to brush twice and floss once every day.

Q:  Do I need antibiotics to get rid of the bacteria?

A:  Possibly.  A number of factors go into our determination about whether a patient needs topical antibiotic treatment after a periodontal cleaning.  If you do need it, it will be applied under the gums during treatment.

Q:  Are diabetes and periodontal disease related?

A:  Yes, periodontal disease is a common complication of diabetes, most likely because diabetes makes a person more prone to infection.  New evidence also shows that good perio health may have a positive effect on blood sugar levels as well!

Q:  What about heart disease?

A:  This is less clear, however several studies have shown that gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease as well.

As always, we are here to help.  If you have additional questions that don’t appear on this list, give us a call!

The Science Behind Oral Cancer

The-Science-Behind-Oral-CancerCan drinking coffee really help prevent oral cancer? What about different types of foods? Numerous studies have been published that claim certain foods and drinks can prevent oral cancer but when it comes to a disease that will affect 43,250 people this year, it’s important to get the facts.

Oral cancer, also referred to as mouth or head and neck cancer, occurs when there is a problem with the lifecycle of a normal, healthy cell. Cells are supposed to grow and divide into new cells as your body needs them but when this process goes wrong, your body over produces cells. These extra cells can cause a tumor to form.  Depending on the type of cells in the tumor, it could be cancerous or benign.

Some studies may say they have proof that a specific food or drink helps to prevent mouth cancer but in reality the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid certain risk factors like smoking and drinking. Drinking in excess accompanied by smoking makes you highly susceptible to the disease and should be avoided.

Most oral cancers start in the tongue in what are called the flat cells and they can spread to other parts of the body if they aren’t caught early (in doctor lingo, cancer of these flat cells is called squamous cell carcinoma). Interestingly, when these oral cancer cells spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, they are still considered oral cancer cells rather than lung cancer cells. Where these abnormal cancer cells begin is what they will always be referred to as, regardless of where they spread.

Doctors still don’t know why one person gets oral cancer while another person does not, but it is important to note that oral cancer is NOT contagious. Avoiding risk factors and eating healthy is key to preventing oral cancer. Make sure to visit us regularly so we can check for signs of oral cancer!

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.