Ballard Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery And Dental Implants

FAQs: Wisdom Teeth

Image of a question markPatients always wonder why it is recommended that they get their wisdom teeth extracted, or why they even have wisdom teeth in the first place! We always want our patients to be in the know and have all of their questions answered. It is important to understand the benefits of having your wisdom teeth extracted.

We invite you to read through our frequently asked questions about wisdom teeth and the extraction process and call us at 206-783-9672 if you have any questions.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Ancient humans had a very different diet than we do today. They needed the third set of molars in order to grind up food that was tougher in texture and harder to digest. They also had larger jaws with more room for their wisdom teeth.

Humans today eat softer foods, or cooked foods, that are far easier to chew and digest. Over time, we have evolved to have smaller jaws and teeth, leaving less room for our third set of molars.

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted?

There are several benefits to having your wisdom teeth extracted. Keeping your wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term, as well as long-term, complications.

Impaction: When there is not enough space in your jaw for your erupting third molars, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. Impaction may cause pain or discomfort while eating.

Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can cause damage to your other teeth. When they grow in at an angle, they can push against your second molars, damaging them and potentially causing tooth decay.

Disease: Due to impaction, the narrow spaces between molars allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at a higher risk for periodontal (gum) disease, cysts, and inflammation.

When is it okay to keep my wisdom teeth?

Sometimes, there’s enough room in your jaw for your third molars to erupt comfortably and without damaging your other molars. If we see that they may grow in healthy and without impaction, we may recommend that you do not have them extracted. If this is the case, make sure you are going in for regular check-ups and closely monitoring your erupting wisdom teeth.

When should I get my wisdom teeth extracted?

Wisdom teeth generally erupt between the ages of 17-25. Many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. It is recommended that you get your third molars removed as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more complications can arise. For example, the longer you wait to have them removed, the longer the roots grow. The longer the roots get, the more chance they have of coming in contact with your nerves, possibly causing nerve damage.

If your teen hasn’t yet had his or her wisdom teeth evaluation, please give our office a call at 206-783-9672.

The Most Common Types of Bone Grafting

Image of a jawBone grafting has become so common, most patients have encountered the term at least once before entering our office. But delving deeper into some of the additional types of bone grafting will give you a better appreciation of this amazing procedure.

What is Bone Grafting?
Bone grafting is the process of using natural or synthetic materials to encourage your body to grow new bone. Your jawbone requires regular stimulation from the activities of teeth to maintain its shape. When a tooth is extracted, the jawbone immediately begins to lose mass. In oral surgery, we use bone grafting to build up the jawbone so that we can place a dental implant.

Types of Bone Grafting:
• Socket Preservation: After tooth extraction, the empty socket is filled with bone grafting material to preserve the bone in the site for tooth replacement in the future.
• Sinus Lift: The sinuses lie above the upper jawbone and are filled with air. If the upper jawbone has receded, we lift the sinus membrane and fill the space underneath it with grafting material to bulk up the bone for upper implants.
• Ridge Augmentation: As with socket preservation, ridge augmentation involves the filling the site of an extracted tooth, however, bone loss has already occurred in this case as the extraction was done months or years before.
• Nerve Repositioning: The nerve that gives feeling to the bottom lip and chin is known as the inferior alveolar nerve. Sometimes this nerve must be relocated in order to place a lower jaw implant. The nerve is moved, and the pockets left behind are filled with bone grafting material to prepare for a dental implant.

If you have been told you need bone grafting and aren’t sure what to expect, please give us a call at 206-783-9672.

Are You At Risk for Oral Cancer?

'oral cancer cells'Early diagnosis can be a key component to giving you a fighting chance against the various types of head and neck cancer. There are many physical symptoms to look for when recognizing the signs of oral cancer aside from more commonly known warning signs such as a lump in the throat, mouth sores, and swelling of the jaw. These often mimic less serious conditions such as headaches, coughing, vocal changes, and a sore throat. Some also report ear pain, loss of hearing, or a ringing in the ears.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Factors found to put you at a greater risk for oropharyngeal cancer include poor nutrition, using tobacco products, sunlight exposure (particularly in cases of lip cancer), alcohol abuse, radiation exposure (usually from a previous treatment) and HPV.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Oral Cancer

It is believed that at least 75% of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco and alcohol use. Abstaining from using these substances can drastically decrease your risk, but it is also important to realize that genetics play an important role in the way that our immune system reacts and so some will be more genetically predisposed to cancer than others.

HPV and Oral Cancer

Another large factor causing oropharyngeal cancer (involving areas such as the back of the throat, tongue, and tonsils) is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Doctors have recently found that somewhere between 50-70% of oral cancers are caused by HPV, which doesn’t show symptoms in those it infects until much later according to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. Although there is a vaccination for this virus, there is currently no cure. There are nearly two hundred strains of it, and it is estimated that somewhere between nine and fifteen are cancer causing. About fourteen million people become newly infected each year and most sexually active men and women will contract at least one type of HPV at some point in their lifetime.

While studies now show that HPV now accounts for about 70% of oropharyngeal cancer, many cancers are believed to be a caused by a combination of using tobacco and alcohol as well.

In any case, early detection is the key to leaving yourself open to the best possible outcome. Call us at Seattle Office Phone Number 206-783-9672 to schedule a screening today!

A Better Breakfast for a Better Smile

healthy breakfast optionsBreakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. It kick starts your body and provides you with enough energy to make it through your hectic morning as well as keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Eating a balanced breakfast is not only good for you body, but also good for your teeth. Being mindful of the acidity and sugar levels in your food is key to keeping your teeth in tip-top shape!

When it comes to breakfast foods, there are a few foods we recommend eating in moderation! These include, but are not limited to, orange juice and sugary cereals. Orange juice has a very high acidity and by drinking too much, the acid can wear down your tooth enamel. Cereals that are high in sugar have a similar effect on your teeth, but the sugar can also cause cavities.

Eating a balanced breakfast that is low in sugar and acid, but high in protein will make your body and teeth feel great! Protein rich foods will help to build up your enamel and keep your teeth stronger than ever.

Here are a few recipe ideas for a healthy and balanced breakfast:

Overnight Oats:

o 1/3 cup of oats
o 1/3 cup of milk (or substitute almond, soy, coconut, etc.)
o 1/3 cup of plain Greek Yogurt
o 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds OR ¼ cup chopped nuts
o Fresh fruit/ berries of your choice!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a sealed container, or mason jar, and place in fridge the night before. Open and enjoy the next morning for a healthy and balanced breakfast!

Avocado Toast:

o 1-2 slices of whole grain toast
o 1 ripe avocado
o 1 egg (cooked to your preference)
o 1 ripe tomato
o Seasonings of your choice (salt & pepper, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, etc.)

How to Take Care of Your Dental Implants

'man flossing teeth in mirror'Cleaning and taking care of your implant is just as important as cleaning your natural teeth. Here are some things you should know about caring for your implant.

Your implant and your natural teeth are similar because they both rely on healthy tissue for support and both can build up plaque. It’s important to remove that plaque because it can develop into an infection. If the infection isn’t properly treated, it can result in a loss of bone around the implant which could progress to the loss of the implant itself.

It’s important to get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis so your dental hygienist can get that biofilm off your teeth and keep your teeth infection-free. As always, you should be brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day. Never use your teeth, especially your implant as “scissors” to open anything.

Dental implants are the closest thing you can get to real and natural teeth. They don’t require any special products or treatment. Just a simple brush and floss will do the job. They are also long lasting. If they are properly cared for, they can last a lifetime, avoiding any further dental work down the road.

With a dental implant, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods. It will not loosen or fall out if you are chewing something hard.

Overall, dental implants are meant to make life better and easier, not to add issues or interrupt your life. You don’t have to go out of your way to take care of them – a simple brush and floss will ensure that they improve your overall quality of life for many years to come.

If you think a dental implant may be right for you, call Ballard Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at 206-783-9672 to schedule a consultation with us.

Dental Implant: The Recovery

'recovery'The recovery time following dental implant surgery tends to vary, but is usually based on the amount of teeth being implanted, whether or not a bone graft was needed and the individual and how well they manage their recovery. Luckily, the science and technology behind dental implants has improved drastically over the last few years, improving post-surgery pain and comfort for patients.

The patient requiring the least amount of recovery time would be one who had a standard, single dental implant placed with no bone grafting. With a simple procedure like this one, there is very little discomfort or pain after the surgery. Mild bruising and soreness can occur, but is typically manageable with over the counter pain relievers. In more severe implant cases, such as those where multiple teeth are implanted or severe bone grafting needed in order to accomplish the implant, the recovery time tends to be longer and the discomfort can be more intense.

In any cases, it is important to keep your mouth clean after surgery, which can be done by rinsing your mouth gently with salt water beginning the day after surgery. You may begin brushing your teeth the night after the surgery, but make sure to keep it light around the surgery area as to not disrupt the healing in that area. It is also important to remember that in the week following your surgery, there should be no smoking and no sucking through a straw, as this can seriously inhibit your healing process. It is important to stick to a diet primarily consisting of soft foods for the first 7-10 days following your surgery before beginning to return to your normal diet.

As you can see, the recovery process after receiving a dental implant is fairly predictable and comfortable. It is important to follow the instructions that we give you at Ballard Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, and to always remember that if you have any questions or concerns regarding a procedure or following your surgery, you can always give us a call at Seattle Office Phone Number 206-783-9672.

How to Make Your Own Ice Cream

'ice cream'As you may or may not know, July is officially National Ice Cream Month! While it is fun to go and grab ice cream from your local shop down the street, it can be more fun and rewarding to make your own ice cream for you and your family to enjoy. Ice cream is also a great treat to enjoy after different types of oral surgery. You don’t need an ice cream maker in order to make delicious, creamy ice cream. Just follow our instructions below!

Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

– 2 cups of milk
– 3 tablespoons of sugar
– 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Materials:

– 3-4 cups of ice
– 2/3 cup salt
– 1 quart sized Ziploc bag
– 1 gallon sized Ziploc freezer bag

Instructions:

– Combine milk, vanilla and sugar in quart sized bag
– Press any air out of bag and seal tightly
– Mix ice and salt in gallon sized bag
– Place quart sized bag into gallon sized bag and seal tightly
– Shake the bag vigorously for about 5 minutes.
– It will be very cold, be careful!
– Liquid inside smaller bag should start to harden
– Let bags sit for a few minutes with ice in large bag surrounding small bag
– Open bags up and scoop ice cream out
– Enjoy!!

As you can see, it isn’t hard to shake up some ice cream that the whole family can enjoy, using fairly standard household ingredients. Use chocolate/strawberry milk instead of regular milk to change the flavor, or use half and half for a creamier product. This year, celebrate National Ice Cream month by making your own ice cream at home!

Impacted

'impacted wisdom teeth'When you hear this word in our office, it is most likely that we are talking about your wisdom teeth. And while we know that it may sound scary to have “impacted wisdom teeth”, we want you to know that, actually, it is very common.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

Throughout evolutionary history, human mouths (jaws) have become increasingly smaller. While the jaws have gotten smaller, the amount of teeth we have has not. So now we have the same amount of teeth squeezing into a smaller space. Because wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, they often become impacted – that is, blocked by the other teeth around them. Often they are growing in sideways or unable to erupt through the gums at all due to crowding.

Why do wisdom teeth need removal?

The inability to erupt properly means that wisdom teeth can cause a lot of pain and even become infected down the road. This is the main reason that we recommend the removal of all third molars (another name for wisdom teeth). The reason that we remove them during the teen years is that the bone is still soft and recovery from the surgery is taken by the patient much better at this age. If we were to wait, your teeth may become infected, your bite crooked, and it may be too late at some point for us to take them out.

Types of Impaction:

  • Vertical Impaction – In this case, the tooth is unable to break through the gum line. Vertical impaction is very common.
  • Mesioangular Impaction – Angled toward the front of the mouth, the tooth is probably pushing on its neighbor, causing pain and crowding. This type of impaction is also very common.
  • Distoangular Impaction – This tooth is angled toward the rear of the mouth, it is uncommon.
  • Horizontal Impaction – In this case, the tooth is a complete 90 degrees from where it should be, and is likely growing into the roots of its neighboring tooth. This is very rare.

What is the removal procedure like?

You will be completely pain-free during the surgery, which takes just about an hour. You will also be sent home with instructions for pain management, eating and rest orders.

What is recovery like?

You will recover comfortably at home. You can start drinking liquids and soft foods as soon as you feel ready, but should avoid crunchy foods, extra hot or cold items, and straws (NO STRAWS!). You can expect to resume some of your normal activities a few days post-operation.

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth removal or aren’t sure if you even need the procedure, give us a call at Seattle Office Phone Number 206-783-9672!

Tooth Extraction – Managing Pain

'man kicking away tooth extraction pain'The Procedure Itself

Thanks to a wide variety of anesthesia choices available to us these days, you should feel no pain during your extraction.

After the Surgery

  • Over-the-Counter Medicines: Generally speaking, over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen are all that you will need following your surgery.
  • Staying On Top of Pain: It is very important to stay on a strict schedule of medication the first few days following your surgery. Getting behind on medication will result in more pain and may even make it difficult to catch up with pain control again.
  • Ice for Swelling: We want you to ice your cheeks for the first 24 hours following surgery, twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off alternating. Managing swelling can help greatly with pain management, and the act of icing may even feel good on its own.
  • Rest: Your body was expertly designed with high-tech systems in place to heal – but you have to give it the space and conditions to do so. Rest is one of the most important things you can do to help your body heal faster.
  • Salt Rinse the DAY AFTER Surgery: The day after surgery, you should rinse your mouth very gently with a mixture of one cup of warm water and ½ teaspoon of salt. You may do so up to 4 times a day. Designed to gently clean the wound site (but NOT dislodge the blood clot), some patients also feel that the warm water helps with pain relief.
  • Prescriptions: Most often, our patients do not require prescription pain medication post-op. However, in the case that we feel your case calls for such, please keep the following in mind:
    • Antibiotics – If we have ordered antibiotics for you, you must take them on schedule and for as long as we prescribe – Never stop antibiotic treatment prematurely without our specific orders.
    • Pain-Killers – In the event that you require prescription pain killers, please note that we are required to prescribe these sparingly and in accordance with certain laws, due to rising rates of substance abuse. You can help keep these drugs off the street by taking only what you need, and taking unused pills to a pharmacy for safe disposal – never “keep them around” in your cabinet for future use.

For more information, please visit our surgical instructions page and feel free to call us at Seattle Office Phone Number 206-783-9672

Autograft Vs. Allograft

'woman smiling after receiving bone graft'So, you were recently told by your doctor that you need a bone graft, but you aren’t quite sure what that means.

A bone graft is a surgical procedure that is used to fix bones or joints that were damaged by trauma, and it is also used to replace bone that is missing to provide structural stability around the body, including the jawbone. There are many types of bone grafts we can use to grow bone – the two most common are autografts and allografts.

An autograft is a bone or tissue that is transferred from one spot to another on the patient’s body. It is often thought of as the “gold standard” in bone grafting because of its reliability. Its high success rate is due to the fact that it is living tissue and thus its cells are kept intact.

An allograft is a bone or tissue that is transplanted from one person to another. They typically come from a donor, or cadaver bone. The allograft is safe, ready to use and available in large amounts. The main advantage of an allograft is that it requires one less procedure than the autograft, which must first be taken from the patient. Surgical time is minimized and the recovery can be quicker. The allograft comes from a reputable and reliable tissue bank.

Knowing which bone-grafting option you will need can be confusing, but we are here to answer any questions you may have. Please schedule a bone grafting consultation with us by calling Seattle Office Phone Number 206-783-9672. We will perform a thorough evaluation of your oral health. After our evaluation, we will recommend what bone graft is best for you. We are happy to discuss your options and answer any questions you may have. We want you feeling confident with our choice and worry free.