dr. saker

Get Checked, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Get CheckedBeing that we are entering April, now is the time to be proactive and get yourself checked for oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 48,330 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer, and an estimated 9,570 people will die from oral cancer in 2016. In the spirit of April’s Oral Cancer Awareness, we urge you to receive regular oral cancer examinations. Remember—early detection saves lives!

Are you at risk?
The sad truth is that oral cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women, and the fastest growing group of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. It is more important than ever for young adults, as well as older men and women, to get regular screenings whether they think they’re at risk or not.

Knowing the risks can help you make educated decisions about your health. There are several risks that increase your chances of developing oral cancer:
• Smoking and using tobacco products have been a known long-term historic causes of oral cancer.
• Heavy alcohol usage also makes you more susceptible to develop oral cancer.
• The HPV virus, a sexually-transmitted disease, is the leading cause of oropharyngeal (the back part of the mouth) cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms?
The mouth is one of the body’s most crucial early warning signs in the fight against oral cancer. In between regular dental visits, it’s important to be aware of the mouth’s signs and symptoms. Remember, if you see any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment at the office if you don’t see improvement within two-three weeks:
• Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.
• The development of white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth.
• Lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas.
• Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
• A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together when you close your mouth.
• Dramatic weight loss.
• Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.
• Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.

Don’t wait any longer. In the spirit of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, be proactive about your oral health, and get checked today!

After Surgery: What to Feed a Delicate Mouth

There’s nothing like oral surgery to make you appreciate the solid foods and acidic drinks you can’t have right away. Sandwiches, chips, and orange juice should all be avoided after oral surgery such as wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, and orthognathic surgery. Too much chewing can re-open the sensitive areas of your mouth, and can cause bleeding or infection. But don’t worry–we have a few healthy food and beverage recommendations you can use while your mouth is delicate.

After Surgery- What to Feed a Delicate MouthFirst 24 Hours

For the first 24 hours after your surgery, your teeth/jaw will need some time off. Therefore, smoothies, low-fat jello/puddings, and warm (not hot!) soups will be the most beneficial for your healing process. Soft foods are your friends! It is extremely important to refrain from using a straw, as the sucking causes excess strain, which can delay the healing process.

Here are a few recommendations for the first 24 hours:

Banana Shake: A healthy, filling way to start the day after your surgery. Don’t use a straw! Also, bananas help replace electrolytes and maintain fluid balance within your body. Other milkshakes and smoothies work great too, as long as they don’t have seeds in them that can get stuck in wounds.

Applesauce: You can’t eat apples, but this is the next best thing!

Soup: Soup with soft ingredients is a great way to go. Don’t include chunks of food that need lots of chewing. Make sure that it’s the right temperature for your sensitive mouth.

Mashed Potatoes: The softest food around. Mashed potatoes require very little effort from your mouth and have great calories and nutrition. Try different toppings to make things interesting.

Next Few Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start easing into enjoying solid foods again. Here are some tasty transitional foods (some can even help the healing process!)

Gnocci: Gnocci is one of the softest pastas there is. Try it with tomato sauce, powdered parmesan cheese and a hearty meat filling.

Hamburger Stroganoff: Minced or finely sliced meat is a good place to start, and cooked mushrooms should be soft enough not to bother you. Added sour cream will give the dish a smooth consistency.

We hope that these recommendations help! We genuinely want you to heal as quickly as possibly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to call us with any questions about the post oral surgery process.

Dental Implants: What to Expect

If you have been considering dental implant surgery, you might be concerned about what to expect. Questions such as: “Will I need to take time off of work?”, “Will I need bone grafting?” and “How quickly will I heal?” are not uncommon. We get that you’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers.

Dental Implants-What to ExpectPlacing a dental implant is a process that is different for each patient. The healing process and the steps required all depend on what’s going on in your mouth. The only way to know exactly what to expect is to consult with us at our office, but we’d be happy to give you an overview here:

Can I go back to work right away?
You may have read that it can take months to completely heal from a dental implant procedure. This is true, but a little misleading. Many patients are able to return to work the next day, but the mouth takes time to truly be ‘good as new’. It all depends on your specific procedure. We recommend that you plan to rest for a day. Keep in mind that your body will heal faster if you avoid exhausting yourself. If you take good care of yourself, you should be back to work very quickly.

How can I care for myself while I heal?
After the surgery, you will need to go easy on your mouth. Just like after any oral surgery, we recommend eating only soft foods for at least two weeks. You may be given antibiotics and instructions to rinse with salt water. Keeping your mouth clean is important to prevent infection. Avoid smoking.

About Bone Grafting
It may be the case that your bone is not strong enough to support the implant. In this case, bone grafting may be necessary. During this routine procedure, we take bone from a stronger part of your jaw or another part of your body, implant it into the jaw and are thus able to encourage your body to begin growing strong, new bone in its place. If you only need a small amount of bone, it may be possible to do the procedure during the same appointment as your implant surgery. However, it may be the case that you need to wait for bone growth to occur prior to us placing the implant. Every case is different.

Let us properly inform you on what you personally can expect! Schedule an appointment today!

Facial Trauma: Let a Pro Handle Your Injury

Facial trauma covers an array of conditions, but in general it’s an umbrella term for facial injury. This covers everything from tooth damage to eye socket injury. When it comes to mending damage to your face, you want to make sure an expert handles it. Facial trauma is not just about pain; it’s an emotional issue as well. This is about your face, and making sure you when you recover from your injury, you are still just as happy to see yourself in the mirror.Facial Trauma Let a Pro Handle Your Injury

Facial trauma is a term that covers an array of conditions. There are soft tissue injuries, bone injuries, and injuries to special regions (including nerves, glands, or eyes).

Soft Tissue Injury
Suturing repairs laceration to soft tissue. These can be dissolvable stiches that your body absorbs, or artificial material that must be taken out later. Suturing facilitates faster healing, avoiding infection, and more cosmetically pleasing results. The main concern here is that you heal from the procedure looking as good as you did before your injury, and so we are always sure to closely examine you for nerve and gland damage. Your healing time will depend on the seriousness of your injury, and we can inform you on what to expect.

Bone Injury
We can’t put a cast on your face. How great is that? The alternatives depend on who/what/where/when of your particular case. In the case of a serious jaw fracture, we want to immobilize the fracture the same way a cast would. Since a cast is out of the question, we may wire the jaws together and use tiny plates and screws to hold the bone in the right place. While this sounds extreme, it leads to faster recovery time and a more rapid return to proper function.

Tooth Injury
Tooth injuries are very common, and just like the above injuries, require procedures that vary depending on the case. If your tooth gets chipped or knocked out, place it milk or salt water, and then call your dentist or our office immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that your tooth will survive. Also, don’t wipe the tooth off, as you could destroy important ligaments.

As you can see, facial trauma is a very complex, very delicate issue. If left in the wrong hands, the injury could heal in a less than preferable way, which could then necessitate another surgery to fix the results of the last one. If you have an accident, make sure you give our office a call so that we can handle your case, and get you looking good as new.

How to Check Yourself for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is serious business. The good news is that you can do something about it. Regular self-examinations may help you pick up on warning signs in time to act on them. Oral health professionals are experts on mouths, but the only expert on you is YOU. If you notice something strange going on in your mouth, contacting a professional at our office is your best mode of action.

How to Check Yourself for Oral CancerThe first and most important thing to remember is oral cancer is often painless! The second rule to remember is that if you aren’t sure, ask! Its better to ask now and be sure than to wish you had asked. There are no dumb questions when it comes to looking for oral cancer. And, most importantly: any suspicious area that doesn’t resolve on its own in 14 days should be checked out ASAP.

The key to eliminating oral cancer is to act on it early. Here are some things to check regularly.

Your Tongue
Look for lumps and bumps on the upper and lower surfaces of your tongue. Feel around for odd textures, bumps, discoloration or swelling. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth to peek underneath. Don’t limit your search to the red flags above. Use your fingers and your vision.

Your Cheeks
Gently feel your cheeks for bumps and swelling. You can do this by placing your finger on the interior and your thumb outside your cheek. Lightly squeeze and feel around for anomalies.

Your Lips
Take a good look at the interior of your lips with a hand mirror. Keep an eye out for the same signs. Lips are harder to be sure about because they are constantly drying, wetting, and being scraped as we eat and speak. Nonetheless, lips are prone to cancer given that they re always exposed to sunlight. Better safe than sorry.

Your Head/Neck Area
Closely examine your head and neck for lumps and protrusions. A bump or lack of uniformity is absolutely worth checking out. Ask us at your next visit to check out your throat too. Keep an eye out for sensitivity and soreness.

With oral cancer, the key is to keep your eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Anything that seems strange is worth noting and calling our office about.

Call us today for a check up!

The Miracle of Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is something of a miracle. Although you only get one set of bones, it’s actually possible to convince your body to repair itself with new bone material where you need it most. We aren’t talking about growing a whole femur. We’re talking about growing just enough bone material to strengthen weak spots in your jaw.

Why would I ever need this?The Miracle of Bone Grafting
Let’s say you need a dental implant. You’re sick of that hole in your mouth where one of your teeth used to be, and you’re ready for a shiny new tooth to fill the gap. The problem is, your bone just isn’t strong enough to support the implant. Maybe you have periodontal disease, and the jaw bone is just too weak. Bone grafting may be necessary.

How does it work?
Simply put, bone grafting is the process of taking a little bone material from another site in your body and placing it where it is most needed. The healthy bone then fuses with the weak bone and encourages your body to grow more bone in the site, rebuilding the area to the point where it can support an implant.

There are a few ways to do this.
Sophisticated sounding terms to impress your friends:

  • Autogenous bone graft: Bone is removed from another site in your body and transplanted to where you need it. If you need just a little bone, it can be taken from another site in your mouth. But if there is not enough good material in your mouth, or you need a sizable amount, it can be taken from your hip, or your shin.
  • Allograft: Synthetic bone can be grown in a lab, or taken from a cadaver bone. This is a perfectly safe, proven procedure, though your best bet is always your own bone material. Your body knows there’s just no place like home.
  • Xenograft: Cow bone. Yes. Your body will accept cow bone. In this scenario, no secondary donor site is needed, so it may be a great option if you are uncomfortable with having bone taken from another site in your body. This is a perfectly safe procedure. Your jaw can be beefed up with bovine bone.

No online article will let you know for sure whether or not you need bone grafting, but it is good to know something about it. Give us a call and come on down for a consultation, and we’ll let you know exactly what we think the best option is for you.

Bite Sized Wisdom: Facts on Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, the late blooming elder teeth of your mouth, behave a little differently than your other teeth.

Know the facts:

  • Bite Sized Wisdom- Knowing the Facts on Wisdom TeethWisdom teeth get their name from the time frame at which they finally show up in your mouth. They typically appear in a person’s late teens or early twenties, sometimes called “The Age of Wisdom,” though your parents may disagree.
  • Wisdom teeth cause trouble because they often grow at odd angles. This makes it hard for them to break out of your gum, if at all.
  • Another reason wisdom teeth often can’t get out of gums is because there is not enough room for them. The plus side is that this could be because you’ve kept your teeth nice and straight.
  • Some people never grow wisdom teeth!
  • Wisdom teeth, among other teeth, house valuable stem cells that can be saved to help you treat other conditions you may have down the road. A pearl of wisdom for you.
  • Wisdom teeth removal, with proper sedation, is painless. The tough part is recovery, which can last a few days to several weeks. Following your physician’s instructions will help you through recovery as quickly as possible.
  • In ancient times, when diets were harder on teeth, wisdom teeth made more sense. People couldn’t influence the way their teeth moved around so it was easier for wisdom teeth to find space to pop in. With today’s high-quality dental care, wisdom teeth aren’t necessary.
  • Given that most people end up removing these teeth surgically, research is being done to find ways to prevent their growth altogether. This would save a trip to the surgeon!
  • You may or may not ever notice that your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Some people notice some pain or irritation, some notice nothing at all. Making an appointment with our office is the only way to know for sure.
  • Most people have four wisdom teeth. It’s possible to have fewer or more than four, though it’s very uncommon.

Wisdom teeth can be quirky and troublesome. To make sure you or your child’s wisdom teeth aren’t creating difficulties down the road, make an appointment with us today!

Tooth Trauma – Complicated Crown/Root Fracture – What Now?

You tripped, you fell and now you have found yourself with a part of your tooth broken and the root exposed. A complicated crown/root fracture is common in trip and fall injuries. In this form of fracture, the crown is fractured with the fracture extending below the gum line, involving the root of the tooth. This is the kind of fracture we typically see portrayed in movies.   This is a dental emergency and you should see us right away. Since this injury is traumatic, we thought it be best if you had a general overview of what to expect during the investigation and treatment stages.

Complicated crown/root fracture is the most challenging type of fracture to treat. As traumatic injury responders our priority is you, your health and your safety. We will do our very best to ensure your comfort during a stressful injury such as this.

(2)Tooth-Trauma-ComplicatedWe will work quickly in order to assess the vitality of the tooth. We will first assess for pulpal necrosis, vestibule swelling, periapical lesions and/or dramatic color change of the crown. There are instances in crown/root fractures where a gingiovectomy may be necessary in order to ensure that the tooth can be properly restored. During a gingiovectomy, we remove gum tissue that is no longer vital and reshape it to accommodate the tooth accordingly. Using the most current technology and techniques, we will treat your injury as the unique situation it truly is, tailoring a treatment plan and follow-up schedule specifically for you.

Remember: chipping your tooth mildly may not always be a dental emergency but you should call or see us right away so we may help you determine this.

10 Facts About Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgery, as with any operation, is a very serious matter, one that takes careful thought by both the patient and the doctor. If you have been considering jaw surgery but aren’t sure what to do, you may want to take into account some of these interesting facts:

  1. 10 Facts About Jaw SurgeryIn Latin, “orthognathic” means to straighten (“ortho”) the jaws (“gnathia”).
  2. The goal of reconstructive jaw surgery is to improve the bite and function. However, many patients also experience an improvement in appearance and speech after surgery!
  3. Misalignment of the jaws can be caused by birth defects, injuries or because the upper or lower jaw have grown at different rates.
  4. Aligning your jaws can also save your teeth by minimizing excessive wear and tear.
  5. Jaw surgery is sometimes used to improve TMJ symptoms and provide relief for sleep apnea.
  6. Jaw surgery can even improve “gummy” or “toothless” smiles!
  7. An orthodontist can straighten teeth. So if your bite or smile is crooked because of the position of your teeth, an orthodontist can treat you. However, if your bite is off because of the position of your jaws, only an oral surgeon can thoroughly remedy the situation. We work with your orthodontist before and after surgery for a comprehensive approach to your bite and smile.
  8. Some patients require a hospital stay for a few days, however the average patient returns home the day of surgery.
  9. The time range for returning to school or work post-surgery is 1-3 weeks.
  10. Healing is usually complete within 9-12 months.

Tooth Trauma – Uncomplicated Crown Fracture – What Now?

Tooth trauma can happen at any time. It could happen during a sports game, a car accident or as a result of something as simple and unexpected as a fall. The more information you have about correctly handling these situations the better. This knowledge could very well mean the difference between life and death for the tooth. The goal in treating a tooth trauma case is always to maintain or regain pulpal vitality in the affected tooth/teeth. In the previous tooth trauma entry we covered: avulsion (when a tooth is out of the socket). In this entry we will investigate a different kind of tooth trauma: an uncomplicated crown fracture. In this tooth fracture, the damage is limited to the crown of the tooth. There will be dentin exposed, but no pulp exposure.

In the instance of an uncomplicated crown fracture the first step an individual should try to accomplish is finding the piece of broken tooth. If a saline solution or distilled water is readily available, place the broken piece of tooth in this solution. Once you reach the dental professional, the rehydrated piece of tooth will be easier to bond, as the hydration increases its bonding strength.

What to expect during your visit, following an uncomplicated crown fracture:

  • (1)Tooth Trauma UncomplicatedX-Rays will be taken
  • Mouth will be checked for soft tissue lacerations and the presence of any other foreign bodies
  • A sensitivity analysis will be performed
  • The doctor or staff member will collect the tooth segment from you if you were able to find and preserve it
  • We will assess the prognosis for the tooth

If the tooth is still vital, the process of reattaching the segment of tooth and the subsequent bonding will occur. Filling the dentin wound and applying calcium hydroxide to the vicinity of the pulp is the second to last step. Finally, smoothing and fluoridating small enamel defects.

Stay tuned in the upcoming months for the conclusion of the “What Now?” blog series!