dr. saker

Dental Implants: What’s All The Hype?

Dental Implants What's all the HypeThese days, we all know someone who has a dental implant, and you have probably heard us champion these teeth substitutes, as they become more and more the common cure for missing teeth!

But why?

We think that’s a valid question and it deserves a good answer!

Bone Loss
Any oral health professional will tell you that living with a missing tooth can have negative consequences that go well below the gum line. The problem doesn’t stop at the single tooth that goes missing. The jawbone also suffers. When there is not a tooth set in the jawbone offering regular stimulation, you lose bone mass in that area. That loss of jawbone contributes to a decline in facial aesthetics as the jaw shrinks away. The loss of jawbone also means that when you do have an implant later in life, you will likely require extensive bone grafting prior to the implant procedure. Traditional tooth “replacement” methods such as dentures and bridges do not solve the problem of bone loss.

In contrast, dental implants eliminate these problems and encourage a healthy, strong and adequate jaw by integrating with it (also known as: osseointegration). The implant then provides regular stimulation (as you chew food), and keeps the jawbone in proper health.

Lifestyle and Diet
Most people with dentures report that in addition to living in fear of their dentures falling out in social settings, they also must live with a restricted diet, unable to enjoy the foods that they previously ate. This same restricted diet goes for those with wobbly bridges and crowns as well. More often than not, those restricted foods are some of the healthiest ones, such as crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Dental implants look and feel nearly identical to your regular teeth, and are second only to your natural teeth when it comes to form and function. Dental implants allow you to eat and live freely with a healthy diet and without fear. In addition to that, dental implants have a 98% success rate and can often last you for a lifetime!

Preventing Oral Cancer

While we cannot all necessarily prevent cancer from happening, with most cancers, including oral, head and neck cancers, there are things that you can do (or not do!) to reduce your risk.

  • Preventing-Oral-CancerQuit Smoking: After five years of quitting smoking, your risk of oral cancer is cut down to just half of that of a smoker.
  • Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use is the second largest risk factor for oral cancer. Limit drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
  • HPV Vaccine: HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer (the back of the mouth and throat). HPV is also responsible for a small number of oral cavity cancers (the mouth).
  • Self-Exams: Be an advocate for your own health by regularly examining your mouth with a mirror and flashlight. Don’t forget to look under the tongue! Watch for unusual bumps, patches, different coloring, and report any to us that don’t heal within 14 days. Feel your lips, cheeks, throat and neck for unusual bumps and masses. There are a number of online guides for performing a thorough at home oral cancer self-exam.
  • Have Regular Checkups: Oral health professionals such as dentists and oral surgeons are the second line of defense (after you) in terms of screening for oral cancers. Be sure to ask us any questions that come up during your exam.
  • Eat Well: A healthy diet includes plentiful vegetables and fruits, is low in sugar and saturated fats, and includes lean sources of protein and whole grains. Incorporate new foods into your diet slowly for long lasting results.
  • Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day or more!
  • Get Adequate Sleep and Minimize Stress: A lack of sleep and stress both contribute to inflammation which has long been recognized as a player in the cancer game.

Understanding Bone Grafting

Tooth loss as a result of periodontal (gum) disease, facial trauma or tooth extractions can cause the jaw bone to atrophy, as it no longer has something to support. As if bone deterioration isn’t bad enough, tooth replacement requires a solid foundation, meaning that patients with jawbone degeneration aren’t candidates for dental implants. Fortunately, our state-of-the-art restorative techniques allow us to augment areas with inadequate bone structure so we can restore your smile! We have the answers to all your bone grafting questions below, so keep reading!

What is bone grafting?
During a bone grafting procedure, the jawbone is restored so it can support a dental implant. An incision is made in the gum and the bone graft material is transplanted into the jawbone. There are four types of bone grafts:

  1. Understanding-Bone-GraftingAutogenous: bone grafts are harvested from other parts of your body, such as the chin or hip. They are the most effective because using your own living cells promotes natural bone growth.
  2. Allogenic: bone grafts are donor grafts collected from tissue banks.
  3. Xenogenic: bone grafts are harvested from other species, typically bovine donors.
  4. Synthetic: bone grafts are artificial bone material composed of calcium phosphates

When is bone grafting necessary?
Bone grafting procedures are routinely performed in preparation for dental implants. This is due to the fact that the implants are unable to anchor themselves into a stable foundation unless the jawbone is adequate.

How long after bone grafting can I get dental implants?
Minor bone grafting can be done the same day as dental implants, but major bone grafting requires downtime between procedures. Dental implants will be placed 4-9 months after your bone grafting procedure once the major bone grafts have had time to fuse with your natural jawbone. We will decide the best time to place your dental implants based on your recovery.

Give us a call if you think bone grafting can get you on track to replace missing teeth for natural, lasting, functional results!

Wisdom Teeth FAQs

Wisdom-Tooth-FAQOur patients often wonder why we recommend wisdom tooth extractions, or what the purpose of wisdom teeth even is. We are eager to help you better understand the benefits of removal and the extraction process! Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions about those tricky third molars.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?
Human ancestors used their wisdom teeth to grind up food that was hard to digest. They had large jaws and powerful teeth with plenty of room for a third set of molars.

Modern humans, however, eat cooked foods and have a more effective digestive system, so we have evolved smaller jaws and teeth. This means less room in our mouths for wisdom teeth.

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed? 
There are several reasons why you may benefit from having your wisdom teeth extracted, as wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term and long-term complications.

  • Impaction: If there is not enough room for your wisdom teeth to erupt, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. You may experience pain or discomfort while eating due to impaction.
  • Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can push against your second molars, potentially damaging them and making them more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Disease: Narrowed spaces between molars due to impaction also allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at risk of inflammation, cysts, and periodontal (gum) disease.

When should I get my wisdom teeth out? 
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, which means that many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. The longer you wait, the more complications may arise. The roots of your wisdom teeth continue growing as you get older and may eventually come in contact with a nerve. At this point, nerve damage is a possible outcome of wisdom tooth extraction.

When are wisdom teeth okay to keep?
Sometimes, wisdom teeth have room to erupt healthily and do not need to be extracted. If this is the case, your dentist may recommend you keep your third molars.

Make sure you are coming in for regular check ups so our team can keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Consult with our practice about the right course of action for your wisdom teeth, because everyone’s teeth are different.

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental Implants?

It’s estimated that 125 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. If you are one of them, you may be considering dental implants for tooth replacement. We think it’s important for you to know what factors make a person a good candidate for such a procedure. Here are a few things to consider.

Are You a Good Candidate for Dental ImplantsMost People Are Good Candidates. Dental implants can replace one, several, or all of your teeth. They can be used in place of bridges or dentures. Good candidates have healthy gums and are old enough so that their jawbone has stopped growing. You should also have enough bone to support and anchor the implants. Even if you have lost bone in your jaw, however, you may still be a good candidate for implants. In fact, dental implants may be recommended to prevent further bone loss. In these situations, bone can actually be rebuilt with grafting procedures as part of the implant process.

Evaluation. Successful implantation starts with a thorough evaluation of your jaw, teeth, mouth and overall health. You will receive a mouth X-ray and possibly a Computed Tomography (CT) scan. This will help us identify areas of bone loss and carefully see the shape of your sinuses and nerve location to make accurate assessments for your treatment. We will also do a thorough medical evaluation, as your overall health and history plays a big role in how well your implant will heal and fuse to the bone.

People At Risk of Poor Outcomes. Uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, radiation to the jaws, smoking, alcoholism, or uncontrolled gum disease are all risk factors that can adversely affect your outcome. You may still be a good candidate with one of these diseases, but we’ll want to thoroughly assess your situation and work with you and your doctor to increase your overall health and functioning. People who take certain medications, such as steroids or drugs that suppress the immune system may not be suitable candidates, either. And people with certain habits, such as people who severely grind or clench their teeth may put too much pressure on the implants, causing long term damage.

Overall, dental implants have a very high rate of success and patients tell us how happy they are with the outcome. If you are considering implants, we can complete a careful examination to determine what options are best suited for you. Call us today to make that appointment!

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.Oral-Cancer-Self-Screening

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

What’s In a Bone Graft?

The 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?

Whats-In-a-Bone-GraftWhat 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.

Facial Injuries: What Do I Do?

It’s important to know what to do when you or someone close to you has been injured, especially when it comes to facial injuries. The inside of your mouth is made up of delicate soft tissues that when cut can become infected and easily damaged if the wound isn’t taken care of quickly. Anyone who has had a facial laceration knows that there is a high degree of emotional and physical pain involved when it comes to a facial laceration. So what should you do?

Facial-InjuriesA laceration is a tear or jagged wound and is usually caused by blunt trauma. If you’ve been in an accident and there is any kind of trauma to your face, it is important to seek emergency assistance right away. Lip lacerations are one of the most common types of facial injuries and require careful repair. Lacerations are closed using silk or gut sutures and are done carefully in order to prevent any cosmetic damage. If a tooth is knocked out you should place it in salt water or milk as soon as possible. The sooner the tooth is placed back into the dental socket, the better chance it has of surviving. Do not clean or wipe off the tooth since there are crucial parts of the tooth that could become damaged.

Replanting teeth and treating tooth fractures can be handled by an oral surgeon along with facial trauma but if you have been involved in a serious accident you should go to the closest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Facial bone fractures cannot be treated with a cast like other parts of the body. The surgical placement of plates around the affected area is a recent development in medicine that allows for a faster recovery time and involves the fewest incisions necessary.

Any kind of traumatic injury to your face is serious and should be addressed immediately to prevent further damage and scaring. If you’ve had a recent injury and think you may have a facial bone fracture, call us immediately to schedule a consultation.

Tips for Reducing Scarring After Facial Surgery

Facial lacerations can be a scary situation for anyone. That is why it’s best to visit experts, like us, who have expereience in treating and repairing facial injuries and trauma. However, we know that your recovery doesn’t end the moment you leave our doors. We want you to have the best outcome following surgery which is why we’re writing this to answer some of your most common questions and to give you our best tips for treating your wound as it heals.

  • Tips for Reducing Scarring After Facial SurgeryKnow the general time table of healing. Within 2 days the cut should seal, and by 5 to 10 days it should be strong. In the first 3 months you may notice the skin around the scar may thicken and have a red or purple tint. By 4 to 6 months this process should reverse and the scar will flatten and the discoloration will fade. Usually by 6 months the scar will be completely healed, but there can be continued improvement for up to a year.

  • There are many factors that impact your healing. How deep your cut is, its location, your age, and the way your skin heals all determine how visible a final scar will be. Younger skin actually produces thicker scarring.

  • Apply ointment frequently to keep the wound moist. This can increase the speed of healing considerably and reduce scabbing, which actually increases the build up of scar tissue.

  • Apply antibiotic ointment to prevent infection. An infected wound will make a bigger scar. Be sure to continue to apply antibiotic ointment or cream as directed by our team to keep the wound moist and fight off any infection.

  • Make sure you know the signs of infection. Antibiotics will often be prescribed to prevent infection, especially if the wound is a result of injury. Contact us immediately if you see any signs of an infection including:

    • A large amount of pus coming from the wound

    • Increased redness or swelling

    • Fever

  • Massage the wound gently to increase blood flow. Sutures are usually removed between 5 and 8 days. Massage the wound after sutures have been removed using a moisturizing lotion with Vitamin E or Aloe. Gently massage the skin around the wound twice daily for the first two weeks, and then once a day for a month. This will increase the blood flow in the area and prevent scar tissue build up.

  • Be gentle and avoid scrubbing your wound. It is usually okay to allow clean shower water to wash over the wound as long as you don’t scrub it. If crusts of blood accumulate, lightly dabbing with clean gauze moistened with hydrogen peroxide is best.

  • Avoid sun exposure. It is extremely important that you do your best to avoid sun exposure. The scar may tan a much darker color than the skin around it, and this may become permanent. Cover the area as much as possible or use sun block of SPF#50 or greater.

Whether you have had elective surgery or surgery to repair a facial injury we hope that these tips help answer your questions. If you or your loved one ever requires a trip to the emergency room involving a facial injury or laceration, be sure to seek our consultation as soon as possible and please contact us with any additional questions that you may have.

Serving Patients with Special Needs

We are committed to making care available for all patients who need it, regardless of special healthcare needs. Patients with special needs include the elderly, those with limited mobility, mentally disabled individuals, immuno-compromised people and those with mental illness. Specific diseases that can frequently hinder proper dental care include autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and Down syndrome.

Often times, these individuals have higher rates or poor hygiene, whichServing-Patients-with-Special-Needs copy leads to greater incidence of gingivitis, periodontitis and dental caries. These conditions can sometimes require root canal therapy or other dental procedures to save the patient’s tooth. While treating a patient with special needs, we strive to ensure:

  • A friendly and comfortable environment
  • Sensitivity and compassion from team members
  • Predictable experiences at each appointment

Our team possesses the compassion and understanding that is imperative when caring for a special needs patient. Some cases involving severe disabilities may require specialized equipment and anesthesia. We realize that each individual with special needs is a unique case and will require different systems and skills to properly treat. We are confident we can provide competent care for the majority of patients who are labeled as special needs.

For patients who are specifically incapable of ideal hygiene, it is essential that the people in daily contact with them become involved in their oral healthcare requirements. If you are a caregiver for a patient with special needs, the best course of action to determine if we can offer treatment is to call our office with any questions and possibly reserve an appointment to tour our facilities. If more complex oral care is required, we will refer you to the appropriate specialist who also works with the special needs population.