Tips for Good Oral Health

Good oral health is vital not only for the health of your teeth but your overall physical health. By keeping good oral habits you can stave off many dental-related issues, and in the event, you develop a problem that requires you to have oral surgery, you are likely to have a better outcome. Not sure how to get started with a proper oral health regimen? Check out the few tips below. 

Follow a Proper Brushing Routine

One of the easiest ways to get a healthy smile is coming up with a regular brushing routine that will properly eliminate debris from your teeth, reducing your risk for decay. You always want to make sure that you brush twice a day, avoiding brushing directly after eating, especially if you have consumed highly acidic food. Make sure you focus on the area where your teeth meet your gums, helping to dislodge debris that has become caught in between teeth. Make sure that you brush for at least two minutes and finish off by brushing your tongue to remove bacteria. 

Another important part of a good brushing routine is having the proper equipment and using it properly. Always make sure to use a toothpaste with fluoride and a soft-bristle brush that you can fit easily in your mouth. When brushing, put your toothbrush at a slight angle using both circular and back and forth motions. You will always want to make sure to replace your toothbrush often, opting for a new one every three months, or when the bristles are no longer regular.

Don’t Forget to Floss

Even when you brush well, you will not be able to get all of the debris out from between your teeth and your gum line, which makes regular flossing critical to maintaining proper gum health and reducing the risk of decay. You should try to floss at least once a day and then maintain it as needed by using a dental pick or pre-threaded flosser. Always be gentle so you don’t cause damage to your gums. Once you have slid the floss between your teeth, use a c shape to curve around each tooth and gently remove the debris. Don’t skimp on the floss and be sure to use a fresh spot as you move to each tooth. 

Stay On Top of Dental Appointments

Part of maintaining good oral health is staying on top of preventative appointments and addressing dental issues when they arise. Regular cleanings are not only important to remove debris and prevent decay, but also for the oral cancer screening performed. You should also contact your dentist immediately for an appointment if you have any issues, such as loose or cracked teeth, bleeding, redness or swelling of your gums, unusual sensitivity, or pain. These all could be signs that you are in need of a dental procedure and the sooner the issue is addressed, the more likely you will have a better outcome. 

Maintaining good oral health does not require a lot. A few good habits, and you’ll be in good shape. By following the tips above and staying on top of your oral health you will enjoy a healthy smile as well as prepare yourself for better outcomes in the event you need a more extensive procedure or oral surgery. 

4 Tips to Prepare for an Upcoming Oral Surgery Procedure

surgery room

Whether you have impacted wisdom teeth or need a dental implant, there may be a time when you will need to have some type of oral surgery procedure. When you are expecting to have oral surgery you may find yourself anxious and unsure of how to properly prepare. Simply follow the few tips below to make your experience go as smooth as possible and help reduce your anxieties. 

Dig Into the Details

If you are nervous about your surgery or want to understand more about the process and procedure, don’t simply nod along as the surgeon discuss it with you during your pre-op appointment.

If there are any concerns you have, no matter how trivial they may seem, you should always discuss them with your surgeon. Knowing everything you need, you will be better prepared for what to expect after surgery and will be more likely to avoid implication.

Once you have gone over all of the details with your surgeon, you should also contact your insurance to see how much is covered so you can know what payment expectations may be before the big day. 

Arrange for Assitance

You will need someone to drive you to and pick you up from your surgery. If possible, take along someone you trust who will be able to understand and relay to you any post-operative information that you may have not fully understood after coming out of sedation.

Depending on the type of procedure going, you may need to arrange to have someone who can stay with you or check on you regularly for 24 to 48 hours after surgery.

If you have pets or children, it may be helpful to arrange for assistance with them as well during the first day or so after the procedure. 

Know the Rules and Follow Them

There are often some rules that you will have to follow before and after any type of oral surgery procedure.

For general anesthesia, you will be required to stop drinking and eating at a certain point before the surgery time. If having local anesthetic you may be able to eat a few hours before, but typically light meals are recommended to avoid stomach upset.

You will likely be asked to brush, floss, and rinse your mouth before the procedure as well. Additionally, you should avoid smoking 12 hours before and at least 24 hours or longer after a procedure.

Smoking can inhibit the healing process and the suction motion can cause damage to sutures.

In short, you should ask your oral surgeon all of the rules you will need to follow before and after the surgery and make sure that you follow all of them to give you the lowest risk for complications and a better ability to heal. 

Plan You After-Surgery Meals

With any type of oral surgery, you are likely to have limitations on the food you will be allowed to eat. Most often your will have to stick to soft foods that are not spicy or acidic. Think of foods that don’t require chewing.

You will also want to make sure that you get the proper nutrition while healing, so be sure to have prepared foods or ready to grab foods that you will be able to easily eat for the first few days of your recovery. 

By following the few simple tips above, you will be better prepared for your upcoming oral surgery procedure, which will hopefully relieve some anxiety and allow you lower your risk of complications.

What To Expect During Impacted Wisdom Teeth Removal

wisdom teeth xray

When your wisdom teeth become impacted, it can lead to serious health issues. Most dentists will recommend that they be surgically removed to prevent cysts, gum disease, and benign tumors from forming. As with any surgical process, you may be a little nervous and unsure of what to expect from the procedure. Below is a quick guide to take you through the process from surgical preparation through the recovery. 

Preparing for Surgery

Once your dentist has determined your wisdom teeth are impacted, you will first have an appointment with an oral surgeon. During this visit, they will explain the process and also allow you to ask any questions regarding the procedure or the recovery process. They will then go over your personal health history and inquire about any medications that you are taking. 

For your preparation, you will need to arrange for care for children or pets during your procedure, secure a ride to and from the appointment, and take a few days off work or school for the procedure and recovery. 

The Day of Surgery

You can expect your procedure to take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour. In some cases, the teeth may be stubborn, and the surgery can run longer, but it rarely occurs. You will be under oral or IV sedation so you will feel no pain or discomfort during the procedure, nor will you be awake during the process. If you are anxious before the procedure or about the IV, you may be offered nitrous oxide. After the anesthesia has been administered, and the surgeon is sure you are asleep, they will use surgical tools to cut into your gums and extract the teeth. Once the teeth are successfully removed, your surgeon will put in dissolvable sutures to allow your gums to heal properly. Your mouth will then be packed with gauze to control the bleeding, and you will then be brought out of sedation. 

Recovery and Aftercare

Right after surgery, you are likely to feel groggy and will experience some mild pain and swelling. Your surgeon will recommend medication to control the pain by either writing you a prescription or discussing over-the-counter medication to take. Driving will be restricted for 12 to 24 hours, so you will need to have a ride home and someone with you who can help you understand post-op instructions. The rest of the day, you should take it easy and rest when possible. 

You will be able to eat immediately after your procedure but may not have much of an appetite as the anesthetic fully wears off. Stick to soft foods at first until most of the swelling goes down. Also, avoid hot foods as the gums where the teeth were removed will be sensitive. Avoid nuts, seeds, hard foods, and straws during the healing process to avoid damaging your stitches. 

Follow all post-operative instructions on hygiene closely to avoid infection. You will need to avoid brushing your teeth, rinsing your mouth and flossing for the first 24 hours. Saltwater rinses are advised to aid healing and help with pain and can be started right away. Just be sure not to spit the solutions out as the suction can interfere with healing. Simply allow the solution to drip out of your mouth. Change the gauze as needed until there is no more bleeding. 

You should be mostly recovered in three to four days and can resume normal activities, though it can take up to a month for the site to fully heal, so you should still avoid sucking through straws, smoking, and heavy exercise for about a month. 

Why People Get Dental Implants

Dental implant

Most people will seek out dental implants when they need to replace a tooth or teeth that have been removed from their mouth in some manner. Dental implants include an artificial tooth that is affixed to a created root in the mouth. The need to replace a tooth may come about for many reasons. The most common reasons that people will seek out dental implants include:

A Tooth Loss Caused By an Accident

Sports injuries, falls, and vehicle accidents can all result in broken, damaged, or even detached teeth. An implant can help to restore the normal appearance of your mouth to the way it looked before the accident occurred.

A Tooth or Teeth That Are Significantly Decayed

When teeth are severely decayed, or the decay has gone deep into the tooth, the tooth may end up needing to be removed. In some cases, you can be given a root canal and crown, but in other situations, you will need to have the tooth removed and replaced. 

To Improve Their Smile

Some people, such as actors, models, or anyone concerned about the look of their smile may choose dental implants. Depending on the issues with your teeth and the desired look, teeth may need to be removed and replaced with implants to give you your desired results.

To Avoid Dentures

Some patients who would normally require dentures may opt for dental implants instead. Dental implants can be easier to care for and are a more permanent solution that is appealing to many. 

How Dental Implants Can Help

There are many ways that dental implants help to improve the aesthetics of your mouth as well as its health. Having dental implants to replace missing teeth can:

  • Prevent the loss of jawbone
  • Help you maintain your appearance
  • Allow you to speak more clearly
  • Prevent your teeth from shifting

What to Expect When You Have Dental Implants

To prepare for your dental implants, your dental surgeon will first create a plan. This will involve making sure the implants will fit properly and that rooting them will not cause any damage to existing nerves. This process will involve several x-rays. Once they know how they will proceed, they will next implant the metal rods that will hold the structure into your jawline. After seven to ten days, the area should be healed, and stitches will be able to be removed. 

It may take four to six months for the area to fully heal and be prepared for the next stage of surgery. During the second stage of the process, the protective screw on the implant will be removed and replaced with a metal cap. The final step in the process will come two to three weeks later when the bridge, crown, or denture is made and affixed to the implant. 

Even though dental implants can involve a lengthy process, the results are amazing, often transforming the patient’s smile to what it once was, or what they have dreamed it to become. 

Do I need surgery for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is considered a potentially serious sleep disorder, where breathing stops and starts throughout the night due to relaxation of the throat muscles. OSA can lead to loud snoring, waking up gasping, headaches, dry mouth in the morning, and excessive daytime sleepiness. 

Obstructive sleep apnea can not only lead to extreme sleepiness but also more severe problems such as high blood pressure, strain on the cardiovascular system, type 2 diabetes, liver problems, and metabolic syndrome. 

How does surgery correct obstructive sleep apnea?

Surgery is often a treatment option for those with severe sleep apnea that don’t respond to treatment with a CPAP device. How surgery will work to correct the problem, will largely depend on which type of surgical procedure your doctor recommends. Surgical procedure options for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea include:

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

This is the most common type of procedure associated with sleep apnea and involves removing excess tissue from both the pharynx and the soft palate. In the event the patient still has their tonsils, those will be removed as well. Once the tissue is removed, the area will be sutured to reduce the risk of collapse and keep the area open so that air can easily pass through the upper airway. 

Nasal surgery

Nasal obstruction can play a critical role in sleep apnea. The three components of the nose that can be affected include the septum, the nasal valve, and the turbinates. The most common nasal procedures include reducing the size of the turbinates or straightening out the septum. By correcting these areas, air will be able to pass more freely through the nasal passages. 

Pillar Procedure

The Pillar Procedure, also referred to as soft palate implants, is a simplistic surgical procedure where three polyester rods are placed into the soft palate. Once placed, an inflammatory response will occur within the surrounding tissues that will cause the soft palate to stiffen. When this occurs, the soft palate will be less likely to come into contact with the pharynx during sleep. 

Hyoid advancement

The bone in the neck where the tongue base and pharynx attach is called the hyoid bone. If you have sleep apnea, you likely have a larger tongue base, and when you enter into a deep sleep and your muscles relax, your tongue can fall back, coming into contact with the pharynx. When this occurs, the air will be obstructed. During a hyoid advancement, the bone will be repositioned surgically using a suture attached to the front jaw bone, which will extend the airway. 

Tongue advancement

During this procedure, the genioglossus, one of the main tongue muscles, will be moved forward so that it can not slip as far backwards during sleep. A cut will be made in the jaw bone, and it will be fixed in place with a titanium plate. Once positioned, the tongue will be less likely to be able to retract toward the back floor of the mouth. 

If you struggle with sleep apnea, and CPAP therapy does not help you get a better night’s sleep, then a surgical procedure may be your best option. Discuss with your doctor which surgical procedure may work best for your specific situation. 

What Are The Signs It’s Time for Your Wisdom Teeth to Come Out?

wisdom teeth x-rays

Your wisdom teeth are a third set of molars, which usually appear when you are between 17 and 21 years of age. These teeth are rarely functional and therefore cause crowding and other issues within the mouth. Therefore, dental professionals will often recommend removing them before they break through to prevent any potential problems. The following are some common signs it might be time for your wisdom teeth to come out. If you notice any of these signs, contact us today to schedule a consultation:

Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth

If your wisdom teeth try to come in but don’t have the space to emerge fully from the gums, they become impacted. This can lead to:

  • Jaw pain.
  • Difficulty opening your mouth.
  • Bad breath.
  • Stiffness or swelling in the jaw.
  • Bleeding, tender or swollen gums.

General Symptoms of Wisdom Teeth Issues

Even if your wisdom teeth aren’t impacted, they can still cause issues. You could experience the following:

  • Irritation & Pain: As your wisdom teeth grow, they can cause pain and discomfort in the mouth. An x-ray can rule out other causes of pain and zero in on the wisdom tooth problem.
  • Problems Eating: Sometimes, when your wisdom teeth are trying to come through, it can cause food to get stuck between the tops of those teeth and your gums. This can cause issues with eating and can make proper oral hygiene nearly impossible. Often, extraction is recommended to prevent further complications. 
  • Shifting Teeth: If your teeth were straight and now are beginning to look crooked or crowded, newly emerged wisdom teeth could be the culprit. 
  • Sinus Problems: When wisdom teeth come in through the upper gums, the roots can rub against or put pressure on the sinuses, which can lead to sinus related issues. In some cases, it can even lead to congestion and headaches.
  • Inflamed Gums: The tissue around the emerging or not yet broken through wisdom teeth can easily become inflamed due to various issues like trapped food. This is a condition called pericoronitis. 
  • Cavities: When your gums are irritated and you are unable to properly brush due to food getting stuck, this can obviously lead to cavities. Bacteria thrive in this type of environment, making your teeth more susceptible to the development of cavities. 

Do Wisdom Teeth Always Have to Come Out?

There are several schools of thought on the subject. Some experts believe you should leave wisdom teeth alone if they aren’t bothering anything or trying to emerge, or if the mouth has room to accommodate them, should they push through. Others believe it’s best to remove them if you suspect they will try to come in and there isn’t room to accommodate them in the mouth. Some orthodontists recommend having them out early, when a patient is still in braces to prevent a potential shift in a newly straightened smile should they come through the gum line. Thankfully, the skilled professionals at Aspire Surgical can easily determine which category you fall into and either recommend extraction or promote and wait and see approach. Contact us today to schedule a visit to learn more.

Five Questions to Ask Your Oral Surgeon

The prospect of surgery is scary, no matter the reason for the procedure. Thankfully, patients can calm their fears, at least mostly, by meeting with their oral surgeon before their scheduled procedure. This consultation visit is the ideal opportunity for patients to ask questions they might have of the surgeon and ease their mind over the upcoming procedure. It’s important to have questions ready, before stepping into a consultation, so the appointment is as useful and educational as possible.

Five Questions to Ask Your Oral Surgeon During a Consultation Visit

1.) Why is This Surgery Necessary?

The most important question you need answered is the “why” for your surgery. Your oral surgeon wants you to understand your need for surgery. They never want you to go into a procedure feeling it’s unnecessary. You should walk away from your consultation understanding fully why this particular surgery is your best option to remedy the problem with which you are dealing.

2.) What is the Sequence of My Procedure?

You want to know what the surgeon plans on doing during your surgery. Ask. Let them go through step-by-step and tell you what to expect with each phase of the surgery, beginning with anesthesia. This question is important, because it gives you an accurate view of your procedure, so you know what to expect on the day of surgery.

3.) How Long will My Procedure Last?

Of course, not every patient is the same and complications can arise that prolong a surgery. However, a specialist in oral surgery, such as your oral surgeon, can give you an accurate estimation on surgery length. Keep in mind, your surgeon cannot foresee every unknown factor, so allow for some extra time when scheduling other tasks immediately after your surgery.

4.) What Will My Recovery Look Like?

Again, every patient is different. Therefore, your recovery process will not be exactly like anyone else’s. However, your oral surgeon should be able to tell you the time frame for typical recovery and what that looks like in most patients. For example, they can tell you, most patients return to work a week after this procedure. You might not need that long, but you might need longer. In addition, your surgeon should tell you how long you can expect pain, if at all. The idea is to give you a good idea of what recovery usually looks like in most patients.

5.) What Are The Risks of This Surgery?

Last but not least, you want to ask about the risks. Every surgery, no matter how common, comes along with a bit of risk. This can be scary, hearing what “could” happen. However, going over these “what ifs” can actually make you feel better about the procedure because you will learn what the worst possible outcome could be, while your surgeon explains why that won’t be the case in your situation. We recommend a consultation between you, the patient, and your surgeon before any wisdom teeth, implants, bone graph, or other oral surgery. The five questions listed above are a great way to get communication started and ensure you know exactly what to expect on the day of your oral surgery.

Helping Your Child Prepare for Oral Surgery

Oral surgery, as with any medical procedure, can be a frightening experience for anyone. For a child, it can be even more so because they are likely to have encountered fewer procedures in their young lives, and the fear of the unknown can be nerve-wracking and lead to anxiety. The good news is, you can help better prepare your child for the procedure and recovery and put their mind at ease, so they go into the process with no fear and fewer anxieties.

Discuss With Them the Benefits of the Procedure

As a child, they may not fully understand the reasoning behind their dental procedure. Discuss with them why they need to have the procedure. Will it help them to avoid future pain? Will it prevent them from having to have other corrective procedures in the future? Will it help them to speak or eat more easily once it is done? By understanding the positive outcomes of the procedure, they will better understand the need for it and can look forward to future benefits.

Fully Explain the Procedure to Them in a Calm Manner

Even if your child is young, they will want to understand what is going to happen during their procedure. When they don’t know what a procedure entails, they will tend to expect the worse, feeding into their fears. The important thing when explaining the procedure is to stay calm. A child reads their parent’s emotions and can definitely sense when you are afraid or nervous, so be sure to get yourself in a calm and relaxed place before discussing the procedure with them, even if you are worried.

You will need to tailor the discussion to their age, making sure it is at their level of comprehension so that they can understand. You don’t need to get too graphic or too detailed, but make sure that you walk them through the process, including how they will be prepped for the procedure and what will happen when they get to recovery.

Help Them to Keep Their Strength Up

Your child’s recovery will go the smoothest if they are as healthy and strong as possible. Reduce their chances of getting sick by keeping them on a healthy diet and sleep schedule. If they develop a cold or other health issues before the procedure, be sure to inform your oral surgeon and determine if there is anything you need to do beforehand. Be sure to follow all of the required pre-op procedures, such as not eating or drinking before the surgery so that they will be able to handle the anesthetic without complications.

Be Prepared for Recovery

Have everything you will need for the recovery process, such as soft or cold foods, making sure to find items that they are fond of. It is ok to spoil a child after their procedure and make their recovery as comfortable as possible.

It is also a good idea to take care of yourself before your child’s procedure so that you can remain calm and be the strong support they need through the process from preparation to recovery.

Understanding The Differences Between Dentistry And OMS

OMS looking at xray

When to See a Dentist

The following situations constitute a visit to a regular dentist office. It’s important to note that regular visits to the dentist are essential for optimal oral health. See a dentist for:

  • Repairs to damaged teeth, requiring crowns, onlays, or fillings.
  • Root canals.
  • Dentures.
  • Routine dental care, such as teeth cleanings.

When to See an OMS

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have completed extensive training that starts in dental school but includes an additional four years of surgical residency, based in a hospital. This means an oral maxillofacial surgeon is an expert in jaw, mouth and facial surgery and can provide a level of care above and beyond basic dentistry needs, including the administration of anesthesia for various procedures. See an OMS for:

  • Oral surgeries such as bone grafting, expose and bond and frenectomy.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Craniofacial, palate or cleft lip surgery.
  • Neck, head or oral pathology.
  • Trauma to the facial area.
  • Corrective jaw surgical procedures.
  • Cosmetic surgery of the facial region.
  • Facial pain and TMJ
  • Tooth extractions.
  • Extraction or management of wisdom teeth.
  • Dental implants.

Is There Any Overlap Between OMS and Dentistry?

Yes. There are some overlapping treatments that appear in both OMS and dentistry. However, in general, if a patient needs anesthesia for a procedure or requires more than a simple oral repair or maintenance, a visit to an OMS is likely in order.

What if It’s Still Not Clear

Any patient who still isn’t sure if their oral condition or pain falls under the jurisdiction of a dentist or an oral maxillofacial surgeon, they can simply call an OMS and ask if their specific case merits the attention of a specialist in the form of an OMS or could be handled by a dentist.

What About Orthodontics?

Another extension of dentistry commonly confused with OMS and regular dentistry is orthodontics. An orthodontist is a dentist who has graduated from dental school, who then undergoes additional specialized training in straightening teeth. If a patient’s teeth are misaligned, has gaps or their bite is off, their dentist will likely recommend a trip to the orthodontist, which will often result in the patient utilizing braces or retainers in order to straighten their teeth. Although orthodontia is thought of by many as simply cosmetic, ensuring the teeth are aligned properly actually makes it easier to keep teeth clean and healthy and reduces the risk of developing painful conditions affecting the jaw.

All Dental Professionals Have One Goal in Mind

The field of dentistry is broad and encompasses several niche specialties. Each is important to overall oral health and applicable in differing situations. Patients are always advised to make regular dental visits a habit in order to keep their teeth clean and healthy. However, sometimes, patients need more than maintenance and cleanings. That’s when an OMS comes into play. They can help a patient overcome debilitating oral conditions affecting their teeth, jaws and facial regions. Patients are encouraged to contact an OMS to learn more about whether their specific situation would be best addressed by an OMS, dentist or orthodontist.