Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center

Are You At Risk For Oral Cancer?

'oral cancer cells'Are You At Risk For Oropharyngeal Cancer?

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 Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 to schedule a screening today!

Where do Dental Implants come from?

children studying

Dental implants have a surprisingly rich and interesting history. Across centuries and throughout cultures around the world there is evidence of attempts at replacing missing teeth with various objects and materials.

The oldest dental implants can be traced back to 2000 BC in China, where missing teeth were substituted with bamboo pegs.

Fast forward a bit to around 1000 BC and you’ll find an ancient Egyptian King whose tomb was recently discovered along with his mummified remains; a copper peg hammered into place where a tooth once lived. This may have been the first time in history that we know of when metal implants were used.

Across the globe some time around 300 BC, an iron tooth was found in a French grave thought to be Celtic in origin. It is possible this implant may have been a post-mortem placement to honor the dead, as an attempt to perform the surgery using a live patient would have been an excruciatingly painful process.

Just 2000 years ago missing teeth were being substituted for animal teeth, and the poor were even selling their teeth to the wealthy, just to make ends meet! The body often rejected these surrogate teeth, causing infection.

More recently in 1931 in Honduras, Dr. Wilson Monroe and his wife found a jawbone amongst other artifacts, with teeth fashioned from shells and attached to the jawbone of an ancient man.

Today we are lucky enough to have dental implants that not only look and feel like real teeth, and anesthesia for the pain is also a plus. Thanks to studies conducted by Per-Ingvar Brånemark of Sweden in the 1950’s, oral surgeons have been able to perfect the process over the years to create today’s implants, which have a 98% success rate! Through a process known as osseointegration, metals and other implant materials are able to be skillfully placed so that your jaw bone actually attaches itself to the implant creating a seamless support system.

Missing a tooth or two? Give us a call at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 to discuss your dental implant options today!

Oral Cancer Among Men to Increase in 2017

man thinking about oral cancer

A recent study by the American Cancer Society reports that oral cancer cases in men is expected to increase in 2017 by 4%, while the rate of new cases among women stays the same year over year. “Oral Cancer”, which is a common way to refer to all head and neck cancers, involves cancer of the oral cavity, lips, tongue, pharynx and esophagus.

Unfortunately, oral cancers often go undetected until their later stages when they are more difficult to treat, giving them an even worse reputation than many other cancers.

Oral cancer is more likely in those who:

  • Drink Alcohol Excessively (more than 2 drinks a day for men and more than 1 drink a day for women)
  • Smoke or Chew Tobacco
  • Have HPV (certain strains of the HPV virus are known to cause oral and other cancers)

HPV and Oral Cancer

Along with the rise of HPV among men has come the rise of oral cancers as well. Unfortunately, it has now been estimated that half of U.S. men are infected with HPV. While most of these will not go on to develop cancer, certainly, these increases may continue to create a rise in head and neck cancers until the disease is brought under control.

What You Can Do

Prevention and detection are the most important things when it comes to the fight against oral cancer. With early detection, we can do better for survival rates and, as we have seen with general cancer cases, prevention in the form of abstaining from tobacco and drinking in moderation can reduce the number of cases over time. In order to protect yourself and your family and help us with survival rates, we urge you to see us for an oral cancer screening. It only takes a few minutes for us to examine you – and it could save your life.

For more information on oral cancer, call us at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 or visit oralcancerfoundation.org.

Autograft Vs. Allograft

woman smiling with perfect smile

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 Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000. 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.

3D Printers and Bone Grafting

3d bone grafting There is exciting news in bone grafting technology that will hopefully find its way into the oral surgeon’s office over the next decade! Researchers have been able to create a synthetic bone material using 3D printers that may be better than what is being used now.

3D printers create three-dimensional objects out of a variety of materials using a computer as a precise guide. Although the concept has been in the news a lot recently, the practice actually dates back to before the 21st century. In fact, 3d printing’s roots go back to the early 1980s. Since then, everything from jewelry to synthetic human organs has been printed, much to the amazement of modern society!

And now, surgeons have successfully implanted the 3D-printed synthetic bone grafting material into animals with bone defects. This “hyperelastic bone” was made using just the right combination of bioactive materials and polymers to make a material that could be layered while still wet, allowing for better adherence between layers.

Here are some of the expected benefits of this new material:

  • Very elastic, allowing for cutting without crumbling, which can be a problem with current grafting materials.
  • Blood vessels move in quickly because the material is porous.
  • Biodegradable as the body replaces it with genuine tissue.
  • Doesn’t dry out right away.
  • So far the animals haven’t rejected the implant, which could mean less complications for humans as well.
  • Could be a great option for children since it will grow with them.

While human trials are potentially five or more years away, the news is very exciting for the surgical community, and we are can’t wait to see what benefits this will bring to our patients.

To find out more about bone grafting in general or to set up a consultation with our office, please call us at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000.

Immunotherapy and Oral Cancer

woman thinking about oral cancer You may have heard: Immunotherapy is proving to be very promising in the treatment of a variety of cancers, in particular lung cancer and advanced melanoma. However, immunotherapy has not found its way (yet!) into the treatment regimen for head and neck cancers.

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is the process of enlisting the patient’s own immune system in the fight against cancer cells. Several drugs have been used successfully to aid in the treatment of advanced lung cancers and melanoma, giving patients a longer prognosis in many cases.

Cancer Cells are Tricky

Cancer cells are notoriously sneaky – their ability to hide from immune cells is one of the reasons that cancer is so hard to treat. This is where “checkpoint inhibitors”, one of the most common classes of immunotherapy drugs in cancer treatment, come in. These drugs help to block the activation of proteins that help cancer cells hide from immune cells.

The Connection with Oral Cancer

Recurring head and neck cancers are very difficult to treat. Often they are resistant to the best chemotherapy drugs, so the hope has always been that immunotherapy drugs may some day step in to assist with the oral pathology fight. A recent trial in the UK has shown that the day may be coming sooner than we thought! The trial proved successful in extending prognosis for many of the patients.

Reduced Side Effects

The research also noted that side effects were reduced to give patients a better quality of life during treatment.

More Testing Needed

While more research is needed before the drugs receive FDA approval for the treatment of oral cancer, the good news is that because these drugs are already approved and on the market for other cancers, the application process for use in oral cancers will be quicker (and smoother) than it would be for a new drug.

At Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center, our commitment to your care, comfort, health and safety is evident from the minute you walk through our door. Call us at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 for more information about oral cancer.

Missing Teeth: More than Just a Gap in Your Smile

man smiling with dental implants While it is true that the most obvious effect of missing teeth is a gap in your smile, missing teeth can cause other problems that you might not be immediately aware of. For example, did you know that for every missing tooth you have you lose 10 percent of your chewing ability? Read on to get a better idea of how a missing tooth can affect your life.

Surrounding Teeth

A missing tooth usually means more stress for the remaining teeth. In addition to that, if you are missing a tooth on the lower jaw, the opposing tooth on the top can grow longer to fill the gap in a process known as superuption or extrusion. This could lead to teeth tilting and move out of place by drifting into the space that was left by your missing tooth – a disaster for your beautiful smile!

Digestive Health

If you are missing teeth, you can’t enjoy all of the foods that you are used to eating – bad for your health and bad for your mood! Say goodbye to caramel apples, saltwater taffy, crunchy carrots and even gum. And because the variety in your diet is reduced when a tooth is missing, digestive problems are unfortunate yet common.

Decay and Hygiene Problems

The shifting of your teeth may cause new hygiene issues as it may be difficult to brush and floss like you normally would. This leaves your mouth more vulnerable to gum disease and tooth decay.

Facial Aesthetics

People with more than one missing tooth may also have issues with a collapsed bite which causes a loss of vertical dimension. This could make your face appear shorter, as the distance between the tip of your nose and your chin would decrease.

The good news is that you don’t have to suffer anymore! Dental implants can help you avoid all of the problems listed above and let you live your life normally again. It’s never too late for a dental implant, give us a call at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 to find out about this life-changing procedure.

Oral & Oropharyngeal Cancers

oropharyngeal cancer cellsWorldwide, over 550,000 new cases of Oral, Head and Neck cancer are diagnosed each year.

Oropharyngeal cancer is slightly different from oral cancer. Oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV (Human papilloma virus) and usually occur in the tonsils or at the base of the tongue, while oral cancers are in the mouth and usually associated with tobacco use.

The Oral Cavity

The oral cavity includes the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks, the teeth, the gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the floor of the mouth below the tongue, and the bony roof of the mouth – also known as the hard palate.

The Orpharynx

Behind the wisdom teeth is considered the oropharynx, which is part of the throat just behind the mouth. It also includes the base of the tongue, the soft palate (back of the mouth), the tonsils, and the side and back wall of the throat.

Categories

Oral and Oropharyngeal cancers are sorted into 3 categories: Benign (non-cancerous), harmless growths that may develop into cancer, and cancerous tumors. This is why regular check-ups with your dental professional are key to your overall well-being.

The Team Involved

The treatment of head and neck cancers does not involve just your dental team, the assistance of many different professionals contributes is required. There may be surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and speech therapists all involved in your treatment.

Oral cancers are found as late stage three and four diseases about 66% of the time.

It is very important for you to check yourself at home as well as visiting your dentist.

Call Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center to schedule your routine dental check up and oral cancer screening today 925-294-4000

Dental Implant Recovery

Dental implants, titanium posts that are placed within your jawbone, are an excellent option for restoring missing teeth. The process of getting dental implants typically takes a few appointments over the span of several months, and since the strength of dental implants comes from their fusion with the jawbone, proper healing from this surgery is absolutely essential. Here are some tips for a speedy and well-healed recovery!

Prepare

One of the best ways to promote a speedy recovery is to properly prepare for dental implant placement. Get ready for your procedure by:dental implants
● Getting plenty of sleep
● Avoiding smoking or drinking excessively
● Maintain your oral health! Brush twice a day and floss once a day!
● Arrange for someone to drive you to and from your procedure
● Plan to take some time off work so you can really focus on resting and recovering
● Pick up post-surgical prescriptions, gauze, cold compresses, and any other supplies
● Ask for a recovery timeline
Getting ready before your dental implant surgery can make a huge difference in the recovery afterwards!

Recovery Time Factors

Recovery time for the dental implants procedure depends on several factors. While each patient’s case is slightly different, these following factors are the main contributors to healing time:
● The number of implants: Having a single implant may take less recovery time than multiple implant placement.
● Whether or not you require preparatory procedures such as bone grafting
● Your oral and overall health: the healthier you are, the easier it will be for you to heal quickly.
Your oral surgeon will explain your unique estimated recovery time based on these and other factors at your initial consultation.

After Your Surgery

After the procedure, the healing process can be sped up through:
● Biting down on gauze to staunch the bleeding
● Avoiding any activity that could put pressure on your mouth
● Taking proper prescribed medication
● Eating soft foods and avoiding chewing near the treatment area
● Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater between meals
● Using a cold compress to reduce swelling
● Gently retaining oral health routines like brushing and flossing

Following these guidelines, you will be able to heal comfortably and successfully!

To learn more about this treatment, or schedule a consultation, call 925-294-4000 and come see us at Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center today!

Little Medium Big Bone Grafts

Bone grafting is a straightforward procedure that is immensely beneficial for numerous reasons. In the instance of a missing tooth (or teeth), the jaw bone can begin to slowly degrade. The jaw bone is what holds teeth in place, and once a tooth is no longer present, the bone doesn’t have anything to support. There are different types of bone grafts available depending on your situation. Outlined below are several different types of bone grafts:

Little Bone Graft

'bone graft' 'bone tissue'In the case of a simple, single lost tooth, the ideal course of action is to not lose excess bone. In this process, sterile, demineralized human bone granules are packed into the tooth socket immediately after tooth extraction. This procedure is very simple, and does not add anything to your recovery time. Over the next several weeks, your own bone will fill the tooth socket and preserve the bone height enough for you to have the area restored.

Medium Bone Grafts

If a tooth was removed a long time ago, there is likely to already be some bone loss impeding the restoration of the area. In this case, the area of the missing tooth is opened with a small incision, the bone surface is prepared, and demineralized bone graft granules are used to build up the area. Many surgeons prefer to use a little bit of the patient’s own bone in this procedure in order to ensure the best results possible. If your own bone is used, your surgeon will take it from another area of the jaw bone, usually near the wisdom tooth area, shaving off tiny granules and combining them with the demineralized bone. The bone graft will heal and integrate with the surrounding bone tissue. This type of graft can be used for one or multiple areas of missing teeth.

Big Bone Graft

Patients who have many missing teeth and who have been missing many teeth for many years, have often experienced advanced bone loss. In those who wear dentures, the lower jaw bone often recedes so severely that they can no longer wear them. Extensive bone grafting is necessary in order to consider restorative methods. A combination of demineralized, sterile human bone and the patient’s own bone is used to restore the jaw bone, creating enough width and height to consider dental implants. The patient’s bone is supplied by another part of the jaw, hip, or tibia. Bone granules are also used to enhance and strengthen the graft.

Bone grafting is a surgical procedure that takes time. However, it plays an essential role in making new teeth possible, and will ultimately be a positive process! For more information, call 925-294-4000 today for a consultation with Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center