Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center

What You Should Know About Dental Implants

woman smiling dental chair

If you are looking for an alternative to dentures and would like to replace your missing teeth, dental implants may be for you. Dental implants are a popular long-term method for restoring your smile. Many people decide to get dental implants after they have experienced loss of teeth due to variety of reasons. Dental implants give you back your freedom from missing teeth.

Who gets dental implants?

Those who are in overall good health and are looking for a long-term solution for their missing teeth are candidates for dental implants. This includes those who are tired of dentures and are looking for a more comfortable and convenient alternative.

What are the advantages of dental implants?

There are many advantages of getting dental implants, including:

  • Convenience: dental implants are a long-term option for replacing missing teeth. They have the added benefit of being a permanent fixture in your mouth unlike dentures that can be abrasive to the gums and can cause difficulty speaking.
  • Easier eating: you may have found that eating has become more difficult with missing teeth. A dental implant allows for more efficient chewing and will allow you to enjoy your favorite foods once again.
  • Improved appearance: Dental implants look and feel like real teeth. They can be designed with the same color and shape as your surrounding teeth, making them natural looking
  • Confidence: Dental implants can give you a youthful appearance and increased self-esteem. You may find yourself smiling more than ever with your new implants.

How do I care for my dental implant?

The great thing about dental implants is that they require the same care as real teeth. This means regular brushing, flossing and routine dental checkups. If taken care of properly, your new implant can last you a lifetime!

If you are interested in dental implants, contact Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 to set up a dental implant consultation.

Smoking and Oral Cancer

doctor breaking cigarette

Oral cancer is a cancer that develops within the mouth or oral cavity. But it doesn’t just affect the mouth, it can involve the lips, tongue, throat, salivary glands, pharynx, larynx and sinuses. There are many factors that can cause oral cancer, but smoking is one of the biggest lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of disease. The Mouth Cancer Foundation found that 90% of those with oral cancer consumed tobacco. When you combine heavy use of alcohol and tobacco, the risk is even greater.

Oral Cancer Statistics

9,750 people die from oral cancer each year in the U.S, and oral cancer represents about 4% of all cancers and 2.2% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. After reading those stats, you might be wondering how you can avoid being a part of these grim numbers.

Preventing Oral Cancer

The first step is to choose a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to eat a balanced diet, exercise, avoid alcohol (or drink in moderation) and avoid tobacco usage altogether. But it’s also important to recognize all the signs and symptoms of oral cancer so that it can be caught early on.

Here are a few oral pathology signs to watch out for:

  • Feeling of a lump or object in your throat
  • Numbness, pain or tenderness in your mouth and tongue
  • Troubling moving your jaw or tongue with chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
  • Lingering sore throat

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, contact our office today. In addition to that, we urge you to have regular oral cancer screenings in our office. We offer oral cancer examinations to all our patients. The earlier the cancer it detected, the quicker we can help you. Call our office today at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 to schedule your screening appointment.

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

wisdom tooth

We all know that for most people, wisdom teeth need to be removed in order to prevent serious dental problems! But have you ever wondered, what exactly is a wisdom tooth? Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that typically grow in during a person’s late teens/early twenties.

Why are they called “wisdom” teeth?

Formally known as “third molars”, wisdom teeth developed their name due to the late nature of their arrival, at an age where people are “wiser” than when their other teeth grow in (during childhood).

What is their purpose?

Today, wisdom teeth are no longer needed in order for us to process food. Back in the day, however, when the human diet consisted of tough meats and fibrous vegetables, an extra molar was needed to break down food. Scientists have not discovered a common day use for wisdom teeth, as they are not needed for chewing modern food.

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Over the years, human jaws have become much smaller, making the space too crowded for wisdom teeth. Therefore, when wisdom teeth start growing in, they push on the teeth that have already established themselves. Once they start pushing on other teeth, the alignment of a person’s mouth is affected. Wisdom teeth can easily become “impacted”. This means that they are trapped underneath a person’s gums and are unable to fully erupt, which can be painful. Since wisdom teeth aren’t needed and can affect your smile and health negatively, we recommend that most people have them removed. For the few pepole that don’t get their wisdom teeth removed, serious dental health problems can occur down the road.

If you’re curious about the status of your wisdom teeth – contact us today at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 and we will go over your options with you!

5 Things You Might Not Know About Oral Cancer

maroon oral cancer ribbonOral cancer consists of any head and neck cancer (excluding brain cancers – which is its own category). The death rate of oral cancer is unfortunately very high because people find out about oral cancer too late. This is why it is important to practice regular self-examinations in order to be proactive and seek treatment early.

1. 450,000 new oral cancer cases are discovered worldwide each year

While this number is only an estimate, it shows how many people are being affected by oral cancer and why this topic should be taken seriously.

2. HPV is a leading cause of oral cancer

There are many strains of HPV, but HPV-16 in particular has a strong connection to oral cancer. Most HPV strains cause warts or cervical cancer and some have a small connection to oral cancer. For people with HPV, it is important to practice regular oral self-exams in order to be proactive about oral cancer.

3. Oral cancer affects more men than women

Oral cancer affects men over women on a 2:1 ratio. This correlation may be due to men smoking and drinking more than women, although studies have shown oral cancer among women is on the rise. No matter your gender – practice clean oral health practices.

4. Alcohol and tobacco are huge risk factors

These two risk factors are considered lifestyle risk factors. When you think of smoking heavily, your first thought probably is lung cancer. However, that is not the only cancer that smoking causes, as roughly 80% of people with oral cancer are heavy smokers. Alcohol is another huge risk factor as 70% of oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers.

5. If oral cancer is discovered early enough, the cure rate is around 90%

The biggest concern about oral cancer is that it is not discovered soon enough. That is why it is important not to overlook any suspicious bumps that appear in your mouth, and to give your oral surgeon a call as soon as you see it.

Head and neck cancers are not usually discovered soon enough. Make sure you are practicing regular self-examinations, and contact our office today at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 for an oral cancer screening!

The Most Common Types of Bone Grafting

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

What is Bone Grafting?

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

Types of Bone Grafting:h2>
• Socket Preservation: After tooth extraction, the empty socket is filled with bone grafting material to preserve the bone in the site for tooth replacement in the future.
• Sinus Lift: The sinuses lie above the upper jawbone and are filled with air. If the upper jawbone has receded, we lift the sinus membrane and fill the space underneath it with grafting material to bulk up the bone for upper implants.
• Ridge Augmentation: As with socket preservation, ridge augmentation involves the filling the site of an extracted tooth, however, bone loss has already occurred in this case as the extraction was done months or years before.
• Nerve Repositioning: The nerve that gives feeling to the bottom lip and chin is known as the inferior alveolar nerve. Sometimes this nerve must be relocated in order to place a lower jaw implant. The nerve is moved, and the pockets left behind are filled with bone grafting material to prepare for a dental implant.

If you have been told you need bone grafting and aren’t sure what to expect, please give us a call at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000.

FAQs: Wisdom Teeth

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

We invite you to read through our frequently asked questions about wisdom teeth and the extraction process and call us at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000 if you have any questions.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

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

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

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted?

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

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

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

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

When is it okay to keep my wisdom teeth?

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

When should I get my wisdom teeth extracted?

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

If your teen hasn’t yet had his or her wisdom teeth evaluation, please give our office a call at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000.

A Better Breakfast for a Better Smile

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

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

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

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

Overnight Oats:

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

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

Avocado Toast:

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

How to Care for Implants

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you think a dental implant may be right for you, call Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center at 925-294-4000 to schedule a consultation with us.

Dental Implants: The Recovery

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

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

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

As you can see, the recovery process after receiving a dental implant is fairly predictable and comfortable. It is important to follow the instructions that we give you at Pacific Oral & Facial Surgery Center, and to always remember that if you have any questions or concerns regarding a procedure or following your surgery, you can always give us a call at Livermore Office Phone Number 925-294-4000.

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!