NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Inc.

Preserving Your Jaw after Extraction: Socket Preservation

If you come to see us for an extraction, you may hear us talking about “socket preservation” or ”ridge augmentation”, and you might be wondering, what is that?

x-ray image of jaw painSocket preservation is a procedure we will sometimes recommend when you are having a tooth extracted. The bones that hold your teeth require frequent use to maintain their size and shape, otherwise they start to recede as they are no longer needed.

When a tooth is extracted, it leaves behind a hole (or “socket”) in the alveolar ridge bone, making it vulnerable to shrinkage. In fact, some studies show that bone loss can be 50% in the first 12 months after extraction.

You may be wondering, “Why does bone loss matter if I don’t have a tooth there anyway?” Unfortunately, without teeth and adequate bone structure, several unwanted oral health problems may occur:

  • Aesthetics: Without adequate bone structure and teeth, your smile starts to cave in in that area, causing undesirable aesthetic consequences. Your skin may begin to look shriveled over time and your smile will be unbalanced and unnatural.
  • Alignment Issues: Your teeth are always moving, particularly into open spaces. A hole on one side of your smile can lead to a severe shift of your teeth over time, affecting your smile and subsequently requiring orthodontic treatment.
  • Implant Complications: The damaged and recessed bone often ensures complications if you plan on getting a dental implant to replace the extracted tooth in the future.

This is where socket preservation comes in. Typically done at the end of your extraction procedure, we place bone-grafting material into the socket and a collagen membrane on top to encourage bone growth in the area. Because the procedure can be done at the same time as your extraction, no additional anesthesia or appointments are necessary.

If you are facing extraction, call us at NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Blacksburg Office Phone Number 540-951-8777 to see if socket preservation is an option for you – it could save your smile!

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

image of wisdom tooth emergingWe 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 540-951-8777 and we will go over your options with you!

Why do we have wisdom teeth anyway?

Wisdom teeth were once an extremely valuable asset to our ancestors. When a typical diet consisted of chewy plants and uncooked meat, third molars (wisdom teeth), which fit easily into our ancestors’ larger jaws, were absolutely necessary. Wisdom teeth were the evolutionary answer to the need for chewing power to combat excessive wear.

'girl with questions about wisdom teeth'Today, our diets are not as rough as those of our ancestors. With modern marvels like forks, spoons, and knives, as well as softer food, the need for wisdom teeth is virtually nonexistent. And yet, on average, about 65% of the human population is born with wisdom teeth which usually erupt between the ages 17 and 25.

Although wisdom teeth were incredibly advantageous for our ancestors, they pose a bit of a problem for the modern mouth. Humans have evolved to have smaller jaws, and so wisdom teeth are often either too big for the jaw or the jaws themselves are just too small. Either way, third molars crowd the mouth. Because of this lack of space, molars often grow sideways, only partially emerging from the gums, or actually get trapped inside the gums and jawbone.

These impacted wisdom teeth can be chronically contaminated with bacteria associated with infection, tooth decay, inflammation, and gum disease. And because they’re so far back in the mouth or trapped underneath gums, it’s difficult and sometimes impossible to keep them clean. Even when wisdom teeth come in fully, they are so far back in the mouth that it’s just too easy for food to get trapped, leading to plaque, cavities, and gum disease.

Although wisdom teeth were very important to our ancestors, nowadays, they pose a serious problem to oral health. Call NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ltd. to find out if your wisdom teeth are ready to come out!

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 “hyper-elastic 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 NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Blacksburg Office Phone Number 540-951-8777.

Dental Implant Success

What do you use your teeth for? Eating, drinking, speaking, laughing, the list goes on! How are these affected when you have tooth loss?

'dental implant in between normal teeth'

If you have missing teeth, you could be missing a lot! A very reliable and safe method for replacing teeth is dental implants.

Dental implants permanently attach prosthetic teeth to small posts or “roots” that are embedded in the jaw. These posts are made of titanium, and securely fuse to the jaw bone, this helps restore the full functionality of previously missing teeth.

Dental implants not only effectively and reliably replace missing teeth, but also help prevent the loss of jawbone density, restore the support of facial structures, and provide you with the support you need to effectively use your teeth.

The procedure for dental implants can be a quick and easy, and in some cases, can be done in a single day. Your implants become part of you, so they eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures. They also prevent the embarrassment of removing dentures at every snack or meal, as well as the need for denture adhesives.

Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain. Nearby teeth are not altered in order to support a dental implant, thus more of your own teeth are left intact, improving oral health in the long-term as well as your oral hygiene.

Dental implants are very durable, lasting several years, and if they are in good care, can last a lifetime.

Don’t miss out with missing teeth, get your smile back and feel better about yourself!

Here at NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ltd. we specialize in dental implants, so give us a call today on 540-951-8777 to discuss your future implant success!

How Wisdom Teeth Are Removed

Don’t be worried about your wisdom tooth extraction, let us outline the whole process for you:

'dentist holding wisdom tooth'

Treatment Development

During late adolescence, wisdom teeth start to appear and occasionally are accompanied by oral pain, as well as an increased risk of dental issues such as pericoronitis, gum disease, and tooth decay. Through evaluation, your oral surgeon will determine the number of wisdom teeth present, as well as how they are developing in relation to the rest of your teeth. Using advanced imaging technology, an oral surgeon will discover if the teeth are partially or fully impacted, and then will create a strategic treatment plan in order to remove the teeth and ensure successful recovery.

Preparation

Although sedation is not always necessary, many patients have found anesthesia to be helpful in relaxation and reducing pain during the procedure. If sedation is chosen, there are certain preparations that must be made: patients must enlist the help of family or friends to bring them back home after their surgery.

The Procedure

Local anesthesia is applied to the area. Then, a surgical tool is used to reveal the bone and tooth. After the tooth is clearly visible, it is removed. Once the tooth is extracted, the gums and bone are left to heal.

Healing

Following the procedure, there may be some swelling in the tissue and cheeks near the treatment site. To promote a successful recovery, patients should avoid strenuous activity, smoking, and eating hard foods. Patients should not touch the treatment area with their tongue, or use straws, as this could potentially dislodge the developing blood clots and expose the area to food and bacteria.

Wisdom tooth extraction can be an uncomplicated procedure that ultimately will protect your long-term oral health. For more information about wisdom tooth extraction, schedule your consultation at NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ltd. today!

Little, Medium, Big Dental 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 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, and depending on your situation. Outlined below are several different types of bone grafts:

 

'tooth with bone graft'Little Bone Graft

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 540-951-8777 today for a consultation with NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ltd.

Dental Implants 101

Whether you are missing a tooth, or at risk of losing many, dental implants may be a great solution for you. Dental implants are an increasingly popular fix for missing or dying teeth, and have many benefits.

'Dental Implants 101'What is a Dental Implant?

Dental implants are high tech teeth. The root of your current tooth is removed, and replaced with a screw attached to a ‘cap’ that looks identical to a natural tooth. Many people report higher confidence and comfort after receiving their new tooth.

What’s so Great About Them?

The cool thing about implants is that if taken care of, they can last for life. Usually all that needs to be replaced, if anything, is the cap. The other great thing about implants is that they can’t die like natural teeth. You still have to clean and maintain them like your other teeth, but no roots are any longer at risk of causing that tooth to fail. In addition to that, many implants can last a lifetime!

What is the Surgical Process Like?

The process is done either all at once, or in steps. This depends on the recommendations for your particular case. The first step is to remove the root of your natural tooth, and place the implant in its place. If there is not enough bone to place the implant, we may encourage you to have bone grafting first. The gum is then stitched closed and allowed to heal. This can take five to six months. The next step is to reopen the gum and place an abutment on the implant, along with a temporary crown so you can heal while the permanent crown is made for you. You then return to get your permanent crown attached in a few weeks. In other cases, all of these steps can be done in a single visit, but it depends on your specific case.

If you have any questions, please call our office for more information, we would be glad to help!

Types of Jaw Surgery

Your jaw consists of two parts; the maxilla or upper jaw and the mandible or lower jaw . Sometimes these are misaligned and need to be put back into place for bite reasons, or for aesthetic purposes. Corrective jaw surgery straightens or aligns the jaw, and is often referred to as “orthognathic” surgery; “orthos” meaning to straighten and “gnathic” relating to the jaw.

There are a few different types of jaw surgery, depending on which part of your jaw requires correcting;

'side profile of man'Maxillary Osteotomy (Upper Jaw)
This type of surgery corrects a significantly receded upper jaw, cross bite, or when you have too many or too few teeth showing. It also can adjust an open bite.

Mandibular Osteotomy (Lower Jaw)
This surgery corrects a significantly receded lower jaw. The surgeon moves the jawbone forwards or backwards depending on the best adjustment and bite alignment.

Genioplasty (Chin)
A deficient chin often accompanies a severely receded lower jaw. Typically, surgeons can alter the jaw and restructure the chin during the same surgery.

Once your jaw is aligned, tiny screws and plates hold the bone into position. These screws and plates are osseo integrated and are specially formulated to be compatible with your body. They become integrated with your bone over time and do not have to be taken out.

Extra bone can also be added to your jaw if there is insufficient bone. This can be grafted from your hip, leg, or rib.

Often these types of jaw surgeries are performed entirely inside the mouth without any evidence on the skin surface as to what procedure has been performed. There are no facial scars on the chin, jaw or around the mouth.

Often with extensive jaw surgery, the process is carried out after you have had braces, so your teeth are aligned and ready for your jaw to be moved. Braces are placed anywhere from 9 to 18 months before jaw surgery.

Jaw surgery can take up to 2 years to complete, but the results are for life! Know your jaw facts; Talk to us today to discuss your options!

Learning the Lingo – Dental Implants

Dental implants are a safe and effective replacement for a missing tooth or teeth. The implant is placed in your jawbone and integrates with your natural bone. This implant then forms a stable, sturdy base for your new teeth.

What They Are

Implant: The implant itself is a rod that is screwed into the jawbone.

Abutment: This is the connection between the implant and the crown.

Crown: A tooth shaped cap that is attached to the abutment. It is the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line.

What They’re Made Of

'tooth with dental implant vs regular tooth'Titanium: Most implants are typically made of titanium, a biocompatible metal.

Zirconia: Often used for crowns and bridges and can be used as a metal-free option. Zirconia is biocompatible just like titanium.

Where They Go

Endosteal Implants: Placed in the jawbone. These implants are typically shaped like small screws, cylinders or plates, and they are the most commonly used.

Subperiosteal Implants: Placed under the gum, but on or above the jawbone. These implants are mostly for people with smaller jaws or shallow jawbones.

What Happens To Them

Osseointegration: Creates strength and durability by fusing directly to the bone and is bio-compatible. Bone cells attach themselves directly to the titanium/zirconium surface, essentially locking the implant into the jaw bone. Osseointegrated implants can then be used to support prosthetic tooth replacements of various designs and functionality. Anything from a single tooth, to all teeth in the upper and lower jaws. The teeth/crowns are usually made to match the enamel color of the existing teeth to create a natural appearance.

Bone augmentation: Some people do not have enough healthy bone to support dental implants, so bone must be built. Procedures can include bone-grafting which means adding bone to the jaw.

Talk to us today at NRV Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Ltd. to discuss your options with an implant specialist!