Katy Periodontology & Oral Surgery

How to Check Yourself for Oral Cancer

How to Check Yourself for Oral Cancer

The first and most important thing to remember is oral cancer is often painless! The second rule to remember is that if you aren’t sure, ask! Its better to ask now and be sure than to wish you had asked. There are no dumb questions when it comes to looking for oral cancer. And, most importantly: any suspicious area that doesn’t resolve on its own in 14 days should be checked out ASAP.

The key to eliminating oral cancer is to act on it early. Here are some things to check regularly.

Your Tongue
Look for lumps and bumps on the upper and lower surfaces of your tongue. Feel around for odd textures, bumps, discoloration or swelling. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth to peek underneath. Don’t limit your search to the red flags above. Use your fingers and your vision.

Your Cheeks
Gently feel your cheeks for bumps and swelling. You can do this by placing your finger on the interior and your thumb outside your cheek. Lightly squeeze and feel around for anomalies.

Your Lips
Take a good look at the interior of your lips with a hand mirror. Keep an eye out for the same signs. Lips are harder to be sure about because they are constantly drying, wetting, and being scraped as we eat and speak. Nonetheless, lips are prone to cancer given that they re always exposed to sunlight. Better safe than sorry.

Your Head/Neck Area
Closely examine your head and neck for lumps and protrusions. A bump or lack of uniformity is absolutely worth checking out. Ask us at your next visit to check out your throat too. Keep an eye out for sensitivity and soreness.

With oral cancer, the key is to keep your eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Anything that seems strange is worth noting and calling our office about.

Call us today for a check up!

Gum Disease: Locating a Silent Adversary

Gum Disease- Locating a Silent Adversary

Gum disease is often a silent disease. It can progress painlessly and in the later stages of the disease, you still may not notice the subtle signs that point to serious problems. That means that gum disease can creep up on you from the shadows. Don’t allow this to happen! A simple check-up in our office can detect signs of gum disease, allowing us to help you develop a plan to stop it in its tracks. Halting the progression of this disease is very important. If it is allowed to progress, the procedures we must use to stop it become more invasive, leading to more expense and pain down the road.

Give us a call if you notice any of these gum disease indicators or if it has been a while since you had your gums examined:

  • Bleeding gums during/after tooth brushing or flossing. Unless you’re brushing extremely hard (bad for your enamel) you shouldn’t be bleeding from your gums. We can help you determine if the blood that you notice in the sink is connected to gum disease.
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums. Changes in the appearance of gum tissue or sensitive gums are also common symptoms of gum disease. Some patients may even have receding gums.
  • Persistent bad breath. Your bad breath may not just be because of the coffee you had this morning. Bad flossing habits can lead to plaque collecting in the area between teeth making them especially prone to gum inflammation. Another symptom similar to this is a bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away.
  • Loose or shifting teeth. Some people with periodontal disease may experience movement or migration of their teeth. The rate of movement will depend on the particular type of gum disease you have. This can make major changes to the way your teeth fit together and your smile overall. Help us to catch this symptom early!

Depending on the type of gum disease, some of the available treatment options include:

  • Removal of plaque and calculus through scaling.
  • Medication.
  • Surgery in order to stop or minimize the progression.

If you are concerned that you may have gum disease, contact us to schedule a consultation and learn more about the disease. Call us today!

The Miracle of Bone Grafting

The Miracle of Bone GraftingBone grafting is something of a miracle. Although you only get one set of bones, it’s actually possible to convince your body to repair itself with new bone material where you need it most. We aren’t talking about growing a whole femur. We’re talking about growing just enough bone material to strengthen weak spots in your jaw.

Why would I ever need this?
Let’s say you need a dental implant. You’re sick of that hole in your mouth where one of your teeth used to be, and you’re ready for a shiny new tooth to fill the gap. The problem is, your bone just isn’t strong enough to support the implant. Maybe you have periodontal disease, and the jaw bone is just too weak. Bone grafting may be necessary.

How does it work?
Simply put, bone grafting is the process of taking a little bone material from another site in your body and placing it where it is most needed. The healthy bone then fuses with the weak bone and encourages your body to grow more bone in the site, rebuilding the area to the point where it can support an implant.

There are a few ways to do this.
Sophisticated sounding terms to impress your friends:

  • Autogenous bone graft: Bone is removed from another site in your body and transplanted to where you need it. If you need just a little bone, it can be taken from another site in your mouth. But if there is not enough good material in your mouth, or you need a sizable amount, it can be taken from your hip, or your shin.
  • Allograft: Synthetic bone can be grown in a lab, or taken from a cadaver bone. This is a perfectly safe, proven procedure, though your best bet is always your own bone material. Your body knows there’s just no place like home.
  • Xenograft: Cow bone. Yes. Your body will accept cow bone. In this scenario, no secondary donor site is needed, so it may be a great option if you are uncomfortable with having bone taken from another site in your body. This is a perfectly safe procedure. Your jaw can be beefed up with bovine bone.

No online article will let you know for sure whether or not you need bone grafting, but it is good to know something about it. Give us a call and come on down for a consultation, and we’ll let you know exactly what we think the best option is for you.

Facial Trauma: Let a Pro Handle Your Injury

Facial Trauma Let a Pro Handle Your Injury

Facial trauma is a term that covers an array of conditions. There are soft tissue injuries, bone injuries, and injuries to special regions (including nerves, glands, or eyes).

Soft Tissue Injury
Suturing repairs laceration to soft tissue. These can be dissolvable stiches that your body absorbs, or artificial material that must be taken out later. Suturing facilitates faster healing, avoiding infection, and more cosmetically pleasing results. The main concern here is that you heal from the procedure looking as good as you did before your injury, and so we are always sure to closely examine you for nerve and gland damage. Your healing time will depend on the seriousness of your injury, and we can inform you on what to expect.

Bone Injury
We can’t put a cast on your face. How great is that? The alternatives depend on who/what/where/when of your particular case. In the case of a serious jaw fracture, we want to immobilize the fracture the same way a cast would. Since a cast is out of the question, we may wire the jaws together and use tiny plates and screws to hold the bone in the right place. While this sounds extreme, it leads to faster recovery time and a more rapid return to proper function.

Tooth Injury
Tooth injuries are very common, and just like the above injuries, require procedures that vary depending on the case. If your tooth gets chipped or knocked out, place it milk or salt water, and then call your dentist or our office immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that your tooth will survive. Also, don’t wipe the tooth off, as you could destroy important ligaments.

As you can see, facial trauma is a very complex, very delicate issue. If left in the wrong hands, the injury could heal in a less than preferable way, which could then necessitate another surgery to fix the results of the last one. If you have an accident, make sure you give our office a call so that we can handle your case, and get you looking good as new.

Dental Implants: FAQ

Dental Implant FAQ

We know that people often have questions about implants, so we have put together this page to answer those common questions:

What is a dental implant?
Implants are artificial teeth that function exactly like your natural teeth. We take a titanium screw, attach it to your jaw, allow the jaw to grow around the screw, and then fit the new tooth in right where the old one used to be. It will feel exactly like your old tooth used to when you had it.

How quick is the procedure?
It depends on just how strong and healthy your jaw is. Your jaw may very well be ready to receive the new tooth quickly, but it may also take time to grow around the screw. If your jaw is weak, we can also transplant bone from other parts of your body first, via another procedure called “bone grafting”, to grow a fresh, strong base where the screw can be inserted. If that is the case, the whole process takes more time, but again, it depends on your case.

Does it hurt?
No. Medications and anesthesia are available to reduce or eliminate pain. You shouldn’t feel a thing.

Since it’s an artificial tooth, do I need to care for it as if it were alive?
You should clean and maintain your implant exactly like you do with your living teeth. Though the implant isn’t going to die, it can still allow bacteria to build up, like your other teeth do. Clean all of your teeth with care, and they should all stay healthy.

How long do they last?
If your implant is taken good care of, it should last a long, long time. Perhaps 40 years and sometimes even a lifetime!

What should I eat after the procedure?
Eat soft food. We will help you decide on a diet that works for you depending on the specifics of your case and treatment.

Have more questions? Call us! We would be glad to set up an evaluation.

Bite Sized Wisdom: Facts on Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, the late blooming elder teeth of your mouth, behave a little differently than your other teeth.

Know the facts:

  • Bite Sized Wisdom- Knowing the Facts on Wisdom TeethWisdom teeth get their name from the time frame at which they finally show up in your mouth. They typically appear in a person’s late teens or early twenties, sometimes called “The Age of Wisdom,” though your parents may disagree.
  • Wisdom teeth cause trouble because they often grow at odd angles. This makes it hard for them to break out of your gum, if at all.
  • Another reason wisdom teeth often can’t get out of gums is because there is not enough room for them. The plus side is that this could be because you’ve kept your teeth nice and straight.
  • Some people never grow wisdom teeth!
  • Wisdom teeth, among other teeth, house valuable stem cells that can be saved to help you treat other conditions you may have down the road. A pearl of wisdom for you.
  • Wisdom teeth removal, with proper sedation, is painless. The tough part is recovery, which can last a few days to several weeks. Following your physician’s instructions will help you through recovery as quickly as possible.
  • In ancient times, when diets were harder on teeth, wisdom teeth made more sense. People couldn’t influence the way their teeth moved around so it was easier for wisdom teeth to find space to pop in. With today’s high-quality dental care, wisdom teeth aren’t necessary.
  • Given that most people end up removing these teeth surgically, research is being done to find ways to prevent their growth altogether. This would save a trip to the surgeon!
  • You may or may not ever notice that your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Some people notice some pain or irritation, some notice nothing at all. Making an appointment with our office is the only way to know for sure.
  • Most people have four wisdom teeth. It’s possible to have fewer or more than four, though it’s very uncommon.

Wisdom teeth can be quirky and troublesome. To make sure you or your child’s wisdom teeth aren’t creating difficulties down the road, make an appointment with us today!

Wisdom Teeth FAQs

Our 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.

Wisdom-Tooth-FAQWhy 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.

 

10 Facts About Jaw Surgery

Jaw surgery, as with any operation, is a very serious matter, one that takes careful thought by both the patient and the doctor. If you have been considering jaw surgery but aren’t sure what to do, you may want to take into account some of these interesting facts:

  1. 10 Facts About Jaw SurgeryIn Latin, “orthognathic” means to straighten (“ortho”) the jaws (“gnathia”).
  2. The goal of reconstructive jaw surgery is to improve the bite and function. However, many patients also experience an improvement in appearance and speech after surgery!
  3. Misalignment of the jaws can be caused by birth defects, injuries or because the upper or lower jaw have grown at different rates.
  4. Aligning your jaws can also save your teeth by minimizing excessive wear and tear.
  5. Jaw surgery is sometimes used to improve TMJ symptoms and provide relief for sleep apnea.
  6. Jaw surgery can even improve “gummy” or “toothless” smiles!
  7. An orthodontist can straighten teeth. So if your bite or smile is crooked because of the position of your teeth, an orthodontist can treat you. However, if your bite is off because of the position of your jaws, only an oral surgeon can thoroughly remedy the situation. We work with your orthodontist before and after surgery for a comprehensive approach to your bite and smile.
  8. Some patients require a hospital stay for a few days, however the average patient returns home the day of surgery.
  9. The time range for returning to school or work post-surgery is 1-3 weeks.
  10. Healing is usually complete within 9-12 months.

 

4 Surprising Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

Common symptoms of Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder such as jaw pain, clicking or popping of the jaw and clenching are well known, but did you know that you can experience symptoms of TMJ disorders throughout your whole body? TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose when your symptoms are not restricted to the jaw area, so to make diagnosis easier we’ve listed some symptoms you might be surprised to find out are related to TMJ disorders!

  1. 4-Surprising-Signs-of-TMJ-DisordersEarache: Because the jaw muscles run from ear to ear, TMJ related jaw pain can also trigger ear pain, which is often mistaken for an ear infection. The pain actually doesn’t come from the ear at all, but originates directly beneath or in front of the ear.
  2. Neck pain: The temporomandibular joint plays a major role in keeping the head balanced on top of the spinal chord. The head weighs roughly 8 pounds, but bad posture due to joint misalignment causes this weight to be distributed unevenly, putting added stress on the neck and spine and causing the head to have a 30-pound pull on your muscles. No wonder neck and back pain are symptoms of TMJ disorders!
  3. Pinched nerves: When TMJ alignment is skewed, your muscles overwork themselves to compensate for the imbalance. The back is prone to TMJ related pain, as it becomes strained in order to maintain the body’s balance. This tension can lead to numbness in your extremities, so if you’re experiencing any tingling sensations in your arms, legs, fingers or toes, it could be a sign of a TMJ disorder.
  4. Obstructed airways: The tongue is attached to the lower jaw, so the position of the tongue in the mouth depends on your jaw alignment. Misalignment of the lower jaw could cause your tongue to sit too far back in the mouth and obstruct your airways. If your breathing feels abnormal, especially while sleeping, a TMJ disorder could be the culprit.

We hope that reading about these lesser-known symptoms will answer some of your questions about TMJ disorders. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with us to learn about your treatment options!

6 Reasons for Considering Dental Implants

Loss of permanent teeth is more common than you’d think. The average adult age 20-34 is missing 1 permanent tooth, the average adult age 35-49 is missing 3 permanent teeth, and the average adult over the age of 50 is missing 6 permanent teeth! There are a variety of different tooth replacement options, but we believe that dental implants offer the most success, with the best aesthetics and functionality. Take a look at just a few of the many benefits of dental implants!

  1. 6 Reasons-for-Considering-Dental-ImplantsLong-lasting. Dental implants are designed to be the permanent solution for missing teeth. Dental bridges last 5-10 years and crowns last 10-15 years, but dental implants can last 20 years, even a lifetime with proper dental care, making them a cost-efficient alternative to other modes of tooth replacement.
  2. No cavities. Because they are made of titanium, dental implants are not subject to decay. They also don’t put stress on other teeth, which helps avoid tooth erosion.
  3. Like natural teeth. Dental implants are natural-looking and fully functional. Unlike dentures, which are bulky and removable, cause sores and require the application of adhesive, dental implants are comfortable, permanent fixtures that don’t interfere with eating or speaking. And, because pressure is applied to the jaw bone when you bite down on dental implants, chewing with dental implants doesn’t feel any different from chewing with your natural teeth.
  4. Preserve jaw bone. Without a tooth to support, the jaw bone begins to atrophy, and this bone degradation makes the replacement of missing teeth nearly impossible without the help of jaw regenerative procedures such as bone grafting.
  5. Appearance. Your teeth play an important role in supporting your facial structure. Missing teeth can cause your features to sag and your face to lose shape, which tends to have an aging effect. Replacing missing teeth works wonders for improving your appearance and helping you look younger.
  6. Tooth stability. When you’re missing a tooth, your surrounding teeth are no longer stabilized and they start to shift out of position. Dental implants secure teeth in place and, as a result, prevent severe problems such as periodontal disease and further tooth loss.

Schedule a consultation with us if you’re ready to transform your smile!