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A Guide to Recovery after Oral Surgery

August 15th, 2019

You’ve chosen an oral surgeon for your extraction procedure because oral surgeons have years of surgical training in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions in the face, mouth, and jaw. If you need a tooth extraction, whether for an impacted wisdom tooth, a badly damaged tooth, or for any other reason, Dr. Bentz and our team will use our training and experience to ensure that you have the best possible surgical outcome.

And we want to make sure you have the best possible outcome for your recovery as well. What can you do at home to speed the healing process? Here are a few of the most common aftercare suggestions for making your post-extraction healing as comfortable and rapid as possible.

  • Reduce Swelling

Ice packs or cold compresses can reduce swelling. We’ll instruct you how to use them if needed, and when to call us if swelling persists.

  • Reduce Bleeding

Some amount of bleeding is normal after many types of oral surgery. We might give you gauze pads to apply to the area, with instructions on how much pressure to apply and how long to apply it. We will also let you know what to do if the bleeding continues longer than expected.

  • Reduce Pain or Discomfort

If you have some pain after surgery, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen might be all that you need. We can recommend those which are best for you. If you need a prescription for pain medication, be sure to take it as directed and always let us know in advance if you have any allergies or other reactions to medications.

  • Recovery-friendly Diet

Take it easy for the first few days after oral surgery. Liquids and soft foods are best for several days following surgery. We will let you know what type of diet is indicated and how long you should follow it depending on your particular procedure. We might, for example, recommend that you avoid alcohol and tobacco, spicy, crunchy, and chewy foods, and hot foods or beverages for several days or several weeks.

  • Take Antibiotics If Needed

If you have been prescribed an antibiotic, be sure to take it as directed. If you have any allergies to antibiotics, let us know in advance.

  • Protect the Wound

Do NOT use straws, smoke, or suck on foods. Avoid spitting.  Part of the healing process can involve the formation of a clot over the surgical site which protects the wound. If the clot is dislodged by suction or spitting, it can prolong your recovery time, or even lead to a potentially serious condition called “dry socket.”

  • Maintain Oral Hygiene

Depending on your surgery, we might recommend that you avoid rinsing your mouth for 24 hours, use salt water rinses when appropriate, and keep away from the surgical site when brushing. It’s important to keep your mouth clean, carefully and gently.

  • Take it Easy!

Rest the day of your surgery and keep your activities light in the days following.

These are general guidelines for recovery. If you have oral surgery scheduled at our East Norriton, PA office, we will supply you with instructions for your specific procedure, and can tailor your aftercare to fit any individual needs. Our goal is to make sure that both your surgery and your recovery are as comfortable as possible.

Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

August 8th, 2019

If you have lost a tooth or teeth, dental implants can restore your smile. Implants look natural, don’t impact the healthy teeth around them, and protect the underlying bone from the bone loss that can be caused by a missing tooth.

One important prerequisite for a successful implant: the bone in the jaw that will hold the implant must be healthy, and must be the appropriate size and strength to allow osseointegration (the fusion of the implant with the jawbone) to take place. If the bone isn’t wide enough, high enough, or dense enough, the success of the implant will be in jeopardy.

An implant, unlike a denture or a bridge, is rooted in the jaw much like your tooth. A cylinder is implanted in the bone, and will later hold the abutment which attaches to the final crown. Because a great deal of pressure is placed on our teeth with everyday functions such as chewing, the bone must be strong enough to successfully fuse with the implant.

Fortunately, Dr. Bentz can actually restore the density and shape of your jawbone if the bone isn’t suitable for an implant. This reconstruction is accomplished with bone grafting.

Why Would You Need a Bone Graft?

The bone structure which supports our teeth can be compromised in a number of ways. We might recommend a bone graft if you have insufficient bone due to causes such as:

  • Bone Loss Caused by Tooth Loss

The bone tissue which supports our teeth needs the stimulation of biting and chewing to stay healthy. Without that stimulation, the bone area under the missing tooth gradually shrinks. The bone tissue is resorbed into the body, which, in a relatively short amount of time, can lead to a noticeable sunken spot where the tooth used to be. Bone grafting will rebuild this area—and a dental implant will provide the tissue stimulation that a natural tooth would, helping to prevent future bone loss in the jaw.

  • Gum Disease

As gum disease progresses, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving the bone and connective tissue exposed to infection and bacteria. Infection and the body’s own response to bacteria can cause deterioration in the bone structure supporting the teeth. Bone loss cannot be reversed, but a graft can replace lost bone and allow healthy tissue to regenerate.

  • Pre-existing Bone Conditions or Traumatic Injuries

In the case of bone structure that is naturally less thick or dense, or bone which has been damaged by accident or injury, a bone graft can provide a solid basis for an implant.

What Takes Place in a Bone Grafting Procedure?

Bone grafting is a type of oral surgery. Bone tissue for grafting may be taken from your own body, or a graft material composed of safe and sterile donor tissue or synthetic substitutes can be used. This second kind of graft will be absorbed gradually by the body as your own new, healthy bone tissue replaces it.

If you decide a bone graft is your best option, we will discuss the options for grafting with you during your appointment at our East Norriton, PA office, and use imaging to map out the area of bone loss and to create the best individual treatment plan for you.

After anesthesia, an incision will be made in the gum tissue to reveal the damaged bone. Grafting material will be shaped and secured to the affected area, and sutures are generally used to close the incision. We will give you careful instructions for after care and follow-up visits. The time it takes for you to heal completely will depend on the type and size of the graft.

We recommend bone graft surgery when it will provide the best, most successful foundation for your dental implant procedure. Oral surgeons have years of medical and surgical training in the complex relationship and interaction of bone, muscle, and nerve. We are uniquely qualified to provide a skillful, safe, and effective bone grafting procedure.

When you choose an implant, one of your primary goals is the aesthetic restoration of your smile. Just as important, you are also making sure that the bones supporting your teeth will remain heathy and strong. Talk to us about bone grafting, and how we can start you on your way to a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

What is TMJ Disorder?

August 1st, 2019

TMJ is the quick way of referring to your Temporomandibular Joint. Pardon the pun, but that’s quite a mouthful! What is this joint, what does it do, and, if your doctor or dentist has told you that you have a TMJ disorder, what can Dr. Bentz do to help?

The Temporomandibular Joint

Your two temporomandibular joints are amazing works of anatomical design. These are the joints where the temporal bone in the skull meets the mandible bone of the jaw, and allow our mouths to open and close, move back and forth, and slide from side to side. Muscle, bone and cartilage work together to provide easy movement and to cushion the joint. But sometimes, the joint doesn’t work as smoothly as it should, and this can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, or TMD.

When Should You Suspect You Have TMD?

You might have TMD if you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Painful chewing
  • Pain around your TMJ, or in your face or neck
  • Earaches
  • Changes in your bite
  • Jaws that are limited in movement or lock open or shut
  • Clicking, popping or grating noises when you open and shut your jaw

There are many conditions linked to TMD. If you grind your teeth at night, have arthritis in the jaw, have suffered an injury or infection in the area, or have problems with your bite, for example, you might be more likely to experience TMJ problems. If you suspect you have TMD, or suffer from any of the symptoms listed above for an extended period, an oral surgeon like Dr. Bentz can provide the answers you’re looking for.

Why Choose an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have a minimum of four years of advanced studies in a hospital-based residency program, where they train with medical residents in the fields of general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, and other specialties with a specific focus on the bones, muscles, and skin of the face, mouth, and jaw. They are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat a complex disorder such as TMD.

How Do We Treat TMD?

First, we will check your medical history, and begin with a careful examination of the joint, its movement, and the structures of the head and neck surrounding it. When necessary, we will use imaging studies for further examination of the joint. If indicated, a conservative treatment plan might be recommended:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs and/or over-the-counter pain relievers, ice packs, moist heat compresses
  • A custom-fitted mouthguard, bite plate, or bite splint to reduce the effects of bruxism, or teeth grinding
  • Orthodontic treatment for a malocclusion (bad bite)
  • Physical therapy, which might include exercises for the jaw muscles
  • Behavior modification, with techniques to avoid jaw pain (giving up gum chewing, jaw clenching, nail biting), and techniques for relaxation and stress relief.

If these treatments aren’t successful, or if there is damage to the joint, we might suggest surgical options.

  • Arthroscopy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed under anesthesia, in which a thin tube with a video lens and light is inserted through a small incision in front of the ear. This technology allows us to get a good look at the joint and the area surrounding it. Depending on the results of our examination, arthroscopic surgery might be used to repair joint damage.
  • Arthroplasty, surgery performed under anesthesia, can repair, replace, or reposition damaged parts of the joint. For example, surgery can remove bony growths, repair damage to the articular disc (which cushions your joint) or replace it, and access areas which an arthroscopy can’t.

Luckily, most cases of TMD are temporary and don’t become worse over time. But any persistent discomfort is a good reason to visit our East Norriton, PA office. Whether you have TMD, or any other problem causing you pain in the head or jaw, the causes for your temporomandibular joint discomfort can be complicated. We have the unique surgical training and experience to diagnose and treat these remarkable joints.

How Old Is Too Old for Dental Implants?

July 18th, 2019

Thanks to today’s advances in dental technology, we can replace missing teeth with implants for a smile that looks healthy, natural, and complete. If you’re worried that you’re too old for dental implants, good news! While younger patients must wait until their jaw bones are completely developed before implant surgery, there is no upper age limit for dental implants.

In fact, studies have shown that patients aged 65 and over have high rates of successful implantation, long-term implant retention, and minimal complications. Of course, as our bodies age, there are changes that take place. And some of these changes can make an implant procedure more challenging.

Fortunately, oral surgeons like Dr. Bentz have the training, experience, and advanced techniques to make implants possible even in challenging circumstances. Two important concerns for older patients are bone density and healing ability. What can Dr. Bentz do to address these concerns?

  • Bone Grafting

A complete tooth replacement consists of an implant that serves as a “root” to anchor the tooth in the bone, an abutment that is secured in the implant and extends above the gum line, and a crown restoration that is attached to the abutment.

Dr. Bentz will drill a small hole in the jawbone for the implant and carefully place it in position in the jaw. Over a period of months, this implant will become integrated into the bone just like a natural root. You can see why one of the most important requirements for a successful implant is having enough healthy bone in which to anchor it.

But after losing a tooth, the bone under the missing tooth gradually shrinks without the pressure and stimulation of chewing. As time passes, more bone loss occurs.

If there is not enough bone size and density to support an implant, you can still regain the structure you need for success with surgical bone grafting. This is a type of surgery which uses your own bone, a synthetic grafting material, or a processed bone grafting material to repair and replace damaged bone. After approximately three to four months of healing, the jawbone has recovered enough volume and density to accept an implant.

And one wonderful bonus? An implant gives your jawbone the same pressure and stimulation that your natural tooth did, preventing future bone loss.

  • PRP Treatment

One consequence of aging is that older bones simply don’t heal as rapidly as younger bones.  If this is a concern for you, an encouraging new treatment for implants in older patients is Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP). This plasma is rich in platelet growth factors and has shown promising results in bone and tissue regeneration as well as faster healing.

After drawing a small amount of your own blood, the blood is immediately centrifuged to separate and collect the platelet-rich plasma. This plasma is then mixed with bone grafting material. And, because the PRP is composed of your own blood cells and plasma, there is no chance of rejection, reaction, or disease transmission.

If you have any concerns about your age, the implant procedure, bone health, healing time, or any other issue, talk to Dr. Bentz.

After all, as oral surgeons, we are specialists. We have a minimum of four years of surgical education and training in a hospital-based residency program. We train with medical residents in advanced studies, which include general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, plastic surgery, and otolaryngology (the study of the ear, nose, and throat). We are experts not only in implant procedures, but in adapting procedures successfully for your individual needs.

There is nothing like the look and feel of a natural smile. Make an appointment at our East Norriton, PA office to talk about dental implants. After all, a healthy, attractive smile is something we deserve at any age.