The Christiana Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Sur

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

cartoon of impacted toothWe 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 people 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 Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600 and we will go over your options with you!

Oral Health- A Mouth-Body Connection

woman smiling pointing at her mouthYou may have heard the saying that the eyes are the window to the soul, but did you know that the mouth is the window to overall health? When you think about health goals you may picture the gym and kale smoothies, but oral hygiene is just as important.

By taking a look inside your mouth, your dentist can tell many things about your overall health. An unhealthy mouth can be a sign of an unhealthy body, and many oral conditions can be a sign of serious underlying health problems.

Protecting your oral health is a positive step towards a healthy body. A few simple steps can be taken to preserve your oral health.

– Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes. Brushing and flossing your teeth keep them and your gums clean and healthy. Regular brushing and flossing reduces plaque build-up that can lead to gum disease and other periodontal diseases.
– Scheduling check-ups and cleanings with your dentist. Visiting your dentist every six months is vital to your oral health and can prevent oral related problems such as gum disease and tooth decay from developing. Your dentist will perform an examination of your mouth and can give you recommendations on how to improve your oral health.
– A healthy diet and exercise. Regular light exercise can help reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Coupled with a balanced diet, your body will be able to get the nutrients needed for a healthy body.

This year, be sure to add oral health goals to your list of resolutions – your teeth and your body will thank you!

Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

woman holding a model of dental implantsBone grafting and dental implants typically go hand-in-hand, as the loss of a tooth can wear down the surrounding jawbone structure and a dental implant is a common procedure to replace lost teeth. As soon as a person loses a tooth, bone loss begins. In order to place a sturdy, reliable dental implant, a bone grafting procedure is often required in order to rebuild the jawbone. While bone grafting sounds daunting, it is a safe and reliable procedure that prepares the jaw bone for a dental implant, and in most cases, is necessary to build up a sturdy foundation.

In a bone graft procedure, bone tissue taken from another part of the body is grafted into the jawbone. Another method utilizes processed bone from animals, but results in the same regrowth of your jaw. It can take several months for the graft to set and grow into a stable foundation for a dental implant.

Depending on the amount of bone loss, bone grafts can be placed at a variety of times during the implant process. For example, if only a minor bone graft is needed, we may be able to place it at the same time as the dental implant. However, if a larger bone graft is necessary, it will have to rest for months before the dental implant procedure can be performed.

Bone grafting is a very important and often overlooked procedure when it comes to preparing for a dental implant! Dental implants have increased in popularity and effectiveness over the years, as they provide the most reliable replacement for natural teeth. Dental implants look and feel like normal teeth, and if treated properly, can last the rest of a person’s lifetime! Bone grafts and dental implants work together to restore smiles.

Contact us today at Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600 to schedule your dental implant consultation, and we can talk about your bone grafting options!

The Most Common Types of Bone Grafting

Bone graftingdigital image of a lower jaw 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:
• 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 Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600.

FAQs: Wisdom Teeth

paper with question mark on itPatients 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 Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600 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 Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600.

When Should You Consider Dental Implants?

woman getting fit for dental implantsYou may have heard in the past that dental implants are one of the most effective ways to replace missing or damaged teeth. Dental implants are a great option for a lot of different situations, but when is getting a dental implant the best option for you? There are a few circumstances where receiving an implant might be the best option for improving your smile.

Dental implants typically consist of three components: the post, the abutment, and the restoration. The post is a screw which is inserted into the bone. The abutment is attached to the post and the restoration is placed on top, giving the finished product a beautiful, realistic look.

To restore and preserve your appearance.

One of the main functions of dental implants is to restore a smile back to its original glory. They are built to last a lifetime and last much longer than dental bridges. If you are looking for a permanent solution to damaged or missing teeth, dental implants are your best option.

To protect and preserve a healthy jawbone.

Missing spaces in your smile can lead your jawbone to deterioration, which causes it to lose its strength. Dental implants are the only option which will protect and save your natural bone. Waiting to get a dental implant can continue to increase the chances of your jawbone not being able to support dental implants in the future.

To stop your teeth from shifting.

Losing a tooth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift and look unnatural. These teeth can become crowded or can be shifted unevenly. This can cause your teeth to become harder to clean and can also cause your face to sag and appear sunken.

These are just a few of the instances in which you should consider getting dental implants. Dental implants are one of the most useful and successful restoration options available today. For more information on how we can restore your smile with dental implants, contact The Christiana Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery P.A. at Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600 today.

Better Breakfast for a Better Smile

fruit and healthy grainsBreakfast 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.)

Are You At Risk For Oropharyngeal Cancer?

cancer cellEarly 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 Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600 to schedule a screening today!

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Orthognathic Surgery

woman sitting in dental chair

What is orthognathic surgery?

Also known as corrective jaw surgery, patients undergo this procedure in order to correct a wide range of major and minor dental and skeletal irregularities. Jaw surgery is used to correct the misalignment of a person’s jaw or teeth, which will eventually improve breathing, chewing, and speaking. While a patient’s physical appearance may be altered just a bit with surgery, orthognathic surgery is mostly meant to correct functional problems.

What are some conditions that require orthognathic surgery?

There are quite a few conditions that indicate that you may need jaw surgery. Some of those include:

  • Sleep Apnea (breathing problems during sleep)
  • Protruding jaw
  • Open bite (someone who is unable to fully close their mouth)
  • Chronic mouth breathing and dry mouth
  • Difficult biting food or chewing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Chronic joint or jaw pain (TMJ)
  • Excessive wear on teeth

Evaluating Your Need For Jaw Surgery

We will work with your orthodontist and general dentist to evaluate your need for jaw surgery. In a great number of cases, patients need to have orthodontic work done before and after surgery. Jaw surgery is a lengthy and delicate process. In most cases, the whole process, including orthodontic work, will last 1-2 years. We will evaluate you thoroughly and realistically so that you may make the most informed decision possible.

How will I benefit from having jaw surgery?

Corrective jaw surgery will benefit you in numerous ways. After surgery, your jaw will be more aligned and balanced, and you will have more a far more functional and healthy jaw. While recovery may be lengthy, we will keep you comfortable along the way. With jaw surgery, patients can see an improvement in speech, eating, chewing and also breathing. Many patients see a positive change in their facial structures aw well after their jaw has been realigned.

To find out if you are a good candidate for corrective jaw surgery, please call us at Christiana Hospital Location Phone Number 302-292-1600.

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How to Make Your Own Ice Cream

'ice cream'As you may or may not know, July is officially National Ice Cream Month! While it is fun to go and grab ice cream from your local shop down the street, it can be more fun and rewarding to make your own ice cream for you and your family to enjoy. Ice cream is also a great treat to enjoy after different types of oral surgery. You don’t need an ice cream maker in order to make delicious, creamy ice cream. Just follow our instructions below!

Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

– 2 cups of milk
– 3 tablespoons of sugar
– 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Materials:

– 3-4 cups of ice
– 2/3 cup salt
– 1 quart sized Ziploc bag
– 1 gallon sized Ziploc freezer bag

Instructions:

– Combine milk, vanilla and sugar in quart sized bag
– Press any air out of bag and seal tightly
– Mix ice and salt in gallon sized bag
– Place quart sized bag into gallon sized bag and seal tightly
– Shake the bag vigorously for about 5 minutes.
– It will be very cold, be careful!
– Liquid inside smaller bag should start to harden
– Let bags sit for a few minutes with ice in large bag surrounding small bag
– Open bags up and scoop ice cream out
– Enjoy!!

As you can see, it isn’t hard to shake up some ice cream that the whole family can enjoy, using fairly standard household ingredients. Use chocolate/strawberry milk instead of regular milk to change the flavor, or use half and half for a creamier product. This year, celebrate National Ice Cream month by making your own ice cream at home!