North Houston Oral Surgery

Oral Cancer Among Men to Increase in 2017

'man thinking about oral cancer'A recent study by the American Cancer Society reports that oral cancer cases in men is expected to increase in 2017 by 4%, while the rate of new cases among women stays the same year over year. “Oral Cancer”, which is a common way to refer to all head and neck cancers, involves cancer of the oral cavity, lips, tongue, pharynx and esophagus.

Unfortunately, oral cancers often go undetected until their later stages when they are more difficult to treat, giving them an even worse reputation than many other cancers.

Oral cancer is more likely in those who:

  • Drink Alcohol Excessively (more than 2 drinks a day for men and more than 1 drink a day for women)
  • Smoke or Chew Tobacco
  • Have HPV (certain strains of the HPV virus are known to cause oral and other cancers)

HPV and Oral Cancer

Along with the rise of HPV among men has come the rise of oral cancers as well. Unfortunately, it has now been estimated that half of U.S. men are infected with HPV. While most of these will not go on to develop cancer, certainly, these increases may continue to create a rise in head and neck cancers until the disease is brought under control.

What You Can Do

Prevention and detection are the most important things when it comes to the fight against oral cancer. With early detection, we can do better for survival rates and, as we have seen with general cancer cases, prevention in the form of abstaining from tobacco and drinking in moderation can reduce the number of cases over time. In order to protect yourself and your family and help us with survival rates, we urge you to see us for an oral cancer screening. It only takes a few minutes for us to examine you – and it could save your life.

For more information on oral cancer, call us at North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts Phone Number 936-231-8568 or visit oralcancerfoundation.org.

Impacted

'impacted wisdom tooth'When you hear this word in our office, it is most likely that we are talking about your wisdom teeth. And while we know that it may sound scary to have “impacted wisdom teeth”, we want you to know that, actually, it is very common.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?

Throughout evolutionary history, human mouths (jaws) have become increasingly smaller. While the jaws have gotten smaller, the amount of teeth we have has not. So now we have the same amount of teeth squeezing into a smaller space. Because wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, they often become impacted – that is, blocked by the other teeth around them. Often they are growing in sideways or unable to erupt through the gums at all due to crowding.

Why do wisdom teeth need removal?

The inability to erupt properly means that wisdom teeth can cause a lot of pain and even become infected down the road. This is the main reason that we recommend the removal of all third molars (another name for wisdom teeth). The reason that we remove them during the teen years is that the bone is still soft and recovery from the surgery is taken by the patient much better at this age. If we were to wait, your teeth may become infected, your bite crooked, and it may be too late at some point for us to take them out.

Types of Impaction:

  • Vertical Impaction – In this case, the tooth is unable to break through the gum line. Vertical impaction is very common.
  • Mesioangular Impaction – Angled toward the front of the mouth, the tooth is probably pushing on its neighbor, causing pain and crowding. This type of impaction is also very common.
  • Distoangular Impaction – This tooth is angled toward the rear of the mouth, it is uncommon.
  • Horizontal Impaction – In this case, the tooth is a complete 90 degrees from where it should be, and is likely growing into the roots of its neighboring tooth. This is very rare.

What is the removal procedure like?

You will be completely pain-free during the surgery, which takes just about an hour. You will also be sent home with instructions for pain management, eating and rest orders.

What is recovery like?

You will recover comfortably at home. You can start drinking liquids and soft foods as soon as you feel ready, but should avoid crunchy foods, extra hot or cold items, and straws (NO STRAWS!). You can expect to resume some of your normal activities a few days post-operation.

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth removal or aren’t sure if you even need the procedure, give us a call at North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts Phone Number 936-231-8568!

Tooth Extraction – Managing Pain

'man kicking away pain'The Procedure Itself

Thanks to a wide variety of anesthesia choices available to us these days, you should feel no pain during your extraction.

 

After the Surgery

 

  • Over-the-Counter Medicines: Generally speaking, over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen are all that you will need following your surgery.
  • Staying On Top of Pain: It is very important to stay on a strict schedule of medication the first few days following your surgery. Getting behind on medication will result in more pain and may even make it difficult to catch up with pain control again.
  • Ice for Swelling: We want you to ice your cheeks for the first 24 hours following surgery, twenty minutes on and twenty minutes off alternating. Managing swelling can help greatly with pain management, and the act of icing may even feel good on its own.
  • Rest: Your body was expertly designed with high-tech systems in place to heal – but you have to give it the space and conditions to do so. Rest is one of the most important things you can do to help your body heal faster.
  • Salt Rinse the DAY AFTER Surgery: The day after surgery, you should rinse your mouth very gently with a mixture of one cup of warm water and ½ teaspoon of salt. You may do so up to 4 times a day. Designed to gently clean the wound site (but NOT dislodge the blood clot), some patients also feel that the warm water helps with pain relief.
  • Prescriptions: Most often, our patients do not require prescription pain medication post-op. However, in the case that we feel your case calls for such, please keep the following in mind:
    • Antibiotics – If we have ordered antibiotics for you, you must take them on schedule and for as long as we prescribe – Never stop antibiotic treatment prematurely without our specific orders.
    • Pain-Killers – In the event that you require prescription pain killers, please note that we are required to prescribe these sparingly and in accordance with certain laws, due to rising rates of substance abuse. You can help keep these drugs off the street by taking only what you need, and taking unused pills to a pharmacy for safe disposal – never “keep them around” in your cabinet for future use.

For more information, please visit our surgical instructions page and feel free to call us at [PHONE

Immunotherapy and Oral Cancer

You may have heard: Immunotherapy is proving to be very promising in the treatment of a variety of cancers, in particular lung cancer and advanced melanoma. However, immunotherapy has not found its way (yet!) into the treatment regimen for head and neck cancers.'woman thinking about oral cancer'

What is immunotherapy?

Immunotherapy is the process of enlisting the patient’s own immune system in the fight against cancer cells. Several drugs have been used successfully to aid in the treatment of advanced lung cancers and melanoma, giving patients a longer prognosis in many cases.

Cancer Cells are Tricky

Cancer cells are notoriously sneaky – their ability to hide from immune cells is one of the reasons that cancer is so hard to treat. This is where “checkpoint inhibitors”, one of the most common classes of immunotherapy drugs in cancer treatment, come in. These drugs help to block the activation of proteins that help cancer cells hide from immune cells.

The Connection with Oral Cancer

Recurring head and neck cancers are very difficult to treat. Often they are resistant to the best chemotherapy drugs, so the hope has always been that immunotherapy drugs may some day step in to assist with the oral pathology fight. A recent trial in the UK has shown that the day may be coming sooner than we thought! The trial proved successful in extending prognosis for many of the patients.

Reduced Side Effects

The research also noted that side effects were reduced to give patients a better quality of life during treatment.

More Testing Needed

While more research is needed before the drugs receive FDA approval for the treatment of oral cancer, the good news is that because these drugs are already approved and on the market for other cancers, the application process for use in oral cancers will be quicker (and smoother) than it would be for a new drug.

At North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts PC, our commitment to your care, comfort, health and safety is evident from the minute you walk through our door. Call us at North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts Phone Number 936-231-8568 for more information about oral cancer.

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3D Printers and Bone Grafting

'3D printed bone graft'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 “hyperelastic 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 North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts Phone Number 936-231-8568.

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Preserving your Jaw after Extraction: Socket Preservation

'man with jaw pain'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?

Socket 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 North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts Phone Number 936-231-8568 to see if socket preservation is an option for you – it could save your smile!

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Little, Medium, Big Bone Graft

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 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:

'tooth surrounded by bone'

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 936-231-8568 today for a consultation with North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts PC

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

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 North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts PC we specialize in dental implants, so give us a call today discuss your future implant success!

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Oral & Oropharyngeal Cancers

'cancer cells in mouth'Worldwide, over 550,000 new cases of Oral, Head and Neck cancer are diagnosed each year.

Oropharyngeal cancer is slightly different from oral cancer. Oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV (Human papilloma virus) and usually occur in the tonsils or at the base of the tongue, while oral cancers are in the mouth and usually associated with tobacco use.

The Oral Cavity

The oral cavity incudes the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks, the teeth, the gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the floor of the mouth below the tongue, and the bony roof of the mouth – also known as the hard palate.

The Orpharynx

Behind the wisdom teeth is considered the oropharynx, which is part of the throat just behind the mouth. It also includes the base of the tongue, the soft palate (back of the mouth), the tonsils, and the side and back wall of the throat.

Categories

Oral and Oropharyngeal cancers are sorted into 3 categories: Benign (non-cancerous), harmless growths that may develop into cancer, and cancerous tumors. This is why regular check-ups with your dental professional are key to your overall well-being.

The Team Involved

The treatment of head and neck cancers does not involve just your dental team, the assistance of many different professionals contributes is required. There may be surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and speech therapists all involved in your treatment.

Oral cancers are found as late stage three and four diseases about 66% of the time.
It is very important for you to check yourself at home as well as visiting your dentist.

Call North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts PC to schedule your routine dental check up and oral cancer screening today 936-231-8568

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Dental Implants 101

'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.

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 North Houston-Woodlands Oral Surgical Arts PC for more information, we would be glad to help!