Placement of dental implants is one of the most beneficial services a patient can have. Implants can be used to replace individual teeth or to support dentures or partials. Depending on circumstances their placement can be rather simple or complicated. Think of an implant as a tooth root. An implant is placed by drilling a hole in the jawbone and screwing the implant into this hole. This is like putting a tooth root back into its socket. There must be adequate bone to place an implant. If there insufficient bone there may be need to regenerate the missing bone. This is done by grafting bone where it is needed. After a 3 – 4 month period of healing a tooth is built upon the implant, a denture can be made to snap onto it, or a denture can be totally supported by implants. The benefits of implants are enormous especially when used to stabilize lower dentures. When a tooth is lost, the bone which supports it shrinks. Implants can help slow or prevent this shrinkage, which is especially beneficial for patients wearing lower dentures. Nothing is as good as a natural tooth but implants come the closest. We have financing, which makes implants much more affordable.
Most dental infections are not major but some can get very nasty. Several people still die each year due to dental infections. If you have recently had a surgical procedure, swelling, discomfort, and tight jaws are a normal finding. They should go away in several days. Once they go away they should not come back. Swelling and discomfort that recurs may be an infection and should be evaluated. A toothache that causes swelling is an infection and needs to be evaluated and treated. Treatment will involve antibiotics and removal of the cause of the infection. The tooth may require a root canal or extraction. If an abscess is present it may need to be surgically drained.
Antibiotics usually take several days to resolve an infection. If the cause of the infection is removed and or the abscess drained resolution should be quicker. You should improve a little each day after treatment. If you do not, you need to be evaluated further.
Signs of infections that need careful evaluation are those that cause pain on swallowing, stiff jaws that you cannot open, swelling and pain under the lower jaw in the neck, swelling under the tongue, and swelling which closes the eye. Inability to swallow or difficulty with breathing are serious. Immediate evaluation is mandatory.
Your mouth is lined with a smooth, moist, pink, mucosa. There should not be lumps, bumps, sores, white patches, or swellings. Most mouth lesions need to be removed to establish a diagnosis. I strongly recommend sending the specimens to an oral pathologist as they have the most expertise in diagnosing oral lesions.
Teeth, which are blocked from erupting, are said to impacted. Wisdom teeth are the most common impacted teeth but other teeth may be impacted. Impaction is usually caused by insufficient space. They can be blocked by bone, soft tissue or adjacent teeth. Impacted teeth are pathologic entities in themselves but can cause other problems such as gum disease, decay, cysts, rarely tumors, or damage to adjacent teeth. The best time for removal is the mid to late teen years. The roots will not be totally formed and the bone immature. Healing is much better and complications fewer if removed at a young age. It is best to be asleep for the surgery and to remove all the wisdom teeth at the same office visit. Most people recover well after surgery. There is a period of swelling, stiffness, and soreness, but symptoms usually improve each day post-op. Infections are uncommon. The most common complication is called a “dry socket”. This is a term for a socket which has delayed healing and stays sore longer than normal. A dry socket is treated by placing medicated gauze into the socket while it heals, which keeps the socket numb relieving the soreness.
Wisdom Teeth & Impacted Teeth
The exposure of the tooth involves an operation where some gum tissue and bone overlying the tooth is removed, resulting in the crown of the tooth being exposed. Depending on the individual case, the oral surgeon might place a dressing over the tooth, which is held with stitches that are removed after 10 - 14 days. This allows the orthodontist to begin treatment for repositioning the tooth. Alternatively, the oral surgeon will bond an orthodontic bracket and gold chain onto the exposed tooth and the patient will return to the orthodontist to have the tooth repositioned into its proper place in the dental arch. The orthodontic repositioning process is a slow and carefully controlled maneuver that may take up to 1 year to complete.