Northwest Oral & Facial Surgery

An Overview of Maxillofacial Surgery

dental surgeryMaxillofacial surgery is an umbrella term that encompasses surgical treatment of a variety of diseases, defects and injuries that occur in the head, neck, face, or jaw. It might be in the hard or soft mouth tissues, in the maxillofacial (jaw/face) area, or on the neck.

Maxillofacial surgery is a term used around the world. In the U.S., it’s considered a dentistry specialty. In other countries, such as the UK, it’s considered a medical specialty.

In U.S., maxillofacial surgery is regulated by the American Dental Association. In other areas of the world, it’s regulated as a specialty under medicine.

Usually, a maxillofacial surgeon has received training in dentistry, surgery and medicine. Subspecialties within maxillofacial surgery exist, including:

  • cosmetic facial surgery
  • cranio-maxillofacial trauma
  • craniofacial surgery
  • head and neck cancer
  • and maxillofacial reconstruction

Surgical Options

There are a number of surgeries that may be performed under the maxillofacial specialty (dental implants and wisdom teeth).

Cosmetic surgery of the head and neck may entail rhytidectomy (facelift), rhinoplasty (nose job), chin augmentation, lip enhancement, and even seemingly basic procedures like Botox injections.

A cosmetic surgeon may actually have a degree in maxillofacial surgery, although that isn’t commonly known to patients. Read the rest of this entry »

Benefits of Dental Implants

dental implants

There was a time when, if you lost your teeth, you didn’t have many options. Bridges and dentures were all that was available, but dental implants have provided a third possibility. As replacement tooth roots, dental implants provide a permanent solution to tooth loss. With implants as a foundation for teeth, patients can choose from “fixed” or removable teeth that are expertly crafted to match a patient’s natural teeth.

Even with advances in dental care, it doesn’t change the fact that tooth loss will still occur. It may come as a result of gum disease, tooth decay, or genetic predisposition. Genetics plays a big role and even patients who take pristine care of their teeth might experience tooth loss. There’s no need to struggle with dentures or feel embarrassed when dental implants are available. The advantages are immense.

The Many Upsides to Dental Implants

A person’s smile impacts their confidence, looks, and even job prospects. Dental implants can drastically improve a person’s appearance and, when the teeth are designed with care and state-of-the-art tools, nobody but a dentist will be able to identify them. Implants fuse directly to the bone, so they look, act and feel just like natural teeth.

Another perk is the potential for improved speech. Patients who have struggled with ill-fitting dentures know all too well that speech can be impacted. One slip of a denture can cause slurred speech, fumbled words—and plenty of embarrassment. Dental implants completely nix that problem, allowing patients to reclaim their voice. Whether you depend on speech for your career, karaoke nights or simply to feel comfortable with family and loved ones, you deserve a life free of worrying when your speech might slip. Read the rest of this entry »

When Do Wisdom Teeth Need to Be Removed?

Ask a dentist when wisdom teeth should be removed, and the answer you get may be, well, it depends.

Wisdom teeth are simply no longer necessary—people don’t need to tear through foods like they did eons ago (not even if they’re on the Paleo diet). Some people aren’t even born with wisdom teeth at all, and those lucky ones don’t need to deal with the pain and discomfort of having brand new teeth break through the gums at inopportune times.

Most people have forgotten the pain of the teething years from when they were children. Plus, it’s no longer appropriate to suck on ice packs in public as adults, but that’s exactly what you might feel like doing when that last pesky wisdom tooth is coming in during college.

Wisdom teeth might come in crooked, pushing aside existing teeth and causing a mess in your mouth, or they might seem to be growing in and then get gun shy while causing no end to the discomfort.

When To Take Immediate Action

There are certain instances when wisdom teeth simply must be removed. This happens when they’re growing in at extremely bad angles. It’s also a requirement if there’s simply no room left in your mouth and the wisdom teeth will knock a person’s entire smile out of alignment. In these instances, removal of wisdom teeth isn’t up for debate.

There are also times when wisdom teeth have fully erupted, they fit in the mouth, but it’s just too difficult for a person to take care of these teeth. They need to be properly brushed and flossed just like every other tooth. If your dentist is keeping an eye on them and the teeth are attracting too much bacteria, gum disease or tooth decay, then it’s best to have them removed. However, if the patient is diligent about upping the wisdom tooth care, a reassessment at the next checkup may be in order.

On the Other Hand…

Sometimes a dentist will recommend having wisdom teeth removed just because it’s easier. There’s no denying that caring for wisdom teeth is more challenging for the average person than taking care of their front teeth. Wisdom teeth are notorious for having nearby gingivitis and they’re havens for bacteria.

It’s crucial for patients to understand their unique risks for keeping wisdom teeth. A qualified dentist will only recommend removal if it’s the best option for you. Recovery from surgery is relatively brief, but it’s still a decision not to take lightly.

Making the Call

A patient should decide the best course of action with their dentist when it comes to wisdom tooth removal. What are the pros and cons? How long will your personal recovery take? What will happen if you opt to keep the wisdom teeth?

Unless you’re facing one of the pressing circumstances, such as a crowded mouth or crooked wisdom teeth, this decision will likely require some discussion. Luckily, you can count on the expert, Dr. David Verschueren at Northwest Oral & Facial Surgery to help you make the best decision for you and your oral hygiene.