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Is a Lost Tooth a Lost Cause?

October 21st, 2020

We’re used to seeing athletes wearing mouthguards at practice or play, because dental trauma is one of the most common (and predictable) sports injuries. But it’s not just athletes who are at risk, and there are some events in our daily lives that we just can’t predict. Car accidents, falls, workplace injuries, even innocent playground structures can take their toll on our smiles.

A major chip or a crack in your tooth is upsetting enough, and should be seen by a dentist as soon as possible. It’s even more unnerving when a tooth is knocked out completely. The technical term for a tooth which has been knocked out is an avulsed tooth, and it is a true dental emergency.

If you should suffer a partially or completely dislodged tooth, there is a possibility that your tooth can be reimplanted—if the damage isn’t too severe and if you get to your oral surgeon or dentist immediately.

How can a lost tooth be saved? This is possible because of the complex biological engineering that anchors our teeth within the jaw. The root of a tooth is surrounded by the periodontal ligament. This connective tissue attaches the tooth to the alveolar bone of the jaw. When a tooth is knocked out, this ligament splits apart, leaving some tissue on the tooth root and some within the tooth’s socket.

To successfully reimplant a tooth, the connective tissue cells around the root of the tooth need to be vital, so that they can begin to reattach to the connective tissue left in the socket. Over time, this reattachment is complete, and the tooth becomes firmly anchored to the bone again.

It’s important to protect your tooth before you see Dr. Herbst to make sure there will be enough healthy tissue for reattachment. First of all,

  • Don’t panic! If you or a friend or family member lose a tooth, call your oral surgeon, your dentist, or your emergency health care provider as soon as possible. You will get specific instructions for your specific situation.

If you are unable to reach your health care provider immediately, there are some general rules for taking care of an avulsed tooth:

  • Find the lost tooth. Don’t touch the root—use the crown, or top part of the tooth, to pick it up. You are trying to preserve and protect the connective tissue on the root surface.

 

  • If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it in milk, saliva, or water. Don’t wipe it off, though. You could damage those connective tissue cells mentioned above.

 

  • Place the tooth back in the socket, if possible. Gently hold it in place with your fingers or bite down (again, gently). You can also place the tooth in your mouth next to your cheek.

 

  • If returning the tooth to the socket is not an option, or if you are worried about a child possibly swallowing the tooth, keep the tooth moist. Whole milk or solutions sold just for the purpose of preserving an avulsed tooth are better choices than water, which damage the tissue cells on the root. And never wrap the tooth tightly—this can also damage the connective tissue.

Above all,

  • Don’t delay! The faster a tooth is reimplanted in its socket, the greater chance you have of keeping it. Really, every minute counts. Reimplantations are more successful if they take place within 30 minutes. After an hour out of the mouth, your tooth’s chances of successful reintegration are lower—but still worth pursuing!

What will your oral surgeon do?

  • Evaluate the avulsed tooth.

There are variables which can affect whether or not a lost tooth is a good candidate for reimplantation. Trying to replace a baby tooth, for example, could interfere with the formation of the adult tooth. An adult tooth that is broken will probably require a different type of treatment.

  • Prevent infection.

You might be given antibiotics and a referral to your doctor for a tetanus booster if needed.

  • Clean the site.

The socket will be gently irrigated to clean the area and to remove any clots that may have formed which can interfere with the tooth’s placement.

  • Recommend or perform a root canal.

Nerves and blood vessels within the tooth’s pulp generally don’t recover after a serious traumatic injury, so a root canal procedure could be necessary to preserve the health of your tooth. This procedure might be done immediately, or might be recommended for a later date.

  • Stabilize your tooth.

The tooth must be stabilized after being reimplanted, so Dr. Herbst will use a splint to anchor the tooth to the teeth next to it. The splint can be flexible or rigid, depending on the condition of the alveolar bone. Splinting generally takes from two to eight weeks, and you will be given detailed instructions for taking care of the area while you heal.

Dr. Herbst can offer you your best options for successful treatment because oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experienced in treating not only avulsed teeth, but dental trauma in the surrounding area as well. Losing a tooth is an alarming experience. But with prompt action, and a trip to our Union City, NJ office, it might be possible to make that loss only a temporary one.

Early Wisdom Tooth Extraction—Should You Consider It?

October 14th, 2020

No one looks forward to dealing with wisdom teeth. In fact, it’s not a topic we usually think about at all until our wisdom teeth actually start to erupt. But maybe we should! Sometimes, early assessment and early extraction is the best way to stop potential problems before they ever arise.

Of course, if you’ve never developed wisdom teeth, or if you have plenty of space for them to erupt completely, you will probably be just fine. But what happens if you don’t fall into either of these categories?

For many of us, wisdom teeth can remain enclosed, or impacted, completely in the bone and gums, or can partially erupt next to a molar, not quite breaking through all of the gum tissue. Either way, an impacted tooth can cause serious dental problems:

  • Gum disease and infection
  • Rapid decay in the tooth
  • Damage to the roots of neighboring teeth
  • Other teeth pushed out of alignment
  • Cysts around the wisdom tooth’s root

If you are experiencing any of these conditions, or have symptoms such as pain, redness, or swelling in the area, you could be a candidate for prompt wisdom tooth extraction.

And if you have impacted wisdom teeth and are symptom-free? One solution is to keep a close eye on the impacted teeth with every dental exam, and Dr. Herbst might recommend this option to you. For several good reasons, though, early extraction often leads to an easier extraction experience.

  • Roots generally aren’t fully developed until we’re in our 20s. Smaller roots make for easier and less complicated extraction.
  • Smaller and shorter roots are also less likely to lead to complications affecting the sinuses in your upper jaw area or the sensory nerves in your lower jaw.
  • Young bones heal faster. Because the bones of children and young adults regenerate and heal more quickly than older bones, the space in the jaw bone which formerly held the tooth fills in more rapidly and densely than it will later in life.

Before you make any treatment decisions, it’s a great idea to get an evaluation from Dr. Herbst at our Union City, NJ office. Oral 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 nerves of the face, mouth, and jaw.

Oral surgeons like Dr. Herbst have the experience and training to assess the condition of your wisdom teeth today and advise you on potential problems you might face in the future. We have the surgical skill to expertly perform your extraction, if you decide on this option, and are trained in all forms of anesthesia for your most comfortable extraction experience.

When you are making decisions about your wisdom teeth, it’s always a good idea to get the advice of a specialist. No one looks forward to dealing with wisdom teeth, but with the guidance of your oral surgeon, you can be sure that whichever path you choose will be the best decision not only for your dental health today, but to ensure a future of healthy smiles.

Find Out how Your Diet can Cause Cavities

September 30th, 2020

Sometimes food that’s good for your body isn’t necessarily the best for your teeth. Dr. Herbst and our team want you to know which healthy foods can harm your teeth and gums, and what steps you can take to continue enjoying these foods, even when you’re dieting.

When you begin to substitute empty calories with whole foods, make sure you also remember to focus on your dental health. The majority of people tend to switch out sugary foods in favor of fruits and vegetables when they diet.

It’s worth knowing that most fruits are highly acidic and composed of natural sugars. Some of the highly acidic fruits to watch out for include apples, grapes, strawberries, pineapples, blueberries, oranges, and grapefruit. Moderation is key here, as with all other things. Fruits can be a great source of energy to help you through your day, but try not to overdo them.

Often, people also incorporate more leafy greens into their diets, which mean plenty of salads. Salad dressing is another item you’ll want to watch out for. Many dressings are filled with vinegars and sweeteners that include harmful acids, which change the pH of your mouth. When your mouth shifts from alkaline to acidic, your smile also turns to a higher risk for erosion and decay.

Rather than get rid of these foods altogether, simply change what you do after you eat them. Rinse your mouth out with water, brush your teeth, or eat alkalizing foods after consuming these acidic foods. Healthy alkalizing foods include dairy products such as eggs and yogurt, or any type of vegetable.

If you have questions regarding your current diet and its effect on your oral health, please contact our Union City, NJ office and speak with a member of our staff. If you’ve begun to make changes in your diet toward a healthier lifestyle, we hope these tips can help your make positive changes to your oral health. Our team at Union City Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Group wants a healthy lifestyle to be a top priority in your life.

Dental X-rays and Your Child

September 23rd, 2020

You’re parents, so you worry. It comes with the job description! That’s why you make regular appointments with your children’s doctors and dentists for preventive care and examinations. That’s why you make sure your kids wear mouth guards and other protective gear when playing sports. And that’s why you want to know all about the X-rays that are used when your children need dental treatment.

First of all, it’s reassuring to know that the amount of radiation we are exposed to from a single dental X-ray is very small. A set of bitewing X-rays, for example, exposes us to an amount of radiation that is approximately the same as the amount of radiation we receive from our natural surroundings in a single day.

Even so, doctors are especially careful when children need X-rays, because their bodies are still growing and their cells are developing more rapidly than adults. And children often have different oral and dental needs than adults, which can require different types of imaging.

In addition to the usual X-rays that are taken to discover cavities, fractures, or other problems, young patients might need X-rays from their dentists or orthodontists:

  • To confirm that their teeth and jaws are developing properly.
  • To make sure, as permanent teeth come in, that baby teeth aren’t interfering with the arrival and position of adult teeth, and that there’s enough space in the jaw to accommodate them.
  • To plan orthodontic treatment.

And if your child has any dental or medical conditions that can best be treated by an oral surgeon, diagnostic X-rays might be needed. Dental X-rays are used, for example, in order to:

  • Check the progress and placement of wisdom teeth before they are extracted.
  • Locate fractures, breaks, or other damage to the teeth and jaws after an accident or injury.
  • Discover and treat damage or infection which recurs after root canal work.
  • Diagnose and plan treatment for conditions which might require corrective jaw surgery.
  • Facilitate the placement of dental implants when children have lost or missing teeth. Because young jaws are still growing, this placement requires special care.

So, how do oral surgeons and radiologists make sure your child’s radiation exposure during any X-ray procedure is as minimal as possible?

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

Moreover, radiologists are devoted to raising awareness about the latest advances in imaging safety not only for dental and medical practitioners, but for the public, as well. With children in mind, pediatric radiologists from a number of professional associations have joined together to create the Image Gently Alliance, offering specific guidelines for the specific needs of young patients.

And because we are always concerned about the safety of our patients, medical and dental associations around the world, including the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, are Image Gently Alliance member organizations.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging for young people have been designed to make sure all children have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. As oral surgical specialists, Dr. Herbst and our team work to restore children’s smiles through many different procedures, and we ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • We set exposure times based on each child’s size and age, using the fastest film or digital image receptors.

We know your child’s health and safety are always on your mind, so you’re proactive about medical and dental care. And your child’s health and safety are always on our minds, too, so we’re proactive when it comes to all of our medical and dental procedures.

Please free to talk with our Union City, NJ team about X-rays and any other imaging we recommend for your child. We want to put your mind at ease, knowing that X-rays will be taken only when necessary, will be geared to your child’s age and weight, and will be used with protective equipment in place. Because ensuring your child’s health and safety? That comes with our job description!

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