Santa Barbara Center for OMS

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

Wisdom tooth growing in sideways

We 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 Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889 and we will go over your options with you!

Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

Woman smiling with Implant

Bone 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 Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889 to schedule your dental implant consultation, and we can talk about your bone grafting options!

FAQs: Wisdom Teeth

question mark Patients 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 Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889 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 Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889.

The Most Common Types of Bone Grafting

X-Ray Bone grafting 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 Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889.

Why You Should Get Corrective Jaw Surgery

people eating pizzaJaw Surgery, also known as Orthognathic Surgery, is a corrective surgery which is performed in order to realign the structure of a jaw. This surgery can seem frightening and intense but is actually a very useful surgery, having many benefits which would result in the improvement of your lifestyle in a few different ways. Today we are going to discuss a few of the top reasons why you might want to think about getting corrective jaw surgery and how it can benefit you.

You have difficulty chewing, biting or swallowing foods:

If you tend to chew your food with your back molars, this may be a sign that you need jaw surgery. Having corrective jaw surgery can make eating easier on your jaw and a more enjoyable experience for you (which it should be)!

You have an under bite or overbite which makes your smile uneven:

Jaw surgery can improve your smile tremendously and give you the smile of your dreams by making sure the position of your jaws is perfect. Having an under bite or an overbite can make your smile appear uneven or can make the structure of your jaw look off. Jaw surgery can significantly improve the look of your jawline and your smile.

You grind your teeth at night and are subject to constant headaches:

People who have TMJ syndrome, which is a term for pain and/or compromised movement of jaw and surrounding area, tend to grind their teeth at night while they are sleeping. This can result in significant headaches when waking up in the morning. Corrective jaw surgery can stop your grinding, which in turn will reduce your headaches.

These are just a few of the reasons why you should consider getting jaw surgery in order to realign your jaw. Having orthognathic surgery can greatly improve the quality of your sleep, and also the way you chew and eat foods. Contact Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery at Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889 today for more information about jaw surgery and to see if you are a candidate!

Dental Implants: The Recovery

Recovery SignThe recovery time following dental implant surgery tends to vary, but is usually based on the amount of teeth being implanted, whether or not a bone graft was needed and the individual and how well they manage their recovery. Luckily, the science and technology behind dental implants has improved drastically over the last few years, improving post-surgery pain and comfort for patients.

The patient requiring the least amount of recovery time would be one who had a standard, single dental implant placed with no bone grafting. With a simple procedure like this one, there is very little discomfort or pain after the surgery. Mild bruising and soreness can occur, but is typically manageable with over the counter pain relievers. In more severe implant cases, such as those where multiple teeth are implanted or severe bone grafting needed in order to accomplish the implant, the recovery time tends to be longer and the discomfort can be more intense.

In any cases, it is important to keep your mouth clean after surgery, which can be done by rinsing your mouth gently with salt water beginning the day after surgery. You may begin brushing your teeth the night after the surgery, but make sure to keep it light around the surgery area as to not disrupt the healing in that area. It is also important to remember that in the week following your surgery, there should be no smoking and no sucking through a straw, as this can seriously inhibit your healing process. It is important to stick to a diet primarily consisting of soft foods for the first 7-10 days following your surgery before beginning to return to your normal diet.

As you can see, the recovery process after receiving a dental implant is fairly predictable and comfortable. It is important to follow the instructions that we give you at Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, and to always remember that if you have any questions or concerns regarding a procedure or following your surgery, you can always give us a call at Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889.

New Trends In Dental Implants

ImplantsA trending topic right now seems to be the decision to opt for “mini-dental implants” instead of more traditional ones. Below we are going to take a look inside the trend, and lay out some of the benefits and drawbacks so that you can get a better understanding of this exciting trend in dentistry.

Benefits

  • Mini dental implants are usually less expensive than traditional ones, sometimes costing only 1/3 that of regular implants. They take less time to place and are smaller and less invasive, and can be used in small spaces or for those with inadequate bone mass.
  • With mini dentures, smaller dentures can be used, leading to a better tasting experience for the palate than a traditional denture would provide.
  • Mini implants can be placed with minimal recovery time, and usually require very little to no bone grafting.

Drawbacks

Because this is still a fairly new procedure, there are a few downsides. For one, there aren’t enough studies out there on the longevity of these implants, so we don’t know how they hold up over time. A study published in the International Journal of Implant Dentistry in 2016 revealed that traditional dental implant placement has a proven survival rate of 95% or greater. The analysis collected data from over 10,000 implants from 3,095 patients, across three separate private practices over the course of 20 years. For mini dental implants, there isn’t yet enough data to conclude a proper survival rate.

Another concern is that because this is such a new trend there is not as much information or regulation out there. Some practices with claims such as “Dentures-in-a-day” might not do a proper consultation, skipping important steps such as a 3D scan to make sure that you are a good candidate for the procedure.

While it may be some time before this method is perfected and adopted, it is also exciting to see the advancements changing people’s lives in the dental industry every day. Check in with Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to find out what tooth replacement options may be right for you!

Orthognathic Surgery

Lady Smiling 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 Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889.

Oral Cancer to Increase Among Men in 2017

man standing with arms crossedA 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 Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889 or visit oralcancerfoundation.org.

Autograft Vs. Allograft

woman smilingSo, you were recently told by your doctor that you need a bone graft, but you aren’t quite sure what that means.

A bone graft is a surgical procedure that is used to fix bones or joints that were damaged by trauma, and it is also used to replace bone that is missing to provide structural stability around the body, including the jawbone. There are many types of bone grafts we can use to grow bone – the two most common are autografts and allografts.

An autograft is a bone or tissue that is transferred from one spot to another on the patient’s body. It is often thought of as the “gold standard” in bone grafting because of its reliability. Its high success rate is due to the fact that it is living tissue and thus its cells are kept intact.

An allograft is a bone or tissue that is transplanted from one person to another. They typically come from a donor, or cadaver bone. The allograft is safe, ready to use and available in large amounts. The main advantage of an allograft is that it requires one less procedure than the autograft, which must first be taken from the patient. Surgical time is minimized and the recovery can be quicker. The allograft comes from a reputable and reliable tissue bank.

Knowing which bone-grafting option you will need can be confusing, but we are here to answer any questions you may have. Please schedule a bone grafting consultation with us by calling Santa Barbara Center for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery - SB Office Phone Number 805-569-1889. We will perform a thorough evaluation of your oral health. After our evaluation, we will recommend what bone graft is best for you. We are happy to discuss your options and answer any questions you may have. We want you feeling confident with our choice and worry free.