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FAQs: Wisdom Teeth

question markPatients 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 Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660 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 Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660.

5 Things You Might Not Know About Oral Cancer

red oral cancer ribbonOral cancer consists of any head and neck cancer (excluding brain cancers – which is its own category). The death rate of oral cancer is unfortunately very high because people find out about oral cancer too late. This is why it is important to practice regular self-examinations in order to be proactive and seek treatment early.

1. 450,000 new oral cancer cases are discovered worldwide each year

While this number is only an estimate, it shows how many people are being affected by oral cancer and why this topic should be taken seriously.

2. HPV is a leading cause of oral cancer

There are many strains of HPV, but HPV-16 in particular has a strong connection to oral cancer. Most HPV strains cause warts or cervical cancer and some have a small connection to oral cancer. For people with HPV, it is important to practice regular oral self-exams in order to be proactive about oral cancer.

3. Oral cancer affects more men than women

Oral cancer affects men over women on a 2:1 ratio. This correlation may be due to men smoking and drinking more than women, although studies have shown oral cancer among women is on the rise. No matter your gender – practice clean oral health practices.

4. Alcohol and tobacco are huge risk factors

These two risk factors are considered lifestyle risk factors. When you think of smoking heavily, your first thought probably is lung cancer. However, that is not the only cancer that smoking causes, as roughly 80% of people with oral cancer are heavy smokers. Alcohol is another huge risk factor as 70% of oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers.

5. If oral cancer is discovered early enough, the cure rate is around 90%

The biggest concern about oral cancer is that it is not discovered soon enough. That is why it is important not to overlook any suspicious bumps that appear in your mouth, and to give your oral surgeon a call as soon as you see it.

Head and neck cancers are not usually discovered soon enough. Make sure you are practicing regular self-examinations, and contact our office today at Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660 for an oral cancer screening

New Trends In Dental Implants

dental implant structureA 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 Ascension Oral Surgery to find out what tooth replacement options may be right for you!

Are You At Risk For Oropharyngeal Cancer

oral cancer cellsEarly diagnosis can be a key component to giving you a fighting chance against the various types of head and neck cancer. There are many physical symptoms to look for when recognizing the signs of oral cancer aside from more commonly known warning signs such as a lump in the throat, mouth sores, and swelling of the jaw. These often mimic less serious conditions such as headaches, coughing, vocal changes, and a sore throat. Some also report ear pain, loss of hearing, or a ringing in the ears.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Factors found to put you at a greater risk for oropharyngeal cancer include poor nutrition, using tobacco products, sunlight exposure (particularly in cases of lip cancer), alcohol abuse, radiation exposure (usually from a previous treatment) and HPV.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Oral Cancer

It is believed that at least 75% of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco and alcohol use. Abstaining from using these substances can drastically decrease your risk, but it is also important to realize that genetics play an important role in the way that our immune system reacts and so some will be more genetically predisposed to cancer than others.

HPV and Oral Cancer

Another large factor causing oropharyngeal cancer (involving areas such as the back of the throat, tongue, and tonsils) is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Doctors have recently found that somewhere between 50-70% of oral cancers are caused by HPV, which doesn’t show symptoms in those it infects until much later according to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. Although there is a vaccination for this virus, there is currently no cure. There are nearly two hundred strains of it, and it is estimated that somewhere between nine and fifteen are cancer causing. About fourteen million people become newly infected each year and most sexually active men and women will contract at least one type of HPV at some point in their lifetime.

While studies now show that HPV now accounts for about 70% of oropharyngeal cancer, many cancers are believed to be a caused by a combination of using tobacco and alcohol as well.

In any case, early detection is the key to leaving yourself open to the best possible outcome. Call us at Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660 to schedule a screening today!

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 Ascension Oral 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 Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660.

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 Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660 or visit oralcancerfoundation.org.

Where Do Dental Implants Come From?

kid studyingDental implants have a surprisingly rich and interesting history. Across centuries and throughout cultures around the world there is evidence of attempts at replacing missing teeth with various objects and materials.

The oldest dental implants can be traced back to 2000 BC in China, where missing teeth were substituted with bamboo pegs.

Fast forward a bit to around 1000 BC and you’ll find an ancient Egyptian King whose tomb was recently discovered along with his mummified remains; a copper peg hammered into place where a tooth once lived. This may have been the first time in history that we know of when metal implants were used.

Across the globe some time around 300 BC, an iron tooth was found in a French grave thought to be Celtic in origin. It is possible this implant may have been a post-mortem placement to honor the dead, as an attempt to perform the surgery using a live patient would have been an excruciatingly painful process.

Just 2000 years ago missing teeth were being substituted for animal teeth, and the poor were even selling their teeth to the wealthy, just to make ends meet! The body often rejected these surrogate teeth, causing infection.

More recently in 1931 in Honduras, Dr. Wilson Monroe and his wife found a jawbone amongst other artifacts, with teeth fashioned from shells and attached to the jawbone of an ancient man.

Today we are lucky enough to have dental implants that not only look and feel like real teeth, and anesthesia for the pain is also a plus. Thanks to studies conducted by Per-Ingvar Brånemark of Sweden in the 1950’s, oral surgeons have been able to perfect the process over the years to create today’s implants, which have a 98% success rate! Through a process known as osseointegration, metals and other implant materials are able to be skillfully placed so that your jaw bone actually attaches itself to the implant creating a seamless support system.

Missing a tooth or two? Give us a call at Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660 to discuss your dental implant options today!

Tooth Extraction – Managing Pain

cartoon image of man kicking painThe 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 Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660

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 staring

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 Ascension Oral Surgery, our commitment to your care, comfort, health and safety is evident from the minute you walk through our door. Call us at Prairieville Office Phone Number 225-744-2660 for more information about oral cancer.

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Walking for Those Who Crawl

march for babiesMarch of Dimes
Premature babies are those that are born before the normal 37-week gestational period. These babies have various health issues, which can affect them over their lifetime. Sadly, some premature babies won’t make it – which is what March of Dimes aims to prevent.

What is March for Babies?
March for Babies supports the prevention and research of pre-term births through charitable walks in the month of march. The goal is to raise funds to help mothers give birth to healthy, full term babies while researching the possible causes and preventions of premature birth.

Why You Should Get Involved
Whether you’re a mother, father, kid, soon-to-be mother/father, know someone who’s been pregnant or is thinking about children – this affects you and you can make a difference. Becoming informed and learning more about premature babies is the first step.

How You Can Help
March for Babies makes it easy to help! Spread awareness about premature babies and encourage everyone around you to do the same. If you are interested in donating, rest assured that your money will go toward supporting premature babies through research into prevention and causes of premature birth.

You don’t need to donate money to help. Some other ways to contribute include:
• Getting informed by visiting the March for Babies website: https://www.marchforbabies.org/
• Raising awareness
• Walking in a local event

Donate a Homemade Hat to a Local Hospital
If you can knit or crochet and are interested in hand-making a preemie baby hat, consider donating one to a local hospital! Local hospitals are always in need of hats for babies and you can take pride in knowing that you are keeping a baby’s head warm.

Will you help us get the word out?