When the extraction of a tooth is required:
- An incision in the gums is made
- The tooth is removed
- The area is stitched up and is allowed to heal
During this time, it is important to think about a tooth replacement option. An extracted tooth leaves an open area in the jaw which, in time, allows the neighboring teeth to drift into the area where the tooth was extracted. This in turn, causes a chain reaction to all the surrounding teeth. Also, if you are considering placing an implant in the future, you should consider asking your dentist to place a bone graft at the time of surgery to preserve the bone width and height.
Bone grafting is commonly performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to replace or augment bone in areas of tooth loss. Bone grafting to the jaws and facial structures may be necessary in a wide variety of scenarios. The most common bone grafts are facial skeleton and jaw procedures. Other common procedures include tooth extraction site graft, bone graft reconstruction and for a sinus lift. Shrinkage of bone often occurs when a tooth is lost due to trauma, severe caries, or periodontal disease. Additionally, bone loss may have already occurred due to infection or pathology around a tooth. There are many artificial biocompatible bone substitutes available; however, the best material for a bone graft is your own bone, which most likely will come from your chin, the back part of your lower jaw or your hip bone. The hip is considered to be a better source because the hip bone has a lot of marrow, which contains bone-forming cells. There are also synthetic materials that can be used for bone grafting. Most bone grafts use a person's own bone, possibly in combination with other materials.
To place the removed bone in the recipient site, little holes are drilled in the existing bone to cause bleeding. This is done because blood provides cells that help the bone heal. The block of bone that was removed will be anchored in place with titanium screws. A mixture of the patient's bone marrow and some other bone-graft material will then be placed around the edges of bone block. Finally, a membrane is placed over the area and the incision closed.
The bone graft will take about 4 to 6 months to heal before dental implants can be placed. At that time, the titanium screws used to anchor the bone block in place will be removed before the implant is placed.
Dr. Weisz works with highly trained specialists, who are trained, skilled and uniquely qualified to manage and treat facial trauma. Injuries to the face, by their very nature, impart a high degree of emotional, as well as physical trauma to patients. Some of our doctors may also be on staff at local hospitals to deliver emergency room coverage for facial injuries, which include the following conditions:
- Facial lacerations
- Intra oral lacerations
- Avulsed (knocked out) teeth
- Fractured facial bones (cheek, nose or eye socket)
- Fractured jaws (upper and lower jaw)
The Nature of Maxillofacial Trauma
There are a number of possible causes of facial trauma; e.g. Motor vehicle accidents, accidental falls, sports injuries, interpersonal violence and work related injuries. Maxillofacial facial injuries can range from injuries of the teeth to severe injuries of the skin and bones of the face. Typically, facial injuries are classified as either soft tissue injuries (skin and gums), bone injuries (fractures), or injuries to special regions (such as the eyes, facial nerves or the salivary glands).
Soft Tissue Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
When soft tissue injuries such as lacerations occur on the face, they are repaired by suturing. In addition to the obvious concern of providing a repair that yields the best cosmetic result possible, care is taken to inspect for and treat injuries to structures such as facial nerves, salivary glands and salivary ducts (outflow channels). Dr. Weisz is proficient at diagnosing and treating all types of facial lacerations.
Bone Injuries of the Maxillofacial Region
Fractures of the bones of the face are treated in a manner similar to the fractures in other parts of the body. The specific form of treatment is determined by various factors, which include the location of the fracture, the severity of the fracture, and the patients age and overall health. When an arm or a leg is fractured, a cast is often applied to stabilize the bone to allow for proper healing. Since a cast cannot be placed on the face, other means have been developed to stabilize facial fractures.
One of these options involves wiring the jaws together for certain fractures of the upper and/or lower jaw. Certain other types of fractures of the jaw are best treated and stabilized by the surgical placement of small plates and screws at the involved site. This technique called "rigid fixation" of a fracture profoundly improved the recovery period for many patients, allowing them to return to normal function more quickly. The treatment of facial fractures is accomplished in a thorough and predictable manner so the patient's facial appearance to be minimally affected.
Injuries to the Teeth and Surrounding Dental Structures
Isolated injuries to teeth are quite common and may require the expertise of various dental specialists. Oral surgeons usually are involved in treating fractures in the supporting bone or in replanting teeth that have been displaced or knocked out. These types of injuries are treated by one of a number of forms of splinting (stabilizing by wiring or bonding teeth together). If a tooth is knocked out, it should be placed in salt water or milk. The sooner the tooth is re-inserted into the dental socket, the better chance it will survive. Therefore, the patient should see a dentist or oral surgeon as soon as possible. Never attempt to wipe the tooth off, since remnants of the ligament that hold the tooth in the jaw are attached and are vital to the success of replanting the tooth. Other dental specialists may be called upon such as endodontists, who may be asked to perform root canal therapy, and/or restorative dentists who may need to repair or rebuild fractured teeth. In the event that injured teeth cannot be saved or repaired, dental implants are often now utilized as replacements for missing teeth.
Orthognathic surgery is needed when jaws don't meet correctly and/or teeth don't seem to fit with jaws. Teeth are straightened with orthodontics and corrective jaw surgery repositions misaligned jaws. This not only improves facial appearance, but also ensures that teeth meet correctly and function properly.
Who Needs Orthognathic Surgery?
People who can benefit from Orthognathic surgery include those with an improper bite or jaws that are positioned incorrectly. Jaw growth is a gradual process and in some instances, the upper and lower jaws may grow at different rates. The result can be a host of problems that can affect chewing function, speech, long-term oral health and appearance. Injury to the jaw and birth defects can also affect jaw alignment. Orthodontics alone can correct bite problems when only the teeth are involved. Orthognathic surgery may be required for the jaws when needing repositioning.
Difficulty in the following areas should be evaluated:
- Difficulty in chewing, biting or swallowing
- Speech problems
- Chronic jaw or TMJ pain
- Open bite
- Protruding jaw
- Breathing problems
Any of these can exist at birth or may be acquired after birth as a result of hereditary or environmental influences or the result of trauma to the face. Before any treatment begins, a consultation will be held to perform a complete examination with x-rays. During the pre-treatment consultation process, feel free to ask any questions that you have regarding your treatment. When you are fully informed about the aspects of your care, you and your dental team will make the decision to proceed with treatment together.
Technology and Orthognathic Surgery
Our office uses modern computer techniques and three-dimensional models to show you exactly how your surgery will be approached. Using comprehensive facial X-rays and computer video imaging, we can show you how your bite will be improved and even give you an idea of how you'll look after surgery. This helps you understand the surgical process and the extent of the treatment prescribed and to see the benefits of Orthognathic surgery.
If you are a candidate for Corrective Jaw Surgery, we will work closely with your dentist and orthodontist during your treatment. The actual surgery can move your teeth and jaws into a new position that results in a more attractive, functional and healthy dental-facial relationship.
The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer.
The following can be signs at the beginning of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
- A sore that fails to heal and bleeds easily.
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing.
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology, and curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer. We would recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly and remember that your mouth is one of your body's most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help.