Dr. Brian Harris

Dental Implant Success

What do you use your teeth for? Eating, drinking, speaking, laughing, the list goes on! How are these affected when you have tooth loss? dental implant
If you have missing teeth, you could be missing a lot! A very reliable and safe method for replacing teeth is dental implants.

Dental implants permanently attach prosthetic teeth to small posts or “roots” that are embedded in the jaw. These posts are made of titanium, and securely fuse to the jaw bone, this helps restore the full functionality of previously missing teeth.

Dental implants not only effectively and reliably replace missing teeth, but also help prevent the loss of jawbone density, restore the support of facial structures, and provide you with the support you need to effectively use your teeth.

The procedure for dental implants can be a quick and easy, and in some cases, can be done in a single day. Your implants become part of you, so they eliminate the discomfort of removable dentures. They also prevent the embarrassment of removing dentures at every snack or meal, as well as the need for denture adhesives.

Sliding dentures can make chewing difficult. Dental implants function like your own teeth, allowing you to eat your favorite foods with confidence and without pain. Nearby teeth are not altered in order to support a dental implant, thus more of your own teeth are left intact, improving oral health in the long-term as well as your oral hygiene.

Dental implants are very durable, lasting several years, and if they are in good care, can last a lifetime.
Don’t miss out with missing teeth, get your smile back and feel better about yourself!
Here at Sierra Foothills Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery we specialize in dental implants, so give us a call today to discuss your future implant success!

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Oral & Oropharyngeal Cancers

Worldwide, over 550,000 new cases of Oral, Head and Neck cancer are diagnosed each year. oropharyngeal cancer cells

Oropharyngeal cancer is slightly different from oral cancer. Oropharyngeal cancers are related to HPV (Human papilloma virus) and usually occur in the tonsils or at the base of the tongue, while oral cancers are in the mouth and usually associated with tobacco use.

The Oral Cavity
The oral cavity incudes the lips, the inside lining of the lips and cheeks, the teeth, the gums, the front two-thirds of the tongue, the floor of the mouth below the tongue, and the bony roof of the mouth – also known as the hard palate.

The Orpharynx
Behind the wisdom teeth is considered the oropharynx, which is part of the throat just behind the mouth. It also includes the base of the tongue, the soft palate (back of the mouth), the tonsils, and the side and back wall of the throat.

Categories
Oral and Oropharyngeal cancers are sorted into 3 categories: Benign (non-cancerous), harmless growths that may develop into cancer, and cancerous tumors. This is why regular check-ups with your dental professional are key to your overall well-being.

The Team Involved
The treatment of head and neck cancers does not involve just your dental team, the assistance of many different professionals contributes is required. There may be surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, dentists, nutritionists, and speech therapists all involved in your treatment.

Oral cancers are found as late stage three and four diseases about 66% of the time.
It is very important for you to check yourself at home as well as visiting your dentist.

Call Sierra Foothills Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to schedule your routine dental check up and oral cancer screening today 916-786-3930

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Dental Implants: High Tech Teeth

What are dental implants? Dental implants are replacement tooth roots that provide a foundation for both fixed and removable replacement teeth. Like roots, dental implants are secured within the jawbone and not visible once surgically placed. Teeth replacement is not new to dental technology. Early civilizations practiced teeth replacements; archaeologists have discovered skulls where teeth have been replaced by cast iron and sea shells. Despite their primitive methods, some of these implants were fused with bone like modern dental implants! However, unlike the ancient cast iron or sea shell implants, modern implants are composed of titanium. Titanium is lightweight, strong, and biocompatible. Dental Implants High Tech Teeth

According to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID), dental implants have the highest success rate of any implanted surgical device — 98%. Dental implants are available in several designs that meet individual needs: single tooth replacement, multiple tooth replacement, implant supported prosthesis (removable), and an implant stabilized denture. Aside from meeting individual needs, there are a few other advantages to having dental implants:

  1. Improved appearance. Dental implants are designed to fuse with bone, and look and feel like your natural teeth.
  2. Improved comfort. Because dental implants become an extension of your natural mouth, implants remove the discomfort associated with removable dentures.
  3. Easier eating. Dental implants act as your natural teeth, allowing you to eat without the pain and discomfort that often accompany slipping of dentures.
  4. Improved self-esteem. Dental implants give your best natural smiling, helping build self-confidence!
  5. Improved oral health. Dental implants are the only proven way to prevent bone loss after the loss of natural teeth. The jawbone needs consistent chewing action to stimulate continual bone growth. Tooth/teeth replacement with dental implants offers a solution to prevent bone loss.
  6. With proper care, consistent brushing, flossing and routine dental visits, dental implants can last 40-years to life.

If you are interested in dental implants, or have any questions regarding the procedure, call the office today!

Modern Options for Bone Grafting Technology

Bones, grafting, or any combination of the two are rarely the subject of casual conversation. Most of us, regardless of our profession, are happier discussing recent football scores, the price of gasoline, or the abnormally high number of Dunkin Doughnut franchise locations. Perhaps for it is for this very reason, however, that we should bring up this important topic–to raise awareness, maximize modern technology, and inform the public about the options offered in terms of dental implant surgery. artistic render of wisdom tooth

Bone grafting for dental implants is the process by which bone tissue is placed (grafted) into the mouth to act as a placeholder for tissue that has been lost. In the modern medical landscape this is a safe, painless, and routine process: indeed, more than two million bone-grafting operations occur worldwide each year, making bone the second most transplanted organ (after blood!).

As well as natural bone tissue, synthetic tissue is an alternative for patients seeking the best results. Structured as a ‘biodegradable scaffold’ that can be implanted within the body and trigger bone regeneration, this strong, flexible material has been compared to tire rubber! Dr. Karin Hing, author of the study and reader in Biomedical Materials at Queen Mary’s University of London Institute of Bioengineering stated that the challenge being tackled currently is the development of a graft that is as clever as bone. By mechanically evaluating the way bone adapts to its environment and reacts to chemical and physical components, progress is taking place in leaps and bounds.

What does this mean for the average person who just wants to be happy with their mouth? Comfortable outpatient procedures complete with local anesthesia or intravenous sedation make bone grafting a sensible and worry-free choice. Browse our procedures page for more information on maximizing your resources!

The Benefits of Jaw Surgery

As doctors, we always weigh the risks and benefits of any procedure or medication therapy. One of the most significant procedures that we perform in our office is orthognathic surgery, more commonly known as “jaw surgery”. man holding jaw in pain

Orthognathic surgery has the ability to enhance a patient’s life, giving him or her the comfort needed to eat properly and, often, the freedom from pain. Because the decision to have jaw surgery is such a serious one, we would like to take a moment to look at the positive side of the procedure in this blog, focusing on the benefits of orthognathic surgery:

  • Pain Relief – There are several reasons that a person may experience jaw pain bad enough to warrant orthognathic surgery. They may have unnecessarily been causing excessive wear and tear in the joints over many years and living with constant inflammation. Correcting the alignment of the jaws through surgery is sometimes the only way to set the jaw back on the correct path, reducing strain and therefore pain. Another common scenario occurs with injury to the jaw, often from trauma caused by car and sports accidents. If the jaw is knocked too far out of place or suffers significant trauma, it may not heal on its own and may require resetting through a surgical procedure. These two situations represent occasions where the benefits of orthognathic surgery far outweigh the risks.
  • Regular Eating Patterns – A misaligned jaw can make it difficult to chew and swallow, particularly if your teeth do not line up correctly. Often, braces are not enough to correct the alignment issues with the teeth and the jaw itself must be altered. Sometimes, patients don’t even know that they are working too hard to chew because they are used to it always having been that way. Once their bite is corrected through surgery, they are pleasantly surprised to find a significant enhancement in their quality of life.
  • Better Overall Health – The health of your body starts in your mouth. Proper nutrition is key to everything from longevity to happiness. Whether your jaws are misaligned from injury or genetics – if your bite is significantly affected, your nutritional habits may be as well, and orthognathic surgery may be the best option for getting your health back on track.

How Many Wisdom Teeth Do You Have?

Wisdom tooth removal has become somewhat of a rite of passage – puffy-cheeked post-extraction photos, a diet of Jell-O and mashed potatoes. But not everyone gets their wisdom teeth taken out. In fact, not everyone has wisdom teeth at all! Have you ever wondered why some people have four wisdom teeth while others have fewer or even none? We’ve got the facts behind how many wisdom teeth people have and why! ??????

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Third molars, or wisdom teeth, were once very useful to our ancestors. Because prehistoric man’s diet of hard-to-chew plants and uncooked meat required powerful chewing muscles, our ancestors’ jaws were large enough to fit 32 teeth, not just 28. Now that humans have evolved a better means of chewing and digesting our food, we no longer have large jaws, so we simply have no need or no room for wisdom teeth. Many scientists believe humans are currently evolving third molar hypodontia, or the lack of wisdom teeth, due to their inability to develop in the first place.

How many people have wisdom teeth?

About 20-25% of the human population is born with 1 to 3 wisdom teeth, and 35% is born without any wisdom teeth at all.

Why do some people have wisdom teeth and some don’t?

There are a few reasons why scientists believe that not everyone develops wisdom teeth:

  1. Genetics: Some evidence suggests that a genetic mutation occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago, causing some people to be born without wisdom teeth.
  2. Environment: Percentages of people who develop wisdom teeth varies from culture to culture. Certain ethnic groups are known for low percentages of wisdom teeth development, while others are known for high percentages. Environmental factors during dental development are also a possible explanation.

Will wisdom teeth become obsolete?

With the number of people lacking wisdom teeth steadily growing, it’s possible that we could someday completely evolve to not develop wisdom teeth at all. Scientists have experimented with chemically preventing the development of wisdom teeth.  Researchers have found that children ages 2-6 that are given local anesthesia for dental work have a higher chance of not developing wisdom teeth later on. Maybe in the future, simple injections at a young age will keep all of us from having to go through wisdom tooth extraction!

On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer screenings are performed regularly at dental exams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your dental hygiene between appointments. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to maintain your oral health. Not sure how to screen for oral cancer? We’ll show you! woman getting checked for Oral Cancer

What is oral pathology?
This branch of dentistry involves the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the mouth. The most dangerous, but not always the most obvious, of these diseases is oral cancer.
What should I look for?
Keep an eye out for these oral cancer symptoms during your self-screenings:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Lumps on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Chronic throat soreness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Mouth numbness

How do I perform an oral cancer self-exam?

  1. When performing your oral cancer self-screening, be sure to check all areas of the mouth, including the roof, floor, tongue, lips, cheeks and the back of your throat.
  2. Examine your face in the mirror for abnormal asymmetry and irregularities.
  3. Feel your neck and the back of your head with your fingers to look for any bumps or changes in texture.
  4. Examine your throat by placing your fingers around your thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) and swallowing.

How often should I perform a self-exam?
Self-exams should be performed at least once a month. Changes to your oral health can occur rapidly, so it’s important to stay on top of things. Treatment is most effective if we detect symptoms early.
Ask us about performing an oral cancer screening when you visit – we’re here to ease your mind and give you the tools you need to maintain your health!

Orthognathic Surgery: The Post-Surgery Diet

Orthognathic surgery, commonly referred to as “jaw surgery,” is used to correct a wide range of both minor and major skeletal and dental irregularities, often the misalignment of the jaws and teeth. Patients looking at undergoing orthognathic surgery are often faced with an extensive recovery period, as well as a restricted diet in the beginning of their recovery process. Post-surgery patients are discouraged from chewing to allow the bone to heal and stabilize. Due to the fact that adequate healing can take up to 8-12 weeks, patients will initially be on the “swallowing diet” for a number of weeks. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

When it comes to the “swallowing diet,” the name of the game is high calorie, high protein, and low volume. Facing a large volume of liquid each meal that meets both the necessary caloric and protein needs can be overwhelming. Consuming enough calories, as well as enough protein is a necessity to heal in a timely manner. In order to get adequate volume of fluid and nutrition daily, it may require you to eat smaller meals 5-6 times per day, rather than the usual 3 times per day.

Patients who are well prepared for their surgery often have a smoother recovery. Here is an example of smoothie recipe a patient can consume following orthognathic surgery:

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

  • 2 chilled bananas, broken into chunks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 cups ice cubs
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste

Place bananas, milk, peanut butter, honey, and ice cubes in a blender; blend until smooth, about 30 seconds.

Though patients are faced with a restricted diet post-surgery, it is important to remember to try and maintain a balanced diet. In particular, foods rich in vitamins A and C. According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), plenty of vitamin C is one way post-surgery patients ensure a timely recovery!

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