Dr. Bradley Hammond

Bite Sized Wisdom: Facts on Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, the late blooming elder teeth of your mouth, behave a little differently than your other teeth.

Know the facts:

  • Bite Sized Wisdom- Knowing the Facts on Wisdom TeethWisdom teeth get their name from the time frame at which they finally show up in your mouth. They typically appear in a person’s late teens or early twenties, sometimes called “The Age of Wisdom,” though your parents may disagree.
  • Wisdom teeth cause trouble because they often grow at odd angles. This makes it hard for them to break out of your gum, if at all.
  • Another reason wisdom teeth often can’t get out of gums is because there is not enough room for them. The plus side is that this could be because you’ve kept your teeth nice and straight.
  • Some people never grow wisdom teeth!
  • Wisdom teeth, among other teeth, house valuable stem cells that can be saved to help you treat other conditions you may have down the road. A pearl of wisdom for you.
  • Wisdom teeth removal, with proper sedation, is painless. The tough part is recovery, which can last a few days to several weeks. Following your physician’s instructions will help you through recovery as quickly as possible.
  • In ancient times, when diets were harder on teeth, wisdom teeth made more sense. People couldn’t influence the way their teeth moved around so it was easier for wisdom teeth to find space to pop in. With today’s high-quality dental care, wisdom teeth aren’t necessary.
  • Given that most people end up removing these teeth surgically, research is being done to find ways to prevent their growth altogether. This would save a trip to the surgeon!
  • You may or may not ever notice that your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Some people notice some pain or irritation, some notice nothing at all. Making an appointment with our office is the only way to know for sure.
  • Most people have four wisdom teeth. It’s possible to have fewer or more than four, though it’s very uncommon.

Wisdom teeth can be quirky and troublesome. To make sure you or your child’s wisdom teeth aren’t creating difficulties down the road, make an appointment with us today!

The Miracle of Bone Grafting

The Miracle of Bone GraftingBone grafting is something of a miracle. Although you only get one set of bones, it’s actually possible to convince your body to repair itself with new bone material where you need it most. We aren’t talking about growing a whole femur. We’re talking about growing just enough bone material to strengthen weak spots in your jaw.

Why would I ever need this?
Let’s say you need a dental implant. You’re sick of that hole in your mouth where one of your teeth used to be, and you’re ready for a shiny new tooth to fill the gap. The problem is, your bone just isn’t strong enough to support the implant. Maybe you have periodontal disease, and the jaw bone is just too weak. Bone grafting may be necessary.

How does it work?
Simply put, bone grafting is the process of taking a little bone material from another site in your body and placing it where it is most needed. The healthy bone then fuses with the weak bone and encourages your body to grow more bone in the site, rebuilding the area to the point where it can support an implant.

There are a few ways to do this.
Sophisticated sounding terms to impress your friends:

  • Autogenous bone graft: Bone is removed from another site in your body and transplanted to where you need it. If you need just a little bone, it can be taken from another site in your mouth. But if there is not enough good material in your mouth, or you need a sizable amount, it can be taken from your hip, or your shin.
  • Allograft: Synthetic bone can be grown in a lab, or taken from a cadaver bone. This is a perfectly safe, proven procedure, though your best bet is always your own bone material. Your body knows there’s just no place like home.
  • Xenograft: Cow bone. Yes. Your body will accept cow bone. In this scenario, no secondary donor site is needed, so it may be a great option if you are uncomfortable with having bone taken from another site in your body. This is a perfectly safe procedure. Your jaw can be beefed up with bovine bone.

No online article will let you know for sure whether or not you need bone grafting, but it is good to know something about it. Give us a call and come on down for a consultation, and we’ll let you know exactly what we think the best option is for you.

After Surgery: What to Feed a Delicate Mouth

There’s nothing like oral surgery to make you appreciate the solid foods and acidic drinks you can’t have right away. Sandwiches, chips, and orange juice should all be avoided after oral surgery such as wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, and orthognathic surgery. Too much chewing can re-open the sensitive areas of your mouth, and can cause bleeding or infection. But don’t worry–we have a few healthy food and beverage recommendations you can use while your mouth is delicate.

First 24 Hours

After Surgery- What to Feed a Delicate MouthFor the first 24 hours after your surgery, your teeth/jaw will need some time off. Therefore, smoothies, low-fat jello/puddings, and warm (not hot!) soups will be the most beneficial for your healing process. Soft foods are your friends! It is extremely important to refrain from using a straw, as the sucking causes excess strain, which can delay the healing process.

Here are a few recommendations for the first 24 hours:

Banana Shake: A healthy, filling way to start the day after your surgery. Don’t use a straw! Also, bananas help replace electrolytes and maintain fluid balance within your body. Other milkshakes and smoothies work great too, as long as they don’t have seeds in them that can get stuck in wounds.

Applesauce: You can’t eat apples, but this is the next best thing!

Soup: Soup with soft ingredients is a great way to go. Don’t include chunks of food that need lots of chewing. Make sure that it’s the right temperature for your sensitive mouth.

Mashed Potatoes: The softest food around. Mashed potatoes require very little effort from your mouth and have great calories and nutrition. Try different toppings to make things interesting.

Next Few Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start easing into enjoying solid foods again. Here are some tasty transitional foods (some can even help the healing process!)

Gnocci: Gnocci is one of the softest pastas there is. Try it with tomato sauce, powdered parmesan cheese and a hearty meat filling.

Hamburger Stroganoff: Minced or finely sliced meat is a good place to start, and cooked mushrooms should be soft enough not to bother you. Added sour cream will give the dish a smooth consistency.

We hope that these recommendations help! We genuinely want you to heal as quickly as possibly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to call us with any questions about the post oral surgery process.

Facial Trauma: Let a Pro Handle Your Injury

Facial trauma covers an array of conditions, but in general it’s an umbrella term for facial injury. This covers everything from tooth damage to eye socket injury. When it comes to mending damage to your face, you want to make sure an expert handles it. Facial trauma is not just about pain; it’s an emotional issue as well. This is about your face, and making sure you when you recover from your injury, you are still just as happy to see yourself in the mirror.

Facial trauma is a term that covers an array of conditions. There are soft tissue injuries, bone injuries, and injuries to special regions (including nerves, glands, or eyes).

Soft Tissue Injury
SFacial Trauma Let a Pro Handle Your Injuryuturing repairs laceration to soft tissue. These can be dissolvable stiches that your body absorbs, or artificial material that must be taken out later. Suturing facilitates faster healing, avoiding infection, and more cosmetically pleasing results. The main concern here is that you heal from the procedure looking as good as you did before your injury, and so we are always sure to closely examine you for nerve and gland damage. Your healing time will depend on the seriousness of your injury, and we can inform you on what to expect.

Bone Injury
We can’t put a cast on your face. How great is that? The alternatives depend on who/what/where/when of your particular case. In the case of a serious jaw fracture, we want to immobilize the fracture the same way a cast would. Since a cast is out of the question, we may wire the jaws together and use tiny plates and screws to hold the bone in the right place. While this sounds extreme, it leads to faster recovery time and a more rapid return to proper function.

Tooth Injury
Tooth injuries are very common, and just like the above injuries, require procedures that vary depending on the case. If your tooth gets chipped or knocked out, place it milk or salt water, and then call your dentist or our office immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that your tooth will survive. Also, don’t wipe the tooth off, as you could destroy important ligaments.

As you can see, facial trauma is a very complex, very delicate issue. If left in the wrong hands, the injury could heal in a less than preferable way, which could then necessitate another surgery to fix the results of the last one. If you have an accident, make sure you give our office a call so that we can handle your case, and get you looking good as new.

Dental Implants: What to Expect

Dental Implants-What to ExpectIf you have been considering dental implant surgery, you might be concerned about what to expect. Questions such as: “Will I need to take time off of work?”, “Will I need bone grafting?” and “How quickly will I heal?” are not uncommon. We get that you’ve got questions, and we’ve got answers.

Placing a dental implant is a process that is different for each patient. The healing process and the steps required all depend on what’s going on in your mouth. The only way to know exactly what to expect is to consult with us at our office, but we’d be happy to give you an overview here:

Can I go back to work right away?

You may have read that it can take months to completely heal from a dental implant procedure. This is true, but a little misleading. Many patients are able to return to work the next day, but the mouth takes time to truly be ‘good as new’. It all depends on your specific procedure. We recommend that you plan to rest for a day. Keep in mind that your body will heal faster if you avoid exhausting yourself. If you take good care of yourself, you should be back to work very quickly.

How can I care for myself while I heal?

After the surgery, you will need to go easy on your mouth. Just like after any oral surgery, we recommend eating only soft foods for at least two weeks. You may be given antibiotics and instructions to rinse with salt water. Keeping your mouth clean is important to prevent infection. Avoid smoking.

About Bone Grafting

It may be the case that your bone is not strong enough to support the implant. In this case, bone grafting may be necessary. During this routine procedure, we take bone from a stronger part of your jaw or another part of your body, implant it into the jaw and are thus able to encourage your body to begin growing strong, new bone in its place. If you only need a small amount of bone, it may be possible to do the procedure during the same appointment as your implant surgery. However, it may be the case that you need to wait for bone growth to occur prior to us placing the implant. Every case is different.

Let us properly inform you on what you personally can expect! Schedule an appointment today!

Preventing Oral Cancer

While we cannot all necessarily prevent cancer from happening, with most cancers, including oral, head and neck cancers, there are things that you can do (or not do!) to reduce your risk.

  • Preventing-Oral-CancerQuit Smoking: After five years of quitting smoking, your risk of oral cancer is cut down to just half of that of a smoker.
  • Limit Alcohol: Excessive alcohol use is the second largest risk factor for oral cancer. Limit drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
  • HPV Vaccine: HPV is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer (the back of the mouth and throat). HPV is also responsible for a small number of oral cavity cancers (the mouth).
  • Self-Exams: Be an advocate for your own health by regularly examining your mouth with a mirror and flashlight. Don’t forget to look under the tongue! Watch for unusual bumps, patches, different coloring, and report any to us that don’t heal within 14 days. Feel your lips, cheeks, throat and neck for unusual bumps and masses. There are a number of online guides for performing a thorough at home oral cancer self-exam.
  • Have Regular Checkups: Oral health professionals such as dentists and oral surgeons are the second line of defense (after you) in terms of screening for oral cancers. Be sure to ask us any questions that come up during your exam.
  • Eat Well: A healthy diet includes plentiful vegetables and fruits, is low in sugar and saturated fats, and includes lean sources of protein and whole grains. Incorporate new foods into your diet slowly for long lasting results.
  • Exercise: Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day or more!
  • Get Adequate Sleep and Minimize Stress: A lack of sleep and stress both contribute to inflammation which has long been recognized as a player in the cancer game.

10 Winter Skin Tips that Last a Lifetime

Let’s face it: dull, dry winter skin makes you look older. Just think back to summer when your skin was tan (fake, hopefully), taut, and glowing. Even in milder climates, winter skin is simply not the same as its moist, vibrant summer counterpart!

10-Winter-Skin-TipsIf you wake up in the winter feeling parched, you are not imagining it. Winter air is cooler, and cannot hold as much water as warm summer air. That combined with the use of a furnace create dry conditions that are not only uncomfortable for skin, but that also contribute to fine lines and a dull, scaly look.

All of these tips give skin instant relief and, at the same time, provide for healthier, younger looking skin down the road. Many of the signs of aging are due to a lack of care early on in life. Take care of your skin, and it will take care of you.

  1. Humidifiers: Increase the humidity in your room while you sleep with a warm or cool mist humidifier. Just be sure to follow the instructions for cleaning and sanitizing your humidifier exactly to avoid mold and bacteria problems.
  2. Hydrating Scrubs: A mixture of honey and sugar makes an easy DIY body scrub that is designed to hydrate, reduce inflammation and increase circulation.
  3. Lactic Acid Products: A powerful exfoliant, great for scaly winter skin and an excellent moisturizer at the same time, look for lactic acid washes, lotions and bath additives to bring back your glow.
  4. Oil and Lotion: Use an oil cleanser all over your body in the shower, and then slather on moisturizer after rinsing and gently towel drying.   The lotion will help keep the oil residue close to your skin.
  5. Shower Quickly: One of the worst things you can do for dry skin is to take a long, hot shower. This habit strips your skin of much needed moisture.
  6. Be Gentle: Use fine particle exfoliators and sensitive skin formulas in the winter.
  7. Sleep in Moisture: Slather lotion on very thickly (so that it is still visible) and then sleep in gloves and socks.
  8. Overnight Masks: There are a variety of overnight masks that can help with increasing moisture in the skin while you sleep!
  9. Body Care: It’s not just your face that is suffering from dry air, your neck, the backs of your hands and even your knees and elbows are common sites of obvious aging, so take extra care with them too.
  10. Sunblock: Yes, you must wear sunblock year-round, including during winter months.

If you are looking to take the next step toward a younger look, ask us about our cosmetic services!

Dental Implants: What’s All The Hype?

These days, we all know someone who has a dental implant, and you have probably heard us champion these teeth substitutes, as they become more and more the common cure for missing teeth!

Dental Implants What's all the HypeBut why?

We think that’s a valid question and it deserves a good answer!

Bone Loss
Any oral health professional will tell you that living with a missing tooth can have negative consequences that go well below the gum line. The problem doesn’t stop at the single tooth that goes missing. The jawbone also suffers. When there is not a tooth set in the jawbone offering regular stimulation, you lose bone mass in that area. That loss of jawbone contributes to a decline in facial aesthetics as the jaw shrinks away. The loss of jawbone also means that when you do have an implant later in life, you will likely require extensive bone grafting prior to the implant procedure. Traditional tooth “replacement” methods such as dentures and bridges do not solve the problem of bone loss.

In contrast, dental implants eliminate these problems and encourage a healthy, strong and adequate jaw by integrating with it (also known as: osseointegration). The implant then provides regular stimulation (as you chew food), and keeps the jawbone in proper health.

Lifestyle and Diet
Most people with dentures report that in addition to living in fear of their dentures falling out in social settings, they also must live with a restricted diet, unable to enjoy the foods that they previously ate. This same restricted diet goes for those with wobbly bridges and crowns as well. More often than not, those restricted foods are some of the healthiest ones, such as crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Dental implants look and feel nearly identical to your regular teeth, and are second only to your natural teeth when it comes to form and function. Dental implants allow you to eat and live freely with a healthy diet and without fear. In addition to that, dental implants have a 98% success rate and can often last you for a lifetime!

Wisdom Teeth FAQs

Our patients often wonder why we recommend wisdom tooth extractions, or what the purpose of wisdom teeth even is. We are eager to help you better understand the benefits of removal and the extraction process! Read on for the answers to some frequently asked questions about those tricky third molars.

Wisdom-Tooth-FAQWhy do we have wisdom teeth?
Human ancestors used their wisdom teeth to grind up food that was hard to digest. They had large jaws and powerful teeth with plenty of room for a third set of molars.

Modern humans, however, eat cooked foods and have a more effective digestive system, so we have evolved smaller jaws and teeth. This means less room in our mouths for wisdom teeth.

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth removed? 
There are several reasons why you may benefit from having your wisdom teeth extracted, as wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term and long-term complications.

  • Impaction: If there is not enough room for your wisdom teeth to erupt, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. You may experience pain or discomfort while eating due to impaction.
  • Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can push against your second molars, potentially damaging them and making them more susceptible to tooth decay.
  • Disease: Narrowed spaces between molars due to impaction also allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at risk of inflammation, cysts, and periodontal (gum) disease.

When should I get my wisdom teeth out? 
Wisdom teeth usually erupt between the ages of 17 and 25, which means that many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. The longer you wait, the more complications may arise. The roots of your wisdom teeth continue growing as you get older and may eventually come in contact with a nerve. At this point, nerve damage is a possible outcome of wisdom tooth extraction.

When are wisdom teeth okay to keep?
Sometimes, wisdom teeth have room to erupt healthily and do not need to be extracted. If this is the case, your dentist may recommend you keep your third molars.

Make sure you are coming in for regular check ups so our team can keep an eye on your wisdom teeth. Consult with our practice about the right course of action for your wisdom teeth, because everyone’s teeth are different.

Understanding Bone Grafting

Tooth loss as a result of periodontal (gum) disease, facial trauma or tooth extractions can cause the jaw bone to atrophy, as it no longer has something to support. As if bone deterioration isn’t bad enough, tooth replacement requires a solid foundation, meaning that patients with jawbone degeneration aren’t candidates for dental implants. Fortunately, our state-of-the-art restorative techniques allow us to augment areas with inadequate bone structure so we can restore your smile! We have the answers to all your bone grafting questions below, so keep reading!

Understanding-Bone-GraftingWhat is bone grafting?
During a bone grafting procedure, the jawbone is restored so it can support a dental implant. An incision is made in the gum and the bone graft material is transplanted into the jawbone. There are four types of bone grafts:

  1. Autogenous: bone grafts are harvested from other parts of your body, such as the chin or hip. They are the most effective because using your own living cells promotes natural bone growth.
  2. Allogenic: bone grafts are donor grafts collected from tissue banks.
  3. Xenogenic: bone grafts are harvested from other species, typically bovine donors.
  4. Synthetic: bone grafts are artificial bone material composed of calcium phosphates

When is bone grafting necessary?
Bone grafting procedures are routinely performed in preparation for dental implants. This is due to the fact that the implants are unable to anchor themselves into a stable foundation unless the jawbone is adequate.

How long after bone grafting can I get dental implants?
Minor bone grafting can be done the same day as dental implants, but major bone grafting requires downtime between procedures. Dental implants will be placed 4-9 months after your bone grafting procedure once the major bone grafts have had time to fuse with your natural jawbone. We will decide the best time to place your dental implants based on your recovery.

Give us a call if you think bone grafting can get you on track to replace missing teeth for natural, lasting, functional results!