Wagner Oral Surgeon & Dental Implant Specialists

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

Wisdom tooth emerging from the gums

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 pepole 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 262-634-4646
and we will go over your options with you!

5 Things You Might Not Know About Oral Cancer

burgundy 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 Racine Phone Number 262-634-4646 for an oral cancer screening!

The Most Common Types of Bone Grafting

digital model of a lower jawBone 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 Racine Phone Number 262-634-4646.

Better Breakfast for a Better Smile

fruit and grainsBreakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. It kick starts your body and provides you with enough energy to make it through your hectic morning as well as keep your mind focused on the task at hand. Eating a balanced breakfast is not only good for you body, but also good for your teeth. Being mindful of the acidity and sugar levels in your food is key to keeping your teeth in tip-top shape!

When it comes to breakfast foods, there are a few foods we recommend eating in moderation! These include, but are not limited to, orange juice and sugary cereals. Orange juice has a very high acidity and by drinking too much, the acid can wear down your tooth enamel. Cereals that are high in sugar have a similar effect on your teeth, but the sugar can also cause cavities.

Eating a balanced breakfast that is low in sugar and acid, but high in protein will make your body and teeth feel great! Protein rich foods will help to build up your enamel and keep your teeth stronger than ever.

Here are a few recipe ideas for a healthy and balanced breakfast:

Overnight Oats:

o 1/3 cup of oats
o 1/3 cup of milk (or substitute almond, soy, coconut, etc.)
o 1/3 cup of plain Greek Yogurt
o 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds OR ¼ cup chopped nuts
o Fresh fruit/ berries of your choice!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a sealed container, or mason jar, and place in fridge the night before. Open and enjoy the next morning for a healthy and balanced breakfast!

Avocado Toast:

o 1-2 slices of whole grain toast
o 1 ripe avocado
o 1 egg (cooked to your preference)
o 1 ripe tomato
o Seasonings of your choice (salt & pepper, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, etc.)

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 Racine Phone Number 262-634-4646 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 Racine Phone Number 262-634-4646.

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 Wagner Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Specialists, 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 Racine Phone Number 262-634-4646.

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How to Make Your Own Ice Cream

'ice cream'As you may or may not know, July is officially National Ice Cream Month! While it is fun to go and grab ice cream from your local shop down the street, it can be more fun and rewarding to make your own ice cream for you and your family to enjoy. Ice cream is also a great treat to enjoy after different types of oral surgery. You don’t need an ice cream maker in order to make delicious, creamy ice cream. Just follow our instructions below!

Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

– 2 cups of milk
– 3 tablespoons of sugar
– 2 teaspoons of vanilla

Materials:

– 3-4 cups of ice
– 2/3 cup salt
– 1 quart sized Ziploc bag
– 1 gallon sized Ziploc freezer bag

Instructions:

– Combine milk, vanilla and sugar in quart sized bag
– Press any air out of bag and seal tightly
– Mix ice and salt in gallon sized bag
– Place quart sized bag into gallon sized bag and seal tightly
– Shake the bag vigorously for about 5 minutes
– It will be very cold, be careful!
– Liquid inside smaller bag should start to harden
– Let bags sit for a few minutes with ice in large bag surrounding small bag
– Open bags up and scoop ice cream out
– Enjoy!!

As you can see, it isn’t hard to shake up some ice cream that the whole family can enjoy, using fairly standard household ingredients. Use chocolate/strawberry milk instead of regular milk to change the flavor, or use half and half for a creamier product. This year, celebrate National Ice Cream month by making your own ice cream at home!

Orthognathic Surgery

woman sitting in dental chairWhat 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 Racine Phone Number 262-634-4646.

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New Trends In Dental Implants

dental implants

A 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 Wagner Oral Surgery & Dental Implant Specialists to find out what tooth replacement options may be right for you!

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DR. NED MURPHY SWORN IN AS WDA PRESIDENT

I could not be more proud to see my friend and colleague Ned Murphy D.D.S. sworn in as Wisconsin Dental Association president. (WDAJ Vol 93(1):8-9, Jan-Feb 2017). Ned has worked tirelessly in the local, state, and national dental associations to seek excellence in dentistry as practitioners in Wisconsin provide for our patients as well as being an advocate for patient’s access to care. He has selflessly given his time and talents to the people in our communities and has been a stellar example for dentists, and for that matter, many practitioners as to what it means to “give back” and share your talents. Thank you, Ned, for all of your work.

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