Illinois Jaw Docs

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

cartoon of an impacted toothWe 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 people 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 and we will go over your options with you!

Oral Health- A Mouth-Body Connection

woman smiling pointing at her mouthYou may have heard the saying that the eyes are the window to the soul, but did you know that the mouth is the window to overall health? When you think about health goals you may picture the gym and kale smoothies, but oral hygiene is just as important.

By taking a look inside your mouth, your dentist can tell many things about your overall health. An unhealthy mouth can be a sign of an unhealthy body, and many oral conditions can be a sign of serious underlying health problems.

Protecting your oral health is a positive step towards a healthy body. A few simple steps can be taken to preserve your oral health.

– Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes. Brushing and flossing your teeth keep them and your gums clean and healthy. Regular brushing and flossing reduces plaque build-up that can lead to gum disease and other periodontal diseases.
– Scheduling check-ups and cleanings with your dentist. Visiting your dentist every six months is vital to your oral health and can prevent oral related problems such as gum disease and tooth decay from developing. Your dentist will perform an examination of your mouth and can give you recommendations on how to improve your oral health.
– A healthy diet and exercise. Regular light exercise can help reduce the risk of periodontal disease. Coupled with a balanced diet, your body will be able to get the nutrients needed for a healthy body.

This year, be sure to add oral health goals to your list of resolutions – your teeth and your body will thank you!

When Should You Consider Dental Implants?

woman getting fit for dental implantsYou may have heard in the past that dental implants are one of the most effective ways to replace missing or damaged teeth. Dental implants are a great option for a lot of different situations, but when is getting a dental implant the best option for you? There are a few circumstances where receiving an implant might be the best option for improving your smile.

Dental implants typically consist of three components: the post, the abutment, and the restoration. The post is a screw which is inserted into the bone. The abutment is attached to the post and the restoration is placed on top, giving the finished product a beautiful, realistic look.

To restore and preserve your appearance.

One of the main functions of dental implants is to restore a smile back to its original glory. They are built to last a lifetime and last much longer than dental bridges. If you are looking for a permanent solution to damaged or missing teeth, dental implants are your best option.

To protect and preserve a healthy jawbone.

Missing spaces in your smile can lead your jawbone to deterioration, which causes it to lose its strength. Dental implants are the only option which will protect and save your natural bone. Waiting to get a dental implant can continue to increase the chances of your jawbone not being able to support dental implants in the future.

To stop your teeth from shifting.

Losing a tooth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift and look unnatural. These teeth can become crowded or can be shifted unevenly. This can cause your teeth to become harder to clean and can also cause your face to sag and appear sunken.

These are just a few of the instances in which you should consider getting dental implants. Dental implants are one of the most useful and successful restoration options available today. For more information on how we can restore your smile with dental implants, contact us today.

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 Champaign Office Phone Number (217) 351-7111 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.

The Most Common Types of Bone Grafting

digital model of a mouthBone 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 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.

Dental Implants – The Recovery

'dental implant recovery'

The 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, 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 today.

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.)

Orthognathic Surgery

'woman smiling'What 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 give us a call today!

How to Take Care of Your Dental Implants

'man flossing teeth in mirror'Cleaning and taking care of your implant is just as important as cleaning your natural teeth. Here are some things you should know about caring for your implant.

Your implant and your natural teeth are similar because they both rely on healthy tissue for support and both can build up plaque. It’s important to remove that plaque because it can develop into an infection. If the infection isn’t properly treated, it can result in a loss of bone around the implant which could progress to the loss of the implant itself.

It’s important to get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis so your dental hygienist can get that biofilm off your teeth and keep your teeth infection-free. As always, you should be brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day. Never use your teeth, especially your implant as “scissors” to open anything.

Dental implants are the closest thing you can get to real and natural teeth. They don’t require any special products or treatment. Just a simple brush and floss will do the job. They are also long lasting. If they are properly cared for, they can last a lifetime, avoiding any further dental work down the road.

With a dental implant, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods. It will not loosen or fall out if you are chewing something hard.

Overall, dental implants are meant to make life better and easier, not to add issues or interrupt your life. You don’t have to go out of your way to take care of them – a simple brush and floss will ensure that they improve your overall quality of life for many years to come.

If you think a dental implant may be right for you, call us today to schedule a consultation with us.

Impacted

When you hear this word in our office, it is most likely that we are talking about your wisdom teeth. And while we know that it may sound scary to have “impacted wisdom teeth”, we want you to know that, actually, it is very common.

What are impacted wisdom teeth?
Throughout evolutionary history, human mouths (jaws) have become increasingly smaller. While the jaws have gotten smaller, the amount of teeth we have has not. So now we have the same amount of teeth squeezing into a smaller space. Because wisdom teeth are the last to erupt, they often become impacted – that is, blocked by the other teeth around them. Often they are growing in sideways or unable to erupt through the gums at all due to crowding.

Why do wisdom teeth need removal?
The inability to erupt properly means that wisdom teeth can cause a lot of pain and even become infected down the road. This is the main reason that we recommend the removal of all third molars (another name for wisdom teeth). The reason that we remove them during the teen years is that the bone is still soft and recovery from the surgery is taken by the patient much better at this age. If we were to wait, your teeth may become infected, your bite crooked, and it may be too late at some point for us to take them out.

Types of Impaction:

  • Vertical Impaction – In this case, the tooth is unable to break through the gum line. Vertical impaction is very common.
  • Mesioangular Impaction – Angled toward the front of the mouth, the tooth is probably pushing on its neighbor, causing pain and crowding. This type of impaction is also very common.
  • Distoangular Impaction – This tooth is angled toward the rear of the mouth, it is uncommon.
  • Horizontal Impaction – In this case, the tooth is a complete 90 degrees from where it should be, and is likely growing into the roots of its neighboring tooth. This is very rare.

What is the removal procedure like?
You will be completely pain-free during the surgery, which takes just about an hour. You will also be sent home with instructions for pain management, eating and rest orders.

What is recovery like?
You will recover comfortably at home. You can start drinking liquids and soft foods as soon as you feel ready, but should avoid crunchy foods, extra hot or cold items, and straws (NO STRAWS!). You can expect to resume some of your normal activities a few days post-operation.

If you have any questions about wisdom teeth removal or aren’t sure if you even need the procedure, give us a call!