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Dental X-rays and Your Child

August 10th, 2022

You’re parents, so you worry. It comes with the job description! That’s why you make regular appointments with your children’s doctors and dentists for preventive care and examinations. That’s why you make sure your kids wear mouth guards and other protective gear when playing sports. And that’s why you want to know all about the X-rays that are used when your children need dental treatment.

First of all, it’s reassuring to know that the amount of radiation we are exposed to from a single dental X-ray is very small. A set of bitewing X-rays, for example, exposes us to an amount of radiation that is approximately the same as the amount of radiation we receive from our natural surroundings in a single day.

Even so, doctors are especially careful when children need X-rays, because their bodies are still growing and their cells are developing more rapidly than adults. And children often have different oral and dental needs than adults, which can require different types of imaging.

In addition to the usual X-rays that are taken to discover cavities, fractures, or other problems, young patients might need X-rays from their dentists or orthodontists:

  • To confirm that their teeth and jaws are developing properly.
  • To make sure, as permanent teeth come in, that baby teeth aren’t interfering with the arrival and position of adult teeth, and that there’s enough space in the jaw to accommodate them.
  • To plan orthodontic treatment.

And if your child has any dental or medical conditions that can best be treated by an oral surgeon, diagnostic X-rays might be needed. Dental X-rays are used, for example, in order to:

  • Check the progress and placement of wisdom teeth before they are extracted.
  • Locate fractures, breaks, or other damage to the teeth and jaws after an accident or injury.
  • Discover and treat damage or infection which recurs after root canal work.
  • Diagnose and plan treatment for conditions which might require corrective jaw surgery.
  • Facilitate the placement of dental implants when children have lost or missing teeth. Because young jaws are still growing, this placement requires special care.

So, how do oral surgeons and radiologists make sure your child’s radiation exposure during any X-ray procedure is as minimal as possible?

Radiologists, the physicians who specialize in imaging procedures and diagnoses, recommend that all dentists and doctors follow the safety principal known as ALARA: “As Low As Reasonably Achievable.” This means using the lowest X-ray exposure necessary to achieve precise diagnostic results for all dental and medical patients.

Moreover, radiologists are devoted to raising awareness about the latest advances in imaging safety not only for dental and medical practitioners, but for the public, as well. With children in mind, pediatric radiologists from a number of professional associations have joined together to create the Image Gently Alliance, offering specific guidelines for the specific needs of young patients.

And because we are always concerned about the safety of our patients, medical and dental associations around the world, including the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and the Canadian Dental Hygienists Association, are Image Gently Alliance member organizations.

The guidelines recommended for X-rays and other imaging for young people have been designed to make sure all children have the safest experience possible whenever they visit the dentist or the doctor. As oral surgical specialists, Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman and our team work to restore children’s smiles through many different procedures, and we ensure that imaging is safe and effective in a number of ways:

  • We take X-rays only when they are necessary.
  • We provide protective gear, such as apron shields and thyroid collars, whenever needed.
  • We make use of modern X-ray equipment, for both traditional X-rays and digital X-rays, which exposes patients to a lower amount of radiation than ever before.
  • We set exposure times based on each child’s size and age, using the fastest film or digital image receptors.

We know your child’s health and safety are always on your mind, so you’re proactive about medical and dental care. And your child’s health and safety are always on our minds, too, so we’re proactive when it comes to all of our medical and dental procedures.

Please free to talk with our San Antonio or Castroville team about X-rays and any other imaging we recommend for your child. We want to put your mind at ease, knowing that X-rays will be taken only when necessary, will be geared to your child’s age and weight, and will be used with protective equipment in place. Because ensuring your child’s health and safety? That comes with our job description!

Eating Wisely after Wisdom Tooth Extraction

August 3rd, 2022

If wisdom tooth extraction is on your calendar, it’s a good idea to visit your grocery store ahead of time to stock up on smart diet options for post-surgery meals. It might be a few weeks before you heal completely, so we have some shopping list suggestions which are safe, soothing, and nutritious to get you through your recovery.

Smart Choices

Soft, Smooth, and Creamy

  • Soft-serve ice cream
  • Frozen yogurt
  • Yogurt
  • Pudding

Now is a good time to indulge yourself, and ice cream, yogurt, and pudding are easy on sensitive tissue and filled with protein, calcium, and vitamin D. Just remember—choose soft flavors with no crunchy, sticky, or chewy additions.  This means no cones, as well. Most important? Nothing with a straw. Suction can cause the dislodgement of the protective clot over your extraction site. And dislodgement of this protective cover can lead to a painful condition known as dry socket.

Sometimes we recommend a wait on milk products immediately after surgery due to anesthesia, medication, or other considerations—we’ll let you know if that’s the case, and when you can safely enjoy dairy products.

Comfort(able) Foods

  • Broth
  • Pureed soups
  • Applesauce
  • Gelatin desserts
  • Clear liquids

Foods that don’t require much chewing won’t irritate tender mouth and gum tissue. You can also find a wide variety of flavors to tempt your palate. Choose broths with higher concentrations of protein, and soups which provide minerals and vitamins. Nothing too hot, though—heat can affect the protective clot over the wound site. Applesauce is not only soothing and flavorful, but is a good source of fiber and vitamin C. Gelatin desserts and clear liquids will help you keep hydrated, which is extremely important as you heal.

Blender-Friendly Creations

  • Smoothies
  • Pureed foods

Want to get creative in the kitchen? Create your own smoothies and purees to suit your individual taste! Blended foods are easy to eat, and you can add vitamins with your choice of fruits and vegetables and proteins or protein powder for nutritional value. (Sip or eat smoothies with a spoon, as straws are still off-limits.)

You can gradually add semi-solid foods such as mashed potatoes, oatmeal, cottage cheese, and scrambled eggs as you recover. Don’t worry—we’ll give you aftercare instructions that will include what you should be eating and drinking right after surgery, and what you can add to your diet as you heal.

Unwise Diet Selections

It wouldn’t be sensible to leave you without some idea of which foods to avoid for the next few weeks. Talk to us about how and when to re-introduce these items to your diet.

  • Grainy, seedy, or crunchy foods, which become tiny particles as you chew, can lodge in the surgical site.
  • Spicy, carbonated, and acidic foods can irritate delicate gum tissue.
  • Sticky and chewy foods can be hard on the extraction side.
  • Hot beverages can interfere with the protective clot that forms over the wound.
  • Alcohol can interact with medications and, according to several studies, potentially slow healing.
  • Anything that requires a straw. Any kind of suction risks dislodging the protective clot at the surgical site. Eat your milkshake with a spoon—it’s still delicious!—and absolutely no cigarettes.

And one final word to the wise: seeing Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman for wisdom teeth extraction and follow-up is an excellent idea!

Oral surgeons like Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman have a minimum of four years of advanced studies in a hospital-based residency program, where they train with medical residents in the fields of general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, and other specialties with a specific focus on the anatomy of the face, mouth, and jaw. They are uniquely qualified to make sure your wisdom tooth extraction and healing are successful.

If you have any questions about the procedure, and what you can do at home to help the healing process, give our San Antonio or Castroville office a call. We want to help you make the wisest choices for diet, pain relief, wound care, and all of your other aftercare needs.

Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

July 27th, 2022

If you have lost a tooth or teeth, dental implants can restore your smile. Implants look natural, don’t impact the healthy teeth around them, and protect the underlying bone from the bone loss that can be caused by a missing tooth.

One important prerequisite for a successful implant: the bone in the jaw that will hold the implant must be healthy, and must be the appropriate size and strength to allow osseointegration (the fusion of the implant with the jawbone) to take place. If the bone isn’t wide enough, high enough, or dense enough, the success of the implant will be in jeopardy.

An implant, unlike a denture or a bridge, is rooted in the jaw much like your tooth. A cylinder is implanted in the bone, and will later hold the abutment which attaches to the final crown. Because a great deal of pressure is placed on our teeth with everyday functions such as chewing, the bone must be strong enough to successfully fuse with the implant.

Fortunately, Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman can actually restore the density and shape of your jawbone if the bone isn’t suitable for an implant. This reconstruction is accomplished with bone grafting.

Why Would You Need a Bone Graft?

The bone structure which supports our teeth can be compromised in a number of ways. We might recommend a bone graft if you have insufficient bone due to causes such as:

  • Bone Loss Caused by Tooth Loss

The bone tissue which supports our teeth needs the stimulation of biting and chewing to stay healthy. Without that stimulation, the bone area under the missing tooth gradually shrinks. The bone tissue is resorbed into the body, which, in a relatively short amount of time, can lead to a noticeable sunken spot where the tooth used to be. Bone grafting will rebuild this area—and a dental implant will provide the tissue stimulation that a natural tooth would, helping to prevent future bone loss in the jaw.

  • Gum Disease

As gum disease progresses, the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving the bone and connective tissue exposed to infection and bacteria. Infection and the body’s own response to bacteria can cause deterioration in the bone structure supporting the teeth. Bone loss cannot be reversed, but a graft can replace lost bone and allow healthy tissue to regenerate.

  • Pre-existing Bone Conditions or Traumatic Injuries

In the case of bone structure that is naturally less thick or dense, or bone which has been damaged by accident or injury, a bone graft can provide a solid basis for an implant.

What Takes Place in a Bone Grafting Procedure?

Bone grafting is a type of oral surgery. Bone tissue for grafting may be taken from your own body, or a graft material composed of safe and sterile donor tissue or synthetic substitutes can be used. This second kind of graft will be absorbed gradually by the body as your own new, healthy bone tissue replaces it.

If you decide a bone graft is your best option, we will discuss the options for grafting with you during your appointment at our San Antonio or Castroville office, and use imaging to map out the area of bone loss and to create the best individual treatment plan for you.

After anesthesia, an incision will be made in the gum tissue to reveal the damaged bone. Grafting material will be shaped and secured to the affected area, and sutures are generally used to close the incision. We will give you careful instructions for after care and follow-up visits. The time it takes for you to heal completely will depend on the type and size of the graft.

We recommend bone graft surgery when it will provide the best, most successful foundation for your dental implant procedure. Oral surgeons have years of medical and surgical training in the complex relationship and interaction of bone, muscle, and nerve. We are uniquely qualified to provide a skillful, safe, and effective bone grafting procedure.

When you choose an implant, one of your primary goals is the aesthetic restoration of your smile. Just as important, you are also making sure that the bones supporting your teeth will remain heathy and strong. Talk to us about bone grafting, and how we can start you on your way to a lifetime of beautiful smiles.

Ridge Modification

July 20th, 2022

One of the most transformative advancements in dental restorations is the dental implant. Implants look just like natural teeth, they function just like natural teeth, and they help maintain jawbone health just like natural teeth. But the success of any implant procedure depends on the quality and quantity of the bone in which it’s placed. That’s why, before placing your implant, Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman might first suggest a common procedure known as ridge modification.

An implant consists of a metal post which is surgically placed in the jawbone. This post serves as the “root” of the dental implant. After several months, the post fuses with the bone surrounding it, as bone tissue grows around and attaches to the post surface. This process is called osseointegration, and it creates a strong, secure anchor for the abutment and crown which will be secured to the post when it heals.

Because of the strong pressures which biting, chewing, and clenching put on our teeth, the success of an implant depends on the strength of its integration into the jawbone. To make osseointegration possible, the bone must be healthy, with adequate size and density to hold the implant securely.

Ridge modification, also called ridge augmentation, is a kind of oral surgery. In this procedure, we use bone grafting to rebuild bone strength in the alveolar ridge (the part of the jawbone containing the tooth sockets) before placing a post. When is this procedure necessary?

Jawbone size and density can be compromised in several different ways, including:

  • Resorption

When a tooth is missing, the bone ridge under the lost tooth gradually begins to shrink, a process called “resorption.” Over time, bone loss can lead to a noticeable indentation in the jawbone.

  • Periodontitis

Serious gum disease is progressive. Without treatment, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth. This leaves bone and connective tissue exposed to destructive bacteria and infection, which can cause bone loss.

  • Trauma

Bone damage caused by accident or injury might require bone replacement or recontouring.

  • Bone structure and size

Sometimes the jaw ridge is too narrow or shallow to support an implant, especially in the back of the upper jaw near the sinus cavity, and will need added bone before an implant can be placed.  

Oral surgeons are specialists in bone grafting surgery, with years of medical and surgical training in the complex structure and interaction of bone, muscle, and nerve. We are experienced in providing patients with skillful, safe, and effective bone grafts, and will recommend this procedure when the success of your implant would be in jeopardy without it.

What will your surgery involve?

  • Assessing bone quantity and quality

Using advanced imaging technology, we will evaluate your jaw’s condition, and map out any areas of bone loss.

  • Designing your treatment plan

If a bone graft is your best option, we will recommend the best grafting materials for your needs. Bone grafting might use bone tissue taken from your own body, processed bone grafting material, or synthetic grafting material to replace and repair the damaged bone. We will also discuss your anesthesia and sedation options.

  • Performing the Surgery

After anesthesia, an incision will be made in the gum tissue to reveal the damaged or missing bone. Grafting material will be shaped to restore the bone’s contours and secured to the affected area. The incision will then be closed. If you are here for an extraction, it may be possible to have augmentation done as part of the same procedure.

  • Providing follow-up care

You’ll receive detailed careful instructions for after care and follow-up visits at our San Antonio or Castroville oral surgery office. The time it takes for you to heal completely will depend on the size and type of your graft.

  • Placing your implant

Once the bone has healed, we can surgically place the post for a secure, long-lasting, and healthy implant.                  

If it’s been some time since you lost a tooth, if your jaw has been damaged by injury or trauma, if you have less-than-adequate bone size and density, it’s important to restore your bone before implant surgery can be successful. See us for an evaluation, and learn how a ridge modification procedure can help you improve your dental health and transform your smile.

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