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Why You Should Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

May 13th, 2020

It’s human nature to delay tackling problems. We even have the clichés to prove it:  “Leave well enough alone.” “Out of sight, out of mind.” “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!” But when it comes to your health, proactive care is always best. And when it comes to dental health, your wisdom teeth are certainly something to be proactive about!

Children have 20 baby teeth that are replaced over time with 32 adult teeth. The last to arrive, in our late teens and early twenties, are the four third molars, or wisdom teeth. But that “32” total is a little flexible. Some people never develop wisdom teeth at all. You can stop reading here if you are one of this carefree group. The rest of us have from one to four wisdom teeth, and it’s a smart idea to ask our dental professionals just what we have going on below the gumline.

Your dentist might be the first to mention your wisdom teeth at your regular checkup, or you might be surprised to see a new tooth emerging while you are doing your nightly brushing and flossing. Wisdom teeth can remain trapped under gums and bone, a condition called “impaction,” they can erupt partially, or sometimes even erupt completely. They can be symptom-free, or may present with pain, redness, swelling, or bad breath. But whenever the first signs of wisdom teeth appear, in an X-ray or in your mirror, it’s time to discuss your options.

Completely Impacted Tooth

A wisdom tooth may never erupt, remaining trapped below your gums because it has no room to emerge. Even though it isn’t visible, an impacted wisdom tooth can pose serious risks requiring its extraction:

  • Other teeth might be pushed out of alignment as the tooth tries to emerge
  • The roots of neighboring teeth can be damaged by pressure from the trapped tooth
  • A cyst can develop around the impacted tooth which can damage neighboring teeth, nerves, and bone
  • Rarely, a tumor can develop. While these are usually benign, they can require the removal of bone and tissue.

Even if you are symptom-free, regular exams and X-rays are important for monitoring the condition of impacted wisdom teeth to make sure that they remain problem-free.

Partially Impacted Tooth

A wisdom tooth can also begin to erupt, but never break completely through the gums. The partially exposed tooth and the gum tissue are very difficult to clean effectively, trapping food particles and bacteria. Partially erupted teeth:

  • Have a greater chance of serious decay
  • Increase the risk of gum disease
  • Can also cause problems as they emerge when they are angled toward neighboring teeth.

When infection and rapid decay are present, or the tooth is emerging at an angle which can damage nearby teeth or bone, extraction is often considered the best treatment option.

Preventive Extraction

Some people have enough room in their mouths to accommodate wisdom teeth without affecting the alignment of their other teeth or their bite. Some wisdom teeth never erupt at all, staying within the jawbone without affecting other teeth. If there are no problems with these teeth, your dentist and oral surgeon might recommend leaving them in place and monitoring them carefully.

If there is the potential for crowding, damage to nearby teeth, or any other future problems, extraction could be recommended as a preventative measure. Age can be an important factor in recommending extraction as well. Patients in their late teens and early twenties often have an easier time with wisdom tooth surgery because:

  • The roots of the wisdom tooth aren’t as developed
  • Jawbone structure is not as dense
  • Shorter roots aren’t as likely to impact sinuses in the upper jaw
  • Shorter roots are less likely to cause interference with nerves in the lower jaw
  • Bone healing and regeneration is more efficient at this age.

If you are considering the best plan of action for your wisdom teeth, an appointment with Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman at our San Antonio or Castroville office is a very good idea. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons 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 bones, muscles, and nerves of the face, mouth, and jaw.

Oral surgeons like Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman are experts in dealing with wisdom teeth and surgical extractions. And while most extractions are fairly straightforward, their surgical training and experience is invaluable where extractions are more complicated due to the position of the tooth in the jaw, the degree of impaction, and the length and development of the roots. They are trained in all forms of anesthesia, and can provide whichever method you choose for your most comfortable experience, whether it be local anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia.

When you’re dealing with your health, the only cliché that really applies is “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”! Whether your wisdom teeth are best treated with extraction or regular monitoring, Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman can help you decide on the best plan for your dental health both today and for your future.

Summer is Almost Here: Tips for a bright, white smile!

May 6th, 2020

Summer is almost here, which means a season full of vacations, adventures and great memories is just around the corner for our patients at San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A..

Everyone wants a glowing and radiant white smile when the sun comes around and we have a few reminders to keep your pearly whites healthy and beautiful over the summer! Try to stay away from drinks that will stain your teeth like coffee, soft drinks, or dark colored juices. Not only will drinks like this weaken your enamel but they will also darken that fabulous smile you're working on! Another tip is to try and focus on brushing your teeth; everyone knows that when busy schedules start picking up, getting a good brushing session in tends to take the backseat! A good tip for keeping your mouth safe from staining and other possible pitfalls is to rinse your mouth with water after any meal you can’t fully brush your teeth after. Your teeth, inside and out, will benefit!

And remember, whether you are headed to a barbecue, a camping trip, or just having fun in the backyard this summer, we want to hear all about it! Make sure to let us know what you’re up to below or on our Facebook page! We also encourage you to post any photos from your adventures!

What is orthognathic surgery?

April 29th, 2020

Orthognathic surgery is surgery to correct a wide variety of abnormalities of our patients' jaw and teeth. The surgery is often done in conjunction with orthodontic treatment. While the patient’s appearance may be significantly improved as a result, the primary purpose of the surgery is to correct functional problems including but not limited to:

  • Unbalanced facial appearance
  • Protruding jaw
  • Open bite (upper and lower teeth don’t overlap properly
  • Excessive wearing down of the teeth
  • Difficulty with chewing or biting
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Sleeping problems such as sleep apnea
  • TMJ pain (jaw joint pain)
  • Restoring facial injuries

Knowing when to start the orthodontic treatment in preparation for orthognathic surgery can also be tricky if our team at San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A. is treating a teenager. It is important to know when to get started. If orthodontic treatment is initiated too soon and the teenager is still growing, the patient will either need to hold in braces until his or her growth is complete and they are ready for surgery or the braces will have to be removed and then placed again when growth is complete. Neither of these options is attractive since it requires longer time in treatment, which is something all our patients want to avoid. Our team at San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A. strives to get all patients finished with treatment as quickly as possible because it is healthier for the teeth and gums and gives them a beautiful smile to enjoy for a lifetime.

If you are considering orthognathic surgery or you have been told that you need jaw surgery, give us a call to schedule your initial consultation today. Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman and our team at San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A. will explain our treatment plan in a way you will understand and we will keep you informed every step of the way.

Earth Day

April 22nd, 2020

The idea for Earth Day was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, a senator from Wisconsin. He envisioned an Earth Day that would be a kind of environmental teach-in. The first Earth Day celebration took place on April 22, 1970, and a surprising 20 million people participated on that day. Ultimately, it became the largest organized celebration in US history.

Earth Day Over the Years

Over the years, the recognition of the day, and the number of people celebrating it all over the world, turned Earth Day into an international celebration. Because it is celebrated throughout the world, it is not only the largest international environmental observation, but it is also more widely celebrated than any other environmental event in the world. Today, Earth Day is celebrated in 175 countries where over 500 million people participate in celebrations.

The Earth Day Movement

The Earth Day movement is credited with developing the idea that people should “think green”. It encouraged congress to enact laws, including one that resulted in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It also inspired the passage of the Endangered Species Act.

The Five R's and Their Importance

  • Reduce – Reduce by avoiding unnecessary purchases. Reduce your use of materials that wind up in landfills. Reduce the use of chemicals around your house. Reduce your use of disposable bags, plates, cups, eating utensils, and batteries.
  • Reuse – Instead of using plastic bags for your groceries or purchases, bring your own reusable bags. When you go to buy coffee at Starbucks, take a travel mug so you don't have to get your coffee in a disposable paper cup. Instead of storing food in disposable refrigerator containers, buy containers that can be washed and reused. Don't use regular batteries. Whenever possible, opt for rechargeable batteries that you can reuse.
  • Recycle – Most cities offer a recycling program to collect used bottles, cans, and newspapers. Recycling includes collecting recyclable materials that would otherwise be considered waste, sorting and processing recyclables into raw materials such as fibers and manufacturing raw materials into new products.
  • Re-buy – Make an effort to purchase things that are made through recycling. When purchasing furniture, look for items that are made from reclaimed wood. When buying paper for kids school work, computer printer paper, holiday cards, or anything else, make a point of purchasing recycled paper products. Instead of buying clothing at full retail price, shop for second hand clothing. You will save a lot of money by doing so!
  • Rethink – Rethink the way you do things so that you do them in an eco-conscious way at all times. Instead of driving to work alone, consider taking the bus or going in a carpool. Walk or ride your bike when you're only going a short distance. Plan your shopping trips and errand runs so that you can do everything on one day, and do it in a way where you can save time and gas.

Other ways to "think green" include growing your own food, composting yard waste and food scraps, or by participating in local recycling programs. Join a group like Freecycle so you can share your unneeded and unwanted possessions with people who can use them. Likewise, you'll be able to get things you need or want for free.

Earth Day teaches people that the planet belongs to everyone, so everyone is equally responsible for protecting it. Although Earth Day is an environmental celebration, our team at San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A. wants to remind you that you don't have to wait until then to make changes that will allow you and your family to live a greener life.

Happy Earth Day from the team at San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A..

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