Here are answers to questions our patients frequently ask about our care.
[expand title=”What should I do if a tooth is knocked out?”]
We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out. More than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year! When you know how to handle this emergency situation, we may be able to save the tooth. Teeth that are knocked out may be possibly reimplanted if you act quickly, yet calmly, and follow these simple steps:
- Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), NOT by the roots.
- DO NOT scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth. If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk. If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.
- Get to a dentist within 30 minutes. The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful reimplantation.
Ways to transport the tooth
- Try to replace the tooth back in its socket immediately. Gently bite down on gauze, a wet tea bag or on your own teeth to keep the tooth in place. Apply a cold compress to the mouth for pain and swelling as needed.
- If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a container and cover with a small amount of your saliva or whole milk. You can also place the tooth under your tongue or between your lower lip and gums. Keep the tooth moist at all times. Do not transport the tooth in a tissue or cloth.
The sooner the tooth is replaced back into the socket, the greater the likelihood it has to survive and possibly last for many years. So be prepared, and remember these simple steps for saving a knocked-out tooth.
You can prevent broken or knocked-out teeth by:
- Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports
- Always wearing your seatbelt
- Avoiding fights
Avoid chewing hard items such as ice, popcorn kernels, hard breads, etc.[/expand]
[expand title=”What are my options if I have missing teeth?”]When a tooth is lost, the jawbone that helped to support that tooth begins to atrophy (shrink), causing the teeth on either side to shift or tip into the open space of the lost tooth. Also, the tooth above or below the open space will start to move towards the open space because there is no opposing tooth to bite on. These movements may create problems such as decay, gum disease, excessive wear on certain teeth, and TMJ (jaw joint) problems. These problems and movements do not result immediately, but will eventually appear over time, compromising your chewing abilities, the health of your bite, and the beauty of your smile.
Options for replacement of missing teeth:
Removable bridges – This type of bridge is a good solution for replacing one or more missing teeth, especially in complex dental situations where other replacement options are not possible. They are usually made of tooth-colored, artificial teeth combined with metal clasps that hook onto adjacent natural teeth. Removable bridges are the most economical option for replacing missing teeth, but may be the least aesthetically pleasing. This is because the metal clasps on the appliances are often impossible to completely conceal.
Fixed bridges – This type of bridge is generally made of porcelain or composite material and is anchored (cemented) permanently to a natural tooth adjacent to the missing tooth site. The benefit of this type of bridge is that it is fixed (not removable) and it is very sturdy. The disadvantage is that in order to create a fixed appliance, two healthy, natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth will have to be crowned (capped) to hold the bridge in place.
Dentures – This type of tooth replacement is used when most or all of the natural teeth are missing in one dental arch. Dentures are removable artificial teeth that are made to closely resemble the patients’ original teeth.
Implants – Are a great way to replace one or more missing teeth. They may also be great to support ill-fitting dentures. A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth. An artificial tooth is placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are very stable, durable, and are the most aesthetically pleasing tooth replacement option.
If you are missing teeth, ask us if they need replacement and what options are available to you. Together we will select the best replacement option for your particular case. Prevention and early treatment is always less involved and less costly than delaying treatment and allowing a serious problem to develop.[/expand]
[expand title=”What are the benefits of having an implant versus having a bridge or doing nothing at all?”]A dental implant provides a strong foundation for a replacement tooth, making it as functional and attractive as a natural tooth. A dental implant will help avoid bone loss in your jaw as well as prevent your other teeth from shifting. Unlike a bridge, it will not have adverse effects on adjoining teeth.[/expand]
[expand title=”Do you offer one-day implants and permanent dentures?”]We offer Teeth-in-A-Day to patients who we have determined are good candidates for the procedure. Our goal is to provide excellent long-term outcomes for our dental implant patients, so we won’t recommend a treatment we don’t think will last.[/expand]
[expand title=”What is the “All-on-Four” program I keep hearing about on the radio?”]All-on-Four refers to a type of permanent dentures that are secured in your mouth using just four strategically placed implants. The result is dentures that look and work like natural teeth. North County Oral & Facial Surgery’s oral surgeons have placed thousand of implants and have done hundreds of All-on-Four procedures. We can tell you if All-on-Four is right for you.[/expand]
[expand title=”Will my care be covered by insurance?”]Many of our procedures such as wisdom tooth extraction are covered by most dental insurance. At this time however, any care that is considered elective, such as a dental implant procedure, is not covered.[/expand]
[expand title=”How do I know if I have a dry socket following an extraction?”]If you look into the site where the tooth was pulled, you’ll probably see a dry-looking socket, instead of a blood clot. A dry socket means that you have lost the blood clot that should normally exist after a tooth extraction. Pain that starts about 2-3 days after the tooth was pulled, which is not relieved by your medication is also a symptom of a dry socket. Over time it becomes more severe and can radiate to your ear. Other symptoms include bad breath and an unpleasant smell and taste in your mouth. Rinsing and spitting a lot, smoking or drinking through a straw after having a tooth extracted can increase your risk of getting a dry socket. If you believe you have developed a dry socket call us immediately at 760-432-8888 so that we can get you in for care to resolve the problem.[/expand]
[expand title=”What is the difference between General Anesthesia and IV Sedation?”]
General anesthesia (GA) is when you are totally unconscious. In this state, you can’t feel any pain, even without local anesthesia. You can’t reliably breathe on your own, so for more complex procedures and procedures of longer duration you need to having a “breathing tube” inserted. In contrast, what is usually called “IV sedation” (or, in advertisements, “twilight sleep”) in dentistry is conscious sedation. Conscious sedation is a minimally depressed level of consciousness during which the patient is able to breathe independently and/or respond purposely to verbal command. There is an amnesia effect with IV sedation where you don’t remember any of the procedure and wake up with the surgery completed.
IV sedation is used for treatment of certain groups of special needs patients, procedures which would be very unpleasant if you were conscious (such as very complex extractions of bony impacted wisdom teeth), certain other types of oral surgery, and people with an extreme anxiety of dental procedures.
The doctors at North County Oral & Facial Surgery Center provide IV sedation for most oral surgery procedures to allow our patient’s surgical experience to be a safe and pleasant one. Patients are only kept asleep for as long as it takes to perform the procedure, usually 20 to 30 minutes for wisdom teeth and about an hour for dental implant placement. This allows your surgeon to work more quickly and results in a better postoperative course. All our patients are continuously monitored during their anesthesia and recover in 20-30 minutes. If you still have questions about the kind of anesthesia that will be used for your procedure call us at 760-432-8888 and we will be happy to answer your questions.