The Practice of Drs. Joseph F. Finelli, Jr. & Dani

Osseointegration: Big Word, Simple Concept!


Was this word the invention of an evil doctor who loves long and complicated words? No! Osseointegration actually derives from the Greek osteon, bone and the Latin integrare, to make whole. It’s a physical process that was first observed by Swedish researchers in the 1960’s and refers to the functional connection between a titanium implant and living bone. Simply put, without osseointegration, dental implants wouldn’t work!

Osseointegration is a natural process: When the titanium dental implant connects to bone cells, it is locked into the jawbone, forming a solid bond. While the process is natural, the implementation isn’t simple. Implant healing times and initial stability depend on implant characteristics and to a large extent on your doctor! We have ample experience in placing dental implants and therefore can ensure that you receive the best care and outcome when it comes to implant surgery and the healing process.

The first evidence of the bone bonding with the implant occurs after a few weeks, while a more robust connection progresses over the next months or years. The osseointegration process will make the implant resistant to external shocks over time, but it can still be damaged from trauma or poor care.

The benefits of dental implants can’t be overstated! Not only do they give you a fully functioning bite back, they also prevent your jawbone from deteriorating and protect your facial profile.

Give us a call if you have questions about the dental implant process!



Dental Implants: Learning the Basics

Did you know that over 69% of adults in America are missing at least one tooth?  Whether it is from an accident, neglect, or even being born without certain teeth, not everyone is supporting a full set of teeth. There are many solutions to replacing missing teeth, each with its own benefits. With the influx of technology and precision of modern dentistry, dental implants are becoming more affordable, and are the premier long-term solution for missing teeth. Dental bridges tend to be a cheaper alternative to dental implants, but over time a single dental implant is generally more cost-effective. Dental implants can last decades or even a lifetime, which allows a patient to treat the implant as they would their real teeth, and continue on with life without having to worry about them. Whether you’re in the market for one tooth, or multiple teeth, dental implants not only can lower your overall healthcare costs, but also increase your quality of life!

How the implant works: 

In place of the original root where the tooth was, a dental implant is connected to the existing bone, as a base, and can then stably hold the new (fake) tooth in place.

Am I a candidate for dental implants?

The quick answer is: “most likely yes.” Restrictions such as age do not apply to the possibility of receiving dental implants. There are very few restrictions that would prevent a patient from receiving dental implants and they include: Those who do not have enough existing bone in the jaw, and those who have had radiation to the jaw (from cancer or similar treatments), which could prevent fusion of implant to the bone. Recent studies have even shown that even patients with diabetes have little to no restrictions in the ability to receive dental implants.

If you are interested in dental implants, give us a call today and see how we can help you!

Bar Attachment Denture Your Questions Answered

Bar Attachment DentureWith all the different dental treatments out there these days it’s hard to keep track of what might be the best option for you. If you currently wear dentures or are missing all of the teeth on your top or bottom jaw, then Bar Attachment Denture dental implants are most likely the right choice. Bar Attachment Denture dental implants are different than dentures in that they are a permanent set of teeth that do not require removing. They look and feel like real teeth and tend to be much easier to deal with than dentures. Let me answer some common questions about what Bar Attachment Denture really involves:

How are Bar Attachment Denture dental implants different than traditional implants?

Whereas in the past, implants for a whole row of teeth used anywhere from six to eight implants, Bar Attachment Denture (you guessed it!) only uses four implants. This means less time spent in surgery and a more comfortable experience for you.

Who is the best candidate for Bar Attachment Denture?

If you’re already wearing dentures and find them to be uncomfortable, you are a prime candidate for this procedure. If you’re missing teeth and can’t decide between dentures or implants, I urge you to continue reading and give us a call to schedule a consultation. In either case, if you’re missing your natural teeth, Bar Attachment Denture is in most cases the most favored treatment.

Is it a painful procedure?

Most of our patients who have received Bar Attachment Denture implants have described the procedure as being relatively painless. We will discuss all the anesthesia options available to you during your consultation and monitor your vital signs during the entire procedure.

Are there any foods, drinks, or medications that I need to avoid before the procedure?

We will discuss all the medications you use during your consultation and let you know if there are any you should stop taking before the procedure. We may ask you to stop taking medications like blood thinners a few weeks before your scheduled procedure. If we decide that sedation is the best option for you during the surgery, you won’t be able to consume any food or drinks, including water, eight hours prior to the procedure.

I encourage you to give us a call if you’re unhappy with your dentures or if you are in the process of deciding between dentures and Bar Attachment Denture. I hope to speak with you soon!

Facial Injuries – What Do I Do?

Facial-InjuriesIt’s important to know what to do when you or someone close to you has been injured, especially when it comes to facial injuries. The inside of your mouth is made up of delicate soft tissues that when cut can become infected and easily damaged if the wound isn’t taken care of quickly. Anyone who has had a facial laceration knows that there is a high degree of emotional and physical pain involved when it comes to a facial laceration. So what should you do?

A laceration is a tear or jagged wound and is usually caused by blunt trauma. If you’ve been in an accident and there is any kind of trauma to your face, it is important to seek emergency assistance right away. Lip lacerations are one of the most common types of facial injuries and require careful repair. Lacerations are closed using silk or gut sutures and are done carefully in order to prevent any cosmetic damage. If a tooth is knocked out you should place it in salt water or milk as soon as possible. The sooner the tooth is placed back into the dental socket, the better chance it has of surviving. Do not clean or wipe off the tooth since there are crucial parts of the tooth that could become damaged.

Replanting teeth and treating tooth fractures can be handled by an oral surgeon along with facial trauma but if you have been involved in a serious accident you should go to the closest hospital emergency room as soon as possible. Facial bone fractures cannot be treated with a cast like other parts of the body. The surgical placement of plates around the affected area is a recent development in medicine that allows for a faster recovery time and involves the fewest incisions necessary.

Any kind of traumatic injury to your face is serious and should be addressed immediately to prevent further damage and scaring. If you’ve had a recent injury and think you may have a facial bone fracture, call us immediately to schedule a consultation.

Head & Neck Cancer Self Exam (How-To)

Regular oral pathology exams are extremely important when it comes to preventing head and neck cancer. When you visit us make sure to ask about the exam if you haven’t had one before or have noticed anything strange on the inside of your mouth. It’s also good to perform an oral pathology check on yourself from time to time. Let’s go over how to do an at-home check and what you should be looking out for.

Step 1: Know what you’re looking for. Oral cancer signs include:

  • A difference in color in one particular area
  • A change in texture
  • Lumps of any kind (especially if it’s something you haven’t noticed before)
  • Lesions

Step 2: Take a bright light such as a flashlight and while looking in a mirror, check the following:

  • Tongue
  • Lips
  • Cheek walls
  • Top and bottom of mouth
  • Back of throat

If you notice any of the above signs, give us a call immediately to schedule an appointment. It’s also beneficial to perform an extra-oral screening. When performing an extra-oral exam on yourself, you want to feel for any lumps or bumps. Here are the steps for doing this exam at home:

Step 1: Place your hands on the back of each side of your jaw under your ears. Open and close your jaw while feeling for any bumps.

Step 2: With your hands in the same position work your way down your neck.

Step 3: Turn your head to the right and feel your left side-neck muscles. Turn your head left and feel your right side neck muscles.

Step 4: Grab your gullet and swallow.

Step 5: Put your chin down and with your palms facing away from you feel the underside of your jaw with your fingers.

We hope we don’t have to see you in the office if you’ve discovered something wrong but we are here to help. We can catch the early signs of oral cancer! If you feel anything strange, call us to schedule an appointment.

The Science Behind Oral Cancer

Can drinking coffee really help prevent oral cancer? What about different types of foods? Numerous studies have been published that claim certain foods and drinks can prevent oral cancer but when it comes to a disease that will affect 43,250 people this year, it’s important to get the facts.

Oral cancer, also referred to as mouth or head and neck cancer, occurs when there is a problem with the lifecycle of a normal, healthy cell. Cells are supposed to grow and divide into new cells as your body needs them but when this process goes wrong, your body over produces cells. These extra cells can cause a tumor to form. Depending on the type of cells in the tumor, it could be cancerous or benign.

Some studies may say they have proof that a specific food or drink helps to prevent mouth cancer but in reality the best way to prevent the disease is to avoid certain risk factors like smoking and drinking. Drinking in excess accompanied by smoking makes you highly susceptible to the disease and should be avoided.

Most oral cancers start in the tongue in what are called the flat cells and they can spread to other parts of the body if they aren’t caught early (in doctor lingo, cancer of these flat cells is called squamous cell carcinoma). Interestingly, when these oral cancer cells spread to other parts of the body such as the lungs, they are still considered oral cancer cells rather than lung cancer cells. Where these abnormal cancer cells begin is what they will always be referred to as, regardless of where they spread.

Doctors still don’t know why one person gets oral cancer while another person does not, but it is important to note that oral cancer is NOT contagious. Avoiding risk factors and eating healthy is key to preventing oral cancer. Make sure to visit us regularly so we can check for signs of oral cancer!

Are Dental Implants Worth It?

Are Dental implants worth itWhat’s involved in a dental implant? Do they hurt? Can anyone get them? There are a lot of questions surrounding dental implants but one thing is certain; they’ve been reconstructing smiles for over 35 years with amazing results. But what’s the fuss surrounding dental implants and are they really worth it? Lets answer some question to help you decide for yourself.

Can anyone get a dental implant? Anyone who is healthy enough to get a dental implant can get one as long as they have enough bone to hold the implant. This is where bone grafting comes in for those who have been told their jawbone won’t hold an implant. Keeping up with regular oral hygiene is also an important factor and heavy smokers may be told it’s not a safe option.

What exactly is a dental implant? A dental implant replaces your tooth root with a metal rod. It provides a solid structure on which to place a new tooth that is made to match your real teeth. Dental implants not only improve the overall look of your smile but they’re durable, convenient, and easy to take care of.

What are the steps to getting a dental implant? As your doctor, we will want to develop an individualized treatment plan that focuses on your specific needs. Once we have agreed on a treatment plan, the next step will be the placement of the implant in your jaw. The implant is made of titanium and once placed the jawbone will actually begin to grow around it. In about six to twelve weeks the implant will have completely bonded to your jaw and it will be time to attach a small post that connects your new tooth to the implant. We create a mold of your bite that allows us to create your new tooth. This replacement tooth is then attached to the post and the implant process is complete!

Lastly, how painful are dental implants and are they difficult to take care of? Most patients have said they experienced very little discomfort when receiving their implant. Many have even said the process is much less painful than a tooth extraction. Mild pain that may occur for a few days after you receive your implant can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication. Dental implants require the same care as your real teeth but generally they are much easier to clean and you don’t have to worry about cavities.

We hope this answers some of the questions surrounding dental implants. If you’re missing a tooth or teeth, give us a call to ask more about the procedure. We’ve seen many patients leave happy and comfortable with their improved smile!

Dental Implants vs. Dentures and Bridges

Whether it was during a consultation in our office or perhaps while you were doing your own research online, you have probably come across the term “dental implant” at some point. A dental implant is a great way, often the best way, to replace a missing tooth.

Dental lmplants vs DenturesSo how do you decide if a dental implant is the right path for you, or if a more traditional tooth replacement method such as dentures or bridges is the best way to go?

We have been asked this question many times, and have compiled a comprehensive breakdown of the benefits that implants offer over their conventional counterparts. We hope that this guide will help make the decision process easier for you.

Dental Implants vs. Dentures and Bridges: Things to Consider

  • Longevity: Dental implants offer a long-term solution (often lasting a lifetime) to missing teeth, while dentures and bridges require replacement every 5 to 10 years. Not only does this mean less hassle, it also means that implants may be more affordable over time.
  • Quality of Life:
    • Simply put, dental implants look, feel and function more like natural teeth than do dentures and bridges.
    • With a dental implant, our patients can hardly notice the difference when biting into hard objects. They also look more natural.
    • In addition to that, dental implants are fixed – they are not going to fall out while you are talking or smiling, and you don’t have to put them away each night when you go to sleep. They remain in your mouth, anchored to your jawbone at all times.
  • Bone Stability and Health: Just like muscles, bones also need a “workout” in order to maintain their mass and health. So when a tooth is missing from the jawline, the bone underneath the old tooth site becomes atrophied and shrinks. Dentures and bridges do nothing to help this deterioration. However, dental implants actually screw into the bone and integrate with it, actually encouraging new bone growth.
  • Overall Health: Because implants allow for a normal range of food choices in the diet (a benefit not afforded by dentures), they encourage you to continue your healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life!

Do you still have questions? As always, we are here to answer any questions you have. Give us a call for more information!

Oral Cancer: What you Need to Know

One of the most important jobs we have in our practice is to examine, monitor and diagnose head and neck pathology in our patients. What we are really looking for is any sign of oral cancer. Each year, about 42,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with oral cancer. Unfortunately, more than 8,000 of those people will die from the disease because too often it is caught in a late, incurable stage.

Oral Cancer What you Need to KnowTo help you stay healthy and educated about your oral health needs, we have compiled a list of the most important things you should know about oral cancer:

  • Oral cancer affects more than just the mouth. Any cancer in the mouth, lips, throat or back of the mouth is considered oral cancer.
  • Since 90% of oral cancers begin in the surface area of the mouth, tongue and lips, we recommend regular self-exams.
  • Largest risk factors: Not surprisingly, tobacco and alcohol use top the list of biggest risk factors for oral cancer.
  • Other risk factors: Human papilloma virus (HPV), pre-cancerous oral lesion, betel quid use (common in Asia), excessive UV/sun exposure, certain drugs and genetic syndromes.
  • To diagnose oral cancer, we will examine the mouth and neck, ask about your risk factors, and possibly order biopsies and imaging of the head (CT, MRI, etc).
  • Pain is not associated with cancer in its early stages. Usually pain does not occur until the cancer has progressed to a later stage.
  • The most common oral cancer symptoms warrant a call to our office. They include: sores that don’t heal, lumps inside the mouth, white or red patches on soft tissues in the mouth, bleeding, pain when swallowing or chewing, numbness, difficulty moving the jaw or tongue, lumps in the neck, hoarseness, and more.

Don’t hesitate to us if you are experiencing any of these symptoms of oral cancer.

Serving Patients with Special Needs

We are committed to making care available for all patients who need it, regardless of special healthcare needs. Patients with special needs include the elderly, those with limited mobility, mentally disabled individuals, immuno-compromised people and those with mental illness. Specific diseases that can frequently hinder proper dental care include autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis and Down syndrome.

Serving-Patients-with-Special-Needs copyOften times, these individuals have higher rates or poor hygiene, which leads to greater incidence of gingivitis, periodontitis and dental caries. These conditions can sometimes require root canal therapy or other dental procedures to save the patient’s tooth. While treating a patient with special needs, we strive to ensure:

  • A friendly and comfortable environment
  • Sensitivity and compassion from team members
  • Predictable experiences at each appointment

Our team posses the compassion and understanding that is imperative when caring for a special needs patient. Some cases involving severe disabilities may require specialized equipment and anesthesia. We realize that each individual with special needs is a unique case and will require different systems and skills to properly treat. We are confident we can provide competent care for the majority of patients who are labeled as special needs.

For patients who are specifically incapable of ideal hygiene, it is essential that the people in daily contact with them become involved in their oral healthcare requirements. If you are a caregiver for a patient with special needs, the best course of action to determine if we can offer treatment is to call our office with any questions and possibly reserve an appointment to tour our facilities. If more complex oral care is required, we will refer you to the appropriate specialist who also works with the special needs population.