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

Dental Implants: A Three-Step Procedure

One of the most common questions we hear from patients when it comes to dental implants is “Why does it take three separate procedures?”

Dental Implants - 3 StepIt helps to understand that within the entire dental implant process, there are not just three stages, there are also three important parts to the final product that replaces your tooth. First, there is the implant itself, which is the metal rod that we surgically implant into the bone. Next, there is the abutment, which connects the implant to the artificial tooth. And lastly, the crown (or prosthetic tooth) itself.

The fact that the process has three physical components alone doesn’t tell the whole story though. Here, we explain why the most commonly employed dental implant method is split up into three separate procedures.

Step One: Placing the Implant

The first stage of the dental implant process is to bury the implant in the jaw bone via a surgical procedure. The dental implant replaces the tooth root, and requires healing time. During this healing time, osseointegration (the integration of the bone with the implant itself) occurs. The bone cells actually attach to the implant rod, filling in the spaces to secure the implant in place for permanent residency.   The healing time usually takes from 3-6 months.

Step Two: Placing the Abutment

The abutment is a post that connects the implant to the prosthetic tooth. Essentially, the abutment is a bridge that spans through the gum line so that the implant itself remains buried. As with the implant, the abutment has a healing period of its own. The gum around the abutment must heal and form a cuff or collar around it before the crown can be placed.

Step Three: The Prosthetic Tooth

Once the implant site and abutment have successfully integrated, the prosthetic tooth is fabricated and installed.

If you have any questions about the dental implant process, give us a call!

The History of Bone Grafting

History of Bone GraftingThe concept of bone grafting is nothing new. In fact it has been an important part of medicine as far back as the early 1600’s and in recent years has become a standard procedure for people who need a dental implant or have had a traumatic jaw injury. Shortly after the invention of the microscope, the Dutch doctor Jacob van Meekeren performed the first bone grafting operation on a soldier with a damaged skull. Unfortunately, back then doctors didn’t have the knowledge or bone grafting materials that we have today and in order to save the soldier, Jacob van Meekeren was forced to use a piece of dog bone as implant material. Van Meekeren was pleased with the surgery’s success, but it wasn’t until the soldier returned asking to have the implant removed that van Meekeren discovered just how successful it really was!

In the 1600’s, the Christian church looked at things a little differently and this poor soldier with a piece of dog bone in his skull was excommunicated after the church considered him to be part dog. What was upsetting for the soldier aided in the discovery of how well bone grafting actually worked. In the process of attempting to remove the bone graft, van Meekeren discovered that the bone had healed too well and was actually irremovable!

Bone grafting developed over the next 150 years and by 1821 the first graft of tissue from one point to another of the same individual’s body, known as an autograft, was performed in Germany. During WWI and WWII, bone grafting continued to develop as more soldiers became crucially wounded and a need for advanced surgeries became necessary. After another fifty years the first synthetic ceramic product was cleared for use in 1991.

As you can see, bone grafting has a much longer history than you might have imagined! To find out if you are a good candidate for bone grafting, give us a call!

On the Field and On the Court: Facial Injuries

It used to be that we would see most of our sports-related facial trauma patients in the fall and winter, when sports participation typically reached its highest point. But nowadays, we see a steady stream of sports injuries to the face in our office year-round. Because more children, teens and adults participate in sports in all four seasons (which is great), we see more sports-related facial injuries now than ever before (not so great).

On the FieldNot only is the face the most vulnerable part of the body during a game, it is also almost always under-protected. Facial injuries account for about 11-40 percent of all sports injuries. Even in a “no-contact” or “less-contact” sport where player-to-player injuries are rare, a person can still be hit by a ball, bat, club or other item and experience trauma to the face.

Two types of sports-related facial traumas make up the majority of cases we see:

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries: Lacerations are a common type of injury when playing a variety of sports. In addition to cleaning and suturing the cut, we also pay special attention to providing for the best possible cosmetic result and thoroughly examining any nerves, glands and ducts that may have been injured.
  2. T-Zone Fractures: Also very common with sports injuries are fractures of the nose, zygoma (cheek bone) and mandible (jaw).   Because we can’t put a cast on the face, sometimes fractures must be stabilized using wires, screws and plates.

How to Prevent Facial Injuries on the Field and on the Court:

Many of the most common sports-related facial injuries are also preventable. Here are some of the best ways to protect your face when playing any sport where injury to the tooth or face is a risk:

  • Mouth Guards: Simple, inexpensive and increasingly mandatory in many sports, mouth guards are the first defense against injury to the tooth, and may even help to lessen or prevent concussions!
  • Face Masks: As time goes on, you will see more and more sports, most recently softball, requiring facemasks to protect young players.

If you have any questions about how to protect yourself from sports-related facial trauma, don’t hesitate to ask us!

Traveling and Oral Health: Tooth Tips for the Holidays

We don’t have to tell you: the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year. With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time. If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

  1. TravelDon’t leave home with a toothache! If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town. Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.
  2. No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.
  3. Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!
  4. Toothbrushes don’t last forever! Generally, dentists recommend that you buy a new toothbrush every two to three months when at home. However if you are traveling, your toothbrush is exposed to even more bacteria. It’s best to toss it when you return home and swap it for a fresh brush, even if it hasn’t hit the three-month mark yet.
  5. Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.

Traveling and Oral Health: Tooth Tips for the Holidays

We don’t have to tell you:  the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year.  With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time.  If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

  1. TravelDon’t leave home with a toothache!  If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town.  Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.
  2. No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.
  3. Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!
  4. Toothbrushes don’t last forever! Generally, dentists recommend that you buy a new toothbrush every two to three months when at home.  However if you are traveling, your toothbrush is exposed to even more bacteria.  It’s best to toss it when you return home and swap it for a fresh brush, even if it hasn’t hit the three-month mark yet.
  5. Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.

Dental Implants: Are they right for you?

Not everyone is blessed with perfect teeth. Many people would tell you they lack the smile they’ve always wanted due to genetics, disease, and sometimes even accidents. Fortunately, we have a solution. With dental implants, you will no longer feel self-conscious about your smile; but rather delight in having a new and improved grin!

Dental Implant FWhat are dental implants?

Technically, dental implants are replacement roots for missing teeth.  First, the implant, a titanium screw, is inserted into the jawbone.  Next, a removable or permanent replacement tooth is attached to the top of the implant to mirror the appearance of your natural teeth. Currently, over 3 million people worldwide have dental implants and the technology has reached a point where each procedure has a 98% success rate.

Why should I get dental implants?

Beyond simply improving the appearance of your smile, dental implants include many other benefits:

  • Oral health: Unlike other restorative procedures, dental implants do not necessitate the reduction or alteration of neighboring teeth, thus resulting in improved oral health overall.  Additionally, dental implants do not interfere with access to neighboring teeth, so it is no harder to brush or floss.
  • Longevity: While other dental aides such as dentures and bridges inevitably require replacement, dental implants are extremely durable, lasting many more years and in some cases even a lifetime!
  • Convenience: Dental implants do not ever need to be removed for activities such as eating, drinking and brushing, and do not require adhesives.  They act, look and feel just like natural teeth!

How much do dental implants cost?

Dental insurance does not always cover the cost of dental implants.  However, in the long run, dental implants are usually cheaper than other restorative procedures. Because they do not need to be replaced, the initial investment for implants is well worth the price.

Dental implants are becoming a popular trend in the world!  Call us to set up an appointment to upgrade your smile!

Wisdom Teeth: What do I Really Need to Know?

For the majority of people, the removal of their wisdom teeth is just another part of growing up. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy part! A combination of frightening stories from friends and false rumors online have may have you feeling anxious about your upcoming procedure. So we’d like to set the record straight and put your mind at ease.

Wisdom teethHere is what you really need to know about wisdom teeth:

1. If you ignore them, there will be more (pain, that is).

Despite their name, it is not a smart idea to refuse surgery and live with your wisdom teeth. Most wisdom teeth are asymmetrical (they don’t grow evenly) which can cause complications. Asymmetric wisdom teeth have a high chance of developing gum disease and infections, which can become life threatening if not treated.

2. Patience is not a virtue.

As wisdom teeth generally form roots during the teenage years, it is better to have them removed during that time. Waiting until you are 30 or 40 can increase the chance of them rupturing a nerve, leading to a longer and more complicated recovery.

3. I scream for ice cream!

We recommend that you only ingest liquids for a day after the procedure.  Ice cream, pudding and smoothies are all great choices (without straws). Softer foods are advised for the rest of the week, so make sure to stock up on pasta, eggs and mashed potatoes!  And remember:  NO straws during your recovery period.

4. No pain, plenty to gain.

Thanks to anesthesia and/or laughing gas, your wisdom tooth extraction will be painless. However, most of our patients do experience some sort of discomfort in the days following the surgery, so we will suggest methods and medications to help with that while you are in our office.

5. Rest is the best!

Post-removal recovery depends on the patient, but most people do not resume work for four-to-five days. Patients are also advised to not exercise vigorously or play any sort of wind instrument for a week.

Dental Implants: What Should I Believe?

Dental Implants have become commonplace, with over 3 million people worldwide hosting some sort of implant. Unfortunately, their rising popularity has been accompanied by an increasing number of misconceptions about what they can and can’t do.

Dental Implant eLet us help you to understand which of these common messages are true and which are fabricated.

Message #1: Dental implants are more expensive than traditional restorative methods.

Verdict: True and False. While the initial implant installation is more costly than other dental restorative procedures, over time, maintaining dental implants is much easier and cheaper. Other procedures require eventual replacement.  For example, dentures require replacement after 5-10 years while dental bridges must be replaced every 7-10 years.  So in the long run, dental implants can be less expensive than these alternative procedures.

Message #2: Dental implants are exceedingly painful.

Verdict: False. Like most forms of oral surgery, dental implant installation does involve some discomfort. However, patient accounts reveal that the pain is not worse than any typical tooth extraction as doctors use local anesthesia to address and minimize any discomfort during the procedure.

Message #3: Dental implant placement often fails.

Verdict: False. While dental implants do have the possibility of falling out, it is very rare for this to happen. In fact, reports show that 98% of dental implant surgeries are successful.

Message #4: Only young people should get dental implants.

Verdict: False. There is no reason healthy, elderly patients cannot receive implants.  In fact, there are many cases of patients 90 and older undergoing dental implant placement surgery with great success!

Don’t let these common misconceptions get in the way of your decision to get dental implants. Give us a call…we’d be happy to discuss your concerns about dental implants with you to give you a better idea of what this procedure can do for you.

Teeth Nerve Stem Cells Signal New Age of Recovery

Have you ever thought about the possibility of growing new teeth? Of course, when we are younger, this phenomenon does occur, with adult teeth replacing our missing baby teeth. Many scientists and doctors, however, believed it was impossible, or highly unlikely for adults to ever form new teeth.

stem cellsYet only recently, researchers in Sweden have discovered that such a feat may one day become commonplace. While most scientists did know that the pulp in teeth contains a certain amount of stem cells, the Swedish researchers of the Karolinska Institute have discovered the origin of these cells.

These stem cells are typically used to help reform damaged teeth by assisting with the restoration of tooth tissue. Upon further examination, however, the researchers have discovered that these stem cells originally were nerve cells of the tooth. These cells leave the nerves at early stages of development, changing their identity to become part of the connective tissue, which forms dentin underneath the enamel.

The future possibilities for this discovery are almost endless. Using these nerve tissues, it may be possible for scientists to manipulate the stem cells to form new adult teeth. As these teeth will essentially be copies of one’s original teeth, this innovative process may replace veneers and other restorative processes as the best form of teeth restoration.

In fact, the benefits of this discovery may not stop with just teeth. Igor Adameyko, from Sweden’s Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, believes that all types of peripheral nerves, not just the ones found in teeth, “may function as important stem cell reserves.” Adameyko hypothesized that these “multipotent stem cells can depart from the nerves and contribute to the healing and reformation of tissues in different parts of the body.”

To summarize this exciting research, tooth nerve cells may be the key to a new wave of human recovery and restoration, and adult tooth creation is only one of these recently discovered benefits!

Dental Implants: Five Things You May Not Know

How much do you know about dental implants?  With the increasing popularity and availability of dental implant surgery worldwide, patients are gaining more and more knowledge about dental implants every day.

dental implant dBut did you know these five important facts?

  1. Dental implants are appropriate for almost all ages.  Not just for the elderly, dental implants are frequently placed even in the mouths of young adults.  As long as the jaw has stopped growing (after puberty; age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys), a dental implant can be placed with great success.
  2. The titanium post actually fuses (osseointegrates) with the natural jawbone.  They grow together to form a stronger foundation for replacement teeth.  So dental implants actually improve the bone structure in the jaw, they don’t just fill it in.
  3. The “dental implant” is actually just the titanium post, one of three parts of the whole process.  Other parts used in the full procedure that we think of as “dental implant surgery” are known as the abutment (the connector) and the actual replacement tooth itself (the crown).
  4. Dental implants preserve jawbone, whereas other teeth replacement options can lead to bone deterioration.  Bone is similar to muscle in that it must be used in order to maintain its mass.  When a tooth goes missing and the site is left untreated, the jawbone underneath tends to deteriorate.  Dental implants eliminate this problem by securing a natural-like tooth right into the jawbone and thus utilizing (and preserving) that area of bone.
  5. Dental implants protect their neighbors.  By contrast, a traditional, tooth-supported bridge involves the grinding away of the teeth on either side to act as a hammock for the bridge.  With dental implants, the jaw is the anchor and support for the artificial tooth.

The bottom line?  Dental implants offer a safe and manageable alternative to traditional tooth replacement methods.