Dr. Keith Krueger

No Teeth? No Problem!

Are missing teeth causing you difficulty, discomfort or embarrassment? Don’t worry – we have all the facts about tooth replacement treatments and the effectiveness of dental implants as a long-term solution for missing teeth.

No Teeth No ProblemWhat are dental implants?
Dental implants are replacement teeth made of titanium. They are composed of an artificial crown attached to a screw that is surgically implanted into the jaw for stability. Implants are an effective treatment for missing teeth because they maintain the strength of the jaw.

There are a few alternative treatment options, some more lasting than others:

Flippers are temporary, removable plastic teeth. They are attached to a retainer for easy removal. Flippers are one of the most cost efficient tooth replacement methods; however, they are the least durable alternatives to dental implants and are considered short-term solutions until a more lasting treatment can be performed.

Fixed bridges literally “bridge” gaps caused by one or more missing teeth. A dental bridge consists of a false tooth, called a pontic, and two abutment teeth, which are crowns that anchor the bridge to the teeth on either side of the gap. Abutment teeth can be secured to both natural teeth and dental implants; however, anchoring them to natural teeth can cause damage.

Dentures are a common treatment for individuals missing all their teeth in one or both of their jaws. They are made of a removable frame that holds an entire set of teeth.

Removable partial dentures are removable frames that hold a partial set of teeth rather than a full set of teeth. This option is often considered for individuals who are missing some but not all of their teeth in one or both jaws.

Why choose dental implants?
Implants are the longest lasting treatment for missing teeth. With proper care, dental implants can last up to ten years or longer. Because they are surgically anchored into the jawbone, they function like natural teeth

How Many Wisdom Teeth Do You Have?

Wisdom tooth removal has become somewhat of a rite of passage – puffy-cheeked post-extraction photos, a diet of Jell-O and mashed potatoes. But not everyone gets their wisdom teeth taken out. In fact, not everyone has wisdom teeth at all! Have you ever wondered why some people have four wisdom teeth while others have fewer or even none? We’ve got the facts behind how many wisdom teeth people have and why!

render of wisdom toothWhy do we have wisdom teeth?

Third molars, or wisdom teeth, were once very useful to our ancestors. Because prehistoric man’s diet of hard-to-chew plants and uncooked meat required powerful chewing muscles, our ancestors’ jaws were large enough to fit 32 teeth, not just 28. Now that humans have evolved a better means of chewing and digesting our food, we no longer have large jaws, so we simply have no need or no room for wisdom teeth. Many scientists believe humans are currently evolving third molar hypodontia, or the lack of wisdom teeth, due to their inability to develop in the first place.

How many people have wisdom teeth?

About 20-25% of the human population is born with 1 to 3 wisdom teeth, and 35% is born without any wisdom teeth at all.

Why do some people have wisdom teeth and some don’t?

There are a few reasons why scientists believe that not everyone develops wisdom teeth:

  1. Genetics: Some evidence suggests that a genetic mutation occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago, causing some people to be born without wisdom teeth.
  2. Environment: Percentages of people who develop wisdom teeth varies from culture to culture. Certain ethnic groups are known for low percentages of wisdom teeth development, while others are known for high percentages. Environmental factors during dental development are also a possible explanation.

Will wisdom teeth become obsolete?

With the number of people lacking wisdom teeth steadily growing, it’s possible that we could someday completely evolve to not develop wisdom teeth at all. Scientists have experimented with chemically preventing the development of wisdom teeth. Researchers have found that children ages 2-6 that are given local anesthesia for dental work have a higher chance of not developing wisdom teeth later on. Maybe in the future, simple injections at a young age will keep all of us from having to go through wisdom tooth extraction!

On the Lookout for Oral Cancer

Oral cancer screenings are performed regularly at dental exams, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paying attention to your dental hygiene between appointments. Taking matters into your own hands is the best way to maintain your oral health. Not sure how to screen for oral cancer? We’ll show you!

On the Lookout for Oral CancerWhat is oral pathology?
This branch of dentistry involves the evaluation and treatment of diseases of the mouth. The most dangerous, but not always the most obvious, of these diseases is oral cancer.
What should I look for?
Keep an eye out for these oral cancer symptoms during your self-screenings:

  • Red or white patches in the mouth
  • Lumps on the tongue or lining of the mouth
  • Mouth sores that won’t heal
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Chronic throat soreness
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Mouth numbness

How do I perform an oral cancer self-exam?

  1. When performing your oral cancer self-screening, be sure to check all areas of the mouth, including the roof, floor, tongue, lips, cheeks and the back of your throat.
  2. Examine your face in the mirror for abnormal asymmetry and irregularities.
  3. Feel your neck and the back of your head with your fingers to look for any bumps or changes in texture.
  4. Examine your throat by placing your fingers around your thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple) and swallowing.

How often should I perform a self-exam?
Self-exams should be performed at least once a month. Changes to your oral health can occur rapidly, so it’s important to stay on top of things. Treatment is most effective if we detect symptoms early.

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Get Checked, April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month!

Being that we are entering April, now is the time to be proactive and get yourself checked for oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 48,330 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer, and an estimated 9,570 people will die from oral cancer in 2016. In the spirit of April’s Oral Cancer Awareness, we urge you to receive regular oral cancer examinations. Remember—early detection saves lives!

Get CheckedAre you at risk?
The sad truth is that oral cancers are more than twice as common in men as in women, and the fastest growing group of oral cancer patients are young, healthy, nonsmoking individuals. It is more important than ever for young adults, as well as older men and women, to get regular screenings whether they think they’re at risk or not.

Knowing the risks can help you make educated decisions about your health. There are several risks that increase your chances of developing oral cancer:

  • Smoking and using tobacco products have been a known long-term historic causes of oral cancer.
  • Heavy alcohol usage also makes you more susceptible to develop oral cancer.
  • The HPV virus, a sexually-transmitted disease, is the leading cause of oropharyngeal (the back part of the mouth) cancer.

What are the signs and symptoms?
The mouth is one of the body’s most crucial early warning signs in the fight against oral cancer. In between regular dental visits, it’s important to be aware of the mouth’s signs and symptoms. Remember, if you see any of these signs or symptoms, schedule an appointment at the office if you don’t see improvement within two-three weeks:

  • Hoarseness, chronic sore throat, or change in voice.
  • The development of white, red, or speckled (white and red) patches in the mouth.
  • Lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots, crusty or eroded areas.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
  • A change in the way your teeth or dentures fit together when you close your mouth.
  • Dramatic weight loss.
  • Unexplained numbness, loss of feeling, or pain/tenderness in any area of the face, mouth, or neck.
  • Unexplained bleeding in the mouth.

Don’t wait any longer. In the spirit of Oral Cancer Awareness Month, be proactive about your oral health, and get checked today!

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Dental Implants: FAQ

Dental Implant FAQDental implants are becoming more and more popular these days, and we can see why. The ability to replace a missing tooth with a brand new one is an attractive concept.

We know that people often have questions about implants, so we have put together this page to answer those common questions:

What is a dental implant?
Implants are artificial teeth that function exactly like your natural teeth. We take a titanium screw, attach it to your jaw, allow the jaw to grow around the screw, and then fit the new tooth in right where the old one used to be. It will feel exactly like your old tooth used to when you had it.

How quick is the procedure?
It depends on just how strong and healthy your jaw is. Your jaw may very well be ready to receive the new tooth quickly, but it may also take time to grow around the screw. If your jaw is weak, we can also transplant bone from other parts of your body first, via another procedure called “bone grafting”, to grow a fresh, strong base where the screw can be inserted. If that is the case, the whole process takes more time, but again, it depends on your case.

Does it hurt?
No. Medications and anesthesia are available to reduce or eliminate pain. You shouldn’t feel a thing.

Since it’s an artificial tooth, do I need to care for it as if it were alive?
You should clean and maintain your implant exactly like you do with your living teeth. Though the implant isn’t going to die, it can still allow bacteria to build up, like your other teeth do. Clean all of your teeth with care, and they should all stay healthy.

How long do they last?
If your implant is taken good care of, it should last a long, long time. Perhaps 40 years and sometimes even a lifetime!

What should I eat after the procedure?
Eat soft food. We will help you decide on a diet that works for you depending on the specifics of your case and treatment.

Have more questions? Call us! We would be glad to set up an evaluation.

How to Check Yourself for Oral Cancer

How to Check Yourself for Oral CancerOral cancer is serious business. The good news is that you can do something about it. Regular self-examinations may help you pick up on warning signs in time to act on them. Oral health professionals are experts on mouths, but the only expert on you is YOU. If you notice something strange going on in your mouth, contacting a professional at our office is your best mode of action.

The first and most important thing to remember is oral cancer is often painless! The second rule to remember is that if you aren’t sure, ask! Its better to ask now and be sure than to wish you had asked. There are no dumb questions when it comes to looking for oral cancer. And, most importantly: any suspicious area that doesn’t resolve on its own in 14 days should be checked out ASAP.

The key to eliminating oral cancer is to act on it early. Here are some things to check regularly.

Your Tongue
Look for lumps and bumps on the upper and lower surfaces of your tongue. Feel around for odd textures, bumps, discoloration or swelling. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth to peek underneath. Don’t limit your search to the red flags above. Use your fingers and your vision.

Your Cheeks
Gently feel your cheeks for bumps and swelling. You can do this by placing your finger on the interior and your thumb outside your cheek. Lightly squeeze and feel around for anomalies.

Your Lips
Take a good look at the interior of your lips with a hand mirror. Keep an eye out for the same signs. Lips are harder to be sure about because they are constantly drying, wetting, and being scraped as we eat and speak. Nonetheless, lips are prone to cancer given that they re always exposed to sunlight. Better safe than sorry.

Your Head/Neck Area
Closely examine your head and neck for lumps and protrusions. A bump or lack of uniformity is absolutely worth checking out. Ask us at your next visit to check out your throat too. Keep an eye out for sensitivity and soreness.

With oral cancer, the key is to keep your eye out for anything out of the ordinary. Anything that seems strange is worth noting and calling our office about.

Call us today for a check up!

The Miracle of Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is something of a miracle. Although you only get one set of bones, it’s actually possible to convince your body to repair itself with new bone material where you need it most. We aren’t talking about growing a whole femur. We’re talking about growing just enough bone material to strengthen weak spots in your jaw.

The Miracle of Bone GraftingWhy would I ever need this?
Let’s say you need a dental implant. You’re sick of that hole in your mouth where one of your teeth used to be, and you’re ready for a shiny new tooth to fill the gap. The problem is, your bone just isn’t strong enough to support the implant. Maybe you have periodontal disease, and the jaw bone is just too weak. Bone grafting may be necessary.

How does it work?
Simply put, bone grafting is the process of taking a little bone material from another site in our body and placing it where it is most needed. The healthy bone then fuses with the weak bone and encourages your body to grow more bone in the site, rebuilding the area to the point where it can support an implant.

There are a few ways to do this.
Sophisticated sounding terms to impress your friends:

  • Autogenous bone graft: Bone is removed from another site in your body and transplanted to where you need it. If you need just a little bone, it can be taken from another site in your mouth. But if there is not enough good material in your mouth, or you need a sizable amount, it can be taken from your hip, or your shin.
  • Allograft: Synthetic bone can be grown in a lab, or taken from a cadaver bone. This is a perfectly safe, proven procedure, though your best bet is always your own bone material. Your body knows there’s just no place like home.
  • Xenograft: Cow bone. Yes. Your body will accept cow bone. In this scenario, no secondary donor site is needed, so it may be a great option if you are uncomfortable with having bone taken from another site in your body. This is a perfectly safe procedure. Your jaw can be beefed up with bovine bone.

No online article will let you know for sure whether or not you need bone grafting, but it is good to know something about it. Give us a call and come on down for a consultation, and we’ll let you know exactly what we think the best option is for you.

After Surgery: What to Feed a Delicate Mouth

After Surgery- What to Feed a Delicate MouthThere’s nothing like oral surgery to make you appreciate the solid foods and acidic drinks you can’t have right away. Sandwiches, chips, and orange juice should all be avoided after oral surgery such as wisdom tooth removal, dental implant surgery, and orthognathic surgery. Too much chewing can re-open the sensitive areas of your mouth, and can cause bleeding or infection. But don’t worry–we have a few healthy food and beverage recommendations you can use while your mouth is delicate.

First 24 Hours

For the first 24 hours after your surgery, your teeth/jaw will need some time off. Therefore, smoothies, low-fat jello/puddings, and warm (not hot!) soups will be the most beneficial for your healing process. Soft foods are your friends! It is extremely important to refrain from using a straw, as the sucking causes excess strain, which can delay the healing process.

Here are a few recommendations for the first 24 hours:

Banana Shake: A healthy, filling way to start the day after your surgery. Don’t use a straw! Also, bananas help replace electrolytes and maintain fluid balance within your body. Other milkshakes and smoothies work great too, as long as they don’t have seeds in them that can get stuck in wounds.

Applesauce: You can’t eat apples, but this is the next best thing!

Soup: Soup with soft ingredients is a great way to go. Don’t include chunks of food that need lots of chewing. Make sure that it’s the right temperature for your sensitive mouth.

Mashed Potatoes: The softest food around. Mashed potatoes require very little effort from your mouth and have great calories and nutrition. Try different toppings to make things interesting.

Next Few Weeks

Over the next few weeks, you will start easing into enjoying solid foods again. Here are some tasty transitional foods (some can even help the healing process!)

Gnocci: Gnocci is one of the softest pastas there is. Try it with tomato sauce, powdered parmesan cheese and a hearty meat filling.

Hamburger Stroganoff: Minced or finely sliced meat is a good place to start, and cooked mushrooms should be soft enough not to bother you. Added sour cream will give the dish a smooth consistency.

We hope that these recommendations help! We genuinely want you to heal as quickly as possibly while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Feel free to call us with any questions about the post oral surgery process.

Facial Trauma: Let a Pro Handle Your Injury

Facial Trauma Let a Pro Handle Your InjuryFacial trauma is a term that covers an array of conditions. There are soft tissue injuries, bone injuries, and injuries to special regions (including nerves, glands, or eyes).

Soft Tissue Injury
Suturing repairs laceration to soft tissue. These can be dissolvable stiches that your body absorbs, or artificial material that must be taken out later. Suturing facilitates faster healing, avoiding infection, and more cosmetically pleasing results. The main concern here is that you heal from the procedure looking as good as you did before your injury, and so we are always sure to closely examine you for nerve and gland damage. Your healing time will depend on the seriousness of your injury, and we can inform you on what to expect.

Bone Injury
We can’t put a cast on your face. How great is that? The alternatives depend on who/what/where/when of your particular case. In the case of a serious jaw fracture, we want to immobilize the fracture the same way a cast would. Since a cast is out of the question, we may wire the jaws together and use tiny plates and screws to hold the bone in the right place. While this sounds extreme, it leads to faster recovery time and a more rapid return to proper function.

Tooth Injury
Tooth injuries are very common, and just like the above injuries, require procedures that vary depending on the case. If your tooth gets chipped or knocked out, place it milk or salt water, and then call your dentist or our office immediately. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that your tooth will survive. Also, don’t wipe the tooth off, as you could destroy important ligaments.

As you can see, facial trauma is a very complex, very delicate issue. If left in the wrong hands, the injury could heal in a less than preferable way, which could then necessitate another surgery to fix the results of the last one. If you have an accident, make sure you give our office a call so that we can handle your case, and get you looking good as new.

Bite Sized Wisdom: Facts on Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth, the late blooming elder teeth of your mouth, behave a little differently than your other teeth. Know the facts:

Bite Sized Wisdom- Knowing the Facts on Wisdom Teeth

  • Wisdom teeth get their name from the time frame at which they finally show up in your mouth. They typically appear in a person’s late teens or early twenties, sometimes called “The Age of Wisdom,” though your parents may disagree.
  • Wisdom teeth cause trouble because they often grow at odd angles. This makes it hard for them to break out of your gum, if at all.
  • Another reason wisdom teeth often can’t get out of gums is because there is not enough room for them. The plus side is that this could be because you’ve kept your teeth nice and straight.
  • Some people never grow wisdom teeth!
  • Wisdom teeth, among other teeth, house valuable stem cells that can be saved to help you treat other conditions you may have down the road. A pearl of wisdom for you.
  • Wisdom teeth removal, with proper sedation, is painless. The tough part is recovery, which can last a few days to several weeks. Following your physician’s instructions will help you through recovery as quickly as possible.
  • In ancient times, when diets were harder on teeth, wisdom teeth made more sense. People couldn’t influence the way their teeth moved around so it was easier for wisdom teeth to find space to pop in. With today’s high-quality dental care, wisdom teeth aren’t necessary.
  • Given that most people end up removing these teeth surgically, research is being done to find ways to prevent their growth altogether. This would save a trip to the surgeon!
  • You may or may not ever notice that your wisdom teeth need to be removed. Some people notice some pain or irritation, some notice nothing at all. Making an appointment with our office is the only way to know for sure.
  • Most people have four wisdom teeth. It’s possible to have fewer or more than four, though it’s very uncommon.

Wisdom teeth can be quirky and troublesome. To make sure you or your child’s wisdom teeth aren’t creating difficulties down the road, make an appointment with us today!