Oral Surgery Safety- What You Need to Know

Getting oral surgery can be scary, but don’t let fear keep you from getting the dental work you need. To alleviate your fears and help you find a skilled oral surgeon, we’ve put together a helpful guide about oral surgery safety. We know dental surgery can be intimidating, but with the right information and a skilled surgeon, it can be a positive, rewarding experience. Get your smile back and restore dental health. Call us if you have any questions or to learn more about the services we offer at Hill Country Oral Surgery.

Oral Surgeon vs. Dentist

An oral surgeon, also known as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, is a type of dental specialist. They have attended dental school and hold a DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree, like a traditional dentist, but they have additional training. After dental school and a licensing exam, a dentist can open up a practice and begin seeing patients. Oral surgeons have more education than a standard dentist. After dental school, they obtain specific surgical training, a process that can take an additional four to six years. A regular dentist can perform many surgical tasks, like extractions or dental implants, but since an oral surgeon has more training and more experience with these surgical techniques, they generally achieve better outcomes.

For a dental cleaning or a simple cavity, go see your regular dentist, but if you need surgery, see an oral surgeon. Oral surgeons offer many types of dental surgery including:

Choosing Your Oral Surgeon

If you need an oral surgeon, your general dentist is an excellent place to start. They often offer referrals and may be able to recommend a surgeon in your area. If you live in the Austin, TX area, Hill Country Surgery is an excellent option for all your dental surgery needs.

As you meet with potential surgeons, ask lots of questions. Choose an oral and maxillofacial surgeon that is willing to spend time with you, answer your questions, and alleviate concerns. You should feel comfortable and confident with the surgeon you’ve selected. If you feel rushed or not listened to, choose a different surgeon.

What Sets Hill Country Oral Surgery Apart from Other Dental Practices?

Techniques and technology are constantly evolving in oral surgery and dental implants. At Hill Country Oral Surgery, we keep up with the changes, remaining at the forefront of these advances. We want our patients to receive the best outcomes possible from their procedures and work diligently to ensure that we offer state-of-the-art options when possible.

We’ve adopted several emerging technologies, often not offered by other dentists, to provide our patients with precise, safe, and successful surgery outcomes.

  • 3D X-Ray Analysis– We have our own in-house cone beam CT that we can use to evaluate your anatomy in 3D. This helps to facilitate safe extractions and dental implant placement. We can easily evaluate your bone condition, proximity of vital structures, and even virtually place implants during your consultation.
  • Guided Implant Surgery– For complicated implant placements, we can import your 3D X-ray into specialized planning software. This allows us to carefully plan your surgery and fabricate surgical guides for precise placement. In many practices this is contracted out to third party companies, but at Hill Country Oral Surgery, we complete every step of the process in-house.
  • 3D Printing– We have an on-site 3D printer to fabricate custom surgical guides that aid us in accurate implant placement. This allows for expedited treatment and reduces delays. We also have in-office quality control, ensuring that each guide meets our exacting standards.
  • Advanced In-Office Anesthetic Options- We want your dental surgery to be as comfortable as possible. Anesthetic options must be highly tailored to a patient’s needs and personal desires. We can customize your anesthesia options and individualize your procedure to reduce and eliminate anxiety. Our in-office anesthetic options are chosen with your safety in mind. We use the most up-to-date monitoring systems available and are fully equipped to handle emergency situations. Oral surgeons have specialized anesthesia training and we carry all the necessary permits for in-office anesthesia from the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.

Safety should be a priority when preparing for any dental procedure, but especially before oral surgery. Choosing the right surgeon can significantly improve your results from oral surgery. Although some dentists offer surgical treatments, remember that oral surgeons have specialized training and may provide improved outcomes, especially with complex cases. Choose a surgeon with advanced training, lots of experience, and the latest available technologies. Call today to schedule your oral surgery consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery.

Wisdom Teeth – To Pull or Not to Pull?

Getting your wisdom teeth pulled is a teenage rite of passage, but is it really necessary? Do all wisdom teeth need removal? You would think the answer to the question, “Should I pull my wisdom teeth?” would be a simple one, but in reality, it’s quite complex. The oral surgeons at Hill Country Oral Surgery in Austin, TX help us dig into this heated debate below.

Why Would You Pull a Perfectly Good Tooth?

All your life you’ve been cautioned to take care of your teeth. Brush, floss, rinse, repeat. Morning and night, you’ve taken care of your pearly whites. And suddenly, we’re talking about taking teeth out. Wait a minute, why would you pull a tooth that isn’t having problems? Don’t you need all your teeth?

Wisdom teeth are a little different; essentially, wisdom teeth are the final four teeth to erupt in the mouth. And like your roommate’s BFF that crashes at your apartment and never pays rent, there often isn’t enough room for these late-comers. When there isn’t enough space, the wisdom teeth may be difficult to clean, or in some cases, may not fully erupt into jaw. These impacted, or stuck, teeth can be a source of cysts and benign tumors in the jaw. And who wants that? If you can’t fully clean the teeth, decay can develop, causing gum disease and damage to neighboring teeth. Your wisdom teeth might not be a problem now, but give it time. Many people develop problems with their wisdom teeth later in life. Think of them as a ticking time bomb in your mouth.

Wisdom tooth removal isn’t always necessary. If you have enough room for the teeth to fully come in and you can get them clean, you can probably keep them. Don’t get too excited though. Most people will need to have their wisdom teeth removed.

Can’t I Wait Until I Have a Problem with My Wisdom Teeth?

If your wisdom teeth aren’t causing a problem yet, do they really need to come out now? Many oral surgeons advocate preventative removal of wisdom teeth for one simple reason: it’s often easier in the teens and early twenties. When wisdom teeth are first coming in, the roots are less developed. The older you get, the more established the roots become and the more difficult tooth removal becomes. Younger patients heal more easily and quickly. Early removal can reduce complications and lead to faster recovery after surgery. It also keeps dental problems from developing due to wisdom teeth that just don’t fit. Why delay the inevitable?

What’s the Best Age for Wisdom Tooth Removal?

So, you need to have your wisdom teeth removed. When should you have it done? At Hill Country Oral Surgery, we typically recommend that patients remove their wisdom teeth sometime between the ages of 15-20. You may need to remove them sooner or later. Visit an oral surgeon for an exam and X-rays to find out if you’re ready to get your wisdom teeth removed.

I’m Terrified of Wisdom Tooth Removal Surgery

Surgery is scary, right? Many people put off their first visit to an oral surgeon because they are nervous about getting their wisdom teeth removed. If you need to get them out, go see an oral surgeon to explore your options. A consultation isn’t anything to worry about. You’ll open wide and we’ll take a quick peek at your teeth. Typically, wisdom tooth consultations also include X-rays to give us a better idea about what’s going on underneath the gums. You don’t have to worry about shots, pain, or incisions during a consultation. It is simply an opportunity to look at your mouth and figure out a plan for the future.

After an exam, your surgeon will be able to give you a better idea of the next steps. Maybe you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief because your wisdom teeth can stay. If not, your oral surgeon can discuss surgery and the many options available to make the procedure less intimidating. Remember, your surgeon is on your team and wants you to have a pleasant experience, even though surgery isn’t fun.

Oral surgeons have a variety of tricks up their sleeve to make wisdom tooth removal a more comfortable process. Oral, IV, or nitrous oxide sedation may be recommended to help you feel more relaxed and less nervous about the surgery. There are many pain relief options available during and after surgery, including non-narcotic pain relief. Don’t stick your head in the sand and forget about your wisdom teeth. Get information and make an informed decision. With a skilled oral surgeon, wisdom tooth surgery is quick and relatively easy.

To pull or not to pull? It really depends of what you’ve got going on in your mouth. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones that gets to keep your wisdom teeth. And if not, stock up on the ice cream and enjoy a television binge for a day or two while you recover. We hear Stranger Things Season 2 just came out on Netflix.

Common Post-Extraction Complications

Complications can and do happen after tooth extraction. Lower your chances of common extraction complications by following your recovery instructions carefully.

Common Complications After Extraction

What complications are most common after an extraction? What can you do to avoid these complications? Learn more below:

  • Poor Pain Control – Take your pain medications on a regular schedule. Don’t wait until you feel pain. We recommend taking your first dose of pain medication shortly after surgery before the surgical anesthetic wears off. Taking your medications on schedule provides better pain control and less discomfort.
  • Excessive Bleeding – Changing the gauze too soon or too often can result in excessive bleeding. Moisten the gauze, place it over the surgical site, and leave it in place for a full hour. Replace the gauze every hour until it is pink upon removal and then discontinue gauze use. Contact us if you’re ever concerned about bleeding levels or if you have trouble controlling the bleeding.
  • Nausea – Some patients are sensitive to pain medications. Take your medications with food to reduce the risk of nausea after surgery.
  • Dry Socket – Dry socket is one of the most painful post-extraction complications. It occurs when the blood clot is dislodged too early. Dry socket can be very painful and does not respond to pain medications. Prevent dry socket by not smoking, avoiding the use of straws, keeping your mouth clean, and limiting physical activity. If you experience dry socket, contact us immediately. We can relieve your pain using medicated dressings.
  • Swelling – Ice can reduce swelling for the first two days after surgery. Sleep in an elevated position. After two days, use heat to break up any bruising.
  • Infection – Good hygiene is essential after an extraction. Use salt water rinses after eating and drinking (except water). Brush your teeth normally, but use care around the extraction sites. Some patients may need to take an antibiotic to lower their infection risk.

To avoid extraction complications, follow your recovery instructions carefully. We are here to help. Please get in touch by contacting Hill Country Plastic Surgery at 512-327-7233 if you have any questions or concerns.

Bone Grafting Recovery

Get your teeth back! Dental implants can restore aesthetic beauty and function to your smile, but they are investment, requiring both time and financial commitment. Some patients will need bone grafting to achieve optimal results from their implants. This ensures that there sufficient support for your implants and helps to avoid broken implants. Bone grafting also improves the contours of your gum line, for a natural, healthy looking result.

If you need bone grafting, it may take additional time to prepare your mouth for dental implants. This guide will help you understand the recovery process after bone grafting. Contact us today to learn more about your options for dental implants.

Why Do I Need a Bone Graft?

When teeth are missing or removed, the supporting bone underneath shrinks and atrophies. The extraction process can also damage or remove supporting bone. Without sufficient bone quantity and quality, it can be impossible to achieve a healthy and strong dental implant. Bone grafting can restore the bone, helping to improve the results of your dental implants.

Bovine (cow) or human donor grafts are often used, eliminating the need for a second surgical site. This makes bone grafting easier and more comfortable for you, the patient. If large quantities of bone are needed, we may extract bone from the lower jaw to use in your bone graft. Bone can be harvested from the body with minimal risk and no cosmetic deformity.

What’s Recovery Like After Bone Grafting?

Recovery after bone grafting is similar to recovery after tooth extraction. Plan on reducing activity for 4-5 days, although most patients are ready to return much sooner than this. We’ll give you specific recovery instructions before your surgery so you can plan time off work and make needed preparations.

  • Pain– Many patients worry about pain after dental procedures. Most find the pain to be minimal and quite tolerable with the use of pain medication. We have a variety of anesthetic and pain management options for your procedure and recovery. Your first dose of pain medication is the most important. Make sure you take before the surgical anesthetic wears off as the initial pain is often the most difficult to get through.
  • Diet– Food intake will be limited for the first few days after your procedure. Do not chew over the graft site for the first week. Start with soft, easy to chew foods like mashed potatoes, pastas, and soups. Be careful with food temperatures to avoid burning yourself.
  • Hygiene– Good dental hygiene will help you avoid infections. We may provide rinses for you to use or antibiotics for you to take. We’ll give you detailed instructions on how to brush your teeth while you heal.
  • Contact Us– Get it touch if you have any questions or concerns throughout the recovery process.

When Can I Receive Dental Implants After Bone Grafting?

Timing for implants varies after bone grafting. Some patients can receive their implants right away and others may need to wait a few months after grafting. We can give you more information about expected timeline during your consultation.

Call and schedule your consultation today.

Common Questions About Wisdom Teeth Removal

Wisdom teeth are the last four teeth to erupt into the mouth. They grow in the back of the mouth, often coming in during the late teens or early twenties. Unfortunately, many people don’t have room for them and need their wisdom teeth removed. This guide will answer some common questions about wisdom teeth removal.

When Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Many people choose wisdom tooth removal between the ages of 15-20. At this age, your teeth may not be fully erupted, but wisdom tooth removal is often easiest before the wisdom teeth are fully developed. Some patients may need extraction at an earlier age to avoid damage to the surrounding teeth.  The best way to determine the timing of your wisdom tooth removal, or to determine if removal is needed, is to schedule a consultation with an oral surgeon. After an oral examination and x-rays, we can help you decide if and when wisdom tooth removal is needed.

If you have room in your mouth for your wisdom teeth and can keep them clean, they may not need to be removed.

Why Are Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Wisdom teeth are often malpositioned due to space constraints. The teeth may be unable to fully erupt or may be growing at an angle, pressing up against the neighboring teeth. An oral surgeon can help you determine if your wisdom teeth are causing problems or if they are likely to cause problems in the future. Here are a few reasons you may need to consider wisdom tooth removal.

  • Jaw Damage– Cysts can develop around new teeth. If left untreated, they can cause permanent nerve and jaw damage.
  • Sinus Issues- Some patients with wisdom tooth issues experience sinus pain.
  • Damage to Other Teeth– Wisdom teeth can cause alignment problems with other teeth. Cavities and decay on the wisdom teeth can spread to the surrounding teeth.
  • Cavities- Many patients are unable to properly clean their wisdom teeth, leading to cavities and tooth decay.

What Happens During Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Your wisdom tooth removal will be customized to your unique needs. During your consultation, we’ll discuss your individual situation and make plans for appropriate pain relief, sedation (if desired), etc. We typically remove all four wisdom teeth at once, minimizing your downtime and inconvenience. Come see us and we’ll create a treatment plan together.

What Is Recovery Like After Wisdom Tooth Removal?

Recovery times vary after wisdom tooth removal, often depending on the difficulty of your extraction.  Plan on at least three days of downtime with prescription pain relief. Take it easy and get plenty of rest during the first few days. Most patients are sore for about a week, but able to resume regular activities. Complicated removals may require a longer period of downtime.

Not all patients need wisdom tooth removal, but if you do, we’re ready to help. Call our offices today and schedule your consultation.

Hill Country Oral Surgery Is One of the First Practices to Use Exparel® in Austin, Texas

Are you worried about pain after oral surgery? Many patients put off needed oral surgeries due to fear of pain. We are excited to minimize our patients’ pain and narcotic medication use after oral surgery with Exparel®. Get the procedures you need today. With Exparel®, pain isn’t going to be a problem.

What Is Exparel®?

Exparel® is a non-narcotic, injectable pain management option. It relieves pain in a specific, focused area, providing results for up to 3 days after surgery. We’ll inject the solution before your procedure and you’ll feel it start to work immediately. It will continue to numb the surgical site for the next 2-3 days. Often, no other pain relief is needed. We are one of the first oral surgery practices to offer Exparel® in Austin, Tx.

What Are the Benefits of Exparel®?

Exparel® has many benefits including:

  • Narcotic-free
  • Avoid the side effects of narcotic pain relief including nausea, vomiting, and constipation
  • No risk of abuse or addiction to the patient
  • No pain after surgery
  • No need to remember to take pain medication

Exparel® is especially helpful to patients at risk for narcotic abuse. Finally, we have more than one option available for pain management. We’ll help you decide if Exparel® or traditional narcotic pain relief is the best option for you.

Can Exparel® Be Used with All Oral Surgery Procedures?

Exparel® is a useful option for many of our oral surgery procedures. It can be used to keep you pain free after:

We’ll help you determine if Exparel® is the right fit for your procedure.

Don’t let the fear of pain stop you from pursuing your needed dental treatments. We’ll help you alleviate your fears and can provide a pain-free surgical experience. Contact us today and ask for more information about Exparel®.

Tips for Recovering from Oral Surgery in the Summer

Are you getting dental implants or wisdom tooth removal this summer? If you are, keep reading. This guide will help you recover successfully this summer. Dental surgery isn’t always fun, but our goal is to make the process as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

Take Advantage of Extra Time Off

Summer is a popular time for oral surgery. Students needing wisdom tooth removal often use their summer break to schedule the procedure. If you’re lucky enough to have time off in the summer, schedule any needed oral surgeries. Use the extra time to fully recovery, without worrying about missed classes or work.

Stay Indoors

Hot summer weather is hard on a body that needs to heal. After your surgery, recover in a cool, comfortable area. You’ll heal quickly, but for those first few days, stay indoors as much as possible.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Proper hydration can be difficult during the summer. Make sure you drink plenty of water before and after surgery. You’ll know you’re getting enough liquids if your urine is close to clear.

Drinking sufficient liquid is important after surgery, but we have one big caution as you hydrate. Avoid using a straw if you’ve had a tooth extraction. This can lead to a painful condition known as dry socket, a condition that occurs when the blood clot becomes dislodged too early.

Focus on Hygiene

We’ll give you detailed instructions on proper dental hygiene after your procedure. These instructions will vary, depending on the procedure you’ve received and may include mouth rinses, brushing protocols, etc. Follow these instructions to prevent complications like infection, tooth or implant staining, etc.

Eat Soft Foods

Hot dogs and potato chips may be the official foods of summer, but aren’t the best choices right after oral surgery. For the few days, enjoy a diet of soft foods including mashed potatoes, soups, and pasta. Try not to chew over the surgical site for a week. Be careful with food temperatures to avoid burning yourself.

Take advantage of the break from school and/or summer vacations to schedule your oral surgery. Call today and schedule a consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery.

Wisdom Tooth Surgery Recovery

 

Your dentist may suggest a wisdom tooth removal (or third molar surgery) for various reasons. It could be to prevent further oral complications or to help maintain how well your teeth look. Once your wisdom tooth has been removed, it’s wise to follow all aftercare instructions for your safety and fast recovery.

What to Do After the Surgery

For Swelling

It’s natural to have some swelling after your tooth has been extracted. To help with swelling, apply an ice pack to the outside of your mouth. Do it intermittently; for example, you can apply it 20 minutes on, and then 20 minutes off. If the treated area was infected prior to the procedure, your dentist may suggest using warm, moist compresses rather than ice. You should do this within two days to minimize bruising or any discomfort.

For Bleeding

Bleeding will occur after your surgery for up to 24 hours. Try to avoid spitting as it may dislodge the blood clot from the surgery site. You may be asked to keep a gauze pad over the extraction site 30 minutes after the procedure. It is also an option to use a wet tea bag and place it over the treated site for 30 minutes. The tannic acid in the tea bag will help contract the bleeding vessels that will eventually set the blood clot.

Cleaning Your Mouth

Typically, your dentist will allow you to brush your teeth or use mouthwash 24 hours after your surgery. However, in some cases, patients are permitted to use diluted mouthwash or salt water for mouth cleansing 12 hours after the procedure. Practice care when brushing teeth, especially at the site of extraction. You may also need to avoid doing rigorous exercise, smoking, or spitting for as long as there is bleeding.

Limitations on Food

Eating, drinking, and talking should be limited for at least two hours after the surgery. Once the bleeding stops, you can only drink clear liquids and eat soft food. To avoid dislodging of the treated site, you will be asked to avoid carbonated drinks. You must also refrain from eating foods like popcorn, pasta or peanuts that may leave particles in your socket.

Medications

Your doctor will prescribe medicine that will help you manage pain and prevent infection. Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly as directed. If you take a strong narcotic medication, you must avoid driving or operating machinery as well as drinking alcoholic beverages.

When to Reach out to Your Dentist or Surgeon

Swelling and bleeding at the treated site will improve as the days go by. If you experience or notice unusual changes or no improvement of the extracted site, you may need to call your dentist. Here are some of the symptoms and signs to look out for that suggest you need to see your doctor:

  • Swelling gets worse
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Excessive bleeding despite of applied pressure
  • Throbbing pain 3-4 days after the surgery
  • Consistent bad taste in the mouth that cannot be removed by rinsing
  • Elevated fever
  • Pus in the socket
  • Nasal discharge in the form of pus or blood
  • Persistent numbness

Know More About a Wisdom Tooth Surgery

Our highly trained medical staff will be happy to inform you about a third molar surgery. Schedule a consultation to find out if you need a wisdom tooth surgery, or if you need a professional help after getting one.