Dental Implant or Bridge- Which Is Best for You?

Missing teeth? Should you get a dental implant or bridge? We’ll compare these two popular tooth restoration choices so you can choose the best replacement option for your situation. Contact our offices to schedule a personalized consultation and to get expert advice from our oral surgeons. We love helping people to get their smile and dental health back on track.

What Is a Dental Implant?

Dental implants are much like a natural tooth. A titanium screw is placed into the tooth position, supporting a crown. After the screw is placed, the bone will grow around it, anchoring the screw into the jaw and providing long lasting support for the replacement tooth. Dental implants are specially designed to not be rejected by the body and, with proper care, can provide lifelong tooth replacement. Since the titanium screw is placed into the jaw, in most situations, the only visible part of the implant is the crown, which is formed to perfectly match the surrounding natural teeth. Oral surgeons with implant experience are the best choice for dental implants.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

Dental bridges are used to hide the gap caused by missing teeth. The natural teeth surrounding the gap are used to support the replacement crowns, which float between the supporting outer teeth. Placing a bridge does not require surgery and can often be performed by a regular dentist. Unlike implants, bridges aren’t always natural looking and can be a temporary solution to missing teeth.

Implant vs. Bridge

Dental implants and bridges are both used regularly to replace missing teeth. Here’s a quick look at some of the differences between these two options.

  • Cost– Generally, a bridge is less expensive than dental implants. Costs vary widely depending on the type of bridge or implant used, the number of teeth that need replacement, the amount of time since the tooth was removed, etc.
  • Longevity– Implants can last for a lifetime with proper care. A dental bridge can be difficult to clean resulting in a shorter lifespan, and generally more problems.
  • Surgical/Non-Surgical- Placing implants is a surgical procedure. Provided you have healthy surrounding teeth, a bridge can be placed without surgery.
  • Damage to Surrounding Teeth- To fit a bridge, the supporting outer teeth will need to be modified significantly. Implants are self-supporting and do not impact the surrounding teeth.
  • Dental Health– Since an implant is placed into the bone, much like a natural tooth, it preserves the underlying bone and jaw structure with little to no gum and bone loss. With a bridge, bone and gum loss do occur.
  • Care– Care for implants just like natural teeth by brushing flossing, and visiting the dentist every 6 months. Bridges require some different care, including specialized floss and brushes.
  • Appearance– Implants look like natural teeth. They provide superior results to bridges in terms of appearance.
  • Special Considerations– Implants require healthy bone for placement. If the tooth has been missing for an extended period of time, bone or gum grafting may be needed before an implant can be placed due to natural deterioration that occurs without a tooth in place.
  • Timeline– Bridges can be made and placed in a couple of weeks, start to finish. Getting implants is typically a longer process. Bone grafting, gum grafting, and other needed procedures can extend the amount of time required for full replacement.

Both implants and bridges have unique pros and cons. We’ll work with you and your dentist to choose the best tooth replacement option for you. In general, implants provide better results, but they are more expensive and require surgery to place. Since implants function much like regular teeth, they are the best option for truly getting your teeth and smile back.

All-On-4

For patient that need extensive oral restoration, we offer a procedure that offers full arch tooth replacement with only four dental implants. We call this procedure All-On-4 or Full Arch Dental Rehabilitation. Four or more implants are carefully placed in the jaw and are used to support a full arch of replacement teeth. By using fewer implants, we can offer full arch restoration at a much lower price. Many patients will come in for the procedure in the morning and will leave with replacement teeth in place. This option is best for patients that need all or many of the teeth in the jaw replaced.

What Is the Best Tooth Replacement Option for Me?

Choosing between tooth replacement options can be difficult. We recommend working closely with your dentist or oral surgeon to explore the pros and cons of dental implants, dental bridges, and full arch restoration. Call us today to schedule your consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery.

5 Questions to Ask Before Dental Surgery- Anesthesia Safety


Information is power. If you’re preparing for dental surgery, get the information you need to be safe and knowledgeable about your procedure. Ask the following questions about anesthesia safety to your dentist or oral surgeon before any surgical procedure.

What Are My Anesthetic Options?

We offer a wide variety of anesthetic options, allowing us to customize your treatment to your medical needs and anxiety level. We will carefully discuss your health, dental needs, and anxiety levels during your consultation and will recommend anesthetic options including:

  • Local Anesthetics- Local anesthetics block pain sensations in a specific area. These are often administered via injection near the area we will be treating. Local anesthetics can be used alone or paired with sedation options. Local anesthetics are very effective and most patients report little to no pain when using this option. Local anesthetics do not help a patient to relax, they only numb pain sensations.
  • Nitrous Oxide– Nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, provides mild sedation for dental procedures. It is inhaled through a mask with oxygen and can help increase comfort during some procedures. You will be able to hear and respond while using nitrous oxide, but will feel calm and comfortable. The effects of nitrous oxide are short-lived and most patients return to normal shortly after the mask is removed. This is usually paired with local anesthetics.
  • Oral Sedation– Oral sedation uses oral medications for sedation before a dental procedure. This can reduce fear and anxiety before a procedure and can help you to relax during treatment. Oral sedation levels vary, depending on the patient’s response and the medication selected. You will be unable to drive if using oral sedation and will need someone to bring you to the procedure and take you home. You may not remember your dental procedure after oral sedation. This is usually paired with local anesthetics.
  • IV Sedation– IV sedation, also known twilight sedation, uses an IV (intravenous) medication for sedation. IV sedation relieves anxiety and encourages relaxation. IV sedation may cause you to not remember aspects of your dental treatment. Many patients describe the experience as drifting in and out of sleep. You will be unable to drive after IV sedation and will need someone to take you home.
  • General Anesthesia– General anesthesia leaves a patient totally unconscious and unresponsive during a dental procedure. This approach is generally reserved for those undergoing extensive dental work or those with high levels of dental anxiety.

We also have privileges at a local hospital and can perform complex procedures there for additional safety. Whether you’re receiving a simple extraction or complex gum grafting with dental implants, we have the right anesthetic options to keep you comfortable and safe throughout your procedure.

What Are the Risks and Benefits of the Anesthesia/Sedation Methods You’re Recommending?

Each anesthesia method has specific risks and benefits. We’ll discuss these in depth before your procedure. It is important to weigh the potential risks with the benefits that each option offers to find the ideal balance between results and safety.

If you’re uncomfortable with the anesthesia option we recommend, let us know. We can further explain our reasoning and help to alleviate your concerns. We may also be able to select a different anesthesia option that you’re more comfortable with. Dental surgery should be a collaboration between doctor and patient. We’ll work with you to find options that work best for your situation.

Is Dental Anesthesia Safer with a Dentist or Oral Surgeon?

Dental anesthesia can be performed in-office with excellent safety. Generally, an oral surgeon is a safer choice for dental anesthesia due to their advanced training. Regular dentists must complete bare minimum requirements to receive a dental anesthesia permit, but oral surgeons receive additional rigorous and comprehensive training in a hospital setting, training well beyond the basic requirements for an office anesthesia permit. Generally, oral surgeons are a safer, more experienced choice for office anesthesia.

How Have You Prepared for Emergency Situations?

No one wants to think about an emergency happening, but sometimes, they do arise. Ask your oral surgeon how they have prepared for emergency situations. At Hill Country Oral Surgery we are:

  • Certified in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS).
  • Properly permitted with anesthesia permits from the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners.
  • Dedicated to training for emergency situations including rescuing of patients and airway management in the intensive care unit and emergency room.
  • Outfitted with the most up-to-date monitoring systems in a state-of-the-art facility.

Before you receive dental anesthesia, ask these questions and any others you may have. Remember, knowledge and information are the key to a safe and effective dental surgery. We always welcome questions and are ready to address any of your concerns. Call us to schedule your oral surgery consultation today.

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.

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.

How Is a Tooth Extraction Performed?

Our goal is to help you create a beautiful, healthy smile. Sometimes this means that we’ll need to remove a tooth or two so we can treat and improve your smile. What happens during a tooth extraction? Here’s what to expect from your procedure.

Why Are Tooth Extractions Needed?

Teeth are valuable and whenever possible, your dentist will work to repair your teeth using fillings, crowns, and other treatment options. Some teeth are too damaged to repair and need to be removed. We also remove teeth to prevent future problems or if they are infected. When a tooth needs to come out, we perform a tooth extraction.

What Happens During a Tooth Extraction?

Tooth extraction is a relatively straightforward procedure. Here’s what may happen when you come into see us for tooth removal.

  • Detailed Examination- Before an extraction, we make sure that removal is necessary. We’ll take x-rays of the area to assess the condition of your teeth. These x-rays also help us to spot potential complications, like nerves or bone disease, before the procedure.
  • Create a Surgical Plan- We want your extraction to be as easy as possible. We’ll work with you to create a surgical plan. We try to remove as many teeth as possible during a single appointment to minimize your downtime. Tooth extractions can be performed using local anesthetics, IV sedation, general anesthesia, etc., depending on your needs, your pain tolerance, and your anxiety levels.
  • Tooth Extraction- We perform most extractions in our offices and patients return home to recover. During the procedure you may feel pressure, but you won’t experience pain. We have a variety of pain relief options available to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure.

Simple vs. Surgical Extraction

Some tooth extractions are relatively easy. Others are very complex. We can give you a better idea of what to expect from your extraction after an examination and x-rays.

  • Simple Extraction- A simple extraction is performed on a tooth that is fully erupted in the mouth. The tooth is loosened and then pulled out using forceps. Many times this procedure can be performed by a regular dentist, without the need for oral surgery.
  • Surgical Extraction- Surgical extractions are needed when teeth are broken off or trapped within the bone. A small cut is made on the gums and the tooth is removed. We may need to remove some of the bone surrounding the tooth or may need to break the tooth up before removing it. Stitches may be required to hold the gums closed during recovery.

 

Call Hill Country Oral Surgery today and schedule your tooth extraction consultation.

Gum Grafting Recovery

Gum grafting sounds like an intimidating procedure, but in reality, the name sounds scarier than the procedure and recovery actually are. The surgery itself is over quickly and recovery takes a couple of weeks. If you need gum grafting, come see us and learn about your options. Gum grafting is an important process and can improve your oral health. This guide will help you prepare for the recovery process.

How Painful Is Gum Grafting Recovery?

Your recovery experience after gum grafting will vary, depending on the specifics of your procedure. Gum grafts can be performed with tissue harvested from your body, typically taken from the palate, with gum tissue from the area needing treatment, or with donor tissues. The extent of your procedure and the type of tissues used will impact your comfort levels during recovery. The good news is, we have many options available for pain management and will help you create a plan to ensure your recovery is as pleasant as possible.

The mouth heals quickly and most patients feel better in just a few days. After an examination, we can give you a better estimation of downtime and an expected recovery timeline. Come see us!

Oral Care During Gum Grafting Recovery

Special attention to your oral health can help you to avoid infections and complications after gum grafting. We’ll give you specific recovery instructions after your procedure, but here are a few recovery guidelines to keep in mind as you prepare for your procedure:

  • Let the Tissues Heal– Brushing and flossing are important, but after gum grafting, you’ll want to skip these activities for a few days in the treated areas. Don’t disturb the transplanted tissues and give them time to heal.
  • Keep Clean with Rinses- We often use oral rinses to keep the mouth clean and to minimize plaque development after gum grafting surgery. Rinse your mouth as directed using the special solutions and instructions we provide.
  • Limit Physical Activity- You may need to limit your physical activity after gum grafting surgery for a few days. Avoid strenuous activities until you’ve been cleared by your doctor. You may need to take a couple of days off from work while you heal.

What Foods Should I Eat After Gum Grafting?

A soft, easy to eat diet is important during the healing process. Avoid hot (temperature) and spicy foods. Focus on soft foods like:

  • Eggs
  • Pasta
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Yogurt
  • Ice cream
  • Soups

Cool any hot foods to a cool, comfortable temperature before eating. We’ll let you know when you can safely resume your regular diet.

Gum grafting may sound scary but can save your teeth and improve your smile. Let us help you restore your mouth to prime dental health. Call today and schedule a consultation at Hill Country Oral Surgery.

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.

5 Tips to Prepare for My Oral Surgery Consultation

 

Preparing for your initial oral surgery consultation is essential. For a successful operation, and for the sake of you and your surgeon, it’s best that you are ready not just emotionally, but logistically, too. The best way to feel confident about your procedure is to be equipped with all the important information and facts about it. To feel assured and confident that you are in good hands, the first and most crucial step is preparing for your oral surgery consultation.

1. Address Your Concerns Clearly

Your consultation is the best time to discuss your condition. During your meeting, it is important to get to know your doctor and share with him your expectations for your operation. If you are feeling pain and discomfort, or you have suffered facial injuries, make sure to discuss every detail of your situation with your doctor. If you have any remaining past dental records that outline your previous treatment and evaluations, handing them out during your consultation would be a good idea.

2. Be Prepared for a Dental Exam and Diagnostic Imaging

To clearly assess your current condition, your oral surgeon may conduct a thorough examination of your teeth, jaw, and mouth. During this period, your surgeon may assess your past dental records, as well as your current health to be able to foresee the success of your oral surgery. Diagnostic imaging may be required. This step will help your oral surgeon see your bone structures, which is a significant factor in developing a careful treatment plan for you.

3. Provide Current Medications List

Oral surgeries involve the use of anesthesia. The kind of anesthesia used will depend on your surgery. To make sure the use of anesthetics goes smoothly, it is necessary to tell your surgeon all kinds of medications you are currently taking. Even over-the-counter drugs may cause an interaction with anesthesia. Thus, creating a list of your current medicines and handing it out to your doctor would be a good pre-operative step.

4. Be Prepared to Fill out Health Forms

The safety and success of your surgery are your surgeon’s main priorities. To be able to attain these goals, your current health condition plays a major part. Thus, as part of the consultation, expect to fill out an important series of health forms. Answering these forms will clearly address if you have current or past illnesses that may affect the result of your oral surgery. Details about your previous operations may as well be asked, and if you had unusual reactions to anesthesia.

5. Prepare a List of Questions

Your oral surgery consultation is the best time to get your questions answered. It is typical for patients to have a long list of inquiries before their operation. Thus, make sure to make a list of all your questions. Treatment options will be offered during your consultation, and the most appropriate approach for you depends on the benefits and shortcomings of each procedure on your end. You can ask everything about your surgery, including your goals. You can also ask about the treatment procedure, post surgery care, insurance coverage, cost, etc.

Schedule a Consultation

Now that you know how to prepare for your oral surgery consultation, the next step is choosing the best schedule for your appointment. Meet your doctor, and get your questions answered during your consultation with Hill Country Oral Surgery.