Dr. George S. Lee

How Safe Are Bone Grafts?

Before your implants get placed, your dental surgeon needs to scan your mouth and jaw to make sure conditions are ideal for a successful surgery. Part of what your surgeon will be looking for is how much bone you have available at the implant site.

Dentist looking at x-ray If your dental surgeon has found that you don’t have enough bone for a successful implant, you may need a bone graft. Often, bone grafts are required for dental implants when the bone beneath a missing tooth has shrunk and weakened. A bone graft creates a scaffold forthe regeneration of bone. With a bone graft, a patient who wouldn’t be eligible for a dental implant can now benefit from one.

While bone grafts provide an opportunity to go forward with dental implant surgery, some patients worry about their safety. They fear that they might catch a disease from the donor bone or suffer an infection from bacteria. The idea of getting a bone graft may be less scary if you know the source of the donor material.

 Where Do Bone Grafts Come From?

Grafts can be taken from the patient’s jaw, shin, or hip. With a graft from your own bone, there is no risk of an immune reaction that would threaten the graft.  This kind of graft does require an additional surgery. Harvesting bone from the hip requires a 1 or 2 day hospital stay for surgery and recovery. You may also need to spend some time on crutches. As an alternative, grafts can be taken from the jaw during an office visit. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Get Dental X-rays Before Implant Surgery?

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You are probably used to having dental x-rays once a year as part of your regular check-up. Your dentist uses these x-rays to find cavities or check on any fillings you might have. During the x-ray, you are protected from radiation by a lead apron.

To adequately prepare for dental implant surgery, a surgeon will schedule and perform dental x-rays. You may be wondering why these x-rays are necessary. If you both already know implants are needed, why take this extra step?

Additional x-rays taken before your implant surgery are an important preventative measure because they can detect problems with your teeth, mouth, and jaw that are invisible to the naked eye. With these insights, your dental surgeon can properly prepare for your surgery so there are no unpleasant surprises. Fortunately, dental x-rays take only a few seconds, are painless, and use a low level of radiation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Designing a More Affordable Treatment Plan

Some patients may Woman who is about to get her teeth examined put off their dental implant surgery because of concerns about costs. Dental implants can be costly, and payments need to be made up front before the procedure can begin. The less time you need to delay your surgery while you save up for a procedure, the better. The longer you have missing teeth, the greater the chance that you will develop further problems, such as bone loss and bite collapse.

There’s no need to delay your dental implants because of concerns about cost. At Cumberland  Surgical Arts, we work with you to make your treatment more affordable.

Making Sense of Your Dental Insurance

Senior couple read the form for dental insuranceWe understand that insurance policies can be complicated. Benefits depend on the type of procedure being covered. For example, you may only be covered for some procedures if they are medically necessary. While the insurance company makes the final decision on medical necessity, we can provide justification for your surgery to your insurance company and help you file the appropriate insurance paperwork.

Before your procedure, our eligibility specialists will work with you to review your insurance. With the benefit of our experience, you can better understand your benefits and verify options.

Insurance companies have strict guidelines that determine if a procedure will be covered to reduce costs to their customer, usually your employer. Just because a procedure if not covered does not mean it is not necessary. Our goal is to provide you with the best surgical options to meet your personal and health goals. We can only do that if we all have a clear understanding of the role that dental insurance plays in your care. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Makes Up a Dental Implant?

IWoman at the dentisy f you are thinking about getting a dental implant, you may be wondering what one is made of. How do dental implants mimic a natural tooth so effectively?

For such a life-changing technology, dental implants have a relatively simple structure. Each dental implant consists of 3 basic parts: an implant, an implant abutment, and a dental prosthesis. Amazingly, these 3 parts enable the dental implant to simulate the function and aesthetic effect of your natural tooth for a permanent solution to tooth loss.

Find out if you’re a good candidate for dental
implants in the Complete Guide to Dental Implants.

Get My Copy Read the rest of this entry »

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Play it Safe, Protect Your Face

No one heads Boy with mouthgaurd out to play soccer or basketball expecting to be injured. We only expect to have fun.

However, there is always the chance of an accident. Every year about 3 million people are treated for facial injuries in emergency rooms across the U.S.  The injuries include trauma to the eyes, nose, skin, teeth and other areas of the face and neck.  And that number doesn’t include those who see their own physician or dentist with an injury. Dr. George Lee and Dr. Matthew DeFelice of Cumberland Surgical Arts would like to take this opportunity to remind you of the importance of helmets and mouth guards to prevent head and facial injury.

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Why is April National Facial Protection Month?

Spring brings more outdoor activity and generally signals an increase in trauma from skateboards, bicycle riding, swing sets, and other recreational activity including organized and backyard sports.  In fact, more injuries are sustained from backyard activities than from organized team sports.  It’s imperative for kids and adults to wear proper protection when participating in any sport that requires it.

Why is wearing a mouthguard important?

Some people don’t want to use facial shields because they don’t want to look funny. Some hockey players worry that shields will fog up and obscure their vision. Other athletes don’t want to appear scared of being injured. Mouth guards can make talking difficult. But these concerns aren’t worth the price of a serious facial injury.

Repairing injuries to the mouth and face is uncomfortable and can be expensive, potentially costing thousands of dollars. Fortunately, mouth guards are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to prevent teeth from being knocked out, broken, or displaced in the first place. Mouth guards can be custom fit during a consultation with your dentist or fitted to your mouth after purchase.

Mouth guards aren’t just necessary for organized sports but for recreational activities like biking, skateboarding, or a neighborhood game of pickup. Even if a sport or activity doesn’t involve contact, you can fall and injure yourself on the grass or pavement. Mouth guards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw, according to MouthHealthy.org, the ADA’s consumer website. Read the rest of this entry »

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5 Ways to Prevent Oral Cancer

HealthyEatingGroup.jpgApril is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, which presents us with a great opportunity to talk about prevention measures and methods for making positive changes. Like most cancers, oral cancer can be prevented by engaging in a healthier lifestyle. The key to prevention is making lifestyle adjustment that avoid high risk behaviors and encourage protective behaviors.

Let’s dive into 5 big ways that people can prevent oral cancer.

1) Quit Smoking

Two behaviors that can lead to oral cancer are smoking and drinking alcohol, especially in combination. Oral cancer can be caused by smoking cigarettes, cigars, or pipes, as well as chewing tobacco. According to the National Cancer Institute, the risk of oral cancer increases tenfold for current smokers compared to those who have never smoked. This risk increases with the total number of cigarettes smoked per day.

Luckily, quitting smoking reduces the chance of developing oral cancer by 50% within 5 years. Former smokers who have stayed off of tobacco for 10 years reduce their risk to that of someone who never smoked. Read the rest of this entry »

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4 Long-term Consequences of Missing Teeth

What Are the Long-term Consequences of Missing Teeth?

If you have lost teeth, you might have noticed changes to your appearance. Of course, missing teeth leave gaps in your smile, but as time passes, tooth loss begins to affect the overall shape of your face as well.

The aesthetic effects of missing teeth are plain to see, but the hidden consequences of tooth loss can also affect your overall health and sense of well-being.

Let’s dive into some of the long-term effects of missing teeth:

Woman experiencing jaw pain

Bone Loss in the Jaw

Changes in your facial appearance are triggered by bone loss inside your mouth. Repeated, fleeting contact between your teeth stimulates the bone in your jaw to regenerate. Without that contact, however, the jawbone atrophies.

This degeneration not only creates cosmetic changes to the face, but it also makes dental implants more difficult to place. The longer you wait to replace missing teeth, the more the bone shrinks and weakens. If the bone is too thin and weak, the implant cannot be screwed into place. Bone grafts may be necessary to supplement the bone before dental implant surgery can take place.

Chronic Pain from Misaligned Teeth

Tooth loss also affects the remaining teeth. Remaining teeth can begin to move into the space left by the missing tooth, leading to bite collapse and leaving sensitive roots exposed to possible infection. Other healthy teeth are at a higher risk of chipping, breaking, or fracturing.

Misaligned teeth may cause pain that radiates throughout the face, head, neck, and even the back. Chronic pain may contribute to debilitating migraine headaches. Read the rest of this entry »

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When Is a Bone Graft Recommended for Dental Implants?

MissingTeeth-Dental.jpgIf you are considering dental implants, it’s likely you are consulting with your surgeon about preliminary steps. One of the factors that effects the implant procedure is the condition of the implant site. To make sure you are ready for an implant procedure, your surgeon will X-ray your mouth to see if you have enough bone to support an implant. Bone grafts make an implant possible even when bone loss has occurred.

The term “bone grafts” may sound scary, but they are a routine part of dental implant surgery. Bone grafts aren’t always necessary, but they can increase the chance of a successful dental implant surgery. For a dental implant to work, you need enough bone at the surgical site for the surgeon to attach the implant. Sometimes bone loss makes it impossible to place a dental implant without a bone graft.

Why Do We Lose Bone?

Getting a dental implant can seem like a big commitment, but the longer you wait to replace a tooth, the more likely you will need a bone graft. After teeth are lost, the jawbone begins to shrink because it is no longer being stimulated by the activity of your teeth. Changes in the shape of your lower face may indicate bone loss.

Previous injuries and disease can also leave bone unfit to receive dental implants. Ongoing infections from advanced gum disease can deteriorate the jawbone, making it thin and weak. Read the rest of this entry »

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How Do You Know When a Tooth Can’t Be Saved?

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Ideally, a tooth should be saved whenever possible, but there are times when tooth removal is necessary. Some people may try to avoid having a tooth removed even when all signs are pointing to the inevitability. Acute tooth pain can be one of the signs that a tooth needs to be removed, but controlling the pain only delays the unavoidable.

Your dentist will determine whether a tooth can be saved or needs to be removed. In cases when a tooth can’t be kept, a dental implant may be necessary to restore full function and appearance. But what are some of the warning signs that you should be aware of?

Here are 5 tooth conditions you can watch out for that indicate the need for removal.

1) Tooth Decay

Indications for tooth removal include severe decay. Cavities can create marks and deep holes in your teeth that can expose the root of a tooth. You can tell if you have cavities by looking for deterioration of the tooth’s surface. Unchecked decay can cause infection, necessitating the tooth’s removal. Read the rest of this entry »

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What are the Long-Term Benefits of Dental Implants?

long_term_benefits_of_dental_implants.jpgIn the past, dentures and bridges were the go-to solutions for missing teeth. Today, you have longer lasting options to restore your smile. Dental implants provide a permanent solution to tooth loss that looks and functions like natural teeth.

According to the Institute for Dental Implant Awareness, implants are generally 95 to 98% successful for periods of up to 50 years. With such an excellent success rate, dental implants are the long-term solution to both health and cosmetic problems and even solve the emotional problems caused by missing teeth.

Looking Great with Dental Implants

Replacing missing and damaged teeth with dental implants restores the appearance of your face. When teeth are missing, the jawbone stops regenerating. Continual contact between your teeth stimulates bone growth that keeps your jaw strong and able to support your teeth. Bone deterioration causes the face to sag and appear prematurely aged. The bottom part of the face can shrink, and wrinkles can form around the mouth. Read the rest of this entry »

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