Mar 6, 2021

Dental implants are used to replace congenitally missing teeth. Left untreated, patients may also have periodontal issues, malocclusion and reduced chewing ability.

I once had a patient who was a 25-year-old female. Although the patient was very attractive, it turns out that she had not formed her upper lateral incisor teeth at birth. We call these congenitally missing teeth or hypodontia because she did not lose them. They just never formed.

This condition, which often results in an unfavorable appearance, is common and required, in the past, very costly treatment. Left untreated, patients may also suffer from periodontal damage, malocclusion, reduced chewing ability, insufficient alveolar bone growth, and other conditions.

When my patient smiled, she showed lots of her teeth, and we wanted to give her a very natural looking result with dental implants, something that cannot always be attained using conventional fixed bridgework.

After she had orthodontic treatment to straighten and align her teeth, two dental implants were placed. Three months later the implants were restored by her general dentist as single crowns. The result looked so natural that it will be difficult to tell which teeth are implants and which are her natural teeth. So, what we were able to give her were permanent tooth replacements, something that could not be achieved without dental implants.

The simplest way to think of dental implants is replacement tooth roots. Implants provide the foundation for both permanent and removable replacement teeth that are fashioned to match your natural smile.

That is a very crucial point in dental implant treatment. It is not just the matter of replacing a tooth with an implant but also being able to mimic nature and having a result that is esthetically natural-looking.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Feb 20, 2021

Dental implants benefit older patients, Dr. Leonard Spector explains. He talks about an 83-year-old lady who is now able to eat all the foods she loves.

I am going to tell you a story, a very typical story, about how dental implants can have very predictable outcomes and benefits in older patients. This story begins with an 83-year-old female who was referred to me by her general dentist. This lovely lady had an inability to wear her dentures. She had had all her teeth removed approximately 20 years before visiting my office. Due to long-term denture wear, she had lost a lot of the bone in her lower jaw. So, she was unable to wear her denture due to the severe bone loss, and that limited the amount of food and types of food she could eat.

After meeting with her and discussing treatment with her dentist, I recommended that two dental implants be placed in the lower jaw to help retain a clip-on lower denture. This procedure was successfully performed in my oral and maxillofacial surgery office under local anesthesia. Three months later, after the implants were placed, her dentist made her a new lower denture that clipped onto the implants and allowed her to eventually eat the foods that she wanted to eat, which included biting into an apple that she was unable to do before. This little thing, of course, made her euphoric and allowed her to have as close to having permanent lower teeth again.

You can imagine after 20 years of not being able to eat the foods she wanted how gleefully happy she was after successful dental implant treatment.

This story just goes to show that with implants over the past ten years or so that the procedure has become more mainstream. People are seeking dental implant treatment because they hear from their friends, from colleagues, from other professionals how predictable implants are and how they can benefit them in many cases.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Feb 6, 2021

Lutherville oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Leonard Spector explains how his professional team puts patients at ease and treats them with respect.

We get so many compliments from patients after procedures about how comfortable they were during procedures, but I realize that many patients are anxious when they first enter an oral and maxillofacial surgery office.

I have a very compassionate team who always keep the patients’ best interest in mind. All of my team members give patients individual attention. They are well-qualified and they always treat patients with the utmost dignity and respect.

There is mutual respect among all my employees. I find my staff to be highly professional and they have a clear focus on patient care that can be seen by the patients, who notice and comment on how well all the team members support each other and work together.

I have also tried to foster a sense of belonging in the office, as I regard myself as a great motivator of people. I have allowed my staff to have a very enjoyable place to work. In fact, they love to come to work because they have a very strong commitment to excellence and they show great passion for their profession.

Above all, I find that when patients are at first concerned about the thought of oral surgery when they arrive, my team puts people at ease and encourages these patients to smile and relax.

One of the hallmarks of my practice is that we spend time with our patients. We do not rush the patients through the process. We try to educate our patients about what they can expect before, during, and after the surgery. Even in post-op appointments, we try to spend time with our patients to listen to their needs, and we are open to talking about anything they would like to discuss with us. We are happy to be there for them.

I have been in practice for over 32 years. Recently, when I opened my own practice again as the only oral surgeon, I was fortunate to attract people who are just fantastic in how they relate to our patients.

Jan 23, 2021

A sinus lift procedure performed by an oral surgeon may be indicated as part of the process to augment bone needed to place dental implants.

A sinus lift is a surgical procedure performed by specialists such as oral surgeons that is used to add bone to the upper jaw in the area of your molars and premolars. It is sometimes called a sinus augmentation.

A sinus lift is used for cases where there is not enough bone height in the upper jaw for the sinuses, or the sinuses are too close to the jaw for dental implants to be placed. Bone is added between your jaw and the maxillary sinuses, which are on either side of your nose. To make room for the bone, a sinus membrane has to be moved upward or lifted, and that is where we get the term “sinus lift.”

There are several reasons why patients may not have enough bone in their upper jaw for dental implants to be placed. People who have lost teeth in their upper jaw, particularly in their molar areas, do not have enough bone for implants to be placed because tooth loss leads to bone loss. Once you lose teeth, bone begins to resorb or break down where the teeth used to be. If the teeth have been missing for a long time, there is usually not enough bone left to place the implant.

It is also true that the back part of the upper jaw has inherently less bone than the lower jaw. Another factor to consider is that bone might be lost due to periodontal disease around the teeth.

Also, the shape and the size of the maxillary sinuses vary from person to person. The sinus can get larger as you age. The result is that even when you have teeth in that area, you can have a sinus that will move closer to the roots of the teeth and need a sinus lift procedure.

Sinus lift procedures are often done in my office using appropriate anesthesia. The procedure has become routine and predictable and it enables patients to have implant dentistry who otherwise would not be candidates for that procedure.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Jan 9, 2021

Oral cancer risks increase significantly for patients who smoke and drink heavily and there are also associations with HPV.

About 80 percent of people with oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancers use tobacco in the form of cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or snuff. Oropharyngeal cancer is a disease in which malignant cells form in the tissue of the oropharynx. The oropharynx is the middle part of the throat that includes the base of the tongue, the tonsils, the soft palate, and the walls of the pharynx. The pharynx is the tube or cavity, with its surrounding membrane and muscles, that connects the mouth and nasal passages with the esophagus.

The risk of developing oral cancer depends on the duration or frequency of tobacco use. For people who smoke and also drink excessive amounts of alcohol, the risk of developing oral cancer is substantially higher than for people who neither smoke nor drink.

With regard to prevalence, oral cancer and oropharyngeal cancer are twice as common in men as in women. The difference may be related to more use of alcohol and tobacco among men. However, according to the American Cancer Society, gender difference is decreasing among oral cancer patients as tobacco and alcohol use among women is increasing.

There has also been research regarding the human papilloma virus, HPV, which includes about one-hundred similar viruses. Many of these viruses cause warts, but some are involved with cancer. Most noteworthy, the HPV virus that is related to the development of cervical cancer is also a risk factor for oral and oropharyngeal cancers.

About 25 percent of patients with oral cancer are also infected with the same HPV cancer viruses that are seen with cervical cancer. The HPV virus appears to be a more serious risk factor for oropharyngeal cancers than for other oral cavity cancers. It is interesting that patients with HPV virus-related cancers may be non-smokers or non-drinkers.

These patients may have a very good prognosis, because these virus-involved cancers do not produce any symptoms and only a small percentage of these infections actually develop into cancers. We are aware, however, that many patients will come in with small papillomas on their palettes and these are all biopsied for the HPV virus.

Oral cancer treatment can involve something as simple as an excision with early cancers. These early cancers are can just be excised with an appropriate margin of tissue removed, and that can be the cure. The more invasive or more aggressive type cancers may require more extensive excision of tissue and bone. For these reasons, attention to lifestyle issues and early diagnosis are really the key with these cancers.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Dec 12, 2020

Oral cancer warning signs that all patients should recognize are listed and reviewed by Maryland oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Leonard Spector.

Oral cancel has many warning signs that patients should review. Patients should see their dentist regularly for examinations. In my oral surgery office, we educate our patients regarding oral cancer, screen all patients, treat patients as appropriate, and refer patients to other health care professionals when indicated.

Here are some warning signs for oral cancer:

  • Persistent mouth sore, where the sore on the mouth does not heal. This is probably the most common symptom of oral cancer.
  • Pain or persistent mouth pain including pain in the teeth or jaw. This is another common oral cancer sign.
  • A lump or thickening in the cheek.
  • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, or lining of the mouth.
  • A persistent sore throat or feeling that something is caught in the throat that does not go away.
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing.
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or the tongue.
  • Numbness to the tongue or elsewhere in the mouth.
  • Jaw swelling that makes dentures fit poorly.
  • Voice changes not related to other causes.
  • A lump in the neck.
  • Persistent bad breath.
  • These signs and symptoms can be present for days or weeks. It is important to note that these symptoms may have causes other than oral cancer, but they should all be considered warning signs and be evaluated by a professional. In our oral and maxillofacial surgery office, we evaluate each patient carefully, review their medical history, and either perform a biopsy or refer them out for more extensive care.

In fact, in our office, every patient whom I see in the office gets a complete oral cancer screening. This includes a full inspection of the mouth and the throat, including the soft palate and the tonsil area, and also a full neck examination and palpation.

Even if the patient has not been referred specifically for an evaluation of an area of the mouth that could be a potential area of cancer, everybody is screened.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Oct 31, 2020

Dental implants are successfully used in patients who do not have sufficient bone due to new technology that enhances bone growth and healing.

It was not that many years ago that some patients were told that they were not good candidates for dental implants because they did not have sufficient bone. During my 32 years in practice, the technology has advanced so that I am now able to treat patients with dental implants that I was not able to treat 10 to 15 years ago. There are a number of growth factors that we routinely use in our practice today to enhance bone growth. One is platelet-rich plasma or PRP, which is prepared from blood drawn from the patients prior to surgery.

We use the patient’s own blood and we have the technology in the office to separate the platelets that are in that blood sample from the rest of the blood and to prepare a solution called platelet-rich plasma or PRP. These platelets have growth factors that enhance the healing of bone. The platelet-rich plasma is added to freeze-dried bone that is from a bone bank to reconstitute this bone.

This bone is then grafted into the bone defect in the jaw. In my experience the bone/platelet-rich plasma mix tends to dramatically increase bone volume and the healing of the bone. I routinely use platelet-rich plasma in cases with large defects in the bone, to wrap around the dental implants, and in sinus grafting procedures in which we can add bone to the flora of the sinus to gain height in the back part of the upper jaw to prepare the sites of dental implants.

Another way to build bone is to use the synthetic bone protein called bone morphogenetic protein. This protein is also mixed with bone. I use the bone morphogenetic protein in cases where we may need larger areas of bone growth in a more predictable way.

These growth factors are very beneficial to patients, and today many patients can benefit from dental implants who could not have taken advantage of implants in the past due to our ability to enhance bone.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Oct 24, 2020

Orthognathic or corrective jaw surgery performed by Dr. Leonard Spector is used to correct skeletal problems that cannot be addressed by orthodontic treatment alone.

Orthognathic surgery is also called corrective jaw surgery and it is performed by oral and maxillofacial surgeons. There are jaw deformities or discrepancies that are not amenable to orthodontic treatment alone and require corrective jaw surgery as part of their final and definitive treatment.

Corrective jaw surgery is used to correct a wide range of minor and major skeletal and dental problems, including misalignment of the jaws and the teeth. The surgery can improve chewing, speaking, and breathing. Jaw surgery can be used to correct gross jaw deformities in all dimensions of the jaws, both front to back, side to side, or vertical jaw problems. These procedures are also used to address facial discrepancies associated with people who have documented sleep apnea and airway problems.

In addition, certain facial discrepancies associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems can be corrected with orthognathic surgery. This treatment is a coordinated effort between the orthodontist and the oral surgeon.

The great benefit for the patient is that not only can we restore the function of their teeth but we also restore proper facial balance and proportions to the face.

Many times, these procedures are performed in an outpatient hospital setting, under general anesthesia. Orthognathic surgery procedures are performed through incisions inside the mouth so there is no visible scarring. The patient is able to open and close their mouth right after surgery has been completed and today the recovery time is very fast compared to the way these procedures were performed in the past. Patients do not have to have their jaws wired together for five to six weeks, as was the case in conventional orthognathic post-op procedures.

There is much higher patient acceptance when patients do not need to have to have their jaws wired together after the surgery, and the results can be dramatic from both an esthetic and functional perspective.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Oct 17, 2020

Dental implants are a conservative, cost-effective option for replacing missing teeth according to Havre de Grace oral surgeon Dr. Leonard Spector.

There are a number of disadvantages to having a single missing tooth replaced with an old-fashioned three-unit bridge:

  1. The dentist must cut down natural teeth to support a bridge.
  2. These natural teeth, once they are prepared and cut down, may require root canal therapy.
  3. The patient may have to wear a removable appliance that most people find unacceptable.
  4. It is extremely difficult for the patient to clean under a bridge. As a result, the patient is more susceptible to tooth decay and periodontal disease.
  5. Bridges need to be replaced every seven to ten years.
  6. Bridges often look like false teeth.
  7. Patients tend to get bone loss in the area around bridges.

The advantages of replacing a single missing tooth with a one dental implant are many:

  1. I regard an implant-supported tooth as a permanent tooth replacement With proper home care and regular dental visits, a dental implant can last for decades or even a lifetime.
  2. They are easy for the patient to maintain with good daily dental hygiene habits.
  3. Dental implants stimulate bone and prevent bone loss.
  4. Dental implants look, feel, and function just like natural teeth.
  5. There is a great benefit of improved appearance. A conventional bridge often looks artificial but dental implants look very natural.
  6. A person’s quality of life is enhanced because implant supported teeth are like new, natural teeth. People can eat, smile, laugh—basically go about their daily lives with complete confidence.
  7. Dental implants are a great investment in one’s health. Because they are natural looking, long-lasting, and can be easily maintained with daily hygiene and regular visits to the dentists, dental implants are much more cost-effective in the long run than bridges that cause problems and need to be replaced when they wear out.

For all these reasons, I tell my patients that dental implants are now the modern standard of care for replacing missing teeth.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist

Oct 10, 2020

Dental implant treatment has progressed to the point that patients often have functional and esthetic temporary restorations placed on the day of surgery.

When dental implants were first made available to the public, the entire process was very time consuming. Patients would leave the office and have to wear an unsatisfactory temporary restoration such as a flipper or temporary bonded bridge.

The great benefit for many patients today is that we are able to have them leave the office with a very good temporary restoration or go to their dentist’s office immediately after the dental implant is placed to have the implant restored with a natural looking tooth.

Specifically, in regard to single teeth, we are able to place an implant and also place a temporary post in that implant. Then your general dentist – your referring dentist – will see you that day and place a temporary crown on that implant.

The benefit here is that you basically have a restoration – a tooth in your mouth the day of the surgery. Most patients find this protocol to be very acceptable. This new protocol also significantly reduces treatment time because it allows you to have the final restoration in half the amount of time. In was not that many years ago, with what was then the conventional method of implant treatment, that the patient had to wait an additional three months before the implant was restored.

With regard to teeth in a day procedures, these are procedures where we use dental implants to replace all the teeth in one dental arch. The implants are placed and a restoration is securely placed on the implants that day.

These time savings are very important for the patient. They always ask about the cost of dental implants, but they also want to know how many appointments will be required to finish the entire course of treatment. I am now able to tell patients, very predictably, that there are minimal appointments—and that means there is greater value to the patient for these implant dentistry procedures.

Dr. Leonard Spector
www.chesapeakeimplants.dentist