Jay Platt, DDS

What is a Wisdom Tooth?

wisdom tooth erupting from gumsWe all know that for most people, wisdom teeth need to be removed in order to prevent serious dental problems! But have you ever wondered, what exactly is a wisdom tooth? Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that typically grow in during a person’s late teens/early twenties.

Why are they called “wisdom” teeth?

Formally known as “third molars”, wisdom teeth developed their name due to the late nature of their arrival, at an age where people are “wiser” than when their other teeth grow in (during childhood).

What is their purpose?

Today, wisdom teeth are no longer needed in order for us to process food. Back in the day, however, when the human diet consisted of tough meats and fibrous vegetables, an extra molar was needed to break down food. Scientists have not discovered a common day use for wisdom teeth, as they are not needed for chewing modern food.

Why do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

Over the years, human jaws have become much smaller, making the space too crowded for wisdom teeth. Therefore, when wisdom teeth start growing in, they push on the teeth that have already established themselves. Once they start pushing on other teeth, the alignment of a person’s mouth is affected. Wisdom teeth can easily become “impacted”. This means that they are trapped underneath a person’s gums and are unable to fully erupt, which can be painful. Since wisdom teeth aren’t needed and can affect your smile and health negatively, we recommend that most people have them removed. For the few pepole that don’t get their wisdom teeth removed, serious dental health problems can occur down the road.

If you’re curious about the status of your wisdom teeth – contact us today at [Oral cancer is a cancer that develops within the mouth or oral cavity. But it doesn’t just affect the mouth, it can involve the lips, tongue, throat, salivary glands, pharynx, larynx and sinuses. There are many factors that can cause oral cancer, but smoking is one of the biggest lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of disease. The Mouth Cancer Foundation found that 90% of those with oral cancer consumed tobacco. When you combine heavy use of alcohol and tobacco, the risk is even greater.

Oral Cancer Statistics

9,750 people die from oral cancer each year in the U.S, and oral cancer represents about 4% of all cancers and 2.2% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. After reading those stats, you might be wondering how you can avoid being a part of these grim numbers.

Preventing Oral Cancer

The first step is to choose a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to eat a balanced diet, exercise, avoid alcohol (or drink in moderation) and avoid tobacco usage altogether. But it’s also important to recognize all the signs and symptoms of oral cancer so that it can be caught early on.

Here are a few oral pathology signs to watch out for:

  • Feeling of a lump or object in your throat
  • Numbness, pain or tenderness in your mouth and tongue
  • Troubling moving your jaw or tongue with chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
  • Lingering sore throat

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, contact our office today. In addition to that, we urge you to have regular oral cancer screenings in our office. We offer oral cancer examinations to all our patients. The earlier the cancer it detected, the quicker we can help you. Call our office today at 219-864-1133 to schedule your screening appointment.
and we will go over your options with you!

Smoking and Oral Cancer

doctor breaking a cigaretteOral cancer is a cancer that develops within the mouth or oral cavity. But it doesn’t just affect the mouth, it can involve the lips, tongue, throat, salivary glands, pharynx, larynx and sinuses. There are many factors that can cause oral cancer, but smoking is one of the biggest lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of disease. The Mouth Cancer Foundation found that 90% of those with oral cancer consumed tobacco. When you combine heavy use of alcohol and tobacco, the risk is even greater.

Oral Cancer Statistics

9,750 people die from oral cancer each year in the U.S, and oral cancer represents about 4% of all cancers and 2.2% of all cancer deaths in the U.S. After reading those stats, you might be wondering how you can avoid being a part of these grim numbers.

Preventing Oral Cancer

The first step is to choose a healthy lifestyle. It’s important to eat a balanced diet, exercise, avoid alcohol (or drink in moderation) and avoid tobacco usage altogether. But it’s also important to recognize all the signs and symptoms of oral cancer so that it can be caught early on.

Here are a few oral pathology signs to watch out for:

  • Feeling of a lump or object in your throat
  • Numbness, pain or tenderness in your mouth and tongue
  • Troubling moving your jaw or tongue with chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • Loose teeth with no apparent dental cause
  • Lingering sore throat

If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, contact our office today. In addition to that, we urge you to have regular oral cancer screenings in our office. We offer oral cancer examinations to all our patients. The earlier the cancer it detected, the quicker we can help you. Call our office today at 219-864-1133 to schedule your screening appointment.

Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

Woman holding a model of dental implantsBone grafting and dental implants typically go hand-in-hand, as the loss of a tooth can wear down the surrounding jawbone structure and a dental implant is a common procedure to replace lost teeth. As soon as a person loses a tooth, bone loss begins. In order to place a sturdy, reliable dental implant, a bone grafting procedure is often required in order to rebuild the jawbone. While bone grafting sounds daunting, it is a safe and reliable procedure that prepares the jaw bone for a dental implant, and in most cases, is necessary to build up a sturdy foundation.

In a bone graft procedure, bone tissue taken from another part of the body is grafted into the jawbone. Another method utilizes processed bone from animals, but results in the same regrowth of your jaw. It can take several months for the graft to set and grow into a stable foundation for a dental implant.

Depending on the amount of bone loss, bone grafts can be placed at a variety of times during the implant process. For example, if only a minor bone graft is needed, we may be able to place it at the same time as the dental implant. However, if a larger bone graft is necessary, it will have to rest for months before the dental implant procedure can be performed.

Bone grafting is a very important and often overlooked procedure when it comes to preparing for a dental implant! Dental implants have increased in popularity and effectiveness over the years, as they provide the most reliable replacement for natural teeth. Dental implants look and feel like normal teeth, and if treated properly, can last the rest of a person’s lifetime! Bone grafts and dental implants work together to restore smiles.

Contact us today at 219-864-1133 to schedule your dental implant consultation, and we can talk about your bone grafting options!

5 Things You Might Not Know About Oral Cancer

'oral cancer ribbon'Oral cancer consists of any head and neck cancer (excluding brain cancers – which is its own category). The death rate of oral cancer is unfortunately very high because people find out about oral cancer too late. This is why it is important to practice regular self-examinations in order to be proactive and seek treatment early.

1. 450,000 new oral cancer cases are discovered worldwide each year

While this number is only an estimate, it shows how many people are being affected by oral cancer and why this topic should be taken seriously.

2. HPV is a leading cause of oral cancer

There are many strains of HPV, but HPV-16 in particular has a strong connection to oral cancer. Most HPV strains cause warts or cervical cancer and some have a small connection to oral cancer. For people with HPV, it is important to practice regular oral self-exams in order to be proactive about oral cancer.

3. Oral cancer affects more men than women

Oral cancer affects men over women on a 2:1 ratio. This correlation may be due to men smoking and drinking more than women, although studies have shown oral cancer among women is on the rise. No matter your gender – practice clean oral health practices.

4. Alcohol and tobacco are huge risk factors

These two risk factors are considered lifestyle risk factors. When you think of smoking heavily, your first thought probably is lung cancer. However, that is not the only cancer that smoking causes, as roughly 80% of people with oral cancer are heavy smokers. Alcohol is another huge risk factor as 70% of oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers.

5. If oral cancer is discovered early enough, the cure rate is around 90%

The biggest concern about oral cancer is that it is not discovered soon enough. That is why it is important not to overlook any suspicious bumps that appear in your mouth, and to give your oral surgeon a call as soon as you see it.

Head and neck cancers are not usually discovered soon enough. Make sure you are practicing regular self-examinations, and contact our office today at Schererville Office Phone Number 219-864-1133 for an oral cancer screening!

FAQs: Wisdom Teeth

'question mark'Patients always wonder why it is recommended that they get their wisdom teeth extracted, or why they even have wisdom teeth in the first place! We always want our patients to be in the know and have all of their questions answered. It is important to understand the benefits of having your wisdom teeth extracted.

We invite you to read through our frequently asked questions about wisdom teeth and the extraction process and call us at Schererville Office Phone Number 219-864-1133 if you have any questions.

Why do we have wisdom teeth?

Ancient humans had a very different diet than we do today. They needed the third set of molars in order to grind up food that was tougher in texture and harder to digest. They also had larger jaws with more room for their wisdom teeth.

Humans today eat softer foods, or cooked foods, that are far easier to chew and digest. Over time, we have evolved to have smaller jaws and teeth, leaving less room for our third set of molars.

Why do I need to have my wisdom teeth extracted?

There are several benefits to having your wisdom teeth extracted. Keeping your wisdom teeth can cause a variety of short-term, as well as long-term, complications.

Impaction: When there is not enough space in your jaw for your erupting third molars, they can become impacted, causing them to grow in at an angle. Impaction may cause pain or discomfort while eating.

Damage to other teeth: Impacted wisdom teeth can cause damage to your other teeth. When they grow in at an angle, they can push against your second molars, damaging them and potentially causing tooth decay.

Disease: Due to impaction, the narrow spaces between molars allows for bacteria to form more easily, putting you at a higher risk for periodontal (gum) disease, cysts, and inflammation.

When is it okay to keep my wisdom teeth?

Sometimes, there’s enough room in your jaw for your third molars to erupt comfortably and without damaging your other molars. If we see that they may grow in healthy and without impaction, we may recommend that you do not have them extracted. If this is the case, make sure you are going in for regular check-ups and closely monitoring your erupting wisdom teeth.

When should I get my wisdom teeth extracted?

Wisdom teeth generally erupt between the ages of 17-25. Many people get their wisdom teeth extracted before they graduate high school. It is recommended that you get your third molars removed as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the more complications can arise. For example, the longer you wait to have them removed, the longer the roots grow. The longer the roots get, the more chance they have of coming in contact with your nerves, possibly causing nerve damage.

If your teen hasn’t yet had his or her wisdom teeth evaluation, please give our office a call at Schererville Office Phone Number 219-864-1133.

When Should You Consider Dental Implants?

'dental implant options'You may have heard in the past that dental implants are one of the most effective ways to replace missing or damaged teeth. Dental implants are a great option for a lot of different situations, but when is getting a dental implant the best option for you? There are a few circumstances where receiving an implant might be the best option for improving your smile.

Dental implants typically consist of three components: the post, the abutment, and the restoration. The post is a screw which is inserted into the bone. The abutment is attached to the post and the restoration is placed on top, giving the finished product a beautiful, realistic look.

To restore and preserve your appearance.

One of the main functions of dental implants is to restore a smile back to its original glory. They are built to last a lifetime and last much longer than dental bridges. If you are looking for a permanent solution to damaged or missing teeth, dental implants are your best option.

To protect and preserve a healthy jawbone.

Missing spaces in your smile can lead your jawbone to deterioration, which causes it to lose its strength. Dental implants are the only option which will protect and save your natural bone. Waiting to get a dental implant can continue to increase the chances of your jawbone not being able to support dental implants in the future.

To stop your teeth from shifting.

Losing a tooth can cause the surrounding teeth to shift and look unnatural. These teeth can become crowded or can be shifted unevenly. This can cause your teeth to become harder to clean and can also cause your face to sag and appear sunken.

These are just a few of the instances in which you should consider getting dental implants. Dental implants are one of the most useful and successful restoration options available today. For more information on how we can restore your smile with dental implants, contact Jay Platt, DDS at Schererville Office Phone Number 219-864-1133 today.

How to Take Care of Your Dental Implant

'man flossing teeth'

Cleaning and taking care of your implant is just as important as cleaning your natural teeth. Here are some things you should know about caring for your implant.

Your implant and your natural teeth are similar because they both rely on healthy tissue for support and both can build up plaque. It’s important to remove that plaque because it can develop into an infection. If the infection isn’t properly treated, it can result in a loss of bone around the implant which could progress to the loss of the implant itself.

It’s important to get your teeth cleaned on a regular basis so your dental hygienist can get that biofilm off your teeth and keep your teeth infection-free. As always, you should be brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day. Never use your teeth, especially your implant as “scissors” to open anything.

Dental implants are the closest thing you can get to real and natural teeth. They don’t require any special products or treatment. Just a simple brush and floss will do the job. They are also long lasting. If they are properly cared for, they can last a lifetime, avoiding any further dental work down the road.

With a dental implant, you can still enjoy all your favorite foods. It will not loosen or fall out if you are chewing something hard.

Overall, dental implants are meant to make life better and easier, not to add issues or interrupt your life. You don’t have to go out of your way to take care of them – a simple brush and floss will ensure that they improve your overall quality of life for many years to come.

If you think a dental implant may be right for you, call Jay Platt, DDS at 219-864-1133 to schedule a consultation with us.

Are You At Risk For Oropharyngeal Cancer?

'cancer cell'Early diagnosis can be a key component to giving you a fighting chance against the various types of head and neck cancer. There are many physical symptoms to look for when recognizing the signs of oral cancer aside from more commonly known warning signs such as a lump in the throat, mouth sores, and swelling of the jaw. These often mimic less serious conditions such as headaches, coughing, vocal changes, and a sore throat. Some also report ear pain, loss of hearing, or a ringing in the ears.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

Factors found to put you at a greater risk for oropharyngeal cancer include poor nutrition, using tobacco products, sunlight exposure (particularly in cases of lip cancer), alcohol abuse, radiation exposure (usually from a previous treatment) and HPV.

Alcohol, Tobacco and Oral Cancer

It is believed that at least 75% of head and neck cancers are linked to tobacco and alcohol use. Abstaining from using these substances can drastically decrease your risk, but it is also important to realize that genetics play an important role in the way that our immune system reacts and so some will be more genetically predisposed to cancer than others.

HPV and Oral Cancer

Another large factor causing oropharyngeal cancer (involving areas such as the back of the throat, tongue, and tonsils) is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Doctors have recently found that somewhere between 50-70% of oral cancers are caused by HPV, which doesn’t show symptoms in those it infects until much later according to the Head and Neck Cancer Alliance. Although there is a vaccination for this virus, there is currently no cure. There are nearly two hundred strains of it, and it is estimated that somewhere between nine and fifteen are cancer causing. About fourteen million people become newly infected each year and most sexually active men and women will contract at least one type of HPV at some point in their lifetime.

While studies now show that HPV now accounts for about 70% of oropharyngeal cancer, many cancers are believed to be a caused by a combination of using tobacco and alcohol as well.

In any case, early detection is the key to leaving yourself open to the best possible outcome. Call us at Schererville Office Phone Number 219-864-1133 to schedule a screening today!

Dental Implants: The Recovery

'recovery sign'The recovery time following dental implant surgery tends to vary, but is usually based on the amount of teeth being implanted, whether or not a bone graft was needed and the individual and how well they manage their recovery. Luckily, the science and technology behind dental implants has improved drastically over the last few years, improving post-surgery pain and comfort for patients.

The patient requiring the least amount of recovery time would be one who had a standard, single dental implant placed with no bone grafting. With a simple procedure like this one, there is very little discomfort or pain after the surgery. Mild bruising and soreness can occur, but is typically manageable with over the counter pain relievers. In more severe implant cases, such as those where multiple teeth are implanted or severe bone grafting needed in order to accomplish the implant, the recovery time tends to be longer and the discomfort can be more intense.

In any cases, it is important to keep your mouth clean after surgery, which can be done by rinsing your mouth gently with salt water beginning the day after surgery. You may begin brushing your teeth the night after the surgery, but make sure to keep it light around the surgery area as to not disrupt the healing in that area. It is also important to remember that in the week following your surgery, there should be no smoking and no sucking through a straw, as this can seriously inhibit your healing process. It is important to stick to a diet primarily consisting of soft foods for the first 7-10 days following your surgery before beginning to return to your normal diet.

As you can see, the recovery process after receiving a dental implant is fairly predictable and comfortable. It is important to follow the instructions that we give you at Jay Platt, DDS, and to always remember that if you have any questions or concerns regarding a procedure or following your surgery, you can always give us a call at Schererville Office Phone Number 219-864-1133.

Autograft vs. Allograft

'woman smiling after receiving bone graft'So, you were recently told by your doctor that you need a bone graft, but you aren’t quite sure what that means.

A bone graft is a surgical procedure that is used to fix bones or joints that were damaged by trauma, and it is also used to replace bone that is missing to provide structural stability around the body, including the jawbone. There are many types of bone grafts we can use to grow bone – the two most common are autografts and allografts.

An autograft is a bone or tissue that is transferred from one spot to another on the patient’s body. It is often thought of as the “gold standard” in bone grafting because of its reliability. Its high success rate is due to the fact that it is living tissue and thus its cells are kept intact.

An allograft is a bone or tissue that is transplanted from one person to another. They typically come from a donor, or cadaver bone. The allograft is safe, ready to use and available in large amounts. The main advantage of an allograft is that it requires one less procedure than the autograft, which must first be taken from the patient. Surgical time is minimized and the recovery can be quicker. The allograft comes from a reputable and reliable tissue bank.

Knowing which bone-grafting option you will need can be confusing, but we are here to answer any questions you may have. Please schedule a bone grafting consultation with us by calling Schererville Office Phone Number 219-864-1133. We will perform a thorough evaluation of your oral health. After our evaluation, we will recommend what bone graft is best for you. We are happy to discuss your options and answer any questions you may have. We want you feeling confident with our choice and worry free.