Cincinnati—Thoughts of all-terrain vehicles, diving boards, bicycles and cruising cars muster images of summertime. But those idyllic visions often become injuries that ruin warm-weather fun—particularly when teenagers and other thrill-seekers are participating in risky behavior.
Deepak Krishnan, DDS, says he sees jaw and dental injuries in the spring and summer more often than any other time of year.
“When the weather turns nice, people are much more active and sometimes they become just a little too carefree about their safety,” says Krishnan, a UC Physicians (UCP) oral and maxiofacial surgeon who operates at University Hospital. “Facial and dental trauma—particularly teeth being knocked out—can occur during an assortment of accidents, including motorized and non-motorized accidents, stunts and falls.”
Krishnan cautions people to practice safety first, but when accidents do happen the first step is to be seen in the emergency room for first-aid care and then referred to the appropriate restorative source.
If the tooth is irreparably damaged, a referral to an oral or maxiofacial surgeon may be appropriate. Krishnan says standard-of-care comes down to three choices: creation of a removable plastic tooth insert, called a flipper; a crown and bridge between two teeth; or a permanent dental implant, which Krishnan says is the preferred treatment option.
“Ninety-eight percent of the time, dental implants heal well and last for life so the patient doesn’t have to worry about replacing it or taking it out at night like he would with less permanent fixes,” says Krishnan, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati (UC) who specializes in treating dental, jaw and facial problems that result from trauma, deformities and disease.
The implant procedure involves surgically affixing a titanium post in to the upper or lower jaw. Once the bone has healed securely around the post, an artificial tooth that looks and functions like the original is attached to the post.
Krishnan says in many cases, the dental implant is the best long-term solution to the problem because it is relatively quick and more aesthetically pleasing.
“The dental implant placement procedure takes under an hour from start to finish and the discomfort level is less than having a tooth pulled,” he explains. “Most people go back to work the next day and only experience mild discomfort for about a week.”
“Dental implants result in a natural-looking replacement tooth, which is particularly important for patients who may have suffered dental injuries to highly visible places, such as the front teeth,” Krishnan adds.
In more severe cases where the jawbone has also been damaged, Krishnan can graft bone from another part of the body—typically the mouth, shin or hip—to rebuild the area before attaching an implant. Most small grafts can be done under local or general anesthesia in an outpatient setting. If bone grafts are necessary, patients typically need to heal for three to six months before the implant can be inserted to ensure the best outcomes.
Krishnan encourages people to seek regular dental health care from a general dentist. He says poor dental hygiene, which can result in fragile teeth more prone to chip or break off entirely, and gum disease are other common causes of dental problems that lead to the need for a dental implant.
Another warning sign that something may be wrong is dentures that do not fit properly, which could indicate thinning bone.
“Dentistry is not about an amazing smile–it’s about maintaining general oral health, which is important for overall health,” he adds.
UCP’s oral maxiofacial surgery team offers a comprehensive, cost-effective and safe approach to dental implant procedures. Because UCP is affiliated with the UC College of Medicine, patients have the choice to have their dental implant procedure done by the attending surgeons or the oral surgery residents under Krishnan’s direct supervision.
“Insurance typically does not cover the cost of dental implants, so the out-of-pocket expense to the patient can add up very quickly if multiple teeth are involved,” explains Krishnan. “Services performed by our oral surgery residents are offered at a reduced cost compared to the fees charged by private oral surgery practices and patients are still getting the level of quality care—if not better care.”
The oral and maxiofacial surgery residents have already completed four years of dental school and are currently participating in a rigorous oral and maxillofacial residency program with four to six years of additional hands-on education in all aspects of surgery.
Dental implants can be done for individual or multiple teeth, depending on the location of tooth problems. The oral surgeon and restorative dentist work in concert to determine the best treatment options for the needs of each individual patient.
For more information on the UCP dental implants program or patient appointments, call (513) 475-8783. A full list of UCP clinicians and specialty care clinics is available online at www.ucphysicians.com.