All posts by Patrick Chang

Tobacco Effects and Your Health

Tobacco use negatively affects your body in many ways, leading to a variety of health complications. Some are more immediate, while others take a heavy toll on the major body systems over several years. Tobacco’s effects on health are best understood when we take a closer look at what it actually is. 

Understanding the Toxicity of Tobacco

Smoking is the most common way people consume tobacco, but other delivery methods are equally harmful, such as chewing or inhalation through the nose. In addition to nicotine, tobacco products can contain anywhere from 4,800 to 7,000 chemicals, the byproduct of over 600 ingredients. These ingredients include: 

  • Lead 
  • Hexamine
  • Methanol 
  • Formaldehyde 
  • Arsenic 
  • Cadmium 
  • Benzene 

All of the above have been found to cause cancer. There are 70 other known cancer-causing ingredients commonly found in most tobacco products. 

This lethal mixture can damage nearly every organ system in the human body. Tobacco increases your risk of developing cancer anywhere in the body and is the cause of most cases of lung cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco-related deaths exceed the number of U.S. citizens who have died in all the wars fought by the United States.

No amount or type of tobacco consumption is safe. Damage to the body begins with only a small amount of tobacco and progresses with the regularity of use. Immediate tobacco effects can include any of the following:

Woman pulls lip down from teeth, showing the red irritation of gum disease.

  • Anxiety/irritability
  • Poor vision
  • Dulled smell and taste
  • Early menopause
  • Bronchitis 
  • Persistent coughing 
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Yellow fingernails
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Infertility
  • Wrinkly skin
  • Increased blood clotting, raising risk for heart attack and stroke
  • 30-40% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes 

Furthermore, studies show that a life-long smoker will lose an average of 10-11 years of life. Exposure to secondhand smoke also puts you at a greater risk for cancer, heart disease, and other tobacco-related health problems.

How Does Tobacco Affect Oral Health? 

While the health effects of tobacco tend to be well-known, its impacts on oral health are often underestimated. Here are three things you should watch out for if you currently consume tobacco:

Teeth Staining 

One of the most visible impacts of tobacco use is teeth staining. The tar and nicotine in tobacco products are absorbed into the pores of your teeth, resulting in a yellow or brown discoloration. While nicotine itself is colorless, it turns yellow in interaction with oxygen. That means that even e-cigarettes or vapes that contains nicotine can stain teeth. 

In the case of chewing tobacco, the brown tobacco mixes with saliva to produce a dark brown liquid that heavily stains teeth. The presence of this liquid will stain any teeth that it comes into contact with. Certain teeth may be darker than others, depending on your method of consumption.

Gum Disease

Periodontal disease, an infection of the gums, is the most common cause of tooth loss. It begins with bacteria that build up on the teeth and find their way under the gums. In later stages, the gums start to pull away from the teeth, forming deep pockets where infection can occur. 

The bone and tissue holding the teeth in place will disintegrate over time when left untreated, causing teeth to loosen and eventually fall out. Studies have confirmed that regular smokers have a higher rate of tooth loss when compared to the general population. Women who smoke are 2.5 times more likely to lose teeth than nonsmokers, while male smokers are 3.6 times more likely. 

Unfortunately, smoking tends to mask the gum bleeding of periodontitis, making the gums appear to be healthier than they truly are. This may explain why many tobacco users don’t end up receiving periodontal treatment until their condition has become more serious.

Another reason why tobacco consumers are so much more vulnerable to gum disease is that tobacco weakens the immune system. The presence of tobacco in the body detracts from immune functionality, making it harder for people to recover from gum disease.

Plaque Buildup

The chemicals in tobacco products affect the salivary glands in the mouth, decreasing saliva flow. Without a normal amount of saliva to wash away the oral bacteria from the teeth and gums, the plaque can build up more quickly. Plaque is a biofilm of live bacteria that grows on the inner surfaces of the mouth. At first, it is a filmy, colorless deposit, but when it hardens into tartar, it becomes brown or pale yellow. Tartar is a substance so hard that only a professional dental cleaning can remove it. 

The accumulation of plaque gives rise to dental decay, which progresses over time when left untreated. Enamel, the tooth’s top layer, can repair itself by using minerals from fluoride, commonly found in toothpaste. But when the enamel is weakened or destroyed from progressive decay, a cavity forms. A cavity entails permanent damage to the tooth and must be repaired with a filling.

Confronting the Effects of Tobacco 

If you smoke or consume tobacco products, you can reduce your risk of oral health problems by brushing and flossing twice daily. Schedule regular appointments as directed by your dentist to receive professional cleanings and oral cancer screenings. We usually recommend biannual appointments for tobacco users in order to address oral conditions that can rapidly develop in a short amount of time. 

If possible, quit smoking or at least cut down on the amount of tobacco consumed each day. Even decreasing to less than half a pack of cigarettes per day can help reduce your risk of developing gum disease. Creating a plan to quit tobacco use is an important step in improving your oral health. You should consult with your doctor about nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products, which take the edge off nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Counseling and other psychological services may also be recommended to help you develop coping mechanisms that will reduce your need to use tobacco for stress relief.

The student dentists at Penn Dental Medicine understand the health challenges associated with tobacco use and want to help by providing high-quality dental care. We meet patients where they are and offer preventive and restorative treatments, as well as education to assist you in reaching your oral health goals. To contact us, please call 215-898-8965

Free New Patient Fair for Veterans!

Penn Dental Medicine Is Glad to Offer Discounted Dental Care for Veterans

There’s no way to truly thank our veterans for everything they sacrifice for our country, but all of us at Penn Dental Medicine want to express our heartfelt gratitude. Thank you for your dedication and service to the United States! This Veteran’s Day, we remember that our freedom isn’t guaranteed. We recognize all members of the military who have served to keep us protected, past and present. 

On November 12th, Penn Dental Medicine is hosting a special event in honor of our veterans. To facilitate access to quality dental care for veterans, we will be holding a Veteran’s Fair from 9:00 am to 3:00pm, with 56 appointment slots available. We will provide comprehensive screening exams, including oral cancer screenings free of charge. Our goal is to support veterans’ oral health by helping them to get the quality dental care they need.

In addition, we’re inviting faculty members who are also veterans to the event. Participating veterans will receive dental supplies and oral health care information, with the opportunity to schedule follow-up care when needed. 

For those who seek further dental treatment at Penn Dental Medicine, we offer a Veteran’s Discount for all care received at our School of Dental Medicine. All veterans are eligible for a 20% dental discount on a sliding scale fee schedule. This discount is in addition to our already low rates for dental services, which we can price competitively as a teaching dental clinic associated with the University of Pennsylvania. Also, an appointment line has been set up for the exclusive use of veterans at 215-573-VETS(8387)

Comprehensive Dental Care for Veterans

Penn Dental Medicine administers comprehensive dental care for patients at all stages of life. We diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions, providing age-specific care in each of our specialties. Our preventive dental services help patients to avoid developing cavities, gum disease, and other conditions while promoting their oral health. Restorative treatments include crowns, fillings, bridges, dentures, implants, and more. When your examination reveals a specialized condition, it’s not necessary for you to look for another provider to get it treated because we can usually treat it in-house. Penn Dental Medicine offers a wide array of dental specialties, all under one roof: 

Female army member smiles against a desert backdrop.

A streamlined system of care means that you’ll be able to receive coordinated attention from dentists in different specialties. We are committed to continuity of care so that patients don’t have to start over with a new provider every time they need specialized treatment. Penn Dental Medicine is equipped to treat oral conditions ranging from oral cancer reconstruction (prosthodontics), to oral disorders (oral medicine), to severely misaligned and/or crooked teeth (orthodontics). We provide inclusive treatment to patients of all ages, taking special measures to better serve our patients with disabilities, different language needs, and dental phobias

Affordable Dental Care for Veterans at PDM 

At Penn Dental Medicine, we are honored to provide dental care for veterans in our community and look forward to serving you. If you are on active duty or a veteran, we hope that you will come visit us this November 12th. All veterans receive a free oral examination as well as information about how to promote a healthy mouth. To reserve your spot at the Veteran’s Fair, please call us at 215-573-VETS(8387). Please contact us as soon as possible— appointment slots are limited and fill up quickly! 

Interested in learning more about how to become a patient? Please come to the Veteran’s Fair with your questions. We look forward to serving you soon!

Q & A with Penn Student Dentists

We Offer High-Quality Dental Care at Reduced Cost to Patients

At Penn Dental Medicine, patients receive dental treatment from student dentists at the final stages of their training. We recently welcomed our student dentists back to the clinic and had the chance to talk with two of them about their experience. Below, you can read the details of our conversation about what brought them to the Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and why their patients love being treated here! 

1.  Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

Irada: I was born and raised as Uyghur, a Turkic ethnic minority in northwest China. After graduating from high school, I left home and came to the U.S. by myself to pursue a higher education. I learned English while in Washington D.C. and studied microbiology and cell science at the University of Florida (UF) before coming to Penn.

Vidisha: I was born in Munger, Bihar, India and moved to the U.S. when I was just 2 years old. My family moved around a great deal when I was young, finally settling in Pittsburgh, PA. I grew up taking piano lessons and learning Bharatanatyam, a form of Indian classical dance. I attended college at the University of Pittsburgh and earned a B.S. in microbiology before enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. 

2.  What inspired you to study dentistry?

Irada: While I was a student at the University of Florida (UF), I became a patient at the university’s dental school. It turned out that I had dental caries in all my posterior teeth. While I was receiving extensive dental treatments, I was introduced to floss and given an oral health education for the first time in my life. My student dentist, Magda, explained all the steps of treatment during my visits. Finally, I was able to enjoy stable oral health and smile with confidence! This experience inspired me to explore the field, which I fell in love with as I shadowed other dentists and volunteered. 

Vidisha: I always wanted to pursue a career in health services but I also enjoyed art and working with my hands. Dentistry combines these two passions. In high school, I attended the program at Pitt Dental and had the chance to shadow my pediatric dentist. Then during college, I worked at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh dental clinic for two years, which helped me to realize how much I enjoy hospital pediatric dentistry. 

3.  Why did you choose UPSDM?

Irada: I applied to Penn Dental Medicine because it’s one of the top dental schools worldwide. However, I didn’t quite understand why until I came for an interview. Everyone, from the admissions faculty to the staff, was responsive and professional. My interview process felt personal because they showed genuine interest in me and my story. It gave me the impression that the administration cares about students’ wellness as much as their success. All the students I interacted with during the interview seemed very happy to be here. I couldn’t stop imagining being a student after my interview.

Vidisha: I was accepted into multiple dental schools and ended up choosing Penn because it seemed like a genuine fit. My interview experience was wonderful; I felt a connection with all the faculty members and students I met that day. In addition, I was impressed by Penn’s cutting-edge technology and approaches. The faculty are willing to adapt their practices in accordance with new research. I felt that a dental education at Penn offered the best preparation for residency and a career, while also allowing me to build a lifelong community of friends and colleagues.

4.  What has been your favorite part of your experience at Penn so far?

Happy black family nestles together on a couch. Left to right: Mom, young girl and boy, and Dad. Irada It’s difficult to decide between Penn’s diversity and outreach opportunities, so I’ll mention both:

  • Diversity 
    While at Penn, I have met people from all over the world who have the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard. Everyone can teach you something, no matter where they are in their professional careers. 
  • Outreach 
    Our community health department provides us with many unique opportunities to serve. If you want to get out and do something in the community, there is always a need to be met. The department is also welcoming to new ideas when student dentists want to start projects. 

Vidisha: I love the relationships I have been able to build with both students and faculty members. I’ve made some of the closest friendships of my life at Penn and I can see myself staying in touch with the faculty for the rest of my career! 

5.  What have you enjoyed about working in the clinic?

Irada: I love meeting and serving patients. Being able to relieve pain and help people smile initially drew me to this profession. I’m happy when I can make the kind of positive impact on someone’s life the way Magda did on mine. It’s also comforting to know that the faculty is always there to guide and teach us. They come from diverse backgrounds: some are more academically oriented while others continue to practice full time. We learn the fundamentals here but we never miss out on the newest techniques and materials in the field.

Vidisha: I enjoy working with faculty members on complex cases and treatment plans. The program at Penn has equipped us to have nuanced discussions about treatment options with the faculty. 

6.  What is something fun about you that your patients might not know?

Irada: I speak 5 languages!

Vidisha: I studied abroad in Ecuador, living in the Amazon rainforest for several months. It was quite the adventure and I learned so much about their food and culture. I hope to go back someday! 

7.  What are the benefits for patients seeking care at PDM?

Irada: Patients often remark on the value of having multiple pairs of eyes to ensure a high quality of care. Because we are in an educational institution, every step of a procedure must be checked by a licensed faculty member. It might take a bit longer than it would in a private practice, but patients enjoy the assurance of a high standard. A faculty member is always present when we review treatment options with a patient.

Patients also prefer PDM for financial reasons. We accept most dental insurance plans and use a sliding fee scale for Medicaid patients and veterans. Even self-paying patients find that our prices are significantly lower than those of private practices. Our financial assistant programs and interest-free payment plans make it possible for patients to receive the dental care they need. 

Last but not least, Penn Dental Medicine stays up-to-date on dental technologies and developments in the field. We utilize microscopes, Computer-Aided Manufacturing and Design (CAM/CAD), intraoral scanners, and other cutting-edge instruments as part of our clinical education. It’s refreshing to watch the field evolve as we combine new technologies with traditional techniques and concepts.

Vidisha: Patients are truly receiving some of the best dental care in the area. We do everything that we can to offer multiple treatment options that will meet the needs of the patient, including different options for payment to make treatment affordableOur faculty are experienced and knowledgeable. My patients have often expressed how much they appreciate having the insight of multiple faculty members on their case. They also enjoy the convenience of accessing all the dental specialties in one building so that they don’t have to be referred to other dentists.

Get Treated by our Student Dentists!

Are you looking for affordable dental treatment in the Philadelphia area? We hope that you will come visit us at Penn Dental Medicine, where you’ll enjoy the benefits of affordability, convenience, quality, and cutting-edge care. The work of our student dentists is overseen by experienced faculty members and supported by access to the latest dental technologies. You will not find a higher standard of quality than at our dental school teaching practice. To schedule your first appointment with one of our student dentists, we invite you to call 215-898-8965

You can also learn more about how to become a patient by clicking here.

Healthy Aging Month: Understand Your Options for Tooth Replacement!

These Tooth Replacement Options Help You Look and Feel Good

One of the biggest myths about aging is that tooth loss is inevitable as you get older. The reality is that diligent oral hygiene makes an enormous difference in healthy aging. Even so, tooth loss remains a common problem for many people. Older adults suffer higher rates of gum disease, dental decay, mouth infections, oral cancer, and tooth loss. 

There are many steps you can take to reduce your risk of oral problems and promote oral health as you age. But even if you do experience tooth loss, the options for tooth replacement are better today than ever before. 

In honor of Healthy Aging Month this September, we’ll explain the underlying causes of tooth loss and highlight some of the most important daily oral health practices. We’ll also discuss the three unique tooth replacement options. 

Wear and Tear

While your enamel is the hardest substance in your body, a lifetime of crunching, grinding, and exposure to acidic foods wears your teeth down. Weakened enamel can set the stage for dental problems, such as cracks or tiny fractures in the teeth. A break leaves the pulp tissue vulnerable to inflammation. The nerves in the pulp tissue tend to lose sensitivity with age, which means that the condition can advance rapidly before you notice any pain. This explains why people over the age of 65 are three times as likely to need a root canal procedure.

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. Gum tissue naturally recedes with age, leaving the tooth root exposed. Gum bleeding and inflammation indicates some level of gum disease, which ranges from its mildest form in gingivitis to advanced periodontal disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of Americans over age 30 have periodontitis. While gingivitis can be reversed with proper treatment, tooth loss occurs when extensive gum damage is present.

The good news is that what you do matters. Visiting the dentist each year and keeping up good daily oral hygiene practices will reduce your risk of losing teeth. 

Important Daily Practices in Oral Hygiene 

Cavities and gum disease form due to the presence of harmful bacteria in the mouth. What we eat has a great impact on these bacteria’s ability to survive. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables translates into a more healthy microbial environment in the mouth. A high level of sugar consumption (including simple sugars from carbohydrates), on the other hand, feeds the harmful bacteria so that they are able to multiply rapidly. 

CTA-small 1 02-07-2017Aside from minimizing your daily sugar intake, you can promote a healthy mouth by practicing these habits: 

  • Brush your teeth. Use a soft brush to avoid eroding the gums from rigorous scrubbing. Good technique is key to keeping your teeth clean, so ask your dentist to review proper brushing at your next appointment!
  • Floss. You can use traditional floss or flossers; either works well in removing plaque and microfilm buildup. People who don’t practice daily flossing are much more likely to develop gum disease and cavities between the teeth. Even if you don’t see what you’re removing when you floss, it is essential for healthy teeth! 
  • Mouthwash. Though it’s not an essential oral practice for everyone, a good mouthwash can be useful for people who already struggle with gingivitis. A 30-second rinse before bed or in the morning helps kill the bad bacteria on the teeth and gums. 

What Are Your Options for Tooth Replacement?

If you do lose a tooth, whether due to a fracture or gum disease, a number of replacement options are available. The three major categories for replacement are: fixed bridges, dentures, and implants. While a dental implant is the most recommended choice, some patients may not be eligible for the procedure if they have severe gum erosion.

Fixed bridges: A bridge is made up of two or more crowns which bridge the gap created by the missing tooth or teeth. Two adjacent teeth, called abutment teeth, are used to suspend the false tooth in between. A false tooth in a fixed bridge can be made of porcelain, gold, alloys, or a combination. 

Happy older couple hiking in the mountains.Dentures: A removable or fixed replacement for missing teeth, dentures come in two types: partial and complete. Complete dentures are used when all teeth have been lost, while partial dentures are customized to replace only the teeth you need. Sometimes dentures are combined with other treatments. For example, crowns can be paired with partial dentures to provide more stability. Likewise, dental implants can be used with fixed dentures to create a base of support for an entire row of teeth. 

Dental implants: An implant consists of an artificial tooth that has been anchored to the jaw with a titanium base. The procedure requires multiple office visits to prepare the mouth, surgically insert the implant into the jaw, and place the false tooth on the implant when it’s ready. Implants provide a long term replacement option that appears indistinguishable from the natural teeth. With a 95% success rate for 10 years, the procedure is a healthy and effective way to solve the problem of having missing teeth.

Find Your Tooth Replacement Solution at Penn Dental Medicine

If you’re trying to decide which tooth replacement option would be appropriate for you, we hope you will come visit us at Penn Dental Medicine. We offer dental consultations aimed at meeting the unique needs of older adults, especially in tooth replacement treatments that improve quality of life. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call us at 215-898-8965. 

How to Find the Best Pediatric Dentist Near You

Both You and Your Child Should Feel at Ease with Your Pediatric Dentist

Have you been searching online for a “pediatric dentist near me? When you need to find a dentist for your child, it’s important to learn as much as you can to choose the best provider. Most parents would agree that safety, quality, and a child-friendly environment are top priorities when selecting a dentist for their child. 

Safety First

Dental visits should be a routine, and generally agreeable, experience for most people. It should go without saying that no parent should ever worry about safety when their child receives dental care. At Penn Dental Medicine, parents can rely on the exceptional care provided by our pediatric dentists. 

A fully equipped facility with access to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Penn Dental Medicine ensures quality and safety for every child under our care. When performing oral surgery for children, we abide by the anesthesia guidelines issued by the American Dental Association and take special measures to ensure your child’s comfort during any procedure. Below, you can learn more about how we prioritize a child-friendly environment when providing pediatric dental services. 

Quality Care

Young female pediatric dentist with a red shirt examining a little girl’s teeth.Penn Dental Medicine has been teaching excellence in dentistry since 1878. As an Ivy-League institution, we guarantee the highest quality care to our patients, who know that they can trust the Penn name and reputation. Procedures are performed by our student dentists and carefully overseen by experienced Penn faculty members. At PDM, your child will benefit from the collective experience of our dental team, with the expertise that comes from years of research and clinical practice. 

We believe that our long history of quality and our reputation in the region make us stand out as an exemplary provider of pediatric dentistry. Because we are an educational institution of the University of Pennsylvania, we are accountable to the highest standards of dental excellence. Families choose us because they know that our pediatric care is among the best they will find in the field.

State-of-the-Art Technology

A major advantage of choosing Penn Dental Medicine regards our access to state-of-the-art dental technologies. As a dental school, we have dental equipment on-site and available for use at the time of your child’s appointment. For many private practices, it’s simply not feasible to keep these dental technologies at their office. The benefit of receiving care from PDM is that our facilities make it possible to house these pieces of important equipment. For you and your child, that means easy access to materials and technologies with cutting-edge features. Our equipment is current, quality, and offers the most advanced capacities. 

A Child-Friendly Environment

Our student dentists work hard to help children feel comfortable at their appointment. We are prepared to meet the needs of diverse children, including patients for whom English is a second language and those with special needs. For very young patients who have anxiety or other special needs, we provide the option of sedation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. When it comes to finding a trustworthy, quality provider for your child’s dental care, you will not find a better option than Penn Dental Medicine.

Affordable Preventive Care at Penn Dental Medicine

Pediatric dentistry is all about prevention. Childhood sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health, which is why it’s so important to choose a provider that will apply the best practices in preventive care while taking the safety measures required when a procedure is necessary. We are also proud to offer our services at discounted rates, which makes it possible for many more families to receive the dental care they need. If you would like to learn more about pediatric dentistry near you at Penn Dental Medicine, please call our offices at 215-898-8965 or fill out our contact form today.

Weighing Root Canal Cost with Outcomes: You Might be Surprised!

In the past, an infected or damaged tooth would have been pulled. Today, these teeth can often be saved with root canal treatment. When you compare costs over time, a root canal’s cost will be lower than extraction because it doesn’t require the follow up of replacement procedures.

Comparing Endodontic Treatment with Tooth Extraction

Many of our patients want to know why endodontic treatment is recommended rather than extraction. The simple answer to this question is that root canal treatment offers better health benefits in the long run, which drives down the overall cost of your dental care. While the sticker price on a root canal procedure may seem higher at first glance, extracting the tooth has hidden costs. To better understand, it’s helpful to learn what endodontic treatment is, and why it’s a more desirable alternative to extraction.

Why Endodontic Treatment?

The need for an endodontic dental procedure can arise from a trauma to the tooth or dental decay that has penetrated to the tooth root. Either of these causes are damaging to the tooth pulp (the inner chamber of the tooth comprised of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue). When the tooth has reached maturity, it can survive without the pulp because of its access to surrounding live tissues.

Endodontic treatment effectively “saves” the tooth by removing the diseased or damaged pulp. After, a crown is placed on the tooth to protect it from further damage.

root canal costSix major steps are involved in saving the damaged tooth:

  1. Diagnosis: A dentist or endodontist examines the tooth and orders X-rays to confirm infection or damaged pulp.
  2. Anesthesia: A local anesthetic is administered to numb the tooth.
  3. Preparation: The tooth is isolated using a small protective sheet, which keeps it clean during the procedure.
  4. Cleaning: After a tiny opening is made in the tooth crown, the dentist cleans the infected pulp from the inner chamber using tiny instruments.
  5. Sealing: Once the affected tooth has been cleaned and shaped, the root canal will be sealed with a biocompatible material.
  6. Filling: A temporary filling is placed over the opening, to be followed by a permanent crown at your follow-up appointment.

Once a root canal treatment is completed, you don’t have to do anything else. The only exception to this rule is if the tooth becomes re-infected. If this happens, retreatment would be required. In either case, the procedure is aimed at allowing you to keep your tooth for a lifetime.

A Convenient, Healthy Choice

Because of modern techniques and anesthesia, root canal treatment is virtually painless. Many people erroneously believe that a root canal will be painful because of its association with pulp damage or infection. But make no mistake: the infection is the real source of your pain. In fact, when compared to extraction, root canal treatment is the more comfortable option!

The American Association of Endodontists reports that patients who chose a root canal procedure are six times more likely to say it’s painless than a patient who opts for an extraction.

Root canal treatment also has a high success rate. Numerous dental studies have demonstrated the efficacy of this procedure. A root canal will almost always be recommended due to its establishment as the safest, most effective, and long-term method for treating a diseased tooth.

The Hidden Cost of Extraction

Extraction may appear to be the better deal at face value, but removing the tooth almost always implies further procedures. Sometimes, tooth removal is inevitable because endodontic treatment is no longer viable. The best thing to do after a tooth extraction is to replace it with a dental implant. By filling the empty space left by the tooth, you will avoid the problems of jawbone loss and teeth shifting, as well as functional challenges.

Choosing extraction when you still have the option of receiving root canal treatment, is more costly in the long run. Extraction also has a more harmful impact on your oral health. Gaps in the teeth can make your mouth more susceptible to tooth decay and lead to jaw bone loss over time. Moreover, the costs of replacing your missing tooth are higher than saving that same tooth through root canal treatment.

Low-Cost Endodontic Treatment at Penn Dental Medicine

Whether your tooth hurts because of dental decay or pulp damage, it’s important to seek adequate dental treatment as soon as possible. An untreated tooth will only become more painful and difficult to treat, decreasing your likelihood of being able to save the tooth through endodontic treatment.

If you’re worried about root canal costs, then you will find no better deal than at Penn Dental Medicine. We provide dental care at affordable prices at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, where you will be treated by student dentists in the final stage of their training.

All procedures are overseen by experienced dental professionals at the forefront of their field. Whether you are on a dental plan, dental insurance, or pay out of pocket, you’ll benefit from the reduced costs of root canal treatment at PDM.

To schedule your free root canal consultation with a student dentist at PDM, please call us at 215-898-8965 today.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Options in Philadelphia

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for Conditions Affecting the Facial Structures

If your dentist has suggested you may need “oral and maxillofacial surgery,” you probably have a lot of questions. What will oral surgery be like? How long will recovery be? What, if any, are the risks involved?  

The truth is that oral surgery procedures are quite common and address conditions that many people experience at least one time in their life, such as tooth loss or impacted wisdom teeth. Every case is different, but many patients can resume work and normal activities within a few days of their surgical procedure.

What Is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon?

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders, diseases, injuries, and defects of the facial complex, including the jaws and oral cavity. Training in both medicine and dentistry allows these surgeons to treat conditions pertaining to both fields, such as congenital face disproportion, trauma, oral cancer, salivary gland disease, temporomandibular joint disorders, tumors, and dental implant surgery.

Oral and maxillofacial surgery is recognized as a dental specialty by the American Dental Association. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons must complete advanced training, which includes:

  • 4 years of undergraduate study (BS, BA, or equivalent degree)
  • 4 years of dental school
  • 4-6 years of residency training, which includes the two extra years required for a medical degree
  • Passing the specialty exams of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

The average time it takes to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon after high school is 12 to 14 years. In addition, many graduates pursue fellowships to gain subspecialty expertise in one of the following areas:

  • Cosmetic facial surgery
  • Head and neck cancer reconstruction
  • Cranio-maxillofacial trauma, i.e. soft tissue/skeletal injuries to the facial area
  • Pediatric maxillofacial and craniofacial surgery, i.e. cleft lip and palate repair

Types of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

Patients are referred to oral and maxillofacial surgeons by both general dentists and medical doctors. Oftentimes, oral and maxillofacial surgeons will work in collaboration with other specialists such as orthodontists, plastic surgeons, or oncologists to provide comprehensive care for conditions that affect the facial structures. Below, read on to learn more about major conditions and treatments:

  • Dentoalveolar surgery. The alveolar bone contains the tooth sockets (dental alveoli) on the maxilla and mandible. Dentoalveolar surgery simply refers to any procedure involving this area of the mouth: tooth extraction, impacted teeth, or bone grafting, as examples.
  • oral and maxillofacial surgeryTooth extraction. Sometimes, a diseased or damaged tooth cannot be saved using endodontic treatment. Pulling the tooth may be the only option if it is too damaged to be repaired with a filling or crown. Extraction is also necessary for some orthodontic patients to ensure adequate room for other teeth as they move into the correct position.
  • Impacted tooth extraction. Approximately 9 of 10 people have at least one wisdom tooth that requires removal, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. When a tooth doesn’t fully grow in, it is called “impacted” because there isn’t enough room for it to break through the gums. An impacted tooth carries several risks: damaging the nearby teeth, becoming infected, or developing a tumor. In cases where one of these serious conditions has developed, surgery should be performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
  • Bone grafting. Periodontal disease and tooth loss lead to bone degradation in the jaw, causing the facial features to sag. Modern bone-grafting techniques have made it possible to rebuild this bone. This procedure benefits your appearance while providing a base for effective tooth replacement (implants).
  • Dental implants. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons pioneered dental implant treatment more than 25 years ago and continue to be leaders in the the use of innovative techniques that improve patient outcomes. Their extensive training and finely honed surgical techniques allow them to place implants successfully even in many high-risk patients (those with gum disease or other chronic conditions).
  • Cosmetic surgery of the head and neck. Cosmetic surgery is used to reconstruct facial structures damaged by trauma or improve overall appearance and function. Any facial cosmetic surgery requires the expertise of maxillofacial surgeons, many of whom can perform the procedure on an outpatient basis at their offices. A few examples of popular cosmetic surgeries include facelift, cheek augmentation, lip enhancement, and liposuction.
  • Craniofacial surgery. Cleft lip and palate is an example of a well-known birth defect—  though there are others that affect the way in which the face or head develops. These congenital malformations can be corrected during childhood through a series of surgeries, which should be accompanied by therapy to support the child’s language development. Penn Dental Medicine takes a comprehensive approach to the treatment of craniofacial disorders through our Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic.

Schedule Your Visit at Penn Dental Medicine

Even with insurance, dental surgery can be expensive. At Penn Dental Medicine (PDM), you’ll enjoy the unique advantage of lower fees for services administered by our oral and maxillofacial residents. We are dedicated to providing the highest standard of care at our teaching clinic, where experts in the field oversee all aspects of the student dentists’ work.

If you are in need of oral and maxillofacial surgery, we encourage you to schedule a consultation at PDM to determine your eligibility to participate in our reduced-costs surgery program. To learn more, please call our offices at 215-898-8965 today.

Missing Teeth? Everything You Need To Know about the Dental Implant Procedure

Dental Implants Promote Good Oral Health for Years to Come

Are you thinking about having a dental implant procedure, or perhaps have already made the decision to do so? For some people, the thought of having an implant surgically placed can seem intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be. Learn all about what a dental implant procedure entails and how it promotes good oral health in the long term!

Why Do People Get Dental Implants?

People opt for dental implants to replace missing teeth that have been removed, whether because of injury or infection. Instead of wearing removable dentures, the patient can have an implant custom-fitted for them. Candidates must have good gum tissue that has not been affected by periodontal disease. That’s because the success of a dental implant procedure largely depends on the health of the gum tissues and underlying bone.

If you wait too long to place the implant after tooth loss or removal, the surgery may become impossible due to teeth shifting. When a gap is left in the mouth, the teeth gradually shift over towards the gap, shrinking the area available for the implant. While this shifting process does address the problem of an uneven dental structure, it cannot protect you from jaw bone loss.

Bone loss is the biggest problem associated with missing teeth. The jaw bone needs to be used in order to stay healthy. When a tooth is absent, the immune system senses that part of the jaw is no longer necessary to the body and begins to break down the bone. Bone recession can lead to more lost teeth, cause difficulties in enunciation and chewing, and give the face a collapsed appearance. Dental implants will help you to maintain the integrity of your jaw bone, and help your smile remain healthy for years to come!

What Exactly Is a Dental Implant?

A dental implant consists of an artificial tooth root that is anchored to the jaw. A false tooth is then screwed into the implant, where it becomes indistinguishable from the other teeth. A dental implant will also function as well as any of your natural teeth.

Dental implant surgery is well-established as an effective treatment for missing teeth. With a 95-99% success rate, the implant procedure is an effective and safe treatment option. Like any dental restoration, duration of the implant depends on the patient’s maintenance habits. While the false teeth cannot develop a cavity, it is important to keep the surrounding gums and teeth clean to ensure continuing oral health.

What Types of Dental Implants Are Available?

dental implant procedureThere are two major types of dental implants: endosteal and subperiosteal. Most people will choose endosteal because of its higher success rate and effectiveness. People who are unable to have an endosteal implant may be candidates for a subperiosteal implant.

Endosteal (in the bone): This type of implant is typically used as a more permanent option for patients who would otherwise be eligible for removable dentures or bridges. It is the most common implant type and may include screws, cylinders, or blades placed surgically into the jawbone. Each one holds one (or more) artificial teeth.

Subperiosteal (on the bone): This kind of implant is chosen for patients who have jaw bone loss and cannot wear conventional dentures. The implant sits on top of the bone, resulting in a shorter recovery time because the bone and implant do not need to fuse together. However, because failure rates are also higher for subperiosteal implants, they are a less popular alternative.

What Should I Expect from a Dental Implant Procedure?

You and your student dentist will decide on a customized treatment plan that addresses your particular needs. Penn Dental Medicine takes an individualized approach to implant treatment, offering a range of options including single implants, multiple implants, full-arch implants, and implant-supported dentures:

  • Single implants: If you’re missing one tooth, it can be replaced by an implant and a healing cap (crown).
  • Multiple implants: If you’re missing several teeth, you can replace each with an implant for the best possible jaw health.
  • Full-arch implants: Another approach for someone with multiple missing teeth is a fixed bridge anchored to dental implants. This treatment provides a permanent, stable, and aesthetic solution.
  • Implant-supported dentures: Implants can also serve as the base for a fixed denture, which is an excellent option for people with teeth missing in the top and the bottom.

The exact steps of your dental implant procedure may vary, but the process tends to look something like this:

  1. Dental exam. Your student dentist will perform a comprehensive examination to diagnose the problem and develop a treatment plan. This will likely include several imaging tests, such as dental X-rays.
  2. Mouth modelling. PDM’s computer-aided dental implant technology allows us to create an image that perfectly represents your mouth in order to manufacture a custom restoration. No molds are taken when you seek treatment at PDM.
  3. Anesthesia. General or local anesthesia will be administered at the beginning of the surgical procedure.
  4. Removal. The damaged or diseased teeth are extracted, when necessary.
  5. Jaw preparation. In certain cases, bone grafting will be required as preparation for the surgery.
  6. Implantation. The dental implant anchor is attached to the jawbone, where it will fuse together over a period of several months.
  7. Implant abutment. After the gum tissue has healed from the implant surgery, the false tooth (or abutment) will be placed on the dental implant.

Seek Expert Implant Treatment

If you’re looking for high quality, affordable dental implants, we encourage you to make an appointment at Penn Dental Medicine. When accepted into our program, you will receive treatment performed by student dentists at a reduced rate. To schedule your implant consultation, please call 215-898-8965 today!

What Conditions Are Treated with Dental Prosthodontics?

Learn About the Transformative Power of Prosthodontic Treatment

Have you lost teeth recently due to gum disease, oral cancer, or an accident?

Whether you realize it or not, even just one missing tooth can have a long-term impact on your oral health and increase your risk for dental problems in the future. Dental prosthodontics is a specialized area of dentistry that focuses on restoration for both aesthetic and functional purposes.

A prosthodontic dentist has advanced training in the field, completing 3 additional years after dental school.

If you’re wondering if you should see a prosthodontist for your current condition, then you’ve come to the right place. Penn Dental Medicine is home to the only graduate prosthodontics program in the Philadelphia area, where our affordable prosthodontist costs make it possible for many local patients to access our services.
Learn more about common prosthodontic disorders and how they can be treated, below.

Missing Teeth

Patients most commonly seek prosthodontics treatment when they are in need of tooth repair or replacement. Gum disease constitutes the number one cause of tooth loss in the United States, though many patients need replacement because of cavities or accidents as well. When it comes time to select an affordable option to replace your missing tooth, a prosthodontist is equipped to advise you on the right course of treatment. Whether you need prosthodontic implants, a crown, a bridge, dentures, or some combination of these, your prosthodontist will recommend the appropriate solutions to your oral health concerns.

Sleep Apnea

dental prosthodonticsThis condition is due to a temporary pause in breathing during sleep. The lungs cannot take in the oxygen they need, leading to poor sleep quality and fatigue during the day. One treatment involves the use of a Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) machine, which brings air into the lungs throughout the night. When sleep apnea is mild or if the patient can’t tolerate the machine, a prosthodontist can help with a customized oral appliance. The appliance is a more natural method for treating apnea, repositioning the jaw and/or tongue to improve airflow during sleep.

Oral Cancer Restoration

Prosthodontists are equipped to coordinate teams of specialists and lead restorative treatment  for patients with oral cancer. The Oral Cancer Foundation has found that incidence of oral cancer is rising among people under age 40, which is thought to be due to the increased use of e-cigarettes. Oral cancer is not limited to tobacco users, and roughly 53,000 Americans are diagnosed each year.  Following chemotherapy, many patients will need to undergo complex restorative work. A prosthodontist has the expertise necessary to plan and execute a treatment plan.

Structural Problems

Many people seek dental prosthodontics treatment for a variety of structural conditions, including bruxism, cleft palate, and trauma. Each of these disorders requires a targeted, specific approach for the best outcomes. Prosthodontists are experienced in performing complex oral surgery for both repair and cosmetic purposes. A prosthodontist can improve your appearance by fixing broken or discolored teeth and the associated structures with esthetic crowns, veneers, bonding, and customized prostheses. Occlusion and genetic facial deficits can also be rehabilitated using special prosthodontic techniques. When you complete treatment, you will be amazed at the difference in your smile!

Prosthodontic Treatment at Penn Dental Medicine

At your first prosthodontic visit, you will meet a University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine faculty member who will perform a brief examination and ask questions about your medical history. A routine oral cancer screening will be administered, as well as dental radiograph in some cases. This screening appointment requires a referral from the patient’s general dentist or other doctor and will be used to determine whether you are eligible to become a patient. Patients accepted into our program will be assigned to a postdoctoral resident overseen by a faculty member. All prosthodontic services are provided at affordable prices and held to the highest quality standard. To schedule your dental prosthodontics consultation, please call 215-898-8965 today!

Three Ways Your Dentist Can Fix a Broken Tooth

Do you suspect that you may have a broken tooth? Generally, most people notice when their tooth has been damaged. While a fully broken tooth is painful, even a cracked or chipped tooth can cause symptoms of pain, swelling, and sensitivity, without overtly visible signs. Leaving a broken tooth unattended can also result in more serious problems down the road.

Rather than taking your broken tooth into your own hands, take it to Penn Dental Medicine.

Don’t Pay the Price for an Untreated Broken Tooth!

A broken, cracked, or damaged tooth is not something to ignore. Despite the fact that a dentist can offer several treatment methods to repair a compromised tooth, people can still tend to avoid the dentist. At Penn Dental Medicine, we strive to help put patients at ease. We’ll do everything we can to ensure your safety and comfort.

While teeth, (particularly the enamel guarding the teeth) is the strongest material in your body, it’s not invincible. There are several fairly common foods and drinks that can lead to tooth damage. Of course, there are also lifestyle habits and behaviors that increase the likelihood of weakening tooth enamel.

According to the American Dental Association, the following five foods and drinks are most damaging to your teeth:

  • Hard candies
  • Citrus fruits
  • Ice
  • Coffee
  • Dried fruits
  • Potato chips
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • Sports drinks

Here are several behaviors that may also cause chipping or breaking of the teeth:

  • Chewing on hard items such as hard candy and ice
  • Exposing teeth to highly volatile temperatures (extreme heat or cold)
  • Chewing pressure that’s uneven
  • Experiencing an accident or trauma
  • Grinding the teeth
  • Losing a filling, crown, or other tooth structure

Don’t let concern about the affordability of your visit deter you from making an appointment to have your tooth repaired. The price you may pay for not fixing a tooth may include infection or more complicated dental procedures, such as a root canal treatment.

Three Common Ways to Repair Broken Teeth

Dental technologies and techniques are always evolving and improving. Depending on the type of break you have, your dentist can repair your tooth in a variety of ways. Take a look at three frequently utilized methods of repairing a chipped, broken or cracked tooth:

  • Dental Bonding: Dental bonding or “composite bonding” is a method to repair broken, chipped, and cracked teeth. The dentist places a conditioning liquid on the damaged tooth. A putty will then be applied and molded to the compromised area. After this, ultraviolet light causes the composite to harden. After drying and hardening, the tooth bonding is polished to match the rest of the tooth.
  • broken toothCrowns: People often confuse crowns with veneers. While veneers only cover the front of your tooth, a crown covers the entire injured area of the tooth and protects it. Getting a crown can prevent you from losing your tooth. If you don’t have a crown, you could further damage your tooth simply during the act of chewing. A crown is custom made for each dental patient. An impression is acquired of your tooth and is then sent to the lab. While you wait for the permanent crown, the dentist  places a temporary crown on the tooth. When the permanent crown is ready, it can be attached to the remaining tooth structure.
  • Dental Implant: When a crack extends below the gum line, the tooth is impossible to save with repair measures such as the ones listed above. You’ll need a tooth extraction accompanied by a dental implant. Dental implants serve as replacements for your natural teeth. A dental implant procedure is a longer process, compared with dental bonding and crowns because the dentist must prepare the area by making a new root with biocompatible titanium screws. These screws are fixed to the jawbone. Once the bone fuses with the screws, a strong foundation will be in place. Typically a few weeks after the bone has properly fused, the dentist will make an impression of your tooth and a crown will be placed. This new tooth will look and function just like a normal one.

Where to Go for Affordable Broken Tooth Repair?

At Penn Dental Medicine, we make it our mission to provide affordable dental procedures to our patients by offering low-cost dental services out of our dental school clinic. We don’t want to see anyone suffer further health issues because they can’t pay for necessary treatment. We accept most dental insurance plans and if your plan doesn’t cover a specific procedure, we offer payment financing so you can pay a fixed monthly rate over a number of months.

And, while your treatment time may be a bit longer, it’s important to understand that this is because Penn Dental Medicine student dentists follow best practices and resolve any urgent infections first. And all the while, each step is carefully monitored and reviewed by an educator.

Please, don’t wait to fix a broken tooth. Schedule your appointment now at (215) 898-8965.