Information and Updates

Minimally invasive procedures and their role in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and Dental Implants

There is a great deal written about minimally invasive procedures and minimally invasive surgery in both scientific as well as patient oriented literature. Let’s discuss what is meant by these terms. The goal of minimally invasive procedures is to both shorten the recovery for the patient and minimize risks or complications of surgery. Occasionally, in dental implantology, the goal is also earlier restoration of teeth compared to conventional procedures.

Conventional methods depend on using a wider incisions allowing both easier access and visualization during the surgery. Minimally invasive procedures depend on smaller incisions and often require specialized instrumentation. Smaller incisions usually result in faster patient recovery and less risk of complications such as infections or problems of wound healing. However more advanced training, greater experience and complex specialized instrumentation is often required to perform minimally invasive procedures. Our office sees the value to our patients, and has committed significant educational time and resources to the application of minimally invasive procedures to enhance our practice of Oral And Maxillofacial Surgery and dental implants in particular.

What are the advantages of dental implants?

Dental implants today offer many advantages over other conventional treatments or alternatives. Dental implants offer the ability to reconstruct a missing tooth without involving the removal of structure from the neighboring teeth. Often adjacent teeth are compromised and are not recommended for use in a conventional bridge.

Sometimes the missing teeth are in the back of the mouth where a conventional bridge is not possible. Unlike a fixed bridge, a dental implant is a freestanding structure which is not dependent on the integrity of neighboring teeth. Sometimes, in conditions involving multiple missing teeth, it is not possible to restore all the teeth with a conventional fixed bridge. Dental implants however can be used in such a situation.

Many patients’ dental condition requires the use of removable full or partial dentures. Dental implants can serve as a solution in these cases. Implants can act to eliminate the need for a removable denture or prosthesis. In other cases they can be used to profoundly improve the retention of full or partial upper and lower dentures.

Dental implant placement is a surgical procedure. However, the recovery is minimal with patients often going to work the next day. Implants can be placed with both local anesthetic or IV sedation depending on the situation and patients’ preference.

Overall dental implants allow the treatment of a large number of conditions involving one or more missing teeth. Using a minimal procedure, results can be obtained that significantly improve both the aesthetics and function of the patients’ dental condition.

What is the role of bone grafting in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery?

Bone grafting in dentistry is a means of growing or expanding bone in the upper and lower jaw. It can be a means of saving a tooth from the bone loss due to periodontal disease. Bone grafting can be used to alter the contour of an esthetic area for a bridge or dental restoration in order to achieve a better result. Often bone grafting is an advantage or even required for the placement of dental implants. Grafting allows the formation of adequate bone so that the dental implants can adequately function as supports for your teeth.

There are many different bone grafting techniques depending on the extent of bone required and the complexity of the case. Dr. Richard Schell participates in many international conferences and has both taught and published articles on bone grafting for implants. Dr. Schell would be happy to discuss these options with you.

What is the best time to do bone grafting?

Every patient’s condition and goals are different, And there are many options depending on the situation. Often the most advantageous time to do bone grafting is at the time of extraction. This allows the most predictable result and is often the most comfortable and fastest recovery for the patient. If this is not possible and you have already had extractions in the past, the sites can be evaluated and may not require bone grafting. If after careful examination, it does require bone grafting, procedures exist to acquire bone for a future implant. Generally after bone grafting, time is required to allow the bone to mature prior to placing of the implant. Sometimes however, the implant and bone grafting material can be placed simultaneously. Dr Richard Schell would be happy to discuss you options with you.

Medical volunteering and the importance of supporting a cause near or far

I have been fortunate to have had the privilege in my life of receiving great educational opportunities while earning scholarships. During my training, I attended the private school Harvey Mudd College in Claremont and the University of California at Los Angeles for graduate and professional training. Following dental school, I did my Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery training at a Harbor-UCLA Hospital in Los Angeles, where many needy patients receive treatment.

Throughout my education, I had always hoped that I could spend time in some capacity using my education and skills in a third world country. My goal was to teach and provide services, while expanding my experience and broadening my perspective.

After completing my clinical training, I had the opportunity to spend time at a rural hospital in Mexico. There I had the chance to teach local physicians and dentists skills I had gained in triage, maxillofacial trauma, anesthesia and dental surgery. I treated many patients there including doing cleft lip and palate surgery, extractions, general surgery, general anesthesia, trauma, neurosurgery, pathology and delivering babies.

The times I spent there gave me teaching experiences as well as helping me gain confidence as an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and providing care to truly needy patients. However, one of the greatest benefits of the experience has been to gain a wider perspective and more healthy values that I am sure will last a lifetime.

Daily, the experience was deeply enriching, as new friends shared the gifts of kindness, friendship and generosity with me. Although many of these new friends did not possess much by American standards, they celebrated life from the simplest of pleasures and gave the priceless gifts of friendship to me.

I have a section of this website dedicated to charities of interest. An individual’s service and support can reach one’s local community or all the way around the world.