Photoacoustic Imaging for Periodontal Probing Depth

Engineering research at the University of California San Diego has led to a technique that could update how teeth and gums are imaged. Researchers combined squid ink with light and ultrasound to create a new dental imaging method to examine a patient’s gums in a more comprehensive and accurate way than existing methods and also non-invasive way. The image can show the entire pocket depth around teeth consistent and accurately without prodding the gums of the patient. The conventional method for dentists to assess gum health is to use an instrument called a periodontal probe which is a thin, hook-like metal tool that is marked like a tiny measuring stick and inserted in between the teeth and gums to see if the gums have shrunk back from the teeth, creating pockets. This method of measuring pocket depth is considered a … Read more

Persistent Opioid Use After Wisdom Teeth Removal

An interesting article titled “Persistent Opioid Use After Wisdom Tooth Extraction” appears in JAMA in August 7, 2018, written by Harbaugh et al. (vol. 320, no. 5 , pp. 504-506). The article sought out to see if opioid painkiller prescriptions that many young adults receive after having wisdom teeth removed could set them on a path to long-term opioid use. The authors explored data from patients 13 to 30 years old who underwent wisdom tooth extraction in the Truven Health MarketScan Commercial and Dental database (from July 1, 2009-December 31, 2015). The MarketScan database contains de-identified data from insurance claims and includes 43 million to 55 million beneficiaries annually from the 50 states in the U.S. Patients were excluded from the data the authors explored if there was a lapse in enrollment, if the patient had an opioid prescription filled within 6 months … Read more

Storing Wisdom Teeth Stem Cells

In recent years there have been articles discussing harvesting stem cells located in wisdom teeth with the hope that one day they could be used to heal damaged cells in the body. Nowadays some oral surgeons will offer patients the option after extracting their wisdom teeth to bank dental stem cells. There are a few extra steps to preserve stem cells from wisdom during surgery. All one has to do is to put the teeth into a packaging kit and then send them off for processing using a shipping service like FedEx, UPS, or USPS. It makes it easy if the oral surgeon or oral surgeons office can assist with the packaging and shipping of wisdom teeth after surgery as someone who just had surgery probably won’t be up for it. However, if the location one has wisdom teeth does … Read more

Long-acting Local Anesthetic After Wisdom Teeth Removal

A new medication called Exparel produced by Pacira Pharmaceuticals provides an alternative to opioids for use as pain relief following wisdom teeth removal. Exparel is a long-acting local anesthetic that is delivered during the surgery that numbs the site of surgery for up to three days. Exparel is not an opioid and is not habit forming and therefore will not lead to any opioid addiction. Many patients are already familar with local pain analgesics such as lidocaine that are given as a dental injection to numb an area for several hours. Exparel is a long lasting analgesics which seems to share some similarities but lasts much longer. Recently the use of opioids after wisdom teeth removal has been more closely scrutinzed, see for example http://blog.teethremoval.com/opioid-prescriptions-from-dental-clinicians-for-young-adults-and-subsequent-opioid-use-and-abuse/ and http://blog.teethremoval.com/persistent-opioid-use-after-wisdom-teeth-removal. Many are concerned that patients having wisdom teeth surgery are exposed to opioids … Read more

Wisdom Teeth Removal Death in 2016 in Florida: Settlement Reached

A 17-year-old man died after having wisdom teeth removed in April 2016 in Florida. The man had the procedure performed under conscious sedation. During the surgery the man stopped breathing which led to irreversible brain damage and he suffered cardiopulmonary arrest during administration of the anesthesia. He was in a coma for two days before his parents made the painful decision to pull the plug on life support and then he died. There was no known medical history that might have contributed. Further, there was no anesthesia record that could be found to show the man’s blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen were being during the surgery. An attorney for the dentist who performed the surgery said that vital signs were recorded on an anesthesia record which was given to the EMS personnel when the man was transported to a hospital. A … Read more