Faqs

Oral Surgery

What is oral surgery?

Oral surgery refers to a category of procedures that involve your teeth, gums, jawbone, cheekbones, palate, and soft tissues. Only dentists with a specialization in oral surgery can perform it. A general dentist does not perform oral surgery.

Dr. Cummings has extensive education, knowledge, and experience in the field of oral surgery and surgical treatment of periodontal diseases.

You are sedated during oral surgery, ensuring you are comfortable throughout your procedure. Some restorations and courses of treatment require several different oral surgeries. If your treatment plan involves several steps, Dr. Cummings performs your oral surgeries over several weeks or months, with time between procedures to let you heal properly.

Why do I need oral surgery?

You may need oral surgery if you have dental problems, such as:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Tooth loss
  • Impacted teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Bone loss
  • Deformed, misaligned, or broken teeth

Your oral surgery may be for cosmetic purposes, to improve the look of your teeth and gums.

Dr. Cummings may be your primary dentist, or you may be referred to him by your general dentist. If you are referred to Dr. Cummings for oral surgery, he works closely with your general dentist to help heal and restore your dental problems.

What are some types of oral surgery?

Dr. Cummings performs a number of oral surgeries in his office. He uses advanced technologies like CT-guided surgical planning, digital imaging, digital impressions, and plasma-rich growth factors (PRGF) to decrease the risk of complications and increase the effectiveness of your surgical procedure.

A few of the oral surgeries he offers include:

  • Bone grafting
  • Regenerative procedures
  • Gum grafting
  • Periodontal pocket reduction
  • Dental implants
  • Full arch implant restoration
  • Tooth extraction
  • Crown lengthening, cosmetic and non-cosmetic
  • Sinus or ridge augmentation, to build up bone tissue for dental implant placement

Dr. Cummings is a highly skilled oral surgeon. He not only offers exceptional surgical care to his patients, but is a lecturer and instructor in the field of oral surgery and advanced techniques in periodontics.

Dr. Cummings knows that dental procedures, such as oral surgery, can be a major cause for anxiety and fear. He is proud to offer a variety of options for sedation to help you relax and stay comfortable during your surgery.

For a consultation regarding your own oral surgery, call or schedule an appointment online with Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS, today.

Periodontist

What is a periodontist?

A periodontist is a dentist with advanced training and specialization in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of teeth and their surrounding tissues. These tissues include the gums, bone, palate, and soft tissues of the mouth.

Periodontists are considered the plastic surgeons of dentistry and can perform procedures that help to improve the look of your smile. They are specialists in the placement of dental implants and full arch dental restoration, as well as other oral surgeries, including:

  • Gum grafting
  • Bone grafting
  • Surgical periodontal pocket reduction
  • Cosmetic and functional dental crown lengthening
  • Root planing and scaling, or nonsurgical periodontal pocket reduction

Dr. Cummings is highly skilled in the area of advanced healing techniques, including plasma-rich growth factors, which help to regenerate bone and other oral tissues. He also utilizes advanced technologies in his office, enabling him to offer up-to-date, effective diagnosis and treatments of a variety of periodontal conditions.

What conditions does a periodontist treat?

Periodontists treat disease that affects the teeth and the surrounding structures, such as the gums, bone, and soft tissue. Conditions that Dr. Cummings may diagnose and treat include:

  • Periodontal disease, or gum disease
  • Gingivitis
  • Oral abscess or infection
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth loss
  • Bone loss
  • Several oral inflammation

Dr. Cummings uses advanced digital imaging to properly diagnose and plan treatment for periodontal disease, including the 3Shape TRIOS® Intraoral Scanner and the iCAT™ Cone Beam 3D Dental Imaging System.

Should I see a periodontist?

While a general dentist can treat many oral health concerns effectively, periodontists offer a higher, more specialized level of care.

Those who may benefit from seeing a periodontist may include people who have:

  • Severe periodontal disease
  • A high risk for periodontal disease
  • Advanced oral disease
  • Tooth loss or loose teeth
  • Difficult to treat oral health problems
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease

During your initial consultation, Dr. Cummings takes time to get to know you, to understand your medical and dental history, and to properly diagnose your oral health risks and potential problems. He also does a thorough assessment of your teeth, gums, and tissues. He may order X-rays or other diagnostic testing.

Using his extensive knowledge in the field, he creates a plan of care that is personalized and specific to your needs.

To improve your oral health and receive specialized dental care, call or schedule an appointment online with Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS.

Receding Gums

What are receding gums?

Gum recession, or gingival recession, is a condition where the gums wear away or pull back from the base of the teeth. The gums protect the roots of the teeth from infection and help to secure teeth in the jawbone. With receding gums, pockets form at the base of the tooth, providing a perfect environment for bacterial growth and infection.

Advanced gum recession can visibly expose the root of the tooth, causing the tooth to look long. Gum recession happens gradually, so you may not realize it is a problem until you have severe sensitivity, loose teeth, or oral infection.

What causes receding gums?

The primary cause of gum recession is periodontal disease, which begins at gingivitis. Gingivitis, or gum disease, is an inflammation of the gums most often caused by poor oral hygiene.

Other causes of receding gums may include:

  • Age
  • Smoking or tobacco use
  • Genetics or family history
  • Overly aggressive teeth brushing
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Hormonal changes
  • Teeth grinding
  • Oral piercings, which may irritate the gums
  • Poor nutrition

While you may not realize you have receding gums, Dr. Cummings monitors this aspect of your oral health with every visit. Regular dental visits can help identify gum recession early, when it may be reversible with appropriate treatment.

What’s the treatment for gum recession?

Dr. Cummings may treat gum recession using focused, deep cleaning in the affected area. Deep cleaning may include scaling and root planing, which is a method for removing the plaque and tartar causing your gums to recede. Dr. Cummings may also order antibiotics to treat the underlying infection.

If your gum recession is more severe, it may require gum graft surgery. Gum graft surgery uses grafted soft tissue to cover the exposed root of the tooth. Dr. Cummings can perform this for one tooth or multiple teeth.

Gum recession may not only pose an oral health risk, but may also make you self-conscious, because having longer teeth may make them look or feel older. Gum grafting can help to improve your smile, boost your confidence, and improve your oral health.

For a consultation about how to treat your gum recession, call or book an appointment online with Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS, today.

Dental Implants

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that Dr. Cummings places into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth, bridge, or denture in place. Dental implants are an ideal option for people in good general oral health who have lost a tooth or multiple teeth due to facial trauma, periodontal disease, or tooth decay.

The space left by lost teeth can cause you to feel less attractive and have functional concerns, including:

  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Misalignment or shifting of teeth
  • Increased risk of tooth decay
  • Poor-fitting dentures or partial bridges

Dental implants involve a screw or other metal element placed in the bone or above the bone, beneath the space left by the missing tooth. The bone tissue naturally integrates the metal element, which then serves as base for artificial teeth, fixed bridges, or dentures.

What are benefits of dental implants?

There are some benefits of dental implants over other teeth replacement options, such as conventional dentures or traditional bridges. Benefits of dental implants include that they:

  • Are stronger than natural teeth
  • Are usually permanent
  • Are not at risk for cavities
  • Function as effectively as natural teeth
  • Can be placed without damaging adjacent teeth

Up to six dental implants can be used as a base for a full arch implant restoration, which may be needed when a full upper or lower set of teeth is missing. This can give stability to a specialized set of dentures, rather than replacing many individual missing teeth.

What are some types of dental implants?

Dr. Cummings uses two main types of dental implants. These include:

Endosteal implants

Endosteal implants are the most common type of implant. Dr. Cummings implants them directly into the bone. Using an element such as a screw, cylinder, or blade, he creates a base for one or more artificial teeth. This serves as a stabilizing point for bridges or removable dentures.

Subperiosteal implants

Subperiosteal implants sit on top of the jawbone, with a metal framework protruding through the gums. This framework holds the prosthetic teeth or appliance. Dr. Cummings uses this type of implant for those who can’t wear conventional dentures or who have less than ideal bone height.

In some cases, bone tissue in the lower jaw or upper sinuses needs to be built up to give the dental implant a secure footing to integrate and stabilize. Before Dr. Cummings can place your dental implant, you may need sinus augmentation or ridge augmentation surgery to prepare the bone for your implant.

Dental implants usually establish themselves over several visits, with time for your gums, bone, and soft tissues to heal in between. Before you begin your dental implant placement, Dr. Cummings helps you understand the process so you know what to expect.

For an initial consultation about whether dental implants are right for you, call or schedule an appointment online.

Sedation

What is dental sedation?

Dental sedation, or sedation dentistry, is a service Dr. Cummings offers to help you be as relaxed and comfortable as possible during dental procedures. Dental sedation can help you experience less anxiety and pain during both surgical and nonsurgical procedures.

You may benefit from sedation dentistry if you have:

  • Fear of dentists or dental work
  • Fear of needles
  • Low tolerance for pain
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Complex oral health problems
  • Sensitive gag reflex
  • Sensitivity to the sounds and smells associated with dental care
  • Complex treatment plan with multiple procedures

Dental sedation can help ease the fatigue of long dental procedures or oral surgeries. With some forms of sedation, you may not remember the procedure at all.

When can I benefit from dental sedation?

Dr. Cummings offers some form of sedation with any cosmetic or restorative procedure he performs. These can range from routine periodontal cleanings to oral surgeries.

Some possible procedures may include:

  • Dental implants
  • Full arch implant restoration
  • Gum grafting
  • Bone grafting
  • Crown lengthening
  • Surgical periodontal pocket restoration
  • Scaling and root planing

When Dr. Cummings determines the types of dental work you need, he lets you know what type of sedation may be offered during your procedure(s).

What are some types of dental sedation?

The various types and levels of dental sedation each give you a slightly different degree of awareness. Dr. Cummings offers an appropriate type of sedation for your procedure.

The two main types of dental sedation are:

Oral Sedation

Oral sedation uses medications taken by mouth taken prior to your arrival at Dr. Cummings’s office on the day of your scheduled procedure. You will be relaxed and closely monitored throughout your procedure.

Intravenous sedation

Dental intravenous (IV) sedation injects medication into your bloodstream through a small catheter placed in a vein. This gives you a deep state of relaxation, where you are able to relax fully but are not completely unconscious.

With each type of sedation, you will require a ride to get you home. If you take an oral sedative before your appointment, you will also need to get a ride to Dr. Cummings’ office.

To learn what dental sedation options may be right for your procedure, call or book an appointment online with Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS.

Gingivitis

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, which serve to protect the roots of the teeth and secure teeth inside the jawbone. Gingivitis causes the gums to become inflamed and red, and to bleed easily. It may not be painful and is reversible if caught and treated early.

If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, which causes infection at the roots of the teeth and leads to tooth and bone loss. Advanced gingivitis causes the gums to pull away from the roots of the teeth. This gum recession creates deep pockets at the gumline where bacteria and infection can develop, causing the progression to periodontal disease.

Gingivitis is linked to some chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Inflammation of the gums and advanced infection can affect not only your oral health, but your overall health as well.

What are symptoms of gingivitis?

You may not realize that you have gingivitis at first. Many don’t catch on until a dental professional points it out. But, with close attention to your oral health, you may note symptoms such as:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tenderness when brushing
  • Gums appearing to shrink
  • Teeth appearing longer
  • Increased space between teeth
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing

More advanced symptoms may include loose teeth or sores in your mouth. You may notice your bite is different, or that your dentures are not fitting that same as before.

What are risk factors for gingivitis?

The greatest risk factor for gingivitis is inadequate oral hygiene. Effective oral care and regular dental visits can decrease this risk factor and even reverse early signs of gingivitis.

Other risk factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Poor nutrition
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Substance abuse
  • Teeth grinding
  • Use of some medications
  • Pregnancy

Dr. Cummings takes important steps to both identify your risk factors and also treat any signs of gingivitis. He also offers a range of treatments that may help to reverse advanced signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease.

What treatments are available for gingivitis?

Dr. Cummings offers minimally invasive treatments for the early stages of gingivitis. These treatments include oral care counseling, regular dental visits, and dental cleanings to remove plaque and bacteria that could cause periodontitis.

If you have advanced gingivitis, which has developed into periodontal disease and caused severe gum recession or bone loss, he offers advanced techniques, such as:

  • Gum graft surgery
  • Bone graft surgery
  • Surgical periodontal pocket reduction
  • Nonsurgical periodontal pocket reduction, or root planing and scaling

He also offers other advanced methods to regenerate lost bone and tissue, including the application of specialized membranes or tissue-stimulating proteins.

For a consultation and evaluation regarding your gingivitis, call or book an appointment online with Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS.

Advanced Technology

How can advanced technology enhance my oral health?

Dr. Cummings is proud to offer the latest surgical and technological advances to the patients under his care. As a leading expert in the field of periodontics, Dr. Cummings’ office was one of the first periodontist offices to offer cone beam imaging technology and intraoral scanning.

These advanced technologies are used together to create highly accurate digital images and impressions. This ability helps to:

  • Create an appropriate treatment plan
  • Guide surgical planning
  • Visualize planned procedures ahead of time
  • Give an accurate representation of oral structures
  • Eliminate the need for messy trays and plaster

Using these imaging technologies, Dr. Cummings and his team can create dental models, oral appliances, and full arch restorations in-house using their 3D-printer, or in association with a local dental laboratory.

What are some advanced technologies used with periodontal care?

Dr. Cummings’ office uses advanced imaging technology in three main ways:

TRIOS® Intraoral Scanner

TRIOS digital scanning makes a digital impression of a patient’s teeth and oral structures. In real time, Dr. Cummings can plan dental care and help the patient visualize how treatments can affect their bite and smile. TRIOS digital impressions allow Dr. Cummings to share information with your general dentist, to fast track your dental restorations and to provide well-coordinated care.

iCAT™ Cone Beam Dental Imaging System

The iCAT Cone Beam 3d Dental Imaging System allows quick and accurate digital imaging. This helps to plan dental implants, tooth extractions, full arch implant restorations, and other treatments. Dr. Cummings was the first in the Kingwood area to offer this advanced technology, which is an invaluable tool in creating your restorations.

Computed tomography (CT)

Using CT technology, Dr. Cummings can get accurate images that can help diagnose complex periodontal conditions, plan treatment, and serve as a guide for surgical procedures.

These technologies give Dr. Cummings the ability to create evidence-based, personalized plans of care.

How are plasma-rich growth factors used for advanced healing in periodontics?

In addition to advanced imaging technologies, Dr. Cummings uses advanced healing technology through the use of plasma-rich growth factors (PRGF). PRGF are natural elements of the human body and can be extracted from a sample of your own blood.

When injected during oral surgeries, PRGF promote healing by signaling the body to reproduce the exact cells needed to heal and repair damaged tissue.

Dr. Cummings uses PRGF for procedures such as:

  • Dental implants
  • Full arch implant restorations
  • Gum or gingival grafting
  • Bone grafting

The use of PRGF can enhance healing and growth of new, healthier tissue. It also offers improved healing in less time than without the growth factors and provides predictable results, because it utilizes the body’s own ability to heal.

To see how these advanced technologies can help to improve your oral health, call or schedule an appointment online with Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS.

Extractions

Why might I need a tooth pulled?

Even though permanent teeth are made to last your lifetime, it doesn't always happen. For instance, a tooth may need to be extracted because it's too cracked or chipped to repair. Lifestyle choices, trauma, and decay may all contribute to needing a tooth pulled.

Extractions may be necessary for other reasons, including:

  • Risk of infection from a failed root canal
  • Risk of infection during an organ transplant or chemotherapy
  • Advanced periodontal (gum) disease
  • Crowded or extra teeth
  • No room for third molars (wisdom teeth)

How are extractions performed?

There are two types of extraction procedures: a simple extraction and a surgical extraction. Simple extractions are reserved for teeth that can be seen above the gum line. During this procedure, Dr. Cummings will first loosen the tooth with an instrument called an elevator. He will then use forceps to remove the tooth.

A surgical extraction is more complex. The tooth may not have fully grown into the mouth, as is typical with wisdom teeth, or it may be broken off at the gum line. In these situations, Dr. Cummings makes a small incision into the gum to access and remove the tooth. The affected tooth may need to be sectioned (cut into parts) so it can be more easily removed. Some bone may also need to be removed from around the tooth.

You'll receive a local anesthetic before a simple extraction or surgical extraction so you will not feel any pain. If you’re having several teeth extracted at once, as is the norm with wisdom teeth removal, Dr. Cummings might give you a general anesthetic. You'll feel no pain and will sleep through the procedure.

What is the timeline for healing from a tooth extraction?

While it's contingent on your particular case and the number of teeth you had removed, healing usually takes one or two weeks. New bone and gum tissue grow in the spaces where your teeth used to be. You may experience pain and discomfort or difficulty chewing as you heal, depending on the extent of your dental surgery.

Every patient is different, so you should contact Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS, and schedule a consultation so you can learn about your options in addition to any important post-procedure treatments such as dental implants or crowns.

Make an appointment online or call Lewis C. Cummings, DDS, MS, today.

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