Southern Maine Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

A Fireside Chat with Dr. Rick Crawford

At SMOMS, we are beating the winter blues with a series of Fireside Interviews with our fantastic doctors. Sit down, warm up, and learn more about the SMOMS surgeons!

Dr. Rick Crawford came to SMOMS in 1993, and has been treating our patients with skill, care, and compassion ever since. 

Q: What inspired you to enter the oral surgery field? 

Dr. Crawford: I always liked using my hands, so I always intended to go into either medicine or dentistry. I interned for an ear, nose, and throat doctor in Pennsylvania, which piqued my interest in the operating room and the surgery scene. If it’s broken, I want to fix it. 

Q: What was the first surgery you performed?

Dr. Crawford: Extractions were my first straightforward surgery, but my first major surgery I performed was fixing a jaw fracture. 

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Dr. Crawford: Being on hospital call is challenging because of the trauma cases that we see. For example, gunshot wounds to the face which require extensive corrective jaw surgery are difficult–there’s a lot that’s broken. But that’s even more to fix so there’s a positive spin. 

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? 

Dr. Crawford: I come to work everyday to make my patients comfortable. We want to take away any pain, suffering, or infection that they might be suffering from. My job also brings on a feeling of true community service and making a difference. 

Q: Do you get nervous before surgeries? 

Dr. Crawford: There’s obviously a lot of pressure on the surgeon and I certainly feel that pressure before each procedure. There’s no back up! We’re the first and last line for our patients. But we surgeons do have partners at our practice, and at SMOMS I have terrific partners. We go to each other for questions and advice. 

Q: How does your career impact the way you see the world? 

Dr. Crawford: I’ve developed a profound practice of non-judgement in my time as a surgeon. I try to meet people where they are by embracing my humanity and the humanity of my patients. 

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

Dr. Crawford: A doctor. That hasn’t changed much! I remember getting my medical and dentistry merit badges in Boy Scouts. I’ve always loved it. 

Q: Do you have a hidden talent? 

Dr. Crawford: I’m not too shabby at golf. 

Q: What’s your favorite holiday? 

Dr. Crawford: The Fourth of July

Our patients on Dr. Crawford: “We want to express our deepest gratitude for Dr. Crawford’s expertise and kindness with our son’s wisdom teeth extraction. Our son came through with flying colors and feels he’s overcome his fear of needles, thanks to Dr. Crawford’s genius approach!”

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A Tale of Two Smiles: Dental Bridges vs. Dental Implants

In the United States, approximately 120 MILLION adults are missing at least one permanent tooth. Missing teeth disrupt all types of everyday dental functions–from eating to smiling. For patients who would like to fill the gap of a missing tooth (or teeth!), they can opt for a dental bridge or a dental implant. Although they achieve the same purpose of filling a smile, bridges and implants differ both in structure and long-term success. Let’s take a look.

Dental Bridges bridge the gap between missing teeth. Structurally, the false teeth of the dental bridge are anchored and supported by crowns that are fitted to the natural teeth on either side of the gap. Some bridges require the anchor teeth to be prepared by being filed down to fit in the crown; others have porcelain or metal wings which are cemented to the backs of the anchor teeth. 

Dental Implants fill the gap of a missing tooth by implanting a porcelain tooth crown (replacing the missing tooth’s crown) fitted to a titanium screw post (replacing the missing tooth’s root). Dental implants are placed with a multi-step process: First, an oral surgeon inserts the titanium screw into the jawbone. The implant screw and jawbone are then given time to fuse (usually 3-6 months) by a process called osseointegration. After the implant screw and jawbone have fused, a dental crown is fitted on top and voila! A new tooth for your smile. 

Missing teeth don’t just disrupt eating and smiling functions. Unstimulated gum tissue and jawbone begin to decay and cannot be recovered. Our natural teeth and roots stimulate our gums and jawbones, keeping them healthy. Dental bridges do not stimulate gum tissue or jawbone; after the osseointegration process, dental implants interact with and stimulate oral tissue and bone just like our natural teeth! 

Pros and Cons:

 1. Time: Because dental bridges do not require surgery, the time commitment needed to receive a dental bridge is considerably less than that required to place a dental implant.

2. Care: Dental bridges require additional care to keep them clean and well-maintained. Dental implants can be treated and cared for like your natural teeth.

3. Oral Side Effects: Because they sit above the gum line, dental bridges do not stimulate gum and bone tissue. Because dental implants include a replacement root, they do stimulate gum and bone tissue. The placing of a dental bridge requires intrusive preparation and procedure on anchor teeth, adversely affecting your remaining natural teeth. Dental implants do not affect your remaining natural teeth. 

4. Durability: When properly maintained, dental bridges can last between 5-15 years. When properly maintained, dental implants can last for a lifetime.

5. Cost: Because dental bridges don’t require surgery, a single bridge typically costs less than dental implants. However, because dental bridges last for a few years, most patients will require multiple bridges. Eventually the cost of multiple bridges eclipses the cost of a single dental implant. 

Every smile is beautiful, but every mouth is different. If you’d like to fill the gap of a missing tooth, talk to your dentist about the best option for you.

If you do choose to have dental implant surgery, come to SMOMS for a consultation! The surgeons at Southern Maine Oral Surgery excel at placing dental implants–thanks to their surgical skill, the SMOMS Staff, and the unparalleled precision of X-Guide guided implant technology exclusively offered at each SMOMS Office. Talk to your dentist and make your appointment with Southern Maine Oral Surgery.

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What’s in a Name? Know your Different Dentists

Medical words have a reputation for being tough to pronounce–and nearly impossible for non-medical personnel to understand. This is typically because medical vocabulary uses Greek or Latin roots that seem far away from our everyday language. 

However, the proper name of something or someone can tell us a lot about what it is or what they do! For example, not every doctor who works on your mouth is a “dentist.” They may be an orthodontist, a periodontist, an endodontist…the list goes on! Let’s demystify the list and learn more: 

1. General Dentist: (DENT = tooth, IST=specialized) Specializing in teeth, a general dentist takes care of the tooth surface, providing cleanings and routine exams.

2. Orthodontist: (ORTHO = straight, IST = specialized) Orthodontists want to straighten everything out. That’s why they’re responsible for aligning teeth and jaws for comfortable, beautiful smiles.

3. Periodontist: (PERI = around, IST = specialized) What’s around the teeth? Gums! Periodontists treat gum disease, gum recession, and other gum issues, keeping the area around your teeth comfortable and healthy.  

4. Pedodontist: (PEDO = child, IST = specialized) Pedodontists typically go by the alias “pediatric dentist.” Children have different dental needs and concerns than adults, and pedodontists provide specialized care for them! 

5. Endodontist: (ENDO = within, IST = specialized) What’s inside teeth? Nerves. Lots and lots of sensitive nerves. Typically, those nerves are protected by the tooth enamel. However, if that enamel erodes or decays, the nerves are exposed and cause severe pain. Endodontists perform root canals and other procedures relating to dental nerves.

6. Prosthodontist: (PROS= in addition to, IST=specialized) Prosthetics are supplemental limbs, digits, or other devices added to a body. Similarly, prosthodontists provide all sorts of supplemental treatments (such as teeth whitening, veneers, dentures, crowns, and other cosmetic dentistry) which add to the beauty of a natural smile.  

7. Oral Surgeon: Dr. Doss, Dr. Crawford, Dr. Traub, and Dr. Mitchell are all oral surgeons. In addition to receiving their doctoral degrees from dental school and their dentistry licensure, they all served a 4-6 year surgical residency. After all this investment of time and energy, our doctors obtain their board certification and are finally able to begin practicing as licensed and certified oral surgeons.

Oral surgeons perform routine extractions as well as intricate procedures to treat oral diseases of the teeth and jaw bone. 

No matter their name, modern dentists perform invaluable work to extend the lifespan and increase the quality of life of their modern patients. Next time you visit an orthodontist, endodontist, or oral surgeon, be sure to ask what inspired them to choose their particular path of dentistry!

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How to Beat Dental Phobia

At Southern Maine Oral Surgery, we love seeing and treating our patients…but we know that feeling isn’t always mutual! Not everyone loves going to the dentist, and patient anxiety can range from a mild apprehension to full blown Dental Phobia (a fear so intense that it causes people to avoid the dentist completely).

Because we are an oral surgery practice, our patients have an especially pressing need to be seen and treated. From our front desk staff, to our dental assistants and our surgeons, the entire SMOMS team strives to help our patients feel comfortable and at ease. The fact remains that oral surgery is a bit more invasive than a cleaning at a regular dentist, and this can result in even more anxiety for our patients.

It’s completely normal to be nervous about going to the dentist or oral surgeon! Studies estimate that 75% of adults in the United States have some sort of apprehension at the prospect of oral treatments and surgery. If you or a family member are feeling a little nervous about an upcoming visit to SMOMS, here are three tips to help you relax on your way to a healthier smile: 

1. Don’t keep your phobia secret! If you suffer from anxiety or fear caused by the thought of your dentist visit, tell us! Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff can talk through every step of your procedure and answer every question. Information is power, and having all the information about your treatment can make you feel more at ease. 

2. Make it musical! Music helps us relax and distract us throughout the day, and the dentist/oral surgery office is no different. Bring your headphones, and play your favorite pump up song in the waiting room. When you’re in the chair, ask our staff about keeping one or both pods in so that you can immerse yourself in your favorite tunes. Forget your fear and find the beat! 

3. Take a deep breath! Take a cue from yogis around the globe and try to focus on your breath during your next appointment. Measured, intentional techniques such as belly breathing and measured breathing gives your body more oxygen and helps your nervous system relax. Start your deep breathing at home, on the way to the office, continue in the waiting room and throughout your appointment to create a sense of calm.

 

 

Three Strikes and You’re Out! What are Third Molars?

  Third molars are just that: the third molar to erupt on the length of your jaw. Because these third molars appear later in life (usually between 17 and 21 years old), they have the popular name of wisdom teeth. 

Our neanderthal ancestors had longer jaws with more teeth–particularly molars–to grind up tough food. As the human jaw evolved to be shorter and our food became softer, human beings lost the biological need for the third molar.

While some modern people have a jaw structure with ample room for their third molars, a large percentage of the population do not. When there isn’t enough room for third molars, they will become impacted, meaning they are unable to erupt properly into function in the mouth. Third molars can be either partially impacted (erupting only partially into the mouth) or completely impacted (totally covered by bone and not likely to erupt properly, if at all).

Impacted teeth can cause a number of complications for you and your teeth including pain, gum disease, bacterial infection, damage to adjacent teeth, and cyst or tumor formation. In order to avoid these negative side effects, it is important that you and your dentists closely monitor your wisdom teeth as they develop and erupt. 

X-ray images allow your dentist to get an idea of how your third molars are coming in and if/when they will need to be extracted. Your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon like Dr. Doss, Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Traub, or Dr. Crawford at SMOMS to get a full evaluation on your third molar extraction. 

It’s completely normal to feel some anxiety at the prospect of having teeth extracted, but you shouldn’t put off the procedure. It is better to have third molars removed as soon as possible; earlier extraction allows for an easier surgery with fewer complications. For more information about third molars, check out the wisdom teeth procedure page on the SMOMS site! 

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Who’s Behind that PPE?

Just like other medical procedures, oral surgery has always required top-notch sanitization and safety gear. With the rise of COVID-19 at the start of 2020 however, the CDC implemented standardized Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) guidance for Dental Settings.

Between gowns, surgical masks, eye protection, scrub hats, and gloves, it might seem like a patient is visiting the Invisible Dentist. Underneath the layers of PPE however, the faces of the SMOMS team are just as smiling and caring as ever. Our Summer Social series “Who’s Behind that PPE?” will demystify personal protective equipment and unmask a different SMOMS team member! Follow SMOMS on Instagram and Facebook @southernmaineoralsurgery and find out who’s behind that PPE this summer! 

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SMOMS 2021 Wall Calendar Photo Contest is underway!

It is incredible to believe, but we ARE starting to gather photos for our next Wall Calendar Photo Contest!  If you are a referring doctor of SMOMS, or you work for one of our referring offices, feel free to email a photo YOU have taken of a beautiful Maine scene to Suzanne Nason, [email protected]  She will be accepting photos now through October.  (No photos of people or pets, please, and horizontal photos work better than vertical).  This photo was submitted by Connie Gregoire of Endodontic Associates.  Keep them coming!

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Special Group Inservice at SMOMS

We had a very special November in-service as a team.  First we all contributed something to our SMOMSGiving Meal, which was delish!  Then we welcomed Bobbi and Jennifer from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services.  They talked to us about their new Prescription Monitoring Program, which is working!

 

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Congratulations Dr. Melissa Hamel!

Meet Sweet Pea, Zoe, and Milo, the loves of Dr. Melissa and Dr. Jason Hamel.  They won this years’ Halloween Pet Photo Contest. Thanks to all who submitted entries.  Such fun!

Congratulations to Dr. Manijeh Best!

Dr. Manijeh Best won our July 3rd Seadogs at Home Plate Contest, where she and 3 guests were able to sit behind Home Plate at Hadlock Field, while the Portland Seadogs, farm team for the Boston Red Sox, took on Trenton Thunder!  Fireworks naturally were included.  We hope she and her guests had a fantastic time!

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