Do My Wisdom Teeth Need to be Removed?

If you are asking this question, chances are your wisdom teeth are giving you some trouble.  Wisdom teeth are your third molars.  They are the last teeth to come in and are located the farthest back in your mouth.  Occasionally, wisdom teeth will erupt with absolutely no pain, issues or cause for concern. Others will experience unpleasant symptoms and will want or need to have their wisdom teeth extracted.  How do you know?

  • Pain in the jawbone
  • Pain that radiates from ear, jaw and head
  • Tooth pain caused by wisdom teeth growing sideways and putting pressure on adjacent teeth
  • Swelling and inflammation indicating infection
  • Sensitivity in the third molar that might be caused by cavities
  • Bad breath which may indicate infection
  • Bad breath caused by inability to clean and floss properly
  • Sinus pain and pressure caused by third molars pressing up against the sinuses
  • Shifting teeth
  • Formation of cysts around the third molar


If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, we encourage you to consult with your dentist for an exam and x-ray.  If the wisdom teeth appear to be problematic, your dentist will refer you to an oral surgeon that is uniquely qualified to handle the surgical extraction of wisdom teeth and the administration of IV anesthesia.

For more information about wisdom teeth or the oral surgeons at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, please visit

UPDATED: Dr. Zahid Lalani and the Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Facial Trauma Team


Dr. Zahid Lalani – Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Facial Trauma Team

UPDATE: Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center receives Level II trauma center verification (READ MORE)

Following a tragic event and traumatic injury, the proximity and availability of a trauma center can greatly affect patient outcome. In the greater Houston area, there are currently two level I trauma centers – Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute and Ben Taub Hospital. A level I trauma center provides total care for every aspect of the most serious injuries from prevention to rehabilitation. The center is required to have in-house 24-hour trauma surgeons and a staff of specialists and sub specialists on call. Many times critical patients will be transferred to a level I center from a level II, III or IV center or emergency room; thus, increasing the time lapsed before appropriate care is administered.

In response to the growing need for a higher-level trauma care in the communities north of the Texas Medical Center, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, previously a level III trauma center, has begun providing services to patients as a level II trauma center since summer 2015. As a level II trauma center, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital will provide 24-hour immediate coverage by general surgeons as well as by specialists in orthopedics, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care. In addition, there are sub-specialists on-call who are required to respond to an emergency within a stringent time frame. The goal is to provide immediate and comprehensive care to trauma patients and reduce the burden on level I trauma centers.

The American College of Surgeons recommends that an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon be a member of a level I or II trauma team. Dr. Zahid Lalani, a board certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicing with Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, spearheaded the formation of the facial trauma team with Dr. Bryan Correa, a board certified plastic surgeon.  In addition, Dr. Lalani has assumed the responsibility of the on-call Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital providing treatment for all types of traumatic facial injuries.  “I am pleased to be a part of the expanded team of affiliated physicians covering facial trauma call at the hospital. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are one of the most qualified specialists to handle serious and complex trauma to the face and jaw.  Treatment of facial trauma and reconstructing deformities is my passion. It makes a huge difference for patients when you help them get their identity back after an injury.” Dr. Lalani was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons, having been nominated by his peers in the country for this honor.

For more information about trauma care at Memorial Hermann The Woodlands, visit  For more information about Zahid Lalani, D.D.S., PhD, M.B.A., please visit

Insurance and Oral Surgery

At Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we participate as “in-network” providers for many of the most popular dental plans*. When you call our office to schedule your consultation with one of our board-certified oral surgeons, please be prepared to let us know about your insurance. We will be able to confirm that we are or are not an in-network provider.

Before your appointment, please complete the registration form online at Provide correct information. In addition, you must bring your insurance card and identification with you to the appointment.

Following your examination, a treatment plan will be established and one of our experienced insurance verifiers will contact your insurance provider. Within 72 hours (2 to 3 business days) of your visit, you can expect a phone call with an estimate of how much your surgical procedure will cost, how much insurance is expected to cover and what portion will be your responsibility. It is important to know that the totals that we communicate to you are our best estimates and are based on the information that the insurance company provides to our verifier during a telephone conversation.

There are several things that will affect what your insurance will pay:

  • Does your insurance plan cover the prescribed treatment? It is not uncommon for some services to be covered while others are not.
  • What is the maximum coverage allowed by your plan and have you exhausted your annual dental coverage? Did you have cavities filled or a root canal performed? These services chip away at your benefits and will reduce the amount left over for oral surgery.
  • Do you have a deductible or a co-pay?

It is our objective at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to help you maximize your dental benefits. We encourage you to become familiar with your insurance benefits and ask questions so that you understand how insurance will play a part in the financial aspect of your oral surgery. For more information please contact one of our six locations today.


*Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery has opted out of Medicare and does not accept any Medicare supplemental plans.

Oral Surgery and the Holidays

For many of our patients, oral surgery during the holidays just makes sense. Whether they are enjoying a school break, taking some time off from work or are simply committed to using all of their dental benefits before the end of the year, scheduling oral surgery now will work in their favor.

Are you considering oral surgery during the holidays but are sad about missing out on the abundance of delicious food that is typically served only once a year?  Will you be relegated to sipping chicken broth and gumming Cream of Wheat while others celebrate with the usual cornucopia of holiday fare?  What will you eat while you are recovering from oral surgery?

While you can still roast chestnuts over an open fire, we definitely do not recommend eating this yuletide tradition.  But, rest assured that there are plenty of holiday dishes that you can enjoy while you are healing!  Some of our favorite suggestions are:

  • Turkey and ham – either ground or served in very small bites
  • Mashed potatoes with delicious savory gravy
  • Sweet potatoes topped with toasted, gooey marshmallows
  • Traditional cornbread dressing
  • Classic holiday casseroles such as Cheesy Broccoli Rice, Southern Squash Casserole or Mac ‘n Cheese
  • Cranberry sauce either homemade or straight from the can
  • Soft breads, muffins and butter
  • Eggnog, Peppermint Milk Shakes and Banana Smoothies. Remember to drink from the glass.  Don’t use a straw.
  • Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Buttermilk Pie, Soufflés and Cake

In most cases, such as wisdom teeth extractions or dental implant placement, oral surgery shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying your holidays.  We urge you to use caution and good judgement when selecting your foods.  Follow your doctor’s post-surgical instructions regarding care and cleaning.  And, we encourage our patients to call their doctor’s office with any questions or concerns.

Contact us today if you are considering oral surgery before the end of 2017.  Visit our website to find a Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery office that is most convenient for you. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Dental Implants are the Best Option to Replace Missing Teeth

Are you missing one or more teeth and considering replacing them? Bridges/ dentures and dental implants are both viable replacement options for missing teeth.

Here’s a quick comparison of the two:

Bridges or Dentures

Dental Implants

  • Can be uncomfortable
  • Comfortable
  • Can be ill-fitting
  • Secure
  • Limited diet
  • Allow for a healthy and varied diet
  • Clicking noises when talking or eating
  • Self-confidence when talking and eating
  • Require the use of neighboring teeth as anchors
  • Neighboring teeth are unaffected
  • Loss of bone will occur
  • Bone will be preserved
  • Require replacement every 7 to 15 years
  • Can last a lifetime when cared for properly
  • Less expensive in the short-run
  • Less expensive in the long-run


Talk with your general dentist about what method of tooth replacement is best for you. An OMS (oral and maxillofacial surgeon) is the dental specialist best suited and trained for the surgical placement of dental implants or implant secured dentures.

For more information about dental implants or other oral surgical procedures, call Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery today or visit


Use Your 2017 Dental Benefits Before They Expire!

Have you been putting off wisdom teeth surgery for your child or dental implants for yourself? Call us at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery before your dental insurance benefits expire at the end of the year. We will be happy to schedule an appointment for you with one of our eight* board-certified oral surgeons because:

  • You’ve been paying insurance premiums all year long, why waste that money and forfeit any unused benefits? When the year ends, so do 2017 benefits.
  • You’ve met your deductible. Take advantage and schedule treatment before you must meet a new deductible in 2018.
  • Delaying necessary dental treatment and surgeries is never a good idea! Sooner or later you will have to deal with a decaying tooth, painful wisdom teeth or required extractions.

For more information about Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, visit We look forward to seeing you soon.

Dwyer | Clark | Repa | Williams | Unterman | Lalani | Hoffman* | Liska*

*board-certification anticipated in summer 2018

Schedule Wisdom Teeth Surgery During School Holidays!

“When is it a good time to have your wisdom teeth extracted?” Ask any teenager and the answer will surely be, “NEVER!” The truth of the matter is that wisdom teeth will need to come out eventually. Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, can cause crowding, inflammation of gums, damage to other teeth and pain. Scheduling wisdom teeth surgery at your convenience is a far better option than waiting for an emergency.

When’s a good time to schedule oral surgery?

At Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we have six convenient offices that are equipped for the safest surgical procedures and administration of IV anesthesia. Our eight board-certified oral surgeons are experienced and highly qualified to manage wisdom teeth extractions. Each surgeon suggests scheduling this procedure during school holidays which occur during Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as during Spring and Summer Break.

How long does recovery take?

While full recovery usually takes between five and seven days, your teen will likely feel under the weather for only two or three days. And, some young patients bounce back quickly after surgery, never require pain medication and are ready to socialize the day after a procedure.  Nonetheless, if surgery occurs during a break, school attendance and participation in most extracurricular activities is not disrupted.

Get more info!

For more information about wisdom teeth surgery at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, visit , and We are looking forward to seeing your teen soon.


How to Choose an Oral Surgeon

Oral surgery can be as simple as a single tooth extraction or as complex as a full-mouth restoration. Regardless of the procedure, you always want to be in the care of the most qualified dental professional.

Board Certification

The most reliable indicator of an oral surgeon’s qualifications is board certification. When an oral surgeon is board-certified, it means that he/she has passed an extremely rigorous written and oral examination after earning a four-year undergraduate degree, a DDS or DMD, and then successfully completing a four- to six-year surgical residency.


How many times has the surgeon performed the prescribed treatment? How many years has the oral surgeon been practicing the full scope of the OMS specialty? Oral surgeons, unlike general dentists, focus solely on oral surgical procedures — including wisdom teeth extractions, the placement of dental implants, bone grafting, sinus lifts and more. Experience is important.

Safety of the Facility

A board-certified oral surgeon will have hospital privileges at a well-respected and reputable hospital. If the oral surgeon performs outpatient oral surgery, the surgical operatory will be equipped to handle an anesthesia emergency and the surgical staff will be trained to respond to emergency situations. Unlike general dental offices, OMS offices are required to undergo a regular Office Anesthesia Evaluation.


Ask your friends and family members about their experiences with an oral surgeon. Read online reviews from several different sources including Google+, Healthgrades, Facebook, Yelp and NextDoor.

Trust Your Instincts

Schedule a consultation with the oral surgeon. You should be comfortable asking questions and the surgeon should be forthcoming with answers. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers or just don’t feel comfortable, seek a second opinion.

Check Your Insurance

Last, but not least, contact your insurance provider to see if your oral surgeon is an in-network provider. If he/she is not an in-network provider, determine what benefits are available when using an out-of-network provider.

Oral Surgery for Special-Needs Patients

Oral surgery for healthy patients is typically met with trepidation. When patients with special needs require oral surgery, additional care and compassion are vital to guarantee a comfortable procedure and a successful outcome. Most often the use of general anesthesia will be recommended for dental patients identified as having special needs which include:

  • Geriatric patients
  • Patients with mobility issues
  • Mentally disabled patients
  • Patients with underlying health concerns
  • Mentally ill patients
  • Children with emotional or behavioral issues


Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are experts in surgery of the face, mouth and jaw. Their extensive training prepares them to perform complex oral surgical procedures for patients with special needs. OMS procedures include:

  • Wisdom teeth management
  • Head, neck, and oral pathology
  • Dental implant surgery
  • Dental and soft tissue surgery including the extraction of diseased teeth
  • Treatment of facial injuries


In addition, as board-certified oral surgeons, they are trained in the administration of IV anesthesia and perform surgeries in operatories which are equipped to handle any anesthesia emergencies which may arise.


Medical Director experienced with special-needs patients

At Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we employ a board-certified anesthesiologist who also serves as our medical director. Dr. Penelope Duke is experienced in the care of patients with special needs and can provide the additional attention and treatment that they may require. Dr. Duke will visit with the patient and the patient’s caregiver prior to surgery. She will administer the IV anesthesia and remain with the patient throughout the procedure, monitoring the patient’s vitals before, during and after surgery.

Following surgery, the oral surgeon and anesthesiologist will confer with the patient and the patient’s caregiver about what to expect after the anesthesia wears off and how to care for the patient post-operatively. It is our goal at Northwest Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to provide the best and safest treatment to our patients, including those with special needs.