TMM Interview with Dr. John Wessel

Dr. John Wessel - Carolinas Center for Oral & Facial Surgery

How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?

We pride ourselves on delivering compassionate care with a personalized touch. Most patients are very nervous when they come to our office - they may have had a bad experience in the past with dentistry or oral surgery. Our office was designed to reduce anxiety and our staff have warm and caring personalities. My goal is to give our patients an experience that is better than they could have imagined. We use great customer service, empathy and technology to achieve this goal.

How does technology impact your business?

We use technology to deliver better care to our patients. Cone beam CT scans have lower radiation and provide 3D images of the jaws, teeth, and face.  One example of how we use this technology is identifying the position of wisdom teeth and the adjacent nerves. By "seeing" this anatomy in 3-dimensions, I can educate our patients and discuss the best way to proceed (slides 1 and 2).

What is virtual surgery?

Virtual surgery is an advanced technique used to plan and perform surgery on a computer prior to the actual surgery on the patient. Using this technology we can plan dental implant placement to a high degree of precision. Once the virtual surgery is complete, a custom guide is made for each patient that assists with placing the implants. It makes surgery more efficient and accurate. If also allows for smaller incisions and less swelling, so recovery is faster (slides 3 and 4).

Is surgery an option for obstructive sleep apnea?

Yes. For patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea, surgery is a great option. The most successful procedure for sleep apnea is advancement of the jaws. We move the jaws forward which opens the airway by bringing the tongue and soft palate away from the back of the throat (slides 5 and 6). Many patients are cured after this procedure and no longer need to use CPAP devices. This is a procedure oral surgeons have performed for many years. I have dedicated a year of advanced fellowship training for this procedure. 

What are options for pain control after surgery?

Historically, we managed pain with narcotic pain medication. While narcotic medication provides pain relief, there are a number of side effects: nausea, vomiting, constipation, and the potential for addiction. Narcotic drug use has become a public health concern. In oral surgery, narcotic pain medication is no longer the only answer for pain control. In my office, we utilize a new non-narcotic treatment called EXPAREL® (bupivacaine liposome injectable suspension). EXPAREL® is a non-opioid anesthetic that can keep the surgical site numb for up to 3 days. EXPAREL® is given as an injection placed into the area near the surgical site.  EXPAREL® has been a "game-changer" in managing pain for many of our patients, allowing them to minimize or avoid taking narcotics completely. The best praise for EXPAREL® comes from parents of teenagers who have their wisdom teeth removed.


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