Posts for category: Oral Health
The term TMD means “Temporomandibular Disorder.” But if you suffer from this disorder, it means pain. The pain can be mild or severe, acute or chronic, and it can appear to be centered in different locations, making it difficult to diagnose.
People who clench or grind their teeth because of stress often experience the pain of TMD. They might not even know they are engaging in these habits, because they do them subconsciously, for example when driving in traffic or engaging in vigorous exercise. Another cause of TMD might be an injury such as a blow to the jaw.
You can feel your temporomandibular joints working if you place your fingers in front of your ears and move your lower jaw up and down. On each side the joint is composed of an almond shaped structure at the end of the lower jaw, called the condyle, which fits neatly into a depression in the temporal bone (the bone on the side of your skull near your ear). A small disc between the two bones allows the lower jaw to move forward and sideways. The joints are stabilized by ligaments and moved by muscles.
TMD pain is the result of a process that begins when a stimulus such as psychological stress or an injury to the joint causes spasms (involuntary muscle contractions) in the muscles that move the joint. Blood vessels in the muscle begin to accumulate waste products, causing chemical changes and lactic acid buildup in the muscle. Nerves in the muscle then signal the brain to stop the movement of the jaw by registering pain.
TMD pain can appear to originate from various locations in your jaw, head, or neck. This is why it's important to make an appointment with our office for a professional assessment and diagnosis.
Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms of pain and discomfort and to prevent them from recurring in the future. Treatment can include heat, mild painkillers, muscle relaxants, soft diet, and simple jaw exercises, as well as education regarding the causes of TMD. To prevent further pain you may be provided with a “bite guard,” or referred to relaxation training with a licensed therapist. A bite guard is designed to prevent the lower teeth from biting hard into the upper teeth. It is commonly worn at night, but can also be worn during the day if clenching and grinding are apparent.
If these simpler treatments do not solve the problem, we may recommend more complex procedures such as bite adjustment or, as a last resort, surgical treatment may be needed.
Cleaning dentures is an important part of wearing them. However, did you know that recent research has revealed a link between denture hygiene and overall health? The evidence shows that oral bacteria have been implicated in chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease, bacterial endocarditis (“endo” – inside; “card” – heart), generalized infections of the respiratory tract and other systemic diseases. While it is never our intent to frighten you, we feel it is important that we share some important tips on maintaining and caring for your dentures so that your oral health does not negatively impact your general health.
Our first tip focuses on fit, as denture slippage is an experience that anyone who wears dentures dreads. So if your dentures seem to slip or you have started increasing the amount of adhesive you are using to achieve the same level of denture retention that you had when first fitted, you need to make an appointment with us soon. Otherwise, an ill-fitting denture can cause discomfort, embarrassment and contribute to other oral health issues.
Next, we must focus on cleaning your dentures. It is critical that you clean your dentures daily. However, you should never use harmful or abrasive cleansers. Nor should you ever place your dentures into boiling water! The best method for cleaning is to soak them daily in a non-abrasive denture cleaner. And when you remove them, gently brush them with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Our last tip concerns how long you wear your dentures each day. Even if your dentures are extremely comfortable — for example, you forget they are in — you should not wear them 24 hours a day. Why? Because you will develop a chronic yeast infection called, “denture stomatitis” due to stagnation that develops under dentures when the lubricating and antibacterial effects of saliva are impeded. Unfortunately, the constant pressure on the gum tissues caused by wearing dentures can accelerate jawbone loss over time. Give your mouth and tissues a rest by sleeping without your dentures in your mouth.
If you suffer from snoring or think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), did you know that your dentist could play an important role in treating your condition? For most people this is surprising; however, we can provide both education and some treatment options. And as needed, we will work with your other healthcare professionals to get an accurate diagnosis so that you can improve both your sleep and your health.
Oral Appliance Therapy: These devices may look like orthodontic retainers or sports mouthguards, but they are designed to maintain an open, unobstructed, upper airway (tissues at the back of your throat) during sleep. There are many different oral appliances available but less than 20 have been approved through the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for treating sleep apnea. Depending on your specific condition, we may use it alone or in combination with other means of treating your OSA. HereÃ¢Â€Â™s how they work. They reposition the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula (the tissue in the back of the throat that dangles like a punching bag); stabilize the lower jaw and tongue; and increase the muscle tone of the tongue — unblocking the airway.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): CPAP bedside machines generate pressurized air delivered through a tube connected to a mask covering the nose and sometimes mouth. Pressurized air opens the airway (windpipe) in the same manner as blowing into a balloon; when air is blown in, the balloon opens and gets wider. This treatment option is generally not used for snoring, but rather for the more serious condition, OSA.
Surgery: Specially trained oral and maxillofacial surgeons may include more complex jaw advancement surgeries. Additionally, an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) specialist (otolaryngologist) may consider surgery to remove excess tissues in the throat. It also may be necessary to remove the tonsils and adenoids (especially in children), the uvula, or even parts of the soft palate.
The first step towards getting a great night's sleep if you are a snorer that has never been diagnosed or treated for your condition is to obtain a thorough examination by a physician specifically trained in diagnosing and treating sleep disorders. And depending on the seriousness of your condition, he or she may strongly encourage you to participate in a sleep study. The results from this “study” can provide your dentist and other healthcare professionals with precise data about your snoring, breathing and sleeping habits. This information is key to treating OSA, if you are in fact diagnosed with this condition. Learn more when you read, “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Or if you are ready for a thorough examination and to discuss your snoring, contact us today to schedule an appointment.
We have learned that an important part of oral health is education — but more importantly, making it fun to learn so that you retain (and apply) what you learn! For this reason, we have put together the following self-test so that you can quickly access your knowledge on the subject of mouthguards.
- The first sport to use (and require) protective mouthguards was:
- ice hockey
- Research conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) found that individuals are ___ times more likely to damage their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard while engaged in contact sports or rigorous physical exercise.
- As a rule of thumb, females do not require mouthguards because they are not as physically active as their male counterparts.
- The American Academy of General Dentistry (AAGD) reports that mouthguards prevent more than ______ injuries to the mouth and/or teeth each year.
- Which of the following sports or activities does the ADA recommend that participants wear protective mouthguards:
- all of the above
- The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than ______ sports-related injuries end-up in the emergency room each year with injury or damage to the teeth and mouth.
- Over-the-counter mouthguards are just as effective as professionally made mouthguards.
- In addition to the trauma of having a tooth (or teeth) knocked out, individuals who have suffered from this type of injury may end up spending ______ per tooth over a lifetime for teeth that are not properly preserved and replanted according to the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety.
- $10,000 to $20,000
- $15,000 to $25,000
- $25,000 to $35,000
- Less than $10,000
Answers: 1) b, 2) d, 3) b, 4) a, 5) d, 6) c, 7) b, 8) a
You can learn more about the importance of mouthguards when you continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” And if you have already experienced a dental injury, it may not be too late. However, we need to evaluate the damage so that we can establish a plan for restoring optimal oral health. Contact us today to learn more about protecting your mouth and teeth or to schedule an appointment.
Florence Henderson, star of one of television's most beloved situation comedies, is still actively engaged in a variety of projects at 75-plus years of age. Her bright smile was part of her character as Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch, a popular sitcom that played for five seasons from 1969 to 1974. Though the show was discontinued, syndicated episodes continue to play in the U.S. and 122 other countries.
“I played Carol as the mother I always wished I had,” she told Dear Doctor magazine. Her portrayal of mother and wife in a blended family with six children won her the Smithsonian Institution's TV Land Pop Culture Icon Award, which is on display in the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC.
After her successes on Broadway and in television, she was selected for numerous product endorsements, and The Wall Street Journal ranked her #5 in their top ten television endorsers based on viewer satisfaction. One of the products she endorsed was Polident, a brand of denture cleaners and adhesives. However, Henderson has revealed that she has her own natural teeth and does not wear dentures. Her advice to others who want to keep their natural teeth is to pay attention to prevention. “I think the most important thing one can do as with any health issue is prevention,” she said. “Flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups are vitally important if you want to keep your natural teeth.”
When she was 22, she says, she had four impacted wisdom teeth removed at the same time. This experience made her aware of the importance of dental care, and since then she has had a checkup every six months. Wherever she travels, she says that she always has mouthwash, dental floss, toothpaste, and a toothbrush on the set.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth care. You can learn more about Florence Henderson by reading the Dear Doctor magazine interview “Florence Henderson, America's Favorite TV Mom Has Many Reasons to Smile.”