Temporomandiblular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

Temporomandiblular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

TMJ disorders, also known as TMD, are disorders that affect the joints that attach the jaw to the skull.  The temporomandibular joints, or TMJ, are located in front of the ears, and are complex joints that allow you to move your jaw up and down and side to side in order to talk, chew, yawn, or move your jaw in any way.  TMD is defined as any disorder that affects either the joints themselves or the muscles that control them.  TMD can occur in either joint individually, or in both joints at once.  The cause of TMD is unknown, but what we do know is that TMD affects more women than men, and can occur along with other disorders, like chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis, among others. Symptoms of TMD: Problems opening your mouth wide Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw, neck, shoulders, or in and around your ear when you move your jaw to speak, chew, or open your mouth wide A tired feeling in your face Swelling on the side of your face Trouble chewing or a sudden, uncomfortable bite that feels like the upper and lower teeth are not lining up properly Jaws that “lock” or get “stuck” in the open or closed position Toothaches Headaches Earaches Dizziness Ringing in the ears or hearing problems Neck or upper shoulder pain  Diagnosis of TMD is done by checking for pain in the joints, listening for clicking or popping sounds, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other tests, most...

Nutrition and Oral Health

As National Nutrition Month comes to a close, we would like to discuss how nutrition affects oral health.  Pretty much everyone knows that what we eat and drink has a powerful impact on our overall health, but many don’t think much about how it relates to our oral health, as our food and drink just kind of “passes through” our mouths on their way into the body.  Most people know that sticky sweets can cause cavities, but other than that, it is not a much-contemplated issue, so we would like to discuss it here. Here are some other dietary things to consider when protecting your mouth: In addition to candy, other sweets like cakes and pies, and snack foods such as chips can also damage teeth because the bacteria that live in the mouth feed on the types of sugars these foods contain and then release acids that can cause tooth decay. Acidic and sugary drinks can also be harmful because sipping on them keeps your teeth bathed in the sugars that the bacteria use to produce acids, or are bathed in the acids from the drinks themselves, which can contribute to tooth decay. Even some foods that are healthy can have harmful acids, like tomatoes and citrus fruits, so they should be eaten as part of a meal rather than by themselves to cut down on the harmful effects of the acid on teeth. Fresh fruit is healthier for your mouth than dried fruit, because dried fruit is sticky and can adhere to teeth, making those sugars and acids remain in the mouth longer. Foods and drinks that...

World Oral Health Day

This Friday, March 20, is World Oral Health Day.  There are over 70 countries participating in the event.  This year’s theme is “Smile for Life.” The observance of World Oral Health Day is organized by the FDI World Dental Federation, and works in collaboration with some familiar names in oral care, like Listerine.  It is a way for the global dental profession to take action in a worldwide effort to reduce tooth decay and improve dental health under a unifying, simple message. According the FDI World Dental Federation, the theme “World Oral Health Day 2015, Smile for life!” is intended to have a double meaning: ‘lifelong smile’ and ‘celebrating life’. It also implies positivity and having fun, since people tend to only smile if they are happy and healthy. Around 90% of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime, even though many of these can be prevented with the right care.  World Oral Health Day is intended to not only raise awareness, but also to provide initiative to organize efforts at improving oral health in a positive and upbeat way.  It is also to wish everyone a lifelong and healthy smile at all ages. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us at Dr. Dawn Gayken...

Are Dental Implants the Right Choice for You?

Missing teeth can cause problems in addition to making your smile look different and reducing self-esteem.  Missing teeth can cause difficulty chewing and speaking, and can cause other teeth to shift out of line. So what can be done?  Well, there are bridges and dentures that can solve the problem, but these options are removable and require extra maintenance, and can sometimes be uncomfortable or ill-fitting, as well as aesthetically unpleasing.  Another option is to get dental implants. What are dental implants?  Dental implants are permanent replacement teeth, and are made to match your existing teeth. What are the advantages of dental implants? They require less maintenance and care than bridges or dentures (you care for them the same way you care for you original teeth), and you don’t have to worry about them slipping out of place or damaging any remaining teeth around them.  They are also more comfortable than bridges or dentures. How is the procedure done? A replacement tooth root is implanted into your jaw using either local anesthetic or sedation. (While this may sound a little scary, most patients say that getting the replacement root implanted hurts less than having a tooth pulled.) Once that is healed, the replacement tooth is attached to the replacement root.  Since the tooth is attached to the replacement root in your jaw, it is permanent.  (See our Dental Implant page for more information about the procedure.) Who are the best candidates for dental implants? Anyone with missing teeth who is healthy enough to undergo an extraction or other oral surgery is usually eligible for dental implants, but you would...

Dental Assistants Recognition Week

The first week of March is Dental Assistants Recognition Week.  Dental assistants help dentists achieve quality care and can drastically increase the efficiency and productivity of dental office operations. What do dental assistants do? Dental assistants perform many duties that require both technical and interpersonal skills.  Their job is one of the most varied and comprehensive jobs in the office.  According to the American Dental Association (ADA), their duties can include: assisting the dentist during a variety of treatment procedures taking and developing dental radiographs (x-rays) asking about the patient’s medical history and taking blood pressure and pulse serving as an infection control officer, developing infection control protocol and preparing and sterilizing instruments and equipment helping patients feel comfortable before, during and after dental treatment providing patients with instructions for oral care following surgery or other dental treatment procedures, such as the placement of a restoration (filling) teaching patients appropriate oral hygiene strategies to maintain oral health; (e.g., tooth brushing, flossing and nutritional counseling) taking impressions of patients’ teeth for study casts (models of teeth) performing office management tasks that often require the use of a personal computer communicating with patients and suppliers (e.g., scheduling appointments, answering the telephone, billing and ordering supplies) helping to provide direct patient care in all dental specialties, including orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics and oral surgery As you can see, the scope of what dental assistants contribute to the dental profession is wide, and is essential to making a dentist’s office an environment that is as friendly and efficient as possible.  So take time this week to thank your dental assistants for all that...

Why Floss?

Flossing: It Really is That Important Most people do brush their teeth twice a day and use mouthwash, but many skip flossing.  The reasons why people fail to floss are unclear.  It may be because it seems a little more time-consuming than brushing.  It may be because people just don’t think it is an essential aspect of oral care and that brushing and swishing mouthwash are sufficient.  Or it may be because flossing is uncomfortable or a little painful for some people.  (Incidentally, if it is uncomfortable or painful, that is likely an indication that it isn’t being done enough.) But whatever the reason behind the neglect is, it is something that needs to be considered part of the regular routine and incorporated into daily care. Here’s why: One of the most uncomfortable parts of a dental cleaning is the scraping of tartar.  If you floss daily, you catch it while it is still just soft, sticky plaque, before it hardens into that tartar that requires a pick. It reaches places that a toothbrush and mouthwash alone can’t, like the small spaces between teeth and at the base of teeth where they are more narrow. Food, bacteria, and other yucky things can get trapped there and cause problems beyond just tartar or gingivitis/gum disease.  It doesn’t stop with your mouth; it can also increase risk for overall health problems, like diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory problems. It is much cheaper to do preventive maintenance than it is to treat a major problem down the line. Dental floss is a very inexpensive product (and if you go to the dentist,...