Posts for: July, 2012
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.
Recent research has revealed a relationship between overall general health and proper care for your dentures. The evidence shows that oral bacteria have been implicated in bacterial endocarditis (“endo” – inside; “card” – heart), chronic obstructive pulmonary (lung) disease, generalized infections of the respiratory tract and other systemic diseases. This proves what you might not suspect — you need to pay attention to the care of your dentures to achieve optimal health. For this reason, we have put together this list of five great tips for caring for your dentures.
- Daily cleaning at home: It is critical that you thoroughly remove the bacterial biofilm in your mouth and on your dentures. This one tip alone will help minimize the likelihood of your developing inflammation (denture stomatitis) under your dentures.
- Don't boil your dentures: While cleaning is important, you should NEVER place your dentures into boiling water because it can damage and warp them.
- Don't wear your dentures 24/7: To help reduce or minimize denture stomatitis, you really should not wear your dentures 24/7. It is important to thoroughly clean them each night along with your mouth (as noted above), and then leave them out while you sleep. This will also slow down the bone loss that naturally occurs from the pressure caused by wearing dentures.
- Always store your dentures immersed in water: This tip is so important because it helps prevent your dentures from warping. And do not forget to change the water each day, as well as to clean the container in which you store them.
- Annual professional cleaning: Even though you may do an excellent job cleaning your teeth at home, you still need to come to our offices at least once a year for an examination, fit and function check, as well as a professional cleaning. During this cleaning, we will use our ultrasonic cleaners to minimize the biofilm that accumulates over time.
Did you know that recent research has shown diabetes is a risk factor for increased severity of periodontal (gum) disease and that periodontitis is a risk factor for worsening blood glucose (sugar) control in people with diabetes? Periodontitis can even increase the risk of diabetic complications for people diagnosed with diabetes. When you combine these facts with the following, you will clearly see how important it is to understand and manage these two diseases.
- Over 23 million people in the United States currently have diabetes and over 170 million worldwide.
- 14+ million Americans have a condition called pre-diabetes.
- Another estimated 6 million people in the US have diabetes but are unaware and thus not diagnosed.
- Periodontal disease is the second most common disease known to man, only surpassed by tooth decay.
- Diabetic individuals with periodontal disease have a greater risk for cardiovascular and kidney complications than those diabetics not having periodontal disease.
What You Can Do
One of the most important steps you can take if you have either of these conditions or suspect that you might have one or both is to make an appointment with your physician or with our office for a thorough examination. You should schedule an appointment with your physician for an exam and blood work so that your general health and well-being are monitored. Be certain to share your medical information and any family history of diabetes with our office, as it tends to occur in families.
Learn the risks and how to take care of types 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as the stages of periodontal disease (with detailed full-color illustrations) when you read the Dear Doctor article, “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.” Or if you want to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions, contact us today.
There's a lot to like about dental implants, today's state-of-the-art tooth-replacement system. We consider them the best choice for replacing missing teeth because implants are:
You may not realize this, but when a tooth is missing, the bone underneath it begins to melt away. That's because bone needs constant stimulation to rebuild itself and stay healthy, and it receives this stimulation from teeth. It's a delicate balance that's disrupted by the loss of even one tooth. Because implants are made of biocompatible titanium, they actually fuse to the bone and prevent bone loss.
The fusion of implant to bone is an extremely solid connection. Not only does it offer a strong replacement for a missing tooth, but it can also offer support to other tooth-replacement methods such as fixed bridges or dentures. By themselves, these other methods would not preserve bone and might even hasten its loss in the case of dentures. But with implants, bone-loss is prevented — as is embarrassing and uncomfortable slippage of dentures.
When you receive your implant, it is left alone for a few months to complete the fusion process described above. Then it is topped with a crown made of a realistic tooth-like material. The result is so convincing as a tooth replacement, only you and your dentist may be able to tell it's not a natural tooth.
Dental implants have an amazing success rate — over 97%. And once they fuse to the jawbone, they should never need replacement. In fact, they will likely outlast the crowns to which they are attached, but this is not a problem. Implant crowns are precision components that detach for easy replacement, should the need arise.
Implants have a higher initial cost than other forms of tooth replacement, but when you consider how long they last, they are very economical. Consider it an investment in your health, appearance and self-confidence.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”