Posts for: October, 2017
Have you noticed a clicking, popping, or grating sound when you open or close your jaw? As many as 36 million U.S. adults experience this phenomenon in one or both of the joints that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull.
While the sounds may be disconcerting, there’s generally no cause for concern in the absence of other symptoms. They’re most likely caused by a harmless shift in the position of the disk inside each temporomandibular (jaw) joint, and it can diminish or disappear entirely over time. But, if you’re also experiencing persistent discomfort, severe pain, or limited function in your jaw (which can include getting it “stuck” in an opened or closed position), then you may be suffering from a temporomandibular joint disorder — part of a complex set of conditions affecting one or both jaw joints, muscles and/or other surrounding tissues. (You may have heard the condition called TMJ, which is actually the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint itself. Health care professionals prefer TMJD or TMD.)
Depending on the severity, TMD can interfere with your ability to speak, chew and even make facial expressions. The cause is unclear, but genes, gender, environment, stress and behavior are believed to play a role. It can also be symptomatic of a larger medical problem, such as fibromyalgia, which can produce pain all over the body.
Management Options for TMD
TMD traditionally was viewed as a bite problem (malocclusion) requiring mechanical correction — e.g., through orthodontic braces or surgery. But the current therapeutic model approaches TMD as an orthopedic problem (joint inflammation, muscle soreness, strained tendons and ligaments, and disk damage) and favors a sequence of conservative, reversible procedures — hot or cold compresses in the jaw area, soft foods, physical therapy/massage, medication, and/or a bite guard to decrease pressure on jaw joints from tooth clenching and grinding — prior to more aggressive, irreversible treatment alternatives.
If you would like more information about TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Seeking Relief from TMD” and “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”
While oral hygiene, a nutritious diet and regular dental visits are all crucial to long-term oral health, these efforts complement what your body already does to keep your mouth healthy. One of the major players in this function is saliva.
Produced by hundreds of glands located throughout the mouth, saliva does much more than help you swallow and wash away food. As you chew, an enzyme in saliva known as amylase breaks down starches in your food to make it easier to digest in the stomach. Saliva also contains antibodies, similar to what’s in tears, which can fight bacteria and other disease-causing organisms.
Perhaps its most important function, though, is its ability to protect and maintain healthy tooth enamel. The strongest substance in the body, enamel nevertheless has one primary enemy — the acid found in certain foods or as a byproduct of bacteria feeding on sugar and other carbohydrates.
When the ideally neutral pH level of the mouth becomes too acidic (nearly every time you eat), minerals in the enamel begin to soften and dissolve. The increased saliva flow when we eat floods the mouth with buffering agents that neutralize the acid and restore the mouth’s normal pH level. Not only does saliva stop demineralization, but it also restores a good bit of the enamel’s mineral content.
In recent years, a new role for saliva has begun to emerge as a means to diagnose disease. Like blood, urine and other bodily fluids, saliva contains molecules that serve as biological markers for disease. Given the right equipment, saliva has the potential to indicate early signs of cancer (including oral), diabetes and other systemic conditions. As the means to examine saliva for these markers increases it promises to be easier and less expensive to collect and sample than blood, while reducing the chances of transmitting bloodborne diseases to healthcare workers.
It’s a lot to consider with this fluid that you hardly notice, except when it isn’t there. Saliva is proof that our efforts at keeping our mouths healthy cooperate and depend on our bodies’ amazing systems.
If you would like more information on saliva and other ways your body maintains a healthy mouth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Saliva.”
Find out if this simple cosmetic solution is all you need to get the perfectly shaped smile you deserve.
Did eating something a little too hard cause a small chip in a tooth? Has a slightly misaligned smile caused some teeth to look slightly asymmetrical in length or size? Are your canines a bit too sharp and pointy? If you said yes, then our Mount Pleasant, SC, family dentist, Dr. Cynthia Garner, has just the easy fix you need to reshape these teeth and buff out minor aesthetic defects.
What is tooth recontouring?
This easy, painless and non-invasive cosmetic dental procedure is designed to remove very small amounts of enamel in order to improve the surface, size or shape of one or more teeth. This is one of the most conservative ways to alter minor imperfections in your teeth and to improve the overall look of your smile.
Who is this treatment right for?
If you have minor cosmetic imperfections that cause chips, pits in the surface or other shapely imperfections, then it’s time to talk to our Mount Pleasant dentist about whether recontouring could get your smile back on track.
Just remember that this simple procedure won’t be able to tackle more serious defects and should not be considered an alternative option for getting dental bonding or dental veneers; however, this treatment can be combined with other cosmetic options to achieve the perfect smile.
What should I expect from treatment?
First, we will need to examine your teeth and also run a series of X-rays to make sure that your teeth are healthy enough for cosmetic treatment. During the actual procedure, we will remove trace amounts of enamel from teeth. This will help us reshape and contour the tooth to get the perfect shape, size and surface smoothness. Once the tooth or teeth have been reshaped, we will give them a final polish.
Whether you have questions about tooth recontouring in Mount Pleasant, SC, or you are ready to find out what cosmetic dentistry could do to improve the look of your smile, don’t hesitate to call Garner Family Dentistry to learn more.