Posts for: April, 2018
Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), located where your lower jaw meets the skull, play an essential role in nearly every mouth function. It’s nearly impossible to eat or speak without them.
Likewise, jaw joint disorders (temporomandibular joint disorders or TMD) can make your life miserable. Not only can you experience extreme discomfort or pain, your ability to eat certain foods or speak clearly could be impaired.
But don’t assume you have TMD if you have these and other symptoms — there are other conditions with similar symptoms. You’ll need a definitive diagnosis of TMD from a qualified physician or dentist, particularly one who’s completed post-graduate programs in Oral Medicine or Orofacial Pain, before considering treatment.
If you are diagnosed with TMD, you may then face treatment choices that emanate from one of two models: one is an older dental model based on theories that the joint and muscle dysfunction is mainly caused by poor bites or other dental problems. This model encourages treatments like orthodontically moving teeth, crowning problem teeth or adjusting bites by grinding down tooth surfaces.
A newer treatment model, though, has supplanted this older one and is now practiced by the majority of dentists. This is a medical model that views TMJs like any other joint in the body, and thus subject to the same sort of orthopedic problems found elsewhere: sore muscles, inflamed joints, strained tendons and ligaments, and disk problems. Treatments tend to be less invasive or irreversible than those from the dental model.
The newer model encourages treatments like physical therapy, medication, occlusive guards or stress management. The American Association of Dental Research (AADR) in fact recommends that TMD patients begin their treatment from the medical model rather than the dental one, unless there are indications to the contrary. Many studies have concluded that a majority of patients gain significant relief with these types of therapies.
If a physician or dentist recommends more invasive treatment, particularly surgery, consider seeking a second opinion. Unlike the therapies mentioned above, surgical treatments have a spotty record when it comes to effectiveness — some patients even report their conditions worsening afterward. Try the less-invasive approach first — you may find improvement in your symptoms and quality of life.
If you would like more information on treating TMD, 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 “Seeking Relief from TMD.”
It’s important that you don’t ignore your mouth when it’s trying to tell you that something is off. Of course, not everyone experiences symptoms or obvious issues, which is why it’s so important that you always maintain those routine checkups with one of our North Attleboro, MA, dentists every six months.
While we can easily pinpoint signs of an infection and determine whether you need root canal treatment it’s also important that you understand the telltale signs that something is wrong and when you need to seek immediate dental care. Symptoms that warrant an immediate trip to the dentist include:
- A toothache
- Sudden or increased tooth sensitivity (usually to hot or cold foods and drinks)
- Tooth darkening (a sign that the roots of the tooth are dying)
- Swollen, tender gums surrounding the infected tooth
- The development of a bump on the gums (known as an abscess), which may be painful
When in doubt, call our North Attleboro, MA, general dentists to find out if your symptoms warrant a dental checkup. A toothache all by itself is considered a dental emergency. Even though it might not necessarily mean that you have to get root canal treatment it could be trying to tell you that you have a cavity. The sooner the problem is addressed and treated the less likely it will be to cause more significant and widespread damage.
What is root canal treatment?
Whether you are scheduled for an upcoming root canal procedure or you are just curious to know more about what it entails, you’ve come to the right place. This procedure is performed when bacteria has entered the inside of the tooth and infected the dental pulp, a soft mass that contains nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels. Since the pulp is made up of nerves it comes as no surprise that one of the first problems people complain about is a toothache.
The goals of root canal therapy are to remove the source of the pain (e.g. the dental pulp) and the infection to preserve as much of the tooth as possible. After the procedure is complete we will also decide whether we need to place a dental crown over the tooth.
Here in North Attleboro, MA, we believe that everyone should receive quality, full-service dentistry that they can trust. Whether you are dealing with a dental emergency or you just need a simple teeth cleaning, turn to our caring and knowledgeable dental team for help.
Porcelain veneers are a great way to enhance an unattractive smile. But are they appropriate for teenagers? The answer usually depends on a patient’s current development stage and the type of veneer used.
Veneers are thin layers of porcelain bonded to the front of teeth. But even though quite thin, they can appear bulky if we don’t first remove some of the tooth’s enamel surface. This is irreversible, so the tooth may require a restoration from then on.
This could be a major issue for teens whose permanent teeth are still developing. During this period the tooth’s central pulp is relatively large and the dentin layer not fully developed. As a result, the pulp’s nerves are often closer to the surface than in an adult tooth. This increases risk of nerve damage during veneer preparation; if nerve damage occurs, the tooth could ultimately require a root canal treatment to save it.
On the other hand, some types of veneers don’t require tooth alteration (or only very little) beforehand. These “no-prep” or “minimal prep” veneers are best for certain situations like abnormally small teeth, so we must first determine if using such a veneer would be appropriate for your teen.
In effect, we’ll need to weigh these and other factors before determining if veneers are a safe choice for your teen. That being the case, it may be more advisable to consider more conservative cosmetic techniques first. For example, if enamel staining is the main issue, you could consider teeth whitening. Although the often amazing results eventually fade, whitening could still buy some time until the teeth have matured to safely apply veneers.
Slight deformities like chipping can often be corrected by bonding tooth-colored composite material to the tooth. In artistic hands it’s even possible to create a full veneer effect with very little if any tooth preparation. How much we can apply, though, depends on tooth size, and it won’t be as durable as a porcelain veneer.
With that said, veneers could be the right solution to enhance your teen’s smile. But, we’ll need to carefully consider their dental situation to ensure their new smile remains a healthy one.