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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.
While we have gained recognition for our role in creating gorgeous smiles with porcelain veneers, the often overlooked or unknown key contributors in this process are the dental laboratory technicians. These behind-the-scenes artists are the trained professionals in the art of using dental porcelain to hand-craft veneers and crowns into near exact replicas of natural teeth in shine, opacity, translucence and shape.
Through the use of precise molds and excellent communication skills, we share detailed information with the laboratory technician to create veneers or crowns specifically for enhancing and improving your smile. In fact, communication must be so exact that it often demands correct lighting, cameras and computers to produce optimal results. This process also requires a variety of colors, shapes and translucency, created so that once we cement them into place, they appear as beautiful natural teeth. If your veneers are part of a smile restoration or makeover and you are getting them for several front teeth, the end results are typically brighter and whiter than your natural teeth. However, they must blend with surrounding teeth if those teeth are not also receiving veneers. So it is often recommended to have your natural teeth whitened before the veneers are replaced.
Good dental porcelains in the right hands can make for spectacular tooth imitations by mimicking tooth enamel perfectly. And now that you have these facts, you begin to understand all of the expertise, artistry, and the technology required by laboratory technicians to produce the most dazzling porcelain veneers.
To learn more about porcelain veneers, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.” Or if you are ready to see what cosmetic dentistry can do for you, contact us to schedule a consultation.
One of the most common treatments we are asked about is a root canal and the unfortunate bad reputation associated with it. The truth is that the procedure actually relieves the pain associated with the problem and not visa versa. And here's why.
A root canal or endodontic treatment (“endo” – inside; “dont” – tooth) is a necessary procedure in which diseased pulp tissue — and the nerve, which responds by causing the pain — is removed. This is followed by cleaning and sealing the root canals. This usually results from pulp inflammation and infection as a result of a severe decay or in a heavily filled tooth. Root canal treatment is typically performed by general dentists who have taken specialized training or by endodontists, dentists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of root canal problems. We perform them here in our practice to save a tooth, literally, from further damage and/or loss.
Here is a quick overview of the procedure. We will begin by making a small opening in the chewing surface of your tooth so that we can access the tooth's root canal. We use small instruments to remove the dead and dying tissues of the pulp. The root canals are cleaned and disinfected. The canals are then sealed with a biocompatible filling material. Lastly, we will seal the access hole with a filling material. You will then need to get a permanent restoration or crown to protect the tooth fully.
If you feel that you have the symptoms of a root canal problem and may need a root canal treatment, contact us to schedule an appointment. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and what to expect after root canal treatment, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”
The term “root canal” strikes fear into many dental patients. But rest assured that this procedure is the best solution to many severe dental problems. It can be pain-free and will actually relieve pain and suffering from infections and dental injuries.
Why would you need root canal treatment? This procedure becomes necessary when the pulp, the nerve tissue on the inside of a tooth's root, becomes inflamed or infected because of deep decay, or when it has suffered a severe injury as a result of an accident or blow to the mouth. The pulp is composed of living tissues including nerves and blood vessels.
Root canal treatment may be necessary if you have a wide variety of signs or symptoms. The pain can feel sharp or intense when biting down, or linger after eating hot or cold foods. Sometimes it can be a dull ache or there may be tenderness and swelling in your gums near the site of the infection.
After trauma, the pulp of a tooth can be exposed or damaged because a tooth has fractured or cracked, necessitating root canal treatment. And the procedure is often needed for permanent teeth that have been dislodged or knocked out.
What exactly is root canal treatment? Root canal treatment is also called endodontic treatment, from the Greek roots “endo” meaning “inside” and “odont” meaning “tooth.” During the procedure, the area is numbed to relieve pain. A small opening is created in the chewing surface of the tooth and very small instruments are used to remove dead and dying tissue from the inside. The pulp is needed during a tooth's growth and development, but a mature tooth can survive without it. The canal is disinfected and then sealed with filling materials. Sometimes root canal specialists use microscopes to work at an intricate level of detail on these tiny areas of the tooth's root.
By having root canal treatment, you prevent inflammation and infection from spreading from the root of a particular tooth to other nearby tissues. Infection can result in resorption, an eating away of the root and its anchoring bone, and you could lose your tooth or teeth. So please don't hesitate when we recommend this treatment. It's not as bad as you think, and you will feel significantly better afterwards.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment” and “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”