Posts for: June, 2015
According to many people, mouth and jaw pain are some of the worst one can experience. Not only does pain in the oral cavity keep you from eating the foods you want, it can also make something as simple as speaking frustrating. Having pain or clicking when opening or closing your mouth could just mean a sore jaw. However, when this pain is persistent and ongoing, it could be a more severe condition called TMJ.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, or Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, is a condition that causes pain in the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. It is also sometimes referred to as 'TMD.' TMJ has many causes, though sometimes the origin is unknown.
TMJ is characterized by the following:
- aching pain and discomfort surrounding the jaw and/or ear
- difficulty chewing
- difficulty opening or closing the mouth completely
- aching pain around the face and ear regions
- locking of the jaw joint
- clicking or a sensation of bones grating together while opening and closing the mouth or chewing
If one or more of these symptoms persists long-term, you should see your dentist.
TMJ may also cause headaches and migraines, which are often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. Triggers can include clenching or grinding of the teeth or existing dental complications.
Where does TMJ come from?
TMJ dysfunction can originate from physical damage to the jaw joint itself, deterioration of the disk inside of the joint, the joint moving out of place, or damage caused by arthritis, among other causes.
How is TMJ treated?
Luckily, TMJ dysfunction is a manageable condition. For mild cases, at home treatment is often effective. Over the counter drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve pain and swelling. Eating soft foods and using hot or cold compresses on the sore jaw muscles also helps in alleviating pain. Many sufferers also find that reducing stress helps with lowering instances of habitual jaw clenching.
Sometimes, TMJ dysfunction can become severe. Dental work may be needed to even out the surface of the teeth so the jaw rests more naturally and biting and chewing become easier. Often, a splint or night guard helps to relieve jaw tension and helps to keep sufferers from grinding the teeth during their sleep.
Heat therapy, radio-wave therapy and even laser therapy are sometimes needed in more severe cases. If these therapies do not prove to be effective, the last resort is usually a surgical procedure. These procedures can vary from a dentist inserting needles into the jaw to flush out the joint, too, in the most serious cases, full open-joint surgery.
Any of these treatments for TMJ pain could be beneficial to you. Dr. Sean W Cullinan of Glenview Family Dental and his team in Glenview, IL are devoted to supplying professional, personalized care to patients in need. Contact our office to make an appointment today!
Professional basketball player Lamar Odom is sometimes known as “the candyman” because of his notorious fondness for sweets. But when his sweet tooth finally caught up with him — in the form of a mouthful of decayed teeth — the six-foot-ten-inch, 230-pound hoops star admitted that he had been avoiding treatment… because he was afraid of going to the dentist!
It took two Kardashians (Khloe and Kim) and a painful toothache to finally persuade Odom to sit in the chair. Once he did, it was found that he needed a root canal, a wisdom tooth extraction, and several fillings. Yet the fretful forward sailed through the whole set of procedures in a single visit, and walked out with a big smile afterward. How did his dentists make that happen?
Put it down to the “magic” of sedation dentistry. With anxiety-relieving medications that can be delivered orally (in pill form or by gas) or intravenously (into the bloodstream), the techniques of sedation dentistry can help even the most fearful patients get the dental care they need. That’s good news for about 50 percent of the population, who admit they’re at least somewhat afraid of the dentist — and even better for the 15 percent who avoid dental care completely due to their fear.
Dentists have a number of ways to ease apprehensive patients through a dental visit. An oral anti-anxiety drug can be given in pill form about an hour beforehand. Nitrous oxide (sometimes called “laughing gas”), which is administered by a mask placed over the mouth or nose, may also be used to relieve anxiety. The calming effects of these medications help make any nervousness melt away — and in many circumstances, mild sedation is all that’s needed to ease the fear.
For lengthier or more complex procedures, intravenous (IV) sedation may be recommended. Unlike deeper (unconscious) sedation, IV sedation doesn’t cause “sleep.” Instead, it puts you in a comfortable semi-awake state, where you can still breathe on your own and respond to stimuli… but without feeling any anxiety. And when the procedure is over, you probably won’t have any memory of it at all.
IV sedation can be administered by dentists who are specially trained and equipped with the proper safety equipment. While sedation is being provided, you will be monitored at all times by a dedicated staff member; when it’s over, you will rest for a while as the medication quickly wears off. Then (as is the case with oral sedation), you’ll need another person to give you a ride home.
Does sedation dentistry really work? Lamar Odom thinks so. “I feel so much better,” he said when his 7-hour procedure was over. “I feel like I accomplished something.”
Over the last century dentistry has acquired the knowledge, techniques and treatments to prevent or minimize tooth decay. With this enhanced knowledge we’ve amassed a wealth of data about what increases dental disease development and what prevents it.
This has produced a balanced approach to identifying and treating disease-causing factors and incorporating factors that inhibit tooth decay. Known as Caries Management By Risk Assessment (CAMBRA), this approach first identifies each patient’s individual set of risk factors for dental disease and then develops a customized prevention and treatment plan to minimize their risk.
Rather than simply reacting to occurrences of tooth decay — “drill and fill” — CAMBRA anticipates and targets your susceptibility to decay. The primary factors can be represented by the acronym BAD: Bad bacteria, particular strains that produce acid, which at high levels erode enamel and expose the teeth to infection; Absence of saliva, or “dry mouth,” an insufficient flow of saliva that can’t effectively neutralize acid and restore mineral content to enamel; and Dietary habits too heavy in sugar or acid, which can result in bacterial growth and enamel erosion.
With an accurate picture of your particular risk level we can then apply countering factors from the other side of the balance — those that protect teeth from decay. In this case, we use the acronym SAFE: stimulating Saliva flow when needed or applying Sealants on chewing surfaces most susceptible to decay; Antimicrobials that reduce unhealthy bacteria levels and give healthy bacteria an opportunity to thrive; incorporating Fluoride, a chemical known to strengthen enamel, through hygiene products or direct application to the teeth; and an Effective diet, low in sugar and acid and high in fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
There are a number of preventive and treatment measures that fall into each of the four preventive factors. Using the CAMBRA approach we can develop a treatment and prevention plan that incorporates measures that uniquely fit your dental health situation. With such a plan we can greatly reduce your risk of disease development and impact and better ensure a long and healthy life for your teeth and gums.
If you would like more information on managing dental disease prevention, 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 “Tooth Decay: How to Assess Your Risk.”