Mark J. Gordon, DDS

4 Surprising Symptoms of TMJ Disorders

4-Surprising-Signs-of-TMJ-DisordersCommon symptoms of Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder such as jaw pain, clicking or popping of the jaw and clenching are well known, but did you know that you can experience symptoms of TMJ disorders throughout your whole body? TMJ disorders can be difficult to diagnose when your symptoms are not restricted to the jaw area, so to make diagnosis easier we’ve listed some symptoms you might be surprised to find out are related to TMJ disorders!

  • Earache: Because the jaw muscles run from ear to ear, TMJ related jaw pain can also trigger ear pain, which is often mistaken for an ear infection. The pain actually doesn’t come from the ear at all, but originates directly beneath or in front of the ear.
  • Neck pain: The temporomandibular joint plays a major role in keeping the head balanced on top of the spinal chord. The head weighs roughly 8 pounds, but bad posture due to joint misalignment causes this weight to be distributed unevenly, putting added stress on the neck and spine and causing the head to have a 30-pound pull on your muscles. No wonder neck and back pain are symptoms of TMJ disorders!
  • Pinched nerves: When TMJ alignment is skewed, your muscles overwork themselves to compensate for the imbalance. The back is prone to TMJ related pain, as it becomes strained in order to maintain the body’s balance. This tension can lead to numbness in your extremities, so if you’re experiencing any tingling sensations in your arms, legs, fingers or toes, it could be a sign of a TMJ disorder.
  • Obstructed airways: The tongue is attached to the lower jaw, so the position of the tongue in the mouth depends on your jaw alignment. Misalignment of the lower jaw could cause your tongue to sit too far back in the mouth and obstruct your airways. If your breathing feels abnormal, especially while sleeping, a TMJ disorder could be the culprit.

We hope that reading about these lesser-known symptoms will answer some of your questions about TMJ disorders. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, schedule a consultation with us to learn about your treatment options!

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After the Root Canal

After the Root CanalIf you have a root canal scheduled with our office, congratulations!  You have taken an important first step toward saving your tooth and, thus, your smile and your oral health down the road!  You may be wondering what to expect in terms of pain and what to do to relieve it after your procedure.  Luckily, we have saved our best tips for you!  Read on for information on home-care after a root canal.

How much pain will I have?

You will be happy to hear that after root canal treatment, most people report little or no pain.  Advancements in endodontic instruments and techniques over the years have made this procedure similar to having a filling done.  While it is considered normal to have soreness for a few days following the procedure, make sure you call us if you have extreme pain or pain that lasts more than a week.

Here are our recommended pain management tips following root canal treatment:

Over the Counter Pain Medicine

For the majority of patients, an over the counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) is all that is needed to curb soreness and pain after a root canal.  

Prescription Pain Medicine

If we feel that you may need it, we will send you home with a prescription for a stronger pain medication than can be purchased over the counter.  Be sure to follow the instructions carefully on the package.

Ice and Heat

For additional comfort at home, you may apply a cool or warm compress to the cheek in the area that the procedure was performed.

Salt Water Rinse

A teaspoon of salt in room temperature water can sometimes help with pain in the days following your procedure.  Rinse and spit for reduced swelling and discomfort.

Be Pro-Active with Pain Medication

Have OTC pain medications ready to go at home.  Take them before the numbing solution wears off completely so that you are not caught off-guard with pain.  If we give you a prescription for pain medicine, fill it before going home, even if you think you won’t use it.  Stay on top of timing and dosage until you feel that the soreness is gone.

And, as always, feel free to call us anytime with your questions.  We are always happy to help!

Dental Implants: What’s all the Hype?

Dental Implants What's all the Hype

These days, we all know someone who has a dental implant, and you have probably heard us champion these teeth substitutes, as they become more and more the common cure for missing teeth!

But why?

We think that’s a valid question and it deserves a good answer!

Bone Loss

Any oral health professional will tell you that living with a missing tooth can have negative consequences that go well below the gum line. The problem doesn’t stop at the single tooth that goes missing. The jawbone also suffers. When there is not a tooth set in the jawbone offering regular stimulation, you lose bone mass in that area. That loss of jawbone contributes to a decline in facial aesthetics as the jaw shrinks away. The loss of jawbone also means that when you do have an implant later in life, you will likely require extensive bone grafting prior to the implant procedure. Traditional tooth “replacement” methods such as dentures and bridges do not solve the problem of bone loss.

In contrast, dental implants eliminate these problems and encourage a healthy, strong and adequate jaw by integrating with it (also known as: osseointegration). The implant then provides regular stimulation (as you chew food), and keeps the jawbone in proper health.

Lifestyle and Diet

Most people with dentures report that in addition to living in fear of their dentures falling out in social settings, they also must live with a restricted diet, unable to enjoy the foods that they previously ate. This same restricted diet goes for those with wobbly bridges and crowns as well. More often than not, those restricted foods are some of the healthiest ones, such as crunchy, fibrous fruits and vegetables.

Dental implants look and feel nearly identical to your regular teeth, and are second only to your natural teeth when it comes to form and function. Dental implants allow you to eat and live freely with a healthy diet and without fear. In addition to that, dental implants have a 98% success rate and can often last you for a lifetime!

Vaping: Is It Harmless?

VapingYou may have noticed a shift in the smoking world over the past few years. Smokers have been seemingly taking a step in the right direction. Smokers are transitioning away from the traditional cigarette to the e-cigarette, this act is also known as: vaping. Transitioning to an e-cigarette from a chemical-filled cigarette that decades of research have proven is deadly seems like a good thing, right? Think again. There are many people venturing into the world of e-cigarettes blindly. While e-cigarette advertisements and companies are currently unregulated, we wanted to uncover a few potential dangers of this popular fad.

The e-cigarette anatomy consists of a battery, a heating element and a cartridge that holds the nicotine, liquid and flavoring. If anyone has tried to convince you that e-cigarettes are not addictive, they’re wrong. Nicotine is highly addictive, and while many teens and young adults believe that vaping is harmless, nicotine is known to negatively affect brain development in this age group. The act of holding an e-cigarette and the presence of nicotine has indicated that it could be a very strong gateway to smoking real cigarettes for these young adults. That correlation has big tobacco firms excited for the future. Tobacco companies have been severely restricted in their advertising campaigns. In the recent past, they were forced to rely on the ‘cool-factor’ of smoking, something they hoped that celebrities and young adult’s peers would embody. E-cigarettes present a gateway to becoming addicted to the real thing. This is just what tobacco companies had been hoping for! Speaking of advertising, while tobacco companies are highly restricted in their advertising campaigns, no one is regulating e-cigarette companies. In fact, these companies can make any claims they wish. With regard to the manufacturing aspect of the e-cigarettes and their cartridges, there is also no regulating body that creates standards for the products.

We have talked about the anatomy of the actual e-cigarette, but what makes up the vapor that is exhaled by the smoker? The cloud that you see consists of aerosol, nicotine, propylene glycol, flavoring and fine particles. The hotter the body of the e-cigarette gets, the more harmful the chemicals contained in them becomes. This means that the deadly carcinogens present in a traditional cigarette are also present in their electronic counterpart.

Research is currently underway to determine the long-term effects of vaping. While current research indicates that an e-cigarette is safer than smoking an actual cigarette, research also proves that e-cigarettes are far from harmless. If you are looking to improve your mouth and lung health, experts agree that quitting smoking devices altogether is still the only 100% risk-free option available.

Root Canals: Your Toughest Questions Answered

Root Canals Your Toughest Questions AnsweredFor most people, the mere mention of a root canal sets off alarm bells in the body. These bells come in the form of nervous thoughts and sensations – that fight-or-flight response we’ve all heard about. While this is a totally normal response, most fear of root canals is based on mis-information. We feel that by giving you the right information, we can help you understand the process better and calm your fears about this routine procedure.

This is not just your average list of root canal FAQs. Here, we aim to tackle the toughest questions that you can throw our way.

I’ve heard that root canals aren’t as painful as they used to be. How can that be true?

  • Better Instruments: Endodontic instruments have improved greatly over the years. They are more precise than ever, allowing us to target only necessary areas and avoid excess irritation.
  • Better Anesthetics: The anesthetics we use today are more effective and less likely to cause negative reactions than in the past. In addition, we can use an anesthetic that has adrenaline or epinephrine added to it to make it last longer. The longer it lasts, the less pain you will feel.
  • Better Imaging: Modern imaging allows for a more precise treatment and lessens the need to cause irritation in non-infected areas.
  • Better Understanding: Today, we have a better understanding of both your body and the microorganisms that cause infected roots. This results in less invasive treatments and better overall care for you.

What can I do to calm my nerves?

  • Know the Facts:
    • Over 15 million root canals are performed each year.
    • Root canals save your natural teeth and save money down the road.
    • Root canals are safe.
    • Root canals relieve pain caused by infection – they don’t cause pain!
  • Ask Questions: Sometimes patients are unsure about a specific part of the procedure and remain silent. We want you to ask questions! Usually we are able to set your mind at ease if you simply ask us.
  • Plug In: Many patients bring music and earphones to the appointment to help pass the time in the chair. Ask us if this is an option for you before your appointment.

Why not just remove the tooth?

When a tooth hurts, often a person’s first reaction is to get rid of the tooth. However, we know that missing teeth cause bigger health problems and expenses down the road. The first choice in dental care is ALWAYS to save the tooth when possible. Root canal treatment saves teeth. In fact, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment can last just as long as the healthy teeth in your mouth!

What Color are Your Teeth?

What color are your teeth? Of course, there is no “right” answer. Teeth come in endless shades and ranges. When we talk about tooth color in our office, we try to break it down into no fewer than 40 shades (light to dark) and ranges (color). For example, you could have a very light shade of tooth in the reddish brown range, or a dark shade of tooth in the gray range. Everyone’s teeth are unique and the possibilities are endless.

You may be wondering, what makes a tooth the color it is now or will be in the future? We all know about coffee and tobacco as being major culprits of stained teeth, but what else goes into the making of a tooth color?

What-Color-are-your-TeethThings We Can’t Control:

  • Genetics – Did you know that you could inherit your tooth color? You can also inherit your tooth’s propensity for staining.
  • Aging – We now know that teeth simply turn yellow, as we age.
  • Medicine Use – some medicines, such as certain antibiotics, can cause your tooth color to change.
  • Injury – Traumatic tooth injuries can cause intrinsic discoloration of the inner part of the tooth, the “dentin”, which is difficult to remedy. Have you ever seen a tooth that looks “dead”? That gray tone has most likely been brought on by a traumatic tooth injury.

Things We Can Control:

  • Food and Drinks – Certain foods and drinks, such as berries, sauces, coffee, dark soda, black tea and red wine, cause staining over time. Limit these foods and practice good oral hygiene habits!
  • Over-fluoridation – Too much fluoride in children, while teeth are still developing, can cause tooth discoloration. Be sure to follow guidelines for safe fluoride use. Don’t abandon the use of fluoride altogether though. Fluoride offers numerous benefits such as: preventing tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to acid attacks and reversing early tooth decay. But, we’ve all heard that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing!
  • Tobacco Use – It is well known that cigarettes and other tobacco products turn teeth yellow and eventually brown. Don’t smoke or chew.

What can you do about stained teeth? We’re glad you asked! We offer professional teeth whitening options for the best and safest results. No matter what tooth shade you’ve inherited (or created), we can help make it whiter. Give us a call today to find out more!

 

 

Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

Did you know that gingivitis is a non-destructive disease?

GingivitisvsPerioMost are surprised to find out that gingivitis is actually the inflammation of your gums that if untreated will lead to periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease with gum attachment and bone loss.

Early on in the stages of gingivitis, plaque starts to build up that causes gums to become inflamed but at this stage no irreversible harm has been done. So what’s the story and how do you know if you have periodontitis?

When your teeth start to become affected after untreated gingivitis, that’s when you need to start worrying. Not brushing and flossing will cause gingivitis to progress to periodontitis. When the inner layer of gum and bone pull away from each other and form pockets, food and sugars get stuck and cause further infections that can lead to tooth loss. Preventing the disease is as simple as brushing and flossing! Plaque build up is the #1 cause of gum disease and tooth loss.

The gums anchor teeth in and when periodontitis occurs, your gums have eroded to the point teeth actually become loose. This is a dangerous stage but there’s still hope! We are able to measure the amount of exposed tooth in patients with periodontitis and are trained to clean deep pockets that have formed, allowing gums to heal.

Remember: it all starts with plaque! Brushing and flossing keep gingivitis from occurring and reduce the chance of tooth loss in the long run. It’s easy to let gingivitis get out of control! Make sure to visit us regularly to ensure you’re not in the early stages of periodontitis.

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Veneers: Be the Architect of Your Own Smile

Partnering with your dentist and choosing the shade and other aesthetics of your new smile!

Have you ever wanted to be the architect of your own smile?   Do you look in the mirror and pinpoint exactly what you’d change about your teeth, if you could? Veneers are your opportunity to do, just that!??????? ? ??????

There are certain qualities a veneer candidate’s mouth must possess. These qualities are as follows:

  • Good overall health
  • Absent signs of tooth decay and/or gum disease
  • Not a habitual teeth grinder
  • Properly aligned bite, teeth are more or less in normal positions
  • Sufficient tooth enamel in order to support the veneer

After you have become an approved veneer candidate, we will become partners in designing your ideal smile! Veneer qualities can be described as: durable, hard, strong, translucent and glassy. Most people may not know this but veneers actually are fairly translucent and act like a contact lens would on your eye. The translucency allows for the natural tooth color to come through, yet the lab technician can modify your approved color given your set of veneers a pleasing natural appearance.

There are three aspects to the shade selection process.

  • Color/Hue – the natural tones of teeth are: red, blue and yellow
  • Chroma – the intensity of the hue
  • Value – the darkness or lightness of the hue

You will still be able to eat hard food (such as an apple) and maintenance of your new veneers will not differ from your current tooth care routine. Brush and floss as normal, simply avoiding abrasive toothpastes. A good home care regimen will insure your veneers lifespan.

If you’re thinking about veneers you should call us so we can help you decide if this cosmetic service is right for you! It’s never too late to get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

No Root Canal? What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

 

But, the fact of the matter is that: root canal treatments save natural teeth. And saving your natural teeth is the most important thing we do as oral health professionals.

Still not convinced? Here are some more compelling reasons to follow through with that root canal treatment:

  • An infected root won’t get better on its own. The pain may go away after some time, but that is not because the infection is gone, it is because the nerves are no longer working properly due to that infection.
  • Abscesses and Systemic Infections: Left untreated, an infected tooth can spread to the gums, causing a serious abscess in the jaw that requires emergency treatment. In rare cases, that could spread even further, creating a systemic (whole body) infection, which has the potential to be life threatening.
  • The role that natural teeth play in the overall health of your body during its lifetime is something that we are learning more about every day. This impoNo Root Canalrtant role cannot be overstated. A lost, permanent tooth may not seem like a big deal to you now, but it creates a domino effect of health problems down the road. For example, a missing tooth causes nearby teeth to shift, exposing them to more decay and more tooth loss down the road. This can affect your ability to maintain a healthy diet and, in turn, affect the quality and even the span of your life.
  • Money: Even if aesthetics don’t matter to you, a lost tooth will probably cost you more money in the long run than a root canal will, now. When a tooth is missing, the jaw underneath that site atrophies. This makes it more expensive to perform restorative procedures such as dental implants in the future, as they will require more extensive prep-work such as bone grafting.

The bottom line is that your natural teeth are best. Endodontic therapy is typically the best way to save a natural tooth. It is also the most commonly used procedure, that we as oral health professionals have to help you keep your natural teeth for life.

 

Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter

Nobody likes coming to the dentist to have a cavity filled! Many of our patients ask us how stop a cavity before it happens. Many people have heard of fluoride but wonder how it works and if it is safe. We wrote this blog to answer your questions about fluoride and to help you understand its benefits and how to use it effectively.

Fluoride occurs naturally in certain foods. You might be surprised to learn that it can be found in black teas and raisins, and in our water sources, such as lakes and rivers. And, because it provides such good protection from tooth decay, it has been added to dental products to help prevent cavities.

Fluoride Natures Cavity FighterFluoride works for both children and adults. It’s true! Before teeth even erupt through the gums, fluoride taken in from certain foods and supplements makes tooth enamel stronger and therefore more resistant to decay. After teeth erupt, brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel, reversing early signs of cavity formation. In addition, the fluoride you consume becomes a part of your saliva, constantly bathing your teeth with tiny amounts of the cavity fighter. While it is critical for infants and children to be exposed to fluoride when primary and permanent teeth are forming, new research indicates that topical fluoride is just as important in fighting tooth decay for adults!

Use the correct amount of toothpaste to benefit your teeth. While all toothpaste removes plaque (a thin film of bacteria that can cause gum disease and tooth decay), only toothpaste with fluoride can prevent tooth decay by making teeth stronger. Make sure you’re using the correct amount of toothpaste with your children!

  • For very little ones, under 3 years of age, parents and caregivers should begin gently brushing teeth as soon as they come into the mouth with an amount of fluoridated toothpaste the size of a few grains of rice.
  • For children ages 3 to 6, a pea-size amount of toothpaste is best. Everyone should brush their teeth twice a day and make sure to supervise children to help instill good habits.

Some mouth rinses also contain fluoride. You may already be protecting your teeth with fluoride without even knowing it! However, mouth rinses should not be used with children under the age of 6, as they may not be able it use it appropriately.

 

You may have fluoride in your water. Your community may have chosen water fluoridation (simply adding fluoride to drinking water) as a public health benefit. Water fluoridation is safe, effective, and healthy. The Center for Disease Control has noted water fluoridation as one of the ten best public health achievements of the 20th century.

For your best dental hygiene routine, ask us during your next visit about the right fluoride products for you and your family. Your oral health is our priority so we want to answer any questions that you have. Armed with the right information, your family can have healthy teeth for life. Contact our office to schedule your next visit! We can’t wait to see you soon!