Jaw pain is commonly incorrectly referred to as TMJ; its proper name is temporomandibular disorders, TMD. The most common area of jaw pain is in the temporomandibular joint, which is a hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull. There is a disc that cushions the joint allowing you to open and close widely and move side to side. When something prevents this compound system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly it can lead to painful discomfort that affects everyday life. This discomfort can be temporary or last for years and affect one side or both sides of your face.
There is no specific cause of TMD, but there are many common symptoms that arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw, head and neck. The following are the most common causes we see in treating patients who suffer from TMD.
- Grinding or Clenching of teeth
- Unstable occlusion
- Arthritis in the joint
- Trauma from heavy blow or whiplash
Some of the symptoms that coincide with the above causes are:
- Pain or tenderness in face, jaw joint, or ears; when opening, closing, talking and chewing
- Clicking, popping and grinding sounds when you are opening and closing your mouth
- A tired feeling in your face and jaw joint
- You may also experience headaches, neck aches, and toothaches
Diagnosis is very important before jumping into any treatment. Sometimes a small modification in your daily routine can make a huge difference. These include; eating soft foods, avoid chewing gum or biting your nails, use moist heat or cold packs, take ibuprophen to relieve muscle pain and swelling, practicing relaxation techniques to help relax jaw tension. If symptoms still persist the next course of action would be to evaluate your dental occlusion “bite” and get you into a specific type of guard to help relax your muscles and ligaments. In some cases orthodontics may be suggested, dental work to correct your bite or physical therapy. It’s important with TMD that all possible treatments are tried before even thinking or considering surgery because once it’s done, it cannot be undone.
At Parker River Dental part of our comprehensive dental care is dedicated to evaluating your jaw joint and facial muscles for any tenderness, discomfort, clicking or popping. Dr. Davies is a graduate of The Dawson Academy, which specializes in training dentists in recognizing, evaluating, and treating temporomandibular disorders. I also had the wonderful opportunity to go to The Dawson Academy for training in evaluating TMD. If you have symptoms of TMD it’s important to discuss with your dentist to help prevent symptoms from getting worse and becoming a lifelong battle of pain or dental problems. www.findadawsondentist.com is a good reference for finding a dentist with this expertise in your area.
Do you need a dental crown? Patients need crowns for a variety of reasons; these reasons generally include a fractured tooth, restoring a tooth that has a large restoration or cavity, or protecting a tooth after a root canal has been done. Crowns are also placed on top of implants and used to fabricate bridges in areas of missing teeth. Crowns can also be used to improve the appearance of a tooth by changing the color and shape.
In the past when a patient needed a crown, it would be a two visit procedure with a three week span between the crown prep and the crown insert. Now, it can all be done in one day! New innovative dental imaging technology allows the crown to be designed, milled and inserted all during one visit. No more dealing with temporary crowns or messy dental impressions. In our office we have the Planmeca CAD/CAM which is driven by E4D technologies. The material our crowns are made out of is E.Max, very high strength porcelain, that is stronger than the traditional dental porcelain. Crown appointments are generally about 2.5 hours long; don’t worry you’re not being worked on the entire time! You’ll get breaks during the design and milling of the crown, so make sure you bring a book or activity you enjoy.
Dental crowns are a great long term option because they are durable and usually last 5-15 years, and have a very high success rate in comparison to other dental restorations or no treatment at all. If you need a crown, or have any question, be sure to check out our website for more information on how to be crowned in a day! www.parkerriverdental.net
When was the last time you changed your toothbrush, or brush head on your electric toothbrush? If you can’t remember, then your next job today is to change it! After you change it write on your calendar, or make an alert on your phone to change it in 3 months, or sooner if you wish. Toothbrushes are a breeding ground for germs, fungus, and bacteria that can build up to significant levels if not stored properly or changed often. Studies have shown that after three months of regular daily wear and tear, toothbrushes become less effective at removing plaque from teeth. This can lead to irritated gum tissues, calculus (tartar) build up and increase your risk for gum recession.
How should you care for your toothbrush? Most important do NOT share your toothbrush with anyone. After brushing thoroughly for 2 minutes, rinse out your brush to wash away lingering toothpaste and saliva, then shake the brush vigorously to remove the last little bit of liquid. It’s important to store your toothbrush vertically, away from other people’s brushes so you don’t cross contaminate. Toothbrushes should NOT be stored in a closed container unless fully dried; putting wet bristles into a closed container increases the risk of bacteria build up. When traveling, let your toothbrush dry before placing it in a plastic storage case. The case is great at preventing the bristles from becoming flattened or squashed which makes them less effective.
Have you been sick? Most of us have been this winter, and it’s important to know that your toothbrush can cause reinfection. Be sure to keep your toothbrush separate from others when you are sick, and change right after, please don’t run it through dishwasher to “sterilize it”.
Have kids? Children’s brushes should be changed more often, as they tend to brush more rigorously and chew on their brushes.
Want to sanitize your brush? There are a few different toothbrush sanitizers on the market which have not been proven to provide a specific health benefit, but if you choose to use one make sure it has been cleared by the FDA. Other people have suggested the following cleaning tips, none of which have clinical evidence to support them: soaking brush in antibacterial mouthrinse or isoproponol alcohol.
If your toothbrush is cared for properly and changed regularly then you do not need to worry about the everyday bacteria on your toothbrush. Try and keep things simple and change your brush every time you see your hygienist for a cleaning, then make a note 3 months following to change it again. Some toothbrushes even have color changing bristle to help you know when to change your brush.
This Saturday May 5th is a fun filled spring celebration that commemorates the day Mexican troop’s defeated Napoleon III army in 1862, in the battle of Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is not a holiday, but it is a celebration celebrated in Mexico and many areas in the United States, especially areas with large Mexican-American populations.
In Mexico, they celebrate with parades and entertainment areas known as “zocalos”. These are temporary locations where they celebrate and enjoy food, music and dancing. Many towns also have fairs with rides and games. A very important tradition is the recreation of the historic battle of Puebla that takes place in a small neighborhood in Mexico City. This tradition is performed by actors and has been kept alive for generations. The final part of the celebration is at the end of the day with people shouting “Viva Mexico”.
In the United States it is a celebration for Mexican-Americans to showcase their pride and heritage. The cities that have the largest Mexican-American populations are Los Angeles (which has the greatest celebration in US), San Jose, San Francisco, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver and El Paso in Southwest of USA. These celebrations include traditions of parades, mariachi music, folkloric dancing and similar festivities that smell of Mexican life and culture. In addition to the above traditions most U.S. businesses promote everything Mexican especially food and drinks.
Popular foods for Cinco de Mayo are Guacamole, Margarita’s, Salsa and Nacho’s! I love guacamole so here is a yummy Traditional Mexican recipe for you!
- 2 Hass Avocado’s
- 1 Cup Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- ¼ cup chopped onion (I usually use a red onion)
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 Jalapeno (seeded & Minced) – Optional
- Salt and Pepper
- Mash avocados in a bowl until creamy.
- Mix tomatoes, onion, cilantro, lemon juice, and jalapeno pepper into mashed avocado until well combined; season with salt and black pepper.
- Serve with chips or veggies of choice
This past Saturday, April 21st our team at Parker River Dental hosted our semiannual “Give Back to the Community Day”. This day focuses on providing preventative treatments to eligible residents of Newbury who are 65 and older. We offer free exams, x-rays, and prophylaxis treatments to these patients. I love that our office does this and we are able to help out so many wonderful people in our town. During the day we enjoy 50’s & 60’s music, which I love singing along with! We also offer all our patients a fun filled goodie bag and sweet treats before they leave. We have reached out to other dentists in the surrounding communities to encourage them to do the same. Our hope is that the efforts will catch on, and a movement to help out more of the elderly in need in our local communities will ensue.
Check out some photos from the day below!
Flossing! Everyone’s favorite thing to do, NOT! Flossing is the biggest thing my patients struggle with as part of their homecare routine, but yet is an essential part of preventing tooth loss and gum disease. U.S News and World Report published a statistic that only about 1/3 of the U.S population flosses daily (1). Flossing is done by moving the floss in a deep “c” motion around the margin of the tooth above and below the gum line between your teeth. So what is the difference and concern about using floss picks vs. string floss?
Traditional String Floss can be waxed, unwaxed, tape, glide or satin. Typically you use one long piece (about the length of your forearm). Wind the floss around your right index finger, and two or three times around your left, then use your middle fingers and thumbs to control the deep “c” motion around both sides of each tooth. As you go around your mouth you want to make sure you change the section of floss between each tooth or every other tooth so you don’t drag bacteria around your mouth. String floss is a great way to have awareness of what’s going on in your mouth. If you notice an odor or abnormal color that’s a sign you may have an active infection. If you pull out a lot of plaque/ food or notice bleeding, those are also signs of a possible dental concern. Traditional floss can be difficult to control, but is proven to be the most effective with proper technique.
Floss picks are typically Y or F shaped plastic handles with a small piece of floss attached to either side of the opening. Floss picks are great for children and people who really struggle with traditional floss due to large hands, gag reflex, or limited use of their hands. Flossers have become popular to use because they are easy and portable. Some people who have tighter teeth may struggle with getting floss picks in between their teeth properly; in this situation traditional floss is recommended. Gum tissue likes to be massaged, but not tortured by the flosser snapping through the contact of the two teeth into the gingival pocket. Although, floss picks have become popular and have allowed more people to become better flossers, there are some health and environmental concerns with using them. Most people use a single floss pick for the entire mouth, this creates an increased risk of an unhealthy oral environment because you can spread bacteria from one section of your mouth to another. The plastic handles limit the movement of the floss, which makes them less effective in removing plaque and bacteria. The plastic handles are also a “single use plastic” which people throw on the ground rather than in the trash causing an environmental concern. If you choose to use floss picks, it’s important to know they are not always as effective as traditional floss, but they are a great option over not flossing at all.
No matter what form of floss you use, the most important thing is that you are doing it, and doing it properly. Flossing is an essential tool in preventing tooth loss, tooth decay, maintaining good oral health and decreasing risk of many overall health issues. If you struggle with flossing, discuss with your hygienist the best way to approach flossing and what tools may best suit you.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in the United States (1). Papillomas are not cancers, they present most commonly as warts, but infections with certain types of HPV can cause some forms of cancer (2). There are approximately 40 types that can be spread through direct sexual contact to genital areas, as well as the mouth and throat. Oral HVP is transmitted most commonly to the mouth by oral sex. This virus can infect the mouth and throat and cause cancers of the oropharynx, commonly known as Oropharyngeal Cancer. The oropharynx is referring to the back of the throat, including the base of the tonsils and tongue. According to the CDC; “HPV is thought to cause 70% of Oropharyngeal Cancers in the United States” (1). Although, most people who have HPV infections of the mouth and throat have no symptoms, the following list is what symptoms would include.
Symptoms include: * let your dentist know if you experience any of these for longer than 2 weeks
- Long- lasting sore throat or irritation that does not go away
- Lumps, thickening tissues, rough spots or crusty areas
- Red or White patches, or pain, tenderness or numbness in mouth or lips
- Hoarseness or Swollen lymphnodes
- Difficulty chewing, pain when swallowing, speaking or moving jaw
- Unexplained weight loss or Earaches
The number of Oropharyngeal Cancers that are linked to HPV has increased over the last few decades, and it’s becoming more common in younger people with no history of alcohol abuse of tobacco use. They feel this is due to the increase in the sexual practices over the last few decades, especially with the increase in oral sex. These cancers usually take many years to develop which is why they were prevalent in patients 55 years and older but is now changing as HPV cancers are becoming more common.
According to the CDC it is still unclear if having HPV alone is enough to cause Oropharyngeal Cancer or if additional risk factors such as smoking or chewing tobacco can cause these cancers. A risk factor is anything that changes one’s chance of getting a disease such as cancer. Tobacco and alcohol use are 2 of the strongest risk factors for oral cavity and oropharyngeal cancers according to the American Cancer Society.
The number one way to protect yourself from Oropharyngeal Cancer is the HPV vaccine. The CDC recommends that 11-12 year old boys and girls get two doses of HPV vaccine. It is also recommended that girls and women through age 26 and boys and men through age 21, who did not get vaccinated when they were younger, get vaccinated. The number of doses may differ depending on how old the patient is when they receive there 1st vaccine. Additional ways to protect yourself is to use condoms, and dental dams, as well as limit your alcohol consumption, and don’t use tobacco products. Talk to your primary care about this vaccine, and talk to your dentist if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.