The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is made up of the bones, muscles, and connective tissues that surround the jaw and control chewing. When patients experience disorders of this joint, they are said to have a temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD. Symptoms of TMD include pain and tenderness near the jaw, as well as popping or clicking in the joint when speaking or chewing. There are many ways of treating TMJ disorders, ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints, to more invasive methods such as injections or surgery. Left untreated TMJ disorders can lead to headaches, muscle pain, malocclusion, and tooth damage from grinding or clenching.

Did you know…

that TMD alone is not a disorder, but instead a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint? It is the second most common pain-causing musculoskeletal condition in the U.S. According to the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 percent of Americans may suffer from some type of TMD, with women twice as likely to be affected as compared to men. Despite the prevalence and wide availability of treatment, one out every three people with TMD fails to seek treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if TMJ treatment is right for me?

You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. Your dentist will evaluate the extent of the condition and determine what course of treatment is best for you. Usually, the initial approach involves conservative treatments, such as self-care, physical therapy, and bite guards. Medications may also be used to relax the jaw or relieve pain. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatments may be considered for surgery or joint injections.

What should I expect if I undergo treatment for TMJ

TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, so your experience may be very different than someone else’s. You’ll probably be asked to adopt certain lifestyle changes to help facilitate rehabilitation in your jaw. For example, you may be asked to avoid sudden jaw movements, such as yelling or yawning. You may also need to begin sleeping on your back and take steps to reduce your stress levels.

Will I need to follow any special post-care instructions while being treated for TMJ?

Your post-treatment care instructions will vary according to the type of treatment you receive. If you undergo an aggressive treatment, such as surgery, you may be temporarily subject to an all-liquid diet. You’ll also need to apply ice to your face to minimize swelling and keep the surgical site clean and dry.

The use of sedation in dentistry has revolutionized the way patients view dental visits. Patients who once were afraid or anxious about even the most routine dental procedures now visit the dentist with confidence. Sedation is typically administered to healthy individuals who need help relaxing or managing treatment anxiety. Reasons for needing sedation may include lengthy procedure times, dental phobias, or fear caused by negative experiences in the past.

Did you know…

that here are three different types of sedation dentistry? You can opt for sedation administered in one of the following ways:

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I choose sedation dentistry?

Only you and your dentist can determine if sedation is right for you. Because sedation covers a spectrum of treatments, you will need to consult with your dentist to discuss whether light, moderate or deep sedation best meets your needs. Your eligibility for sedation will depend on your age, health, and any other medications you may be taking.

What should I expect if I am sedated for my dental procedure?

That depends on the type of sedation you undergo. Oral sedation is relatively simple and involves taking a prescribed medication about an hour prior to your procedure. You’ll feel more relaxed, yet completely aware of your surroundings during treatment. If you choose nitrous oxide, you’ll be instructed to inhale the gas at the beginning of your appointment. Additional nitrous can be administered throughout your procedure to keep you in a state of euphoria. At the conclusion of your treatment, you’ll be given oxygen to help ‘snap’ you out of your sedated state.

Are there any precautions I need to take after being sedated?

Depending on the type of sedation you undergo, a licensed driver may need to drive you home from your dental appointment.

Anesthesia in Dentistry

Anesthesia is a means of pain and anxiety management used in a broad range of health procedures, including dentistry. Dental anesthesia encompasses a spectrum of treatments, each of which offers different benefits to the patient. There are several types of anesthesia, including:

Anesthesia

Did you know…

that Lidocaine – the primary local anesthetic used in U.S. dentistry – has been used for dental pain management since the 1950’s? But the history of general anesthesia can be traced all the way back to the 1840’s, when the first person was “put to sleep” for a health procedure. It was Dr. William T. G. Morton – a dentist – who first attempted to use a general anesthetic to extract a tooth from a patient who was in a great deal of pain. The procedure was highly successful and began a revolution in medical and dental anesthesia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of anesthesia will I need for my dental procedure?

Dentists usually assess the type of anesthesia necessary based on the nature of the procedure and anxiety level of the patient. If you are visiting the dentist for a routine filling or a crown, you’ll probably only require a local anesthetic. If you experience moderate to severe anxiety prior to and during your dental appointment, you may be prescribed a sedative to take in combination with a local anesthetic. If, however, your procedure is more invasive, such as an impacted wisdom tooth extraction, you may be placed under general anesthesia.

What should I expect under anesthesia?

A local anesthetic will cause your mouth, teeth, and gums to become numb for several hours. You may feel heat, cold or pressure, but you will not feel pain. A sedative, such as nitrous oxide, will cause you to feel groggy, relaxed or even euphoric, but these feelings wear off almost immediately at the end of your procedure when the dentist administers oxygen. If you are under general anesthesia, you will have no memory of your procedure and will not be conscious for any of it.

Are there any special instructions I need to follow before or after being anesthetized?

If you will be put under general anesthesia, you will need to avoid eating and drinking the night before and the morning of your procedure. You may also need to submit to some screenings to ensure you are healthy enough for general anesthesia. After you awake, you will not be allowed to drive yourself home, so be sure to bring a responsible driver with you to your appointment.

 

Porcelain fused to metal, or PFM restorations have been a standard in restorative dentistry for more than three decades. During that time, dentists around the world have adopted PFM crowns and bridges due to the versatility for use, as well as their ability to be matched to surrounding teeth. PFM crowns provide an excellent balance between resilience and esthetics. The underlying metal portion of the restorations provides long-lasting durability while the porcelain outer layer delivers a natural-looking appearance.

Did you know…

Dental crowns may be necessary for a number of reasons. They include:

  • To restore the remaining tooth structure following a root canal
  • To protect a tooth that is broken or damaged.
  • To restore a decayed tooth with too much damage to support a new filling
  • To anchor a dental bridge
  • To disguise tooth discoloration that has not responded to whitening treatments

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for PFM restorations?

You may be a candidate for PFM restorations if you are looking for a strong, but aesthetically appealing crown or bridge. PFM is especially beneficial to patients who suffer with bruxism that could lead to the deterioration of all-ceramic restorations. To find out more about porcelain-fused-to-metal restorations, contact your dentist to schedule a consultation.

What should I expect when being fitted for a PFM restoration?

You’re tooth will be prepared for your new [city] PFM restoration as your dentist gently removes the outer layer for bonding. An impression of your teeth will be made and sent to a dental lab for fabrication of a PFM restoration in a shade that matches your natural teeth. Finally, the restoration will be sent back for placement and permanent bonding.

Will I need to follow any special post-treatment care guidelines after being fit for a PFM restoration?

It is normal to experience some sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures after having a PFM restoration placed. However, this should subside, as should any soreness caused by tooth preparation. Be sure to follow the instructions provided to you by your dentist, and continue brushing and flossing on a daily basis to keep your PFM restoration clean and well cared for. Tell your dentist if your PFM crown or bridge causes you any pain of any kind or if it comes loose.

Dental implants are surgical-grade root devices that support permanent tooth prosthetics that are manufactured to last a lifetime. These artificial roots are anchored in the bone beneath the gums where they become fused into the jaw. A crown is mounted atop the implant for a long-lasting and natural looking smile. Many dentists and patients prefer dental implants because they offer the same function as natural teeth and also help prevent bone atrophy in the jaw. Dental implants may be used to replace a single missing or damaged tooth or to restore an entire smile.

Did you know…

that approximately 30 million people live with no natural teeth in one or both jaws? But more and more dental patients are opting for dental implants as a means of tooth replacement. The American Academy of Implant Dentistry reports that 3 million people currently have dental implants – a number that is rapidly growing by about 500,000 per year. Modern titanium implants were first developed in the 1950’s, but archeologists have determined that ancient Egyptians and Mayans were the first cultures to implant artificial teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are dental implants right for me?

You may qualify for dental implants if you have missing, broken or severely decayed teeth and are in relatively good overall health. The only way of determining your eligibility for implants is to consult with an oral care provider to identify whether you have adequate bone support and healthy gums that will support the new tooth structure.

What should I expect if my dentist and I decide dental implants are right for me?

The placement of dental implants is a multi-step process that typically takes between 6 and 9 months to complete. It begins with a surgical procedure during which a titanium rod is placed where a previous natural tooth root once was. The gums are sutured shut over the implant, where is will stay for several months while it heals and begins fusing with the surrounding bone. Due to the nature of implant placement and its average procedure time of between 1 and 2 hours, you’ll be sedated and/or anesthetized for the duration of the treatment. At the conclusion of the healing period, you’ll return to be fitted for permanent crowns and have them placed.

What type of post-treatment care will I require?

It is normal to experience some discomfort, including bruising and swelling following a dental implant procedure. However, inflammation and pain may be managed with over-the-counter medications, hydrocodone, or codeine. You may be asked to eat only soft foods for approximately 2 weeks until the surgical site heals.

Root canals are valuable dental procedures used to treat and preserve teeth with badly infected roots. The pulp is the live portion of the tooth that extends into the root and contains nerve endings and tissues. When it becomes infected, patients can experience pain, swelling and even total tooth loss unless treated. Root canals remove the damaged parts of the tooth and infected root. In some cases, an antibiotic is prescribed to help prevent further infection within the tooth. The organic portion of the tooth that remains may be restored using a cap or crown that provides a natural appearance and normal tooth function.

 Many patients associate root canals with pain and discomfort.

But local anesthetics and advancements in modern dentistry have made root canals highly tolerable procedures that are often no less comfortable than getting a standard filling. Upon completion, a restored tooth that has undergone a root canal will blend in with surrounding teeth – virtually undetectable to the average eye. More than 9 out of 10 root canal procedures are successful, and most treatments last many years or even a lifetime.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for a root canal?

You could be a candidate for a root canal if decay or damage has allowed bacteria to infect the pulp inside your tooth. A root canal could also be the right treatment for you if you prefer to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible instead of extracting both the healthy and diseased portions of your tooth. For more information about root canals and whether they are right for you, schedule a dental exam and consultation at your earliest convenience.

What should I expect during my root canal treatment?

If you decide to undergo a root canal, the first step in your procedure will involve a local anesthetic. Once your tooth root is numb, the diseased portion of your tooth pulp will be removed and potentially treated for bacterial infection. The tooth will then be sealed and filled before being restored with a crown.

What type of post-treatment care is required after a root canal?

It is normal for teeth to become inflamed after a root canal, potentially causing sensitivity for the first several days following treatment. However, normal brushing and flossing habits can be resumed immediately after treatment and restoration is complete.

A bite guard is a dental appliance custom-fit to a patient’s teeth. Bite guards serve varying purposes and are often recommended for use in patients of all ages. It is important that bite guards be professionally fit, rather than purchased over the counter, as this ensures maximum comfort and protection during wear. Professional dental guards are usually prepared in a dental lab using an oral impression taken in a dentist’s office. These guards are created uniquely to each patient to prevent discomfort, slippage or inadequate protection. There are many reasons why a dentist would prescribe a mouth guard to a patient. They include:

Did you know?

Caring for a dental bite guard is simple. You’ll need to rinse it before and after every usage using a soft-bristled toothbrush, toothpaste and cold water. From time to time, cleanse it with cold water and a mild soap. When not in use, store your mouth guard in a hard, ventilated container and keep it away from hot temperatures that could cause your guard to warp.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a bite guard?

You absolutely need to be fit for a custom bite guard if you participate in sports or activities that put your oral health at risk. These guidelines also apply to children, who often play sports like football or participate in activities like martial arts, which can cause tooth-related injuries. You may also need a bite guard if your dentist diagnosis you with bruxism, or tooth-grinding. Over time, grinding or clenching the teeth can lead to wear and irreversible damage. Sleeping with a bite guard can protect the teeth from these unwanted side effects.

What should I expect when being fit for a dental bite guard?

Being fit for a bite guard is simple. You’ll visit your dentist, who will take an impression of your teeth and send it off to a dental laboratory. The lab will carefully construct a durable and comfortable new bite guard that you can pick up at your dentist’s office in just days.

Will I need to return to my dentist after getting my new bite guard?

Yes. Although custom bite guards are made of durable materials and designed to last through many uses, they do need to be replaced from time to time. Keep an eye on your bite guard, checking it frequently for wear. Also, bring it with you to your normal dental cleanings and check-ups for a professional inspection. Be sure to tell your dentist if your bite guard no longer offers an optimal fit or if it has become uncomfortable to wear.

Dentures are an effective and affordable way of replacing missing teeth. Composed of a durable plastic resin and sometimes porcelain, both partial and full dentures can be fabricated to look and feel natural. Today’s dentures are custom-fit to make it possible to eat foods with confidence and speak articulately. Depending on the patient’s preferences and budget, dentures can be crafted for maximum comfort and fracture resistance backed up by limited warranties.

Did you know…

that more than 60 percent of American adults are missing one or more teeth? Approximately 10 percent are missing all of their teeth – requiring a prosthetic solution that will restore function and aesthetics to their smiles. Many of those dental patients choose partial or full dentures to replace missing teeth. In fact, it is estimated that 35 million Americans currently wear partial or full dentures – a number that is only expected to rise as baby boomers begin to reach retirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I a candidate for dentures?

You may be a candidate for dentures if you are missing one or more teeth and are in need of an affordable prosthetic solution. Most denture wearers find that partial and full dentures can restore much of their original tooth function – not to mention create a beautiful, natural-looking smile. To find out if dentures are right for you, schedule a consultation with your dentist.

What should I expect when being fit for dentures?

If you have any decayed or damaged teeth that need to be removed, they will be extracted before your dentist takes a mold of your remaining gum structure, as well as the roof of your mouth. This mold will be sent to a dental lab for denture fabrication. When the completed dentures are completed, you will return to your dentist for a final fitting.

Will I need to follow any special instructions to care for my new dentures?

Yes. Dentures are removable prosthetics that will need to be cleaned and brushed daily. You should also brush your gums daily to prevent infections caused by bacteria. Your dentures should be kept in water when they aren’t in use to prevent them from warping. Keep in mind that it may take some time to adjust to dentures as you learn how to use the muscles in your cheeks and tongue to keep them in place. But over time, you should begin to feel more comfortable with your new prosthetics.

Dental sealants are clear coatings applied to the surfaces of a child’s molars to prevent the development of tooth decay. They work by preventing food and plaque from resting in the grooves and crevices of molars – an area especially susceptible to cavities. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, nearly 1 in 3 U.S. children ages 6 to 12 currently have sealants on their teeth.

Did you know…

that sealants can last as long as 5 to 10 years pediatric dental patients? Depending on a child’s oral development and risk factors for tooth decay, sealants may be applied to the teeth as young as age 6. It is at this time that the first molars typically appear. Additional molars erupt at approximately age 12. If possible, sealants should be applied to a child’s teeth immediately after any molar has appeared to reduce the risk of early decay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will dental sealants affect the feel or appearance of my child’s teeth?

Sealants bond directly to the teeth, where they harden to a clear or tooth-colored coat. This makes them virtually undetectable to others. Though it is normal to feel new sealants with the tongue, most children quickly adapt to their presence.

What will my child experience when getting sealants?

The process of getting sealants is fast and painless. The tooth is cleaned before the dentist paints the sealant onto the enamel. The sealant will immediately harden, acting as a barrier between bacteria and the chewing surface of the teeth. In most cases, sealants will last several years before needing to be reapplied. However, regular visits to the dentist will be necessary to monitor the condition of the sealants and examine their effectiveness.

Will sealants prevent all cavities?

While sealants are extremely effective for preventing tooth decay in children, they do not replace other forms of preventative oral health care. Children should still brush and floss each day using a fluoridated toothpaste. Regular dental exams and a balanced diet low in sugar are also essential for good long-term oral health.

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