The Truth About Temporomandibular Disorder In 3 Minutes

The temporomandibular joints or TMJ are bilateral synovial articulations that connect the temporal bone of the skull and the jawbone or mandible.

With the help of TMJ, people can move their jaws upwards, downwards, and sidewards, enabling speaking, yawning, chewing, and other movements of the jaw.

However, the jaw and muscles controlling the face can experience issues that can affect their functionalities. Called temporomandibular disorders or TMD, the term is used to characterize the pain and damage of the TMJ and the mastication muscles which are responsible for jaw motions.

What is a temporomandibular disorder?

TMD also restricts the movements of the mandible. It is not lethal, but the disorder can affect daily activities, and overall quality of life as its symptoms can be unmanageable.

The specific root of TMD is not known. According to dentists and TMD experts, TMD may be due to issues with the jaw muscles and other portions of the temporomandibular joints.

Aside from problems with the jaw muscles and TMJ, injury to the jaw, TMJ, or to the head and neck muscles which can be an immense blow, joint arthritis, or shift of the disc joint ball and socket can lead to TMD.

When you grind or clench your teeth, you can also develop TMD due to the pressure such activities give on the joint. Stress can also add to the development of TMD because facial and jaw muscles tend to tighten during stressful periods.


How do I know if I have TMD?

Serious discomfort or pain are often signs of TMD. This discomfort and pain can be impermanent or go on for many years which can affect one or both sides of the face.

Other indications of TMD consist of ache or tenderness in the jaw region and other structures especially when the mouth is open wide, clicking or cracking sound, uncomfortable bite, tired feeling in the face, swelling on the side of the face, and locked jaw.

The disorder can also cause headaches, earaches, neckaches, toothaches, shoulder pain, tinnitus, and hearing problems.


How is TMD treated?

Because its symptoms are similar to common dental problems, TMD is not easily detected and may require a physical examination to diagnose it properly and verify the probable cause.

During the examination, the jaw joints of the patient will be checked for indications of TMD, bite test, and complications with the facial muscles. To help detect the problem, a full X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging, or computer tomography may also be conducted to view the jaws, TMJ, and teeth.

For further assessment, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon who specializes in the oral maxillofacial areas.

Standard remedies for TMD include nightguard, medications, and dental procedures like dental braces to fix bite problems. However, if these treatments do not work, your dentist may advise you to undergo ultrasound, trigger-point injections, radio wave therapy, laser therapy, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)

Depending on the case TMD may need surgery like arthroscopy, open-joint surgery, and arthrocentesis.


What home remedies are available to help with my TMD?

You can also use home remedies to relieve you of the pain and other symptoms temporarily. You may get medicines, apply heat or cold packs, and relaxation therapy. You may also eat soft foods for the time being and avoid activities with extreme jaw movements.

Here’s Why You Should Visit Your Dentist This Year

Practicing good oral hygiene routine is easier said than done.

More than 30 percent of the population of the United States do not brush their teeth at least twice a day, while 20 percent have never floss their teeth.

It is no longer surprising that more than 80 percent of Americans have had at least a single cavity by the age of 34.

Even though most dental-related problems are preventable, about 25 percent of Americans 65 years old and above have lost all their natural teeth, while 12 percent have suffered advanced gum disease.

Aside from failing the basic oral hygiene routine, Americans are also bad at keeping their dental appointments at least twice a year.


Why do I have to visit my dentist?

A bi-annual visit to the dentist is essential to maintain the health of our gums and teeth. Through a dental check-up, tooth decay, gum diseases, and even oral cancer can be detected early, and appropriate treatment can commence as soon as possible.

Aside from dental problems, dental check-ups may also detect indications of other diseases.


What happens during a dental visit?

A routine visit often involves a check-up and professional teeth cleaning.

At Hawaii Family Dental, a routine check-up starts by reviewing a patient’s health records, especially for first-time patients. Checking medical and dental history is crucial to note the patient’s conditions and needs which will be considered for the treatment plan.

Next, the mouth is assessed for dental-related problems like cavities, gum disease, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, etc. Swelling or complications in the other parts of the oral cavity, as well as the head and neck, are also checked.

If necessary, an X-ray is conducted to diagnose dental problems accurately. A dental X-ray gives the dentist and patient a clearer perspective on the condition of the oral cavity. Images from dental X-rays can reveal hidden dental structures such as a wisdom tooth and conditions a visual examination may have missed like bone loss.

When the examination ends, your teeth will undergo professional teeth cleaning to scrape off plaque and tartar buildup especially those that have collected below and above the gum line.

A tooth polisher and a light abrasive paste will be used to give your teeth a smooth and shiny finish. This procedure also prevents the rapid accumulation of plaque.


Why is Removing Plaque Necessary?

A plaque is a sticky mass of bacteria that can cause bad breath, periodontal diseases, and cavities when left unattended. When bacteria are left to proliferate inside the mouth and cavities are not treated immediately, they can result in tooth loss, infections, and tooth abscess.

Infection can then affect the head, neck, and jaw, while advanced periodontal diseases can trigger respiratory illness, diabetic flare up, coronary diseases, or strokes.


My child hates the dentist. What should I do?

It’s normal for your kid to be scared of the dentist especially during his or her first visit.

Since the thought of visiting an unfamiliar place and meeting new people are frightening for your kid,  you need not resonate his or her fear. Stay calm and keep your composure because your child will hold on to you for security and when you are apprehensive, your kid can sense it.

It is also not advisable to tell him or her, “Don’t be afraid” or “It’s alright,” because in doing so, your child will begin to think there is an imminent danger or something to be scared of in the dental office.

You can help prepare your child for his visit by briefing him or her on the procedures. You can do a small role play to ease your child about possible scenarios during the dental visit.

Aside from prepping your child, make sure the dental office has a friendly environment suitable for your child. The staff must be approachable. The dentist must be gentle and considerate. And the dental office must be equipped with everything, especially for emergency situations.

Family Dentists Can Keep Our Teeth Healthy

Family Dentist Treating ChildPeople go to their dentists for a wide variety of reasons. Oftentimes, they approach dentists for emergencies or perhaps for cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening. A regular visit to a family dentist is indeed a great part of good oral health care.

The Importance Of Visiting A Dentist

Health pros say that there is a need for you to visit a dentist at least twice a year. During your appointment with your dentist, he will perform a thorough mouth examination and check your gums and teeth. Also, he will check out neck and head and look for any signs of health and other related problems such as diabetes and oral cancer. Furthermore, your dentist will also provide you with invaluable advice regarding good oral hygiene.

The family dentist typically provides a number of dental procedures such as cleaning, check-ups and tooth filling. Many also perform cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening, crowns, bridges and veneers. The main advantage is that they are also qualified to work on children’s teeth and this is what allows the whole family to use the same dentist.

The dentist-patient relationship is very important as it is most likely that this person will spend a lot of time in the family’s life over the years. For this reason it is important to do some homework before signing up to a given dentist. The relationship is a unique one. Its a face-to-face relationship that is literally in your face. Just like your doctor, there are certain qualities that you will expect from your dentist. His bed side manner will be paramount.

Most dentists like to explain every procedure before commencing. However, many patients don’t want to know. Make sure that he or she is willing to take your preferences into consideration.

Also look at his or her practice. Important questions to ask include: Is the practice busy? Is it clean? Is it within relative ease of your home or children’s school? What are the opening hours? Is there an emergency service?

Of course one of the best ways to find a family dentist is to ask your friends, co-workers or family. However, it may be the case that you have recently moved to town and therefore its not so easy to ask friends. In this case, co-workers are the obvious solution for some. But if that’s not a possibility, its better to make appointments for simple check-ups with a few different dentists in the area.

Put your discretion to the test. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Explain that you want a dentist who can take care of the entire family. This is important as you must ensure that the dentist is qualified to treat both adult and children’s teeth. Take everything into consideration and make the choice for the dentist that is the best fit for you and your family.

Dental Implant Dentistry

Implant retained bridge model

Image by Coronation Dental Specialty Group

If you have lost a tooth, consider dental implant treatment. As a cosmetic enhancement to your smile, implants are indistinguishable from real teeth; they can improve the ability to speak and chew food normally. And since they fill spaces between teeth, implants help prevent teeth drifting apart.

Implants, Practical & Effective

Dental implants serve as an artificial replacement for the natural root of a missing tooth. Pure titanium steel implants are proven to be safe plus they’re incredibly strong. They actually bond together with the jaw bone creating a permanent anchor support for a crown attached to the top.

Practically anyone is a candidate for dental implants, provided they have sufficient bone for the implant to fuse with the jaw for a solid foundation.

Dental Implant Procedure

Implants begin with an evaluation to decide if you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Occasionally. it’s necessary for the doctor to build up the bone first in the surrounding tissues to insure success. Although complications are very rare (less than 2%), any issues that do occur can be easily corrected.

After placement, the procedure allows the implant approximately three to four months time to fully bond with the bone before the treatment is completed. Once the bone has fused with the implant, an abutment is added and a tooth-colored crown attached. The success rate in most cases is nearly 98%.

Implants look and feel just like natural teeth. Since they’re securely fixed into the jawbone itself, patients are happier and they avoid problems that are sometimes associated with removable appliances such as partials or dentures.

Costs for Dental Implant Treatment

Since conditions for each patient are different, we charge patients proportionate to the complexity of their overall procedure. Our Honolulu, Hawaii dental implant practice is much more cost effective though (compared with general dentists) since we both place and restore the patient’s dentition right here in our offices.

Whether you need ‘full-mouth’ teeth replacement, or restoration for a single missing tooth, the costs of implants are well worth the comfort, confidence and attractiveness they can provide you. By practicing good oral hygiene, daily cleanings and regular checkups, your dental implants can last for many years.

Periodontal Diseases & How To Prevent Infection

Periodontal (gum) diseases include both gingivitis and periodontitis. They are serious infections that if left untreated can lead to tooth loss and other health problems. The main cause of periodontal disease is poor dental hygiene and a bacterial infection which affects the gums and bone which support the teeth.

The progression of gum disease is usually slow and goes largely unnoticed for months, sometimes even years. Sadly, by the time most patients become aware that something is wrong (i.e. pain, swelling, loose teeth) the infection has progressed to an advanced stage whereby treatment options are limited.

Often referred to as “dental disease,” all gum disease and tooth decay share a bacterial origin, yet they are two separate diseases. You can have one, or both. Gum disease is usually known as gingivitis, a milder form of the disease which precedes periodontal disease — and its chronic stage, periodontitis.

What To Look For

Know the potential signs and symptoms of progressive, periodontal disease:

  • bleeding gums after brushing/flossing
  • red, tender, and/or swollen gums
  • teeth that appear to be getting longer
  • an uneven gum line
  • exposed tooth roots
  • sensitive to hot/cold temperatures
  • changes to how your dentures fit
  • noticeable looseness of teeth
  • spaces appearing between teeth
  • unpleasant taste and/or bad breath
  • dry and/or burning sensation in mouth

Warning Signs of Dental (Gum) Disease

If you have been experiencing one or more symptoms of periodontal disease, see your dentist now. The effect gum disease has on your overall health is proportionate to the duration and extent of the infection. Prompt periodontal care is essential; moderate to advanced gum disease will expose your body to harmful bacteria 24 hours a day — for as long as the infection is present.

Stress caused by bacterial infection places a pronounced strain on the immune system and will significantly reduce your body’s innate capacity to fight off other diseases and infections — so it’s important you get help early.

Prevent Gum Disease For Better Oral Health

Everyone wants to have healthy teeth and an attractive smile. To ensure your best dental health and especially to avoid problems with gum disease, adopt a daily habit of practicing good oral hygiene. Prevention includes rigorous brushing after meals, daily flossing to remove plaque, as well as visiting your dentist every six months for routine check-ups and professional cleanings.

Flossing, Your Best Defense

The benefits of flossing cannot be overemphasized for protecting you against gum disease. Though to be truly effective, you must floss every day since plaque builds up quickly on your teeth and must be removed. Never get in a hurry when flossing; it’s important that you carefully position the floss below the gum line between each tooth, to be sure any plaque accumulation is reached. Prevention is your best defense against gum disease and proper attention to flossing will help retard the growth of bacteria which leads to infection and periodontal disease — your reward is a lifetime of healthy, beautiful teeth.