My Blog

Posts for: January, 2015

By Charles L. Sours, Jr., D.D.S.
January 29, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: TMD   TMJ  

Do you have residual pain in areas near your cheeks with no idea how to stop it? For many people today, persistent pain near the ears, jaw, or surrounding muscles leaves them without full function of their mouth for normal, everyday activities, leaving them hopeless and in constant discomfort.

Often accompanied with a popping sound and weakened jaw capabilities, cases like these typically are caused by temporomandibular disorders (TMDs), which affect the nearby temporomandibular joints (TMJs). Fortunately, the majority of TMDs are minor and resort to fixing themselves after conservative remedies are applied - but even in cases where your TMJ malady persists, full relief can be experienced through the expert dental care of Charles L. Sours, Jr., D.D.S.!

Take a peek at some important information regarding TMDs below:

What Causes TMDs?

When one (or both) of your TMJs falls victim to orthopedic inflammation, fatigued surrounding muscles, pulled tendons and/or ligaments, or disk problems, chronic TMDs can occur.

TMDs can be largely genetic, surprisingly gender-specific (women are considerably more likely to suffer from TMDs), and often old-age related. In more serious cases, the jaw pain stemming from a TMD could actually be part of a more all-encompassing pain problem known as fibromyalgia, which literally stands for "connective tissue muscle pain," a condition that won't just stop at the jaw if left untreated.

Where Can I Find Relief?

If you've been diagnosed with a TMD, available treatment options for your specific needs can be readily found with Dr. Sours right here in Woodbridge, VA. Temporarily changing your diet to incorporate more soft foods is one common method for overcoming such persistent jaw pain disorders, while using ice on the affected area can also work wonders for relieving your residual oral joint and muscle soreness and its accompanying inflammation. More holistic techniques such as gentle remedial stretching exercises can also make TMDs subside, while muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications can begin to soothe your pain as well.

Regardless of the severity of your TMD pain, understand that it is not life-threatening and, with expert dental care, it can be a thing of the past in no time! Give Dr. Sours a call today at (703) 491-2131 for TMJ relief!

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
January 29, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures

Martha Stewart has built a flourishing career by showcasing the things she’s designed and made — like floral arrangements, crafts, and even home renovations. Just recently, she was showing off her latest restoration project: a new dental bridge. In fact, she live-tweeted the procedure from her dentist’s office… and she even included pictures of the bridgework before it was placed on her teeth!

OK, it’s a departure from paper crafts and home-made pillows… but why not? We can’t help feeling that there’s just as much craftsmanship — even artistry — in dental bridgework as there is in many other custom-made items. If you learn a little more about what goes into making and placing bridgework, perhaps you’ll understand why we feel that way.

Bridgework is one good solution to the problem of missing teeth (another is dental implants). A fixed bridge is anchored to existing teeth on either side of the gap left by missing teeth, and it uses those healthy teeth to support one or more lifelike replacement teeth. How does it work?

Fabricated as a single unit, the bridge consists of one or more crowns (caps) on either end that will be bonded or cemented to the existing teeth, plus a number of prosthetic teeth in the middle. The solid attachment of the crowns to the healthy teeth keeps the bridge in place; they support the artificial teeth in between, and let them function properly in the bite.

Here’s where some of the artistry comes in: Every piece of bridgework is custom-made for each individual patient. It matches not only their dental anatomy, but also the shape and shade of their natural teeth. Most bridges are made in dental laboratories from models of an individual’s teeth — but some dental offices have their own mini-labs, capable of fabricating quality bridgework quickly and accurately. No matter where they are made, lifelike and perfect-fitting bridges reflect the craftsmanship of skilled lab technicians using high-tech equipment.

Once it is made, bridgework must be properly placed on your teeth. That’s another job that requires a combination of art and science — and it’s one we’re experts at. From creating accurate models of your mouth to making sure the new bridge works well with your bite, we take pride in the work we do… and it shows in your smile.

If you would like more information about dental bridges, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Fixed vs. Removable Bridges” and “Dental Implants vs. Bridgework.”

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
January 14, 2015
Category: Oral Health

One of the most common parental concerns is the habit of many children, even late into childhood, to suck their thumbs or fingers. Many parents have asked us, “Could this affect their teeth?”

The answer, unfortunately, is yes — thumb sucking can contribute to a malocclusion (bad bite) that could eventually require orthodontic treatment. Before making any assumptions, however, we need to understand the bigger picture.

To begin with, infants have a different swallowing mechanism than adults and older children. When you as an adult swallow, you'll notice the tip of your tongue positions itself just above the back of the top front teeth. An infant, however, will thrust their tongue between their upper and lower jaw as they swallow (also known as an infantile swallowing pattern or primary tongue thrust). The infant normally begins changing to an adult swallowing pattern when their primary (baby) teeth begin to erupt.

However, if a child's swallowing transition is slower than normal and the tongue rests between the jaws for a longer duration, it can inhibit the full eruption of teeth, believed to be the main cause of an open bite (a gap between the upper and lower teeth when the jaws are shut). The thumb during sucking resting between the teeth can have the same effect.

Thumb sucking may not necessarily lead to a malocclusion — for example, an abnormally developing jawbone could be the culprit. If prolonged thumb sucking does become a concern, however, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact of the habit. We can install a thin metal “tongue crib” behind the upper and lower incisors that will not only discourage thumb sucking, but also help retrain the tongue not to rest between the upper and lower teeth. There are also exercise routines known as orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) that can retrain specific muscles in the mouth to encourage more normal chewing and swallowing patterns.

These steps may not prevent future orthodontic treatment, but they could reduce its extent. The key is regular dental checkups and consultation to ensure your child's teeth and bite are developing normally.

If you would like more information on the effects of chronic thumb sucking on the mouth, 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 “How Thumb Sucking Affects the Bite.”