Posts for: March, 2018
Have you noticed a clicking, popping, or grating sound when you open or close your jaw? As many as 36 million U.S. adults experience this phenomenon in one or both of the joints that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull.
While the sounds may be disconcerting, there’s generally no cause for concern in the absence of other symptoms. They’re most likely caused by a harmless shift in the position of the disk inside each temporomandibular (jaw) joint, and it can diminish or disappear entirely over time. But, if you’re also experiencing persistent discomfort, severe pain, or limited function in your jaw (which can include getting it “stuck” in an opened or closed position), then you may be suffering from a temporomandibular joint disorder — part of a complex set of conditions affecting one or both jaw joints, muscles and/or other surrounding tissues. (You may have heard the condition called TMJ, which is actually the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint itself. Health care professionals prefer TMJD or TMD.)
Depending on the severity, TMD can interfere with your ability to speak, chew and even make facial expressions. The cause is unclear, but genes, gender, environment, stress and behavior are believed to play a role. It can also be symptomatic of a larger medical problem, such as fibromyalgia, which can produce pain all over the body.
Management Options for TMD
TMD traditionally was viewed as a bite problem (malocclusion) requiring mechanical correction — e.g., through orthodontic braces or surgery. But the current therapeutic model approaches TMD as an orthopedic problem (joint inflammation, muscle soreness, strained tendons and ligaments, and disk damage) and favors a sequence of conservative, reversible procedures — hot or cold compresses in the jaw area, soft foods, physical therapy/massage, medication, and/or a bite guard to decrease pressure on jaw joints from tooth clenching and grinding — prior to more aggressive, irreversible treatment alternatives.
If you would like more information about TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Seeking Relief from TMD” and “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”
Want a more rejuvenated smile?
Dental veneers are a great way to conceal dental issues, just ask your Woodbridge, VA, dentist. It's important to have all the information you need before visiting your doctor.
Here are a few questions you may ask your doctor.
What can dental veneers conceal?
Dental veneers can cover:
- Stained or discolored teeth
- Crooked, worn or chipped teeth
- Irregularly-shaped teeth
- Uneven dental surfaces and spacing
How are veneers placed?
- Your Woodbridge dentist will examine your teeth and assess whether veneers are right for you.
- If your teeth have underlying issues, like cavities, they'll need to be dealt with first.
- Your doctor will take impressions of your teeth and the model sent to a lab where a custom set of veneers matching the color of your teeth are made.
- You'll come back to the dentist's office when your veneers arrive, so that your dentist removes some enamel off the surface of your teeth then cement the veneers.
Veneers are made out of thin porcelain or plastic and because enamel is removed, you won't feel like your teeth are protruding. On the contrary, they will feel smooth and aligned with the rest of your teeth.
Are veneers a permanent process?
Removing enamel from the surface of teeth is an irreversible process.
What are some other advantages of veneers?
- The procedure doesn't need very much anesthesia.
- Veneers last a long time.
- They have color stability so they are resistant to staining.
How can you take proper care of your veneers?
Other than maintaining a healthy diet, you will need to brush twice a day and floss at least once before bed. It's important to prevent the buildup of plaque, which may result in cavities and other serious issues.
For more information on veneers, contact your dentist in Woodbridge, VA, by calling (703) 491-2131.
Fans of the legendary rock band Steely Dan received some sad news a few months ago: Co-founder Walter Becker died unexpectedly at the age of 67. The cause of his death was an aggressive form of esophageal cancer. This disease, which is related to oral cancer, may not get as much attention as some others. Yet Becker's name is the latest addition to the list of well-known people whose lives it has cut short—including actor Humphrey Bogart, writer Christopher Hitchens, and TV personality Richard Dawson.
As its name implies, esophageal cancer affects the esophagus: the long, hollow tube that joins the throat to the stomach. Solid and liquid foods taken into the mouth pass through this tube on their way through the digestive system. Worldwide, it is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths.
Like oral cancer, esophageal cancer generally does not produce obvious symptoms in its early stages. As a result, by the time these diseases are discovered, both types of cancer are most often in their later stages, and often prove difficult to treat successfully. Another similarity is that dentists can play an important role in oral and esophageal cancer detection.
Many people see dentists more often than any other health care professionals—at recommended twice-yearly checkups, for example. During routine examinations, we check the mouth, tongue, neck and throat for possible signs of oral cancer. These may include lumps, swellings, discolorations, and other abnormalities—which, fortunately, are most often harmless. Other symptoms, including persistent coughing or hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and unexplained weight loss, are common to both oral and esophageal cancer. Chest pain, worsening heartburn or indigestion and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also alert us to the possibility of esophageal cancer.
Cancer may be a scary subject—but early detection and treatment can offer many people the best possible outcome. If you have questions about oral or esophageal cancer, call our office or schedule a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”