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Scottsdale Dentist: How Can I Tell if I Have TMJ?

TMJ is short for “Temporomandibular Disorder.” The temporomandibular joint is the connection between your upper and lower jaw. From activities like chewing, talking, opening and closing our mouths, our jaw joint is a crucial mechanism for daily life. If you are experiencing TMJ, you are likely to feel intermittent or steady pain throughout the day in your jaw area. It is important to seek help from your Scottsdale dentist to treat TMJ because over time, symptoms can worsen and your jaw joints may require more serious treatment.

Why does TMJ occur?

TMJ occurs from excessive stress placed on the jaw joints and muscles surrounding it. If you have misaligned bite or certain habits, TMJ can develop. It can also be caused from a combination of things. Different causes include:

  • bruxism (clenching and grinding, wearing down teeth)
  • genetics
  • arthritis
  • injury

What symptoms might be from TMJ?

  • pain and/or tenderness in the jaw
  • pain in one or both of your temporomandibular joints
  • pain in and/or around your ear
  • facial aches/pain
  • jaw locking or popping

How can my Scottsdale Dentist help my TMJ? There are a few approaches to helping decrease symptoms associated with TMJ as well as to fix further problems. Depending on your treatment needs, your Scottsdale dentist may do some of the following treatments:

Custom Night Guard

A custom night guard made by your Scottsdale dentist is an option for TMJ treatment. This acts as a “splint,” separating the upper and lower teeth so there is a small space between them. This small space does big wonders for your jaws, as it gives them relief when the splint is worn. Your dentist will suggest duration of wearing the night guard, but typically, as in the name, it is worn at night while you sleep. Night guards are made with comfortable, flexible plastic that is easy to wear for longer periods of time. With the use of a night guard over time, your jaw joints will receive a break each time that promotes healing.

Exercises

There are a lot of muscles controlled by and related to the temporomandibular joints. Smiling and frowning, talking, eating, tensing the face – essentially all movements and actions –  are worked in this area. When you clench or grind, muscles get tense, tight, and used too much. Your Scottsdale dentist may recommend stretches, exercises, and massages for the face that will ease the tension you’re feeling.

Prescribe

If your muscle tightness is lingering after other types of treatments, your Scottsdale dentist may prescribe an anti-inflammatory and/or muscle relaxant to help the muscles rest.

Dental Procedures

Your TMJ symptoms may be occurring from your teeth! If you still have your wisdom teeth, they may be causing the pain you’re feeling. A panoramic X-ray will help solve if your wisdom teeth are the root of your pain. Also, a bite adjustment may be a treatment for TMJ. Sometimes, the smallest adjustment on your bite, less than a millimeter, can make all the difference. You can have your bite checked at any time by your Scottsdale dentist.

Botox

Botox has become an increasingly popular treatment option for TMJ. The injected is targeted into the muscles of the temporomandibular joint, allowing them to release and spread instantly. Botox has helped patients undergo other dental treatments that they couldn’t get before due to lock jaw or jaw pain from staying open for long periods of time.

There are several treatment options for you and your Scottsdale dentist is happy to assist you in diagnosing and relieving you of TMJ symptoms and pain for a healthier, happier smile.

How to Help Your Child’s Dental Fear – Scottsdale Dentist

It is essential to take your child to regular dental appointments for their oral health, development, and promotion of great oral hygiene habits. A dental visit, however, may be filled with unfamiliar sounds, smells, and sights that your child may be afraid of. If you want to help your child’s fear of the dentist improve over time, we suggest a few things:

Start Regular Dental Visits Early in Life 

As soon as the first tooth starts to appear is a great time to start going to the dentist with your child. Bringing your child to a great dental office early will help them find comfort over time with each visit. They may establish the practice as their “home of dentistry” for years to come, even past their teenage years!

Keep Details Simple

It is important to talk to your child about going to the dentist before they sit in the chair. Make sure to keep a positive attitude before, during, and after the visit. Try to avoid promises such as “you won’t need anything done / it will be a simple visit,” because if your child ends up needing further treatment, they may lose trust in you and the dentist.

Watch Language

Dental terms are not the friendliest – let’s face it. Words like “shot, extraction, drilling” may make your child anxious. A pediatric dentist, Michael J. Hanna, D.M.D., says to refer to a dental exam as searching for sugar bugs so he can clean them off teeth.

Do a Mock Visit

You may want to consider practicing going to the dentist before the appointment. This could be a fun opportunity for both you and your child to feel more comfortable before a dental visit. Communication to your child about what to expect at the dentist and practicing good brushing technique in a fun “pretend” way could make the visit a breeze! If your child likes role-play, they could pretend to be a dentist by cleaning the teeth of their stuffed animals or figurines. The key is to create familiarity with dental visits.

Don’t Relate

A lot of parents take their children with them to their own dental appointments and this may be a mistake. Your child may sense your own anxiety and see needles and instruments working on you, so it may be too much. A friendly environment is a better choice – perhaps a pediatric office or simply only allowing them to be apart of their own visit.

Prepare for Bad Moments

It could happen – your child may have a hard time at the dentist even with the above tips. Prepare to consul your child is things are overwhelming – they will need you as support. Try to keep a positive attitude and calm manner so emotions can resolve quickly.

Avoid Bribing

A dental visit is not something that should be rewarded every time – it needs to be seen as something regular and normal. Using a bribe to bring your child to the dentist may actually cause fear because it makes the event seem “bigger that normal.” Also, we want to promote less sugar… if the bribe is a treat!

Following the tips above may help make your child’s dental visits a good experience. It is important to help your child be at ease with the dentist as this is something they will experience for the rest of their lives – more and more as they age!

If you want to schedule your child’s appointment with your Scottsdale dentist, please call us. If your child is already experiencing anxiety with the dentist, here is a great article to help their fears titled, “5 Steps to Managing Dental Anxiety:” https://www.turnaroundanxiety.com/child-afraid-dentist-managing-dental-anxiety/.

 

Comforting Teething: Scottsdale Dentist

It is disheartening to see your baby upset when their teeth are erupting for the first time. Sometimes, you may feel hopeless in helping their pain. However, there are ways to help your baby’s discomfort when teething!

Massage your baby’s gums

Applying gentle pressure on the gums using either gauze or your finger can help alleviate the pressure your baby is experiencing.

Keep the area cool

Keeping the temperature of the mouth lower helps relieve the pain symptoms associated with teething. Cold teething rings are wonderful for this – however – make sure they are not frozen. Cool, wet washcloths can also be used.

Try Solid Foods

If your baby is able to tolerate solid foods, try some “gnaw” worthy foods – such as a peeled cucumber or carrot that have been chilled. This helps cool the area, as well as stimulate and apply pressure to the budding teeth.

Clean and Moisturize Your Baby’s Face

A lot of saliva is produced during teething periods, causing your baby to drool more than usual. To help other effects of teething, such as dry skin and red noses, try to keep your baby’s face clean and moisturized so extra discomfort is avoided.

Parent’s published an article title “Your Baby’s Teething Timeline.” Read it here to learn more about your baby’s dental development: https://www.parents.com/baby/health/baby-teeth/baby-teething-timeline/

If you have any questions regarding your baby’s dental health, give your Scottsdale Dentist a call today and we are happy to answer your questions!

Scottsdale Dentist: Importance of Maintaining a “Full Bite”

If you have missing “back teeth” (molars), you may wonder, why should I get dental implants? The importance of maintaining a full bite should not be neglected – as a full bite offers you increased longevity of keeping your natural teeth.

If you are missing some teeth, plus have some natural teeth, the natural teeth will shift overtime due to spacing. Filling the spaces where teeth used to be with dental implants keeps your bone stimulated and prevents your remaining teeth from shifting out of place. If your remaining teeth shift out of place – multiple effects may occur, such as:

  • bite problems
  • bone regression
  • tooth loss

Bite Problems

When teeth shift due to space, your bite is affected immediately. Uneven forces start to weigh down, stress, and wear teeth. Because of the consistent unequal opposing forces on your teeth, decay, fractures, and pain occur very frequently, and you may lower your chances of repairing them. If implants are placed within the spaces where natural teeth used to be, your teeth will stay aligned and be loaded with even and bearable forces from using your mouth to bite, chew, talk, and more.

Bone Regression

Losing a tooth does not only affect the surrounding teeth, but also what is below – your bone. Bone stimulation is the key to maintaining a youthful look. When teeth are removed, the bone below is no longer stimulated, meaning your body responds as though it is not needed by “bone resorption.” This can lead to surrounding teeth becoming loose, aging effects, and harder dental procedures later on to restore a stable smile.

Tooth Loss

Without replacing missing teeth with dental implants, your surrounding teeth are at risk to new forces, shifting, and becoming loose. It is important to place an implant in the area a tooth once was so that your whole mouth remains healthy and supportive of daily use.

Dental implants are the best way to replace missing teeth as they help you keep the rest of your natural teeth longer. Through bone stimulation, filling gaps, and replacing bite, dental implants can help increase the longevity of your best smile! Call your Scottsdale Dentist if you are interested in discussing more about dental implants.

Scottsdale Dentist: Removing Teeth Before Straightening

“Sometimes you have to sacrifice something to gain something else.” In orthodontics, this quote aligns with a practical consideration before aligning your smile or your child’s. In this case, a straighter and more attractive smile is gained; the sacrifice you may have to make would be a few teeth hindering your case. This may be necessary if there are too many teeth present on an arch, where the teeth are considered crowding. A lack of space for teeth is the main reason misalignment occurs and why orthodontics can help.

Before we can correct a smile’s alignment, we will need to remove teeth that are crowded. The ideal candidates for removal are the teeth that are not highly visible. The first bicuspids are the most common choice for removal because they’re located behind the cuspids (the teeth located under the eyes that are pointy).

Ideally, we’ll remove the selected teeth a ways before treatment so that the gums have ample time to heal, as well as attempt to preserve the bone in the sites where the extractions occurred. The supporting bone left where a tooth was extracted doesn’t receive the same stimulation so it may die. Placing a bone graft in the empty socket immediately after removing the tooth can help bone stimulus and support for regrowth. With careful planning, the bone hopefully will be strong enough to proceed with orthodontic treatment.

Don’t worry, once orthodontic treatment begins, the teeth will shift to the spaces where you are missing teeth. The shifted teeth will fill out your smile and it will seem as though there were never missing teeth.

Orthodontic treatment with teeth extractions must be carefully planned and executed. It may take a few months to years to reach the full result. In the end, though, this complicated bite and crowding problem can be corrected with an attractive, straight smile.

If you would like more information on correcting a poor bite or straightening your smile – visit us today or go on our website www.serenitysmiles.com. Also, you can read more about this topic through the Dear Doctor magazine article https://www.deardoctor.com/inside-the-magazine/issue-19/tooth-removal-for-orthodontic-reasons/.

Get to the Source of Your Tooth Pain: Scottsdale Dentist

Though it is common to feel a toothache, the pain may not be originating from the source you think. Regardless, you should seek help immediately upon feeling a toothache to ensure that more damage and pain do not occur. Your Scottsdale Dentist is always understanding of a toothache and will help diagnose the cause of pain, as well as treat it in the best way possible.

If you experience a quick, shocking and stabbing pain with hot and cold foods or drinks, you most likely are experiencing sensitive teeth. Read our blog about sensitive teeth here: https://www.serenitysmiles.com/blog/sensitive-teeth-treatment-for-sensitivity/.

If the pain lasts only a moment or a few seconds, you may have a small amount of decay in a tooth, a loose or leaky filling, or an exposed root. An exposed root can commonly occur because of aggressive brushing or periodontal (gum) disease. In both cases, the gums may have shrunk back or receded to expose the root surface, causing an achy, tender feeling.

If you experience a sharp pain when biting down, this may be a sign of decay or a loose or leaky filling. This type of pain could also indicate a fracture or crack present on a tooth. In any of these situations, you will need to undergo a dental procedure to fix the problem and relieve the pain.

You may also experience a lingering tooth pain that could feel dull or sharp. It may be localized to one tooth or feel as though it is radiating from a larger, general area, such as the “lower left jaw.” In this scenario, there are several possible reasons for the symptoms, but two prominent ones are an abscess or deep decay within the pulp. A root canal treatment for the affected tooth is a probable solution. In this procedure, we drill an access hole into the pulp and clear it of infected and dead tissue. You will not be able to feel anything from this tooth as we will have removed its infected nerve. Then, the clean and empty pulp chamber and root canals are filled with a special filling and sealed. Later, we bond a permanent fabricated crown to the tooth to further protect it and restore its function.

Whether your pain is momentary or lingering, dull or sharp, you should see us as soon as possible to determine its cause. Even if the pain goes away or is on and off, you may have a dental problem that needs to be treated or a lingering infection. The sooner you treat the problem – big or small –  the better your chances of a happy and less costly future!

If you would like more information on tooth pain and what to do about it, please contact your Scottsdale Dentist for an appointment. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Pain? Don’t Wait!

Developing a Dental Strategy that will Save you Money: Scottsdale Dentist

Taking care of your teeth is a commitment you need to make for a lifetime. Similar to any other realm of healthcare, it can get costly — from regular dental visits and cleanings to more expensive treatments and procedures for protecting, preserving, and repairing your teeth.

If you are limited financially, it does not mean that your dental care has to wait or your health has to suffer. If you commit to following an effective strategy for oral care, your dental visits do not have to be expensive in the future. Apart of a good oral health hygiene plan, here are a few key tips:

  1. Practice effective daily oral hygiene. Many of the potential dental problems people experience are the result of not having a consistent, effective oral hygiene habit — which includes daily brushing and flossing along with semi-annual dental visits for cleanings and checkups. The goal of oral hygiene is to remove bacterial plaque effectively, the sticky film that adheres to teeth after we eat, and keep it from building up and causing significant damage over time. Removing plaque reduces your chances of developing the two major dental diseases caused by it, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease, which could result in additional treatment needs. However, even with excellent oral hygiene you’ll still form tartar (hardened plaque deposits) on your teeth, so professional cleanings from a dental hygienist are necessary.
  2. Take care of your whole health. Your teeth and gums aren’t islands to the rest of your body. In fact, your oral health is heavily influenced by other conditions in the body, especially systemic diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. So, be sure you’re following a healthy diet, following an exercise plan and seeing your doctors regularly. Your teeth will benefit from a holistic approach to your health.
  3. Work with your us to make your finances worry-free with treatment plan options. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee your teeth and gums won’t need additional treatment and procedures sometime in your life, even with excellent care and attention. If you’re in need of extensive treatment or you feel you need to enhance your smile, talk with us. We’ll be glad to talk through your options, and work out both a treatment and financial plan that fits your best health and financial goals.

Learn more about the cost of dentistry and how to make the best of your budget and health in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Finances and Dental Care.”

Expecting Mothers Dental Q&A – Scottsdale Dentist

Pregnancy is an amazing and exciting time for an expecting mother. However, during this time, a lot of questions may come to mind about both the mother’s and the baby’s health. Dental care is an important factor within health during this time.

We frequently hear these questions from expectant mothers, and we’re happy to answer them here:

Is the calcium in my teeth used for development of my baby’s teeth?
Mothers who have had dental problems in the past frequently ask this question as they are worried to pass their troubles to their child. No — a baby developing in the womb acquires minerals, such as calcium, for their teeth and bones from the mother’s diet, not her teeth. A mother that ensures she is eating healthy, balanced diet rich in nutrients and minerals like calcium will help her own health and her baby’s development.

Are my chances of developing a dental disease higher when pregnant?
Pregnancy causes significant fluctuations in your body’s hormones, particularly increasing estrogen. With increased estrogen levels, changes can occur in the gum tissue’s blood vessels that may make periodontal (gum) disease (commonly called “pregnancy gingivitis”) develop. Later in pregnancy, it is also possible to develop non-cancerous overgrowths of gum tissues called “pregnancy tumors.” Considering that there is a heightened risk for gum disease during pregnancy, it is important to monitor your gum health closer and visit your dentist if you have any questions or concerns.

How should I take care of my teeth?
Like normal, it is important to brush your teeth twice a day with ADA-approved fluoride-containing toothpaste to remove plaque, bacteria, and food remnants that cling to your teeth. Flossing daily and using an anti-plaque/anti-gingivitis mouthwash also positively impact oral health. During your pregnancy, you should continue to see your Scottsdale Dentist for regular office cleanings and checkups, or if you notice any abnormalities, such as gum swelling, bleeding, and more.

Should I take prenatal fluoride supplements?
Studies on its fluoride supplement effectiveness do not support the idea that this will benefit you and your baby’s dental development. There is not data to encourage this professionally. Although, there is solid support from research that application of fluoride to teeth in young children just after they appear in the mouth has shown 99% cavity-free results using topical fluoride applications with sealants (in a study of over 1,000 teeth)!

Your Scottsdale Dentist is more than happy to assist you during your pregnancy. Call or visit us! The Dear Doctor magazine article “Expectant Mothers” covers more information on your pregnancy and healthy choices.

Scottsdale Dentist: Science Reveals News About Smile Makeovers

Smile makeovers have increased substantially in popularity over recent years, not only for Hollywood celebrities. Over 70% of all smile makeover consultations come from people in the 31 to 50 year old age group, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). While smile makeovers are completed for self-esteem boosts and appearance, many studies have shown that first impressions are lasting and appearance makes an impact. Now, many business professionals or people with publicity are investing in smile makeovers for not only their appearance, but their success.

The AACD study provided though-provoking statistics that support why a smile makeover is a smart investment that can yield a life-changing return on yourself!

  • 99.7% of Americans believe a smile is an important social asset.
  • 74% feel an unattractive smile can hurt chances for career success.
  • 50% of all people polled were unsatisfied with their smile.

Beall Research & Training, Inc., an independent marketing research firm, published a study that used before and after photos of smile makeovers for a survey. It was found in this study that people who have had a smile makeover are viewed by others as more attractive, intelligent, happy, successful in their career, friendly, interesting, kind, wealthy, and appealing to the opposite sex. This evidence undoubtedly shows the importance of a first impression, as well as what it can silently express about yourself!

Want to learn more?

See your Havasu dentist for a smile makeover consultation! We will walk you through every step of the way so you achieve the most attractive smile imaginable! The Dear Doctor article, “The Impact Of A Smile Makeover” can provide you with more information on smile makeover’s effect.

Simple Tooth Extractions: A Common Dental Procedure: Scottsdale Dentist

When a tooth is not able to be repaired due to disease, decay, or injury, it may be best to remove it. A “simple” tooth extraction is a member of the most common dental procedures and is not the grievous procedure you may think it is!

The term “simple extraction” is used because the shape of the tooth and root allows for a fairly uncomplicated removal. An example would be the normally cone-shaped upper front tooth that offers a resistance free extraction.

The simple extraction process is quite straightforward. The periodontal ligament holds your teeth in place. The periodontal ligament is an elastic tissue with tiny fibers that attaches the tooth to surrounding supporting bone. With careful manipulation by the hands of an experienced dentist, the fibers loosen. Once the fibers have detached, the tooth can be removed with little effort; with the aid of local anesthesia, you should not experience pain. You may experience slight pressure.

Immediately after removal of the tooth, we commonly insert bone grafting material in the socket to minimize bone loss. If you’re planning an implant or other restoration in this area, the bone graft helps make the next phase simpler. After your extraction, we place sterile gauze over the site until a blood clot forms. If you have a large socket, we may place a few dissolvable stitches to close the area and promote faster healing. Post-extraction materials are given to you for proper caring and cleaning methods. After extraction procedures, we commonly prescribe antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce potential discomfort.

Although a simple extraction is a very common procedure, we still perform a proper assessment of the tooth and the surrounding bone beforehand, which includes x-rays to determine the tooth’s exact structure and position.

It’s our hope you’ll have your natural teeth for a lifetime. But if you find yourself needing a simple extraction, you can rest assured it’s a very common — and uneventful — experience.

If you would like to more about simple tooth extractions, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Simple Tooth Extraction.