Clenching? Grinding? Headaches? Migraines?

If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, your instructor may have reminded the class to “relax your jaw” in order to help students to go deeper into the pose. People tend to hold a tremendous amount of tension in their jaw, and clenching is a frequent response. Unfortunately, this can lead to miserable problems that haunt people for years.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMD) describes conditions that affect jaw muscles, temporomandibular joints, and nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Problems involving the TMJ are often attributed to a misaligned bite. When upper teeth do not meet properly to lower teeth, the strain on joints and muscles of the jaw, face, head and neck can lead to headaches, jaw pain, and even migraines.

Symptoms of TMJ disorders include frequent headaches or migraines, face or neck pain, painful jaw joints, chipped or worn teeth, night-time grinding or clenching, or a jaw that makes clicking or popping sounds.

Re-establishing proper occlusion for a patient’s teeth is often the first step in allowing associated joints and muscles to work together in a balanced manner. The solution may be as simple as having a custom-made oral appliance that is worn comfortably during sleep.

The first step to relief is a thorough assessment of your current situation.  Call (586) 739-2155 to arrange an accurate assessment of your TMJ condition.

Gum Disease Begins ‘Silently.’ Reasons To Tackle It Then!

Because the initial symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease are silent, telling patients they have early stages of the disease can be surprising since they don’t feel anything is wrong. Yet, this is the ideal stage to combat the disease since treatment here requires minimal time and expense.

Unfortunately, some people wait until the symptoms of periodontal disease become obvious. These include tender and swollen gums that bleed easily when brushing, consistent bad breath, and gums that recede and are red rather than a healthy pink. In the latter stages of gum disease, teeth begin to loosen and need to be removed. Treatment at these stages requires more extensive therapy.

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, which has been associated with other inflammatory diseases in the body. The bacteria of periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream through tears in gum tissue and create inflammatory reactions in other parts of the body. Gum disease bacteria has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis, to name a few.

The attitude of ‘if it doesn’t hurt, then nothing’s wrong,’ has been to the detriment of many in the American population. It was Ben Franklin who said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Early-stage periodontal therapy should be thought of as a penny saved, along with saving your good health.

Gum Recession Causes Sensitivity, Cavities (And Worse!) & Icky Smiles

When gum tissue recedes, it exposes the root portion of the tooth. This leaves the sensitive nerve center of the tooth open and vulnerable to pain.

The bristles of a tooth brush or the chill of ice-cream can easily induce pain in these sensitive areas, which are not meant to be exposed in the first place. This is also why they are darker than your teeth. They are blood- and nerve-filled centers and not designed as the shiny, enamel-covered tooth surfaces that are meant for use in biting, chewing and to aid in speech.

We begin by first addressing the nature of the problem that caused the recession. Some common causes are:
•Over-aggressive brushing: Brushing too hard or using a hard-bristled tooth brush can erode tooth enamel at the gum line, causing irritation or inflammation of the gum tissue.
•Poor oral hygiene: When brushing and flossing are performed improperly or not at all, a build-up of plaque can begin to affect the teeth. This, in turn, destroys gum tissue.
•Chewing tobacco: Any kind of tobacco has devastating effects on the entire mouth. Chewing tobacco, in particular, causes gum recession if used continuously.
•Periodontal disease: Periodontal disease can be a result of improper oral hygiene or caused by systemic diseases, such as diabetes.
•Crooked teeth or grinding and clenching: When teeth do not meet properly, too much strain is placed on the gums and bone, forcing gums to recede. By the same token, clenching or grinding your teeth can also strain teeth.

Recovering exposed tooth roots can be performed surgically or non-surgically. For surgical procedures, we often use a dental laser. While the patient relaxes under sedation, we numb the areas receiving treatment and then use the laser’s thin optic fiber for grafting. In some cases, non-surgical gum regeneration is an option.

Regardless of the procedure, it is important to protect these areas. In addition to discomfort, these exposed areas are highly vulnerable to cavities and gum disease. Treatment restores a natural symmetry to the gums, protects the sensitive areas and gives you a more pleasing smile.

Long Teeth & Exposed Tooth Roots

Sometimes, gum recession causes tooth roots to become exposed, which makes your teeth look long. This happens as a result of several causes, including periodontal disease. Whatever the reason, exposed roots are unappealing and leave teeth at risk for developing cavities.

I use a dental laser to recover exposed roots, reduce further gum recession and protect vulnerable roots from decay. Laser dentistry also makes the procedure far more comfortable than traditional methods of the past and recovery time is much shorter.

Don’t let gum recession spoil the appearance of your smile or put your oral health at risk. Ask how we can repair receded areas and prevent further recession by calling (586) 739-2155 to request a private, no-cost consultation.


Why Dentures Make A Bad Situation Worse

For people who’ve lost all their upper or lower teeth and opt for a full arch denture, it’s typically because a denture is the least expensive choice. When a denture is first made, the fit is fairly secure since it is designed to conform to the gum ridge that exists at the time. This is the jaw bone arch that once held natural tooth roots.

Without the presence of tooth roots, however, the bone begins to ‘resorb,’ or shrink in height and width. This is actually accelerated by the pressure of wearing dentures. For those who sleep in their denture, resorption becomes a 24/7 process. This is why dentures that fit well when they were first made begin to slip, causing uncomfortable rubbing or sore spots on the gums. Relines may help at first, but eventually, so much resorption will have occurred that there will be such a small ridge for the denture to ‘hold onto.’

This is why so many adults are selecting Dental Implants for tooth replacement in the first place. Dental Implants recreate the presence of tooth roots in the jaw bone, halting (or greatly minimizing) bone loss. They provide a dependable biting and chewing stability and are designed to last a lifetime.

Discuss the long-term benefits of your tooth replacement options with Dr. Barbat in a private consultation room. She’ll be happy to answer your questions so you can decide what will work best for your individual needs. Call (586) 739-2155 for this no-charge visit.

Is Dental Insurance Ruining Your Smile?

Dental insurance is a nice benefit. However, when it prevents people from having necessary dental treatment on a timely basis because their “dental insurance doesn’t cover it,” then it’s no longer beneficial, but detrimental.

Primarily meant to help with expenses for basic services, dental insurance is not meant as a guardian of your overall oral health. To delay treatment or forgo it because there is no insurance coverage simply makes no sense. Your teeth do not repair on their own, and putting off treatment typically means greater treatment needs in the future.

A patient recently wanted to wait until her insurance would cover a portion of a much-needed crown. When she bit down on a pecan, the tooth broke below the gum line, meaning the tooth had to be removed. She then had to decide whether to have a dental implant or have two neighboring teeth crowned for a crown-&-bridge. Had she proceeded earlier with the recommended crown, she could have preserved the tooth and avoided the more costly and time-involved process required.

Remember, insurance companies are in business to make money. They are not in business to watch out for your smile’s health and appearance. They don’t care if you wake up in the middle of the night with a toothache or if a tooth breaks while you’re having dinner out. They have set fees for certain procedures during the calendar year – period.

Let your dental insurance help you when it’s practical, but not dictate your decisions when it comes to taking good care of your smile!


Solution For Those Who Thought They Couldn’t Have Dental Implants Due To Not Having Enough Bone

One of the requirements for successful dental implant treatment is having sufficient bone mass to support the implanted portion. Since the jaw bone serves to hold the implant just as it does a natural tooth root, the dental implant must have adequate width and depth for the bone to grow around to secure it in place.

Bone loss occurs when people have been missing natural teeth for a lengthy period. The pressure of wearing dentures actually accelerates the pace of bone loss. For those who sleep in their dentures, this becomes a 24/7 process.

A fairly recent implant system is getting rave reviews and works fabulously for those who’ve even experienced severe bone loss. The All-On-4 implant uses unique angles that distribute the load so only 4 implants are needed to support a full arch of teeth. The teeth can also be attached at the same time as the implants, so you’ll never be without your smile!

Another bonus of the All-On-4 system is their affordability. Because dental implant treatment is based largely on the number of implants placed, this keeps the cost to a minimum while preserving the patient’s goals for dependable chewing stability and comfort.

If you’re interested in dental implants but have been told you don’t have enough bone to support them, please call us at (586) 739-2155 and request a free consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and explain the procedure, all in the comfort of a private consultation room.

Medications & Your Smile

Because your overall health and dental health are integrated, it’s important to make us aware of any change in your health history or medications at every visit.

For example, Coumadin, a blood thinner, can cause a greater degree of bleeding during extractions and other procedures. More seriously are some bisphosphonate medications. Some are taken orally (such as Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva) to help prevent or treat osteoporosis. Others, (such as Aredia, Bonefos, Didronel, Zometa) are given intravenously as part of cancer therapy to reduce bone pain and high calcium levels in the blood.

In rare instances, patients receiving the I.V. bisphosphonates have developed severe loss, or destruction, of the jawbone. The damage has occurred when dental procedures involving the jaw bone have been performed, such as dental implant placement.

Although rare, we feel it is in your best interest to make you aware that some medications can have adverse effects when your Dentist is not informed of all current medications. Keep a list of all your medications, as well as herbal supplements, and the dosage of each and bring with you to each appointment. We want your dental visits to ensure you are worry free!