A New Look At Why You Have Headaches

Do you suffer with frequent headaches or migraines? Frequent headaches affect nearly 50 million Americans. And while many sufferers search for a solution, many fail to connect the dots between these headaches and their dental anatomy.

Amazingly, the position of how our upper and lower teeth meet is a typical cause for headaches, jaw pain, sore muscles, neck and back pain, limited range of motion of the neck, poor posture, stuffy and ringing ears, grinding and breaking teeth, dizziness, fatigue and more. All of these symptoms can be due to one’s bite being off, perhaps by only a millimeter (1/25th of an inch).

Your dental make-up is an intricate composition of muscles, joints and teeth and plays a major role in your overall comfort and health. Because humans are incredibly adaptable, the body’s muscles, bones and joints can function although these are not in ideal alignment. This is as true with the bite as with other parts of the body, such as when one leg is shorter than the other. However, there are times when the body cannot adapt, which is just as true with dental problems.

Neuromuscular Dentistry is a modern advancement based on the understanding that the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ) need to be in a comfortable resting position for the ultimate comfort of the joints, muscles, bones and teeth. When this occurs, all structures work together harmoniously.

The levelness of the teeth is just as critical.  The forces of the bite must be distributed down the long axis of the body (see illustration). If the bite is tilted, then the forces will be misdirected. This can cause as much of a problem for a patient as if the hips are not level.TMJ-Neck-Posture

With Neuromuscular Dentistry, dentists who understand its impact and how to incorporate it into restorative and esthetic treatment help patients avoid problems down the road or correct those they may have been dealing with for years. Symptoms not normally associated with what people consider a dental problem can occur, such as:

  • One of our patients was unable to close his eyes without falling for 27 years. This was resolved immediately when his bite was properly aligned.
  • Another patient couldn’t turn his head to the left due to neck pain regained full range of motion once his bite was restored properly.
  • A patient who required massive amounts of pain pills for neck and back pain and headaches stopped taking them once his bite was restored.

As mentioned earlier, humans adjust to flaws. Yet, having flaws for years confuses the body’s perception of comfort over time. Unexplained pain is often attributed to other aspects of the patient’s life, such as stress, hormones or posture. They are given drugs or sent for therapy to deal with “non-dental” problems. Some are told it’s all in their head.

Today, advancements in computer technology enable Dentists trained in Neuromuscular Dentistry to capture information for more effective treatment. It also gives visual ‘proof’ of treatment requirements so patients accept the authenticity of the diagnosis. Throughout treatment, patients can monitor their progress by comparing their before-&-after data.

We’ve seen patients who’ve experience years of migraines, simply because of one crown being too high. It’s amazing what a delicate balance there is in the mouth when it comes to the muscles, joints, bones and teeth working together.


School Is In! Sports Season Is, Too! Avoid Mouth Injuries Easily!

School is resuming for our children. Along with a new school year, many adolescents and teens begin a new season of participation in sports. As a parent, I’m all for involvement that reinforces team interaction and active play. As a dentist, I hold my breath. Year after year, I see patients who have taken a blow to the mouth or jaw that resulted in deep cuts to the lips or tongue, cuts on the inside of the mouth, chipped teeth, teeth that are knocked loose or out altogether, and jaw injuries.

It’s not just the rigorous contact sports such as football and hockey that place your child in harm’s way for these injuries. Basketball, gymnastics, skate boarding, soccer, lacrosse and baseball are just as likely to be the setting for an injury to the teeth, mouth or jaw.

These problems can be avoided, or their severity can be greatly reduced, with a simple, inexpensive mouth piece. A mouthguard is priceless when it comes to the avoidance of injuries, some which can be severe. An athlete is 60 times more prone to an injury to teeth when a mouthguard is not worn. Mouthguards can even reduce the severity of concussions.

There are over-the-counter types, which tend to be bulky and cumbersome in the mouth. These tend to get less use as a result. Somewhat better are the boil-and-bite mouthguards, which conform to the fit of teeth to some extent. The types that are most favored are custom-made mouthguards formed specifically to the contours of teeth and gums by an experienced dentist. A mouthguard that fits well without bulk tends to be worn more often and with less resistance by the wearer.

A custom-made mouthguard is resilient, tear-resistant, will not interfere with speech or breathing, and fits comfortably. They should be worn during practice sessions as well as game times. And, last year’s mouthguard may not have the snug fit that is necessary for optimal protection. A newly-fitted mouthguard is advised on an annual basis. These custom fits are highly important for those who have braces, a protruding jaw, receding chin or cleft palate.

Mouthguards should be easy to care for with simple measures. For custom-made types, cleaning can be done by rinsing and brushing with a toothbrush. It should be stored in a strong container that is vented and never left sitting in the sun or held under hot water.

I cannot tell you the treatment time, expense and parental anguish I’ve seen when a child’s mouth injury occurs. They can be avoided so simply and affordably. Ask about custom mouthguards for your family members as well as yourself. When your children see YOU are committed to wearing a mouthguard while biking, shooting hoops, and playing softball in the backyard, they’ll be more inclined to get into the habit themselves.

Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to learn more.

Dental Fear Research Looks At Age Groups

Is the age of an individual a factor in dental fear levels?

According to findings in a study published by the National Institutes of Health, age has very little to do with having, or not having, dental fear. The results were somewhat surprising since it is often assumed that the 65+ age groups would have more memories of less-than-gentle dentistry that wasn’t uncommon a generation ago. These traumatic experiences are often the origin of most dental fear in adults.

In the study, over 1,400 individuals completed a questionnaire designed to measure dental anxiety and dental fear. They were also asked about their age, sex, education and frequency of dental visits. The participants were then grouped according to sex as well as five age categories.

The results showed a higher level of dental fear in females (nearly 10% compared to 8% for males). However, there was minimal variation of fear levels between age groups. Adults without a high school education and those who had avoided dental care altogether had higher scores, regardless of age group.

The most common response to dental fear cited was increased heart rate and perceived pain from seeing the needle used to administer numbing medication. Perceived pain can cause any sensation, whether it’s actually uncomfortable or not, to feel like pain. This is where oral sedation can make a tremendous difference.

Oral sedation is taken prior to your arrival at our office. This allows you to be relaxed from the time you enter and throughout your treatment. Our staff is specially trained to create a relaxing environment, especially for fearful patients. Knowing our commitment to your comfort, combined with sedative effects, helps many of these patients complete much-needed dentistry.

It’s sad to know there are adults who avoid dentistry altogether due to fear. Especially when there are dentists who have created an office that is sensitive to the comfort of ALL patients and offers special measures for those who do. Let us help.

Too much anxiety to come for a consultation? Ask our friendly phone staff to arrange a telephone consultation. During this time, I can answer your questions, explain our sedation options (both oral and I.V. sedation) and discuss additional features in place to optimize your comfort at all times. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a time that works for you.

Are YOU The One With Bad Breath?

At times, we all wonder, “Do I have bad breath?” This may be in close conversations with friends or co-workers after a morning of coffee. Or, you may suspect a lingering scent after a tuna sandwich lunch.

Occasional breath odors, though unwanted, are not unusual. However, this doesn’t make them more welcome. Bad breath can leave a lasting impression. Frequent bad breath can even cause people to be stand-offish, anticipating they are about to encounter an unpleasant smell.

Frequent bad breath is a common symptom of gum disease. You may also notice gums that are tender and bleed when brushing. The color of your gum tissues may have become red rather than a healthy pink.

During your regular check-ups and cleanings, our Hygienist will check your gum health to determine early signs of gum disease. This is done by gently using a probe that measures the spaces between teeth and gums that have loosened from teeth. This process is not painful and takes only a few minutes.

If signs of gum disease are present, there are various treatments that can restore your mouth to a healthy state. The treatment you’ll need will depend upon the level of gum disease present. As with anything, the earlier you have the problem resolved, the less involved the process will be. Early treatment can mean a significant savings in treatment time and money.

If the massive accumulation of oral bacteria from gum disease is not the cause of your breath odor, another reason could be having ‘dry mouth.’

Dry mouth causes your ‘oral cavity’ (the inside of your mouth) to become stale and sticky. A good example of this is when you first wake up. Because saliva flow is minimized at night, oral bacteria are not being removed efficiently. Thus, oral tissues dry out and bacteria accumulate.

If you smoke, you can expect dry mouth. Cigarette smoke contains a mix of chemicals that have a severe drying effect. Also drying to oral tissues are drinking alcohol or other beverages that are drying, such as coffee. Breathing through the mouth can cause drying as well as certain medications.

Dry mouth is not always the main cause, however. Some health problems can contribute to bad breath, including acid reflux and illnesses such as bronchitis, liver problems or sinus infections.

The culprit in most bad breath, however, is oral bacteria. Bacteria are living organisms, which means they eat, reproduce and emit waste on a consistent basis. Sugary drinks and high carb foods are the ideal food for oral bacteria. Consumption of these enable bacteria to reproduce more rapidly, boosting their ability to accumulate in your mouth.

Of course, poor oral hygiene is an obvious cause for bad breath. Without regular brushing and flossing, oral bacteria reproduce and plaque forms. Plaque is the sticky film you feel on teeth when you’ve missed brushing. When not removed, plaque becomes a hard substance referred to as calculus. This cement-like mass of oral bacteria attaches to tooth surfaces and destroys enamel and gum tissues.

The bottom line is your commitment to having minimal bacteria in the mouth. Being aware of all the issues that can give oral bacteria a ‘leg up’ is the first step. Then, start with a clean, healthy mouth. If you haven’t had regular dental check-ups and cleanings, those are necessary for a foundation of good oral health.

Once your oral health is in good shape, it’s easy to keep it there. Make the following recommendations a part of your daily routine and you’ll find that your breath causes you far less concerns!

 – Brush at least twice a day for two minutes. Finish up by brushing your tongue with your tooth brush to loosen embedded bacteria there.
– Floss daily. If you find this difficult, an excellent investment is an electronic flosser.
– Keep your mouth moist. Drink lots of water. If you must take medications that are dying, use an oral rinse that is made specifically to boost saliva.

You are also invited to begin with a no-cost consultation. During this time, we can discuss your current oral health and ways to restore you to a healthy mouth and fresh breath. If you have dental fear, we’ll also discuss options to help you be relaxed before, during and after your visit.

Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to learn more or to arrange an appointment.