Vertigo (Dizziness) Can Be Caused By Jaw Joint Disorder

If you experience dizziness (also referred to as vertigo), this off-balance sensation can place you in an unsure frame of mind, not to mention put your safety at risk.

The latin origin of the word ‘vertigo is “a whirling round.” Vertigo is observed in a number of diseases and causes dizziness and a loss of balance. It can also cause confusion, nausea, lightheadedness, and the feeling of being pulled downward.

Although the cause is often unknown in many cases, problems involving the inner ear are a common cause of vertigo. In addition to a head injury, migraines and lengthy period of bedrest, other contributing factors include:
    •    Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV; a mechanical inner-ear disorder)
    •    Meniere’s disease (a progressive ear disease)
    •    Vestibular neuritis (inflammation of the vestibulocochlear nerve)
    •    Labyrinthitis (a condition caused by inner ear infection)
    •    TMJ (jaw joint) disorder

The inner ear is the common culprit in the majority of vertigo cases. However, the position and fluid motion of your jaw joints (TMJ) and bite alignment are often-overlooked as contributing factors.  Research has found that disorders of the temporo-mandibular joint can lead to balance disparities as well as cause nausea and vision problems.

Recent research has found that vertigo and TMJ Disorder have a deeper correlation than once thought. In these cases, bite misalignment is resolved to reduce tension in connected jaw muscles. This can often eliminate the symptom of dizziness.

But, where is the connection? One suspected pathway is in how the jaws and inner ear share a common ligament. Hence, the bones that are intricately responsible in hearing are also closely connected with the anatomy of the temporo-mandibular joint.

Because a TMJ disorder triggers stress and strain on structures associated with the jaw joints, this jointly-shared ligament can be pulled from its natural position.  The trickle-down effect means the middle ear structure, which is responsible for maintaining equilibrium, becomes off-kilter. However, this is but one scenario. A TMJ disorder can affect the inner ear in other ways as well.

The TMJ is actually a rotating hinge that joins the lower jaw to the head.  It houses a “socket” that is also part of the temporal bone.  TMJ Disorder (or ’TMD’) may move this temporal bone just enough to shift the connected components out of position as well.

Although the relationship to the TMJ and inner ear are gaining more attention for those who suffer with vertigo, many medical practitioners are not fully aware of the connection.  This is why the most effective route to treatment may be seeing a Neuro-muscular Dentist. This is a dentist who is a trained TMJ specialist and is structured to help establish a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

The symptoms of TMD include clicking or popping jaw joints, depression, facial pain, frequent headaches or migraines, jaw pain, limited jaw movement, neck and shoulder pain, numbness or tingling in the fingers, tinnitus (ear ringing) and sleep apnea.

In addition to bite realignment, prevention or reduction of factors such as bruxism, jaw clenching and other things that may cause muscle inflammation give the body the opportunity to repair itself. However, the most effective diagnosis – that is the origin of an effective treatment plan – may include:
    •    TENS Therapy ( transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation): This is an electrical impulse unit that is used to relax the jaw muscles and to allow it to settle into its natural position. Once the natural resting position is established, a properly fitted mouth piece can retrain the jaw muscles to rest in the correct position.
    •    TMJ Orthotics: Customized orthotic (a device resembling an athlete’s mouth guard.) is particularly effective for realigning the jaw.  Many patients report near-immediate relief of vertigo symptoms they have had for years once an orthotic is used.
    •    Restorative Dentistry: In some cases, a ‘bad bite’ is caused by the way that the teeth come together in biting, chewing and at rest.  While mouth pieces may temporarily resolve the problem, the position of the teeth may cause a bad bite to reoccur.  In these cases restorative dentistry may be required to ensure a proper bite and avoid re-emergence of TMD symptoms.

The relationship between TMJ and vertigo symptoms are still being studied.  To fully establish the culprit of vertigo as TMJ disorders, proper testing by a trained, experienced Neuro-Muscular dentist is the most efficient way to resolve the many symptoms that can result.

If dizziness, a sense of being off-balance, or other symptoms are causing you concern, consider that your jaw joints may play a bigger role than is often obvious. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a private, no-cost consultation appointment. We’ll discuss your symptoms, medical and dental history, and methods for diagnosis and treatment that may be right for you.

The Endless Value Of Dental Implants

We all like to be smart shoppers. And, we’re all aware that, in most cases, “you get what you pay for.” That’s as true in the dental office as it is in the appliance store.

There is a misconception that Dental Implants are expensive. Quite frankly, once the patient understands the long term benefits, they are seen as one of the best investments one can make. When truly understanding the benefits, the obstacle of cost (which is often the only obstacle) becomes less of a concern.

Implants may seem expensive because all treatment fees occur at once. The costs for the implants, placement and the restorations (attached teeth) are paid for as one fee. The true value of Dental Implants, and the actual savings they provide, occurs in the form of the many expenses Dental Implants help you avoid.

With proper care, Dental Implants are designed to last your lifetime. That, in itself, is a tremendous value. Additionally, they restore the ability to eat comfortably and laugh with confidence. This enhances your physical and emotional health.

Dental implants never decay, need root canals or compromise neighboring teeth or the bone structures that support teeth. Dental Implants are also beneficial for the jaw bones that support them.

Because Dental Implants are positioned in the jaw, they recreate the presence of tooth roots, which provides stimulation the jaw bones. This was one of the roles of natural tooth roots. When tooth roots are removed, a process known as resorption begins. This is a gradual but continual shrinking of bone mass.

Bone loss occurs when tooth roots are removed from jaw.
Bone loss occurs when tooth roots are removed from jaw.

For long-time denture wearers, this bone loss can be seen in their facial appearance, which creates an appearance that is far older than one’s actual age. Bone loss causes the mouth to turn downward (even in a smile) and deep wrinkles around the mouth. As facial muscles detach, jowls form. As bone loss progresses, the chin points and the nose moves closer to the chin. This creates what is referred to as a ‘granny look.’

For denture wearers, a new denture is designed to fit snugly. However, resorption is the reason that dentures eventually begin to move. This is because, as the bone mass declines, the ridge that holds the denture flattens out. This leaves the denture with an ever-shrinking foundation on which to balance. Eventually, adhesives and pastes do little and even relines are of only temporary help.

The treatment fees for Dental Implants are largely based on the number of implants placed. However, an implant is not always needed for each missing tooth. For those who are missing several teeth or even a full arch (all upper or lower), several strategically-placed implants can often provide sufficient support .

For example, when several teeth are missing in one area, one implant can often support a bridge of two or more teeth. An added bonus of using an implant to support a bridge is its ability to protect the integrity of neighboring teeth. With dental implants, it is not necessary to crown otherwise healthy teeth for the mere purpose of supporting a bridge.

While a traditional crown-&-bridge combination relies on adjacent teeth as support, an implant is supported by your jaw bone, providing the same dependable foundation as your natural teeth once had. You’ll be able to bite and chew without worries.

For those who are missing all upper or lower teeth, as few as 4 to 6 implants may be sufficient to support a full arch of teeth. With strategic placements and appropriate selection of implant systems, the force of biting and chewing can be distributed evenly. This is also possible for patients who have experienced a great deal of bone loss. Some implant systems are able to support non-removable teeth that are secured to several implants in a minimal amount of bone.

We believe that every patient CAN achieve the smile that makes them happy decades after their investment has been made. If the obstacle to achieving a confident smile is because of implant fees, start with a free, no obligation consultation. I’ll explain the options that may work best for you. If desired, we can also have you meet with our Financial Coordinator to discuss easy payment options. Most are interest-free with no down payment and break your costs down into affordable monthly payments.

Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles for a no-cost, no obligation consultation..

Not All Crowns Are Created Equal (And Why Prices Vary)

Many of us are familiar with the phrase “a rose is a rose.” While the scent of a rose would be pleasant regardless of its name, this reminds us that comparisons aren’t always “apples to apples.” Roses can vary a great deal, just as crowns, bridges and other dental restorations.

As a dentist, I regularly see new patients who have aging crowns or bridges. Some of these restorations are breaking down rather soon, typically due to inferior quality or being placed improperly. For those who assume all crowns are the same, like roses, this is far from the case.

To begin, most crowns are made by a dental lab selected by the dentist and to specifications of that dentist. In order to trim expenses, the cheaper labs typically create results of lesser quality. Typically, the appearance won’t have the natural appearance that blends seamlessly with other teeth. And, the feel won’t provide the smooth finish that feels like a tooth surface. It will look and feel like a ‘fake tooth.’

Patient of Dr. Ban Barbat - Crowns That Look Natural, Of Exceptional Quality
Patient of Dr. Ban Barbat – Crowns That Look Natural, Of Exceptional Quality

In addition to a compromise in the look and feel of a crown, longevity is another area where cost cuts mean sacrifices in quality. The life of a crown is dependent on its materials (along with proper shaping and placement). Obviously, a crown made of lower grade materials won’t hold up as well over time.

Proper placement also has a tremendous effect on the life of a crown. When a tooth is prepared for a crown, the shape, shade and size of the crown is provided to the dental lab. There is no margin for error. The slightest misstep in height or shape can create conflict for the teeth above or below.

For example, a crown that is just a fraction of a millimeter too tall or short will hit incorrectly on the tooth that meets it in a bite. As a neuro-muscular dentist, I know how significant this can be on a patient’s overall oral structures. This minute disparity can result in bite misalignment that leads to headaches, migraines, sore jaw joints, ear ringing, dizziness, facial pain or pain in neck and shoulder muscles.

The same principles apply to a bridge. Bridges that look good, fit correctly, and last an exceptionally long time are worth “doing right the first time.” When a bridge is selected based on the lowest price, like anything, the repercussions of cutting corners will show up eventually.

Rather than think of a crown in terms of its cost, consider what it will provide to you for a fair price. Will it look as natural as your surrounding teeth? Will it feel like a tooth? Will it last for a long time because it was made of quality materials? Will it be placed so you avoid problems from bite misalignment in the future?

When it comes to what is spent on a smile, we all want to feel we have made a good investment. We believe our patients deserve the highest quality in crowns, bridges or veneers for a reasonable cost. Too, we want you to feel pleased with your investment long after it is made.

Let’s sit down together to discuss how you can achieve a healthy, confident smile and enjoy exceptional results in an affordable treatment plan. Call 586-739-2155 to schedule a cost-free, no-obligation consultation. We can also discuss easy payment options, some with no down payment and interest-free.

Is Dental Fear Preventing You From A Confident Smile?

I’ve enjoyed over two decades of dental practice. During this time, I have been blessed with a wonderful staff and a fabulous patient family. In all these years, one of the most challenging hurdles I’ve seen for a number of patients who want a confident smile? It’s not treatment cost or time or concern about the results. It’s dental fear.

For most adults who have dental fear or anxiety, the originating source seems to stem from a traumatic dental experience in their past, often as a child. I’ve heard stories from some who recall being held down in the dental chair by a hurried, rough dentist. Some adults have shared how a dentist continued in a procedure even after being told they were not numb. Naturally, these episodes embed deep into one’s subconscious and overshadow every thought of dentistry.

As a dentist who has treated hundreds of patients who once had high levels of dental fear or anxiety, I understand. There are few times in our lives where we must remain reclined on a narrow chair while someone with pointed instruments pokes around in an area as sensitive as our mouths! Not being able to see what is going on merely adds to the element of fear for some people. Add in the noises, bright lights and feeling vulnerable and, for many people, you have a recipe for white knuckles. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here’s the other side of that picture, though. Our goal is to NEVER make a patient feel uncomfortable (physically or emotionally) and to ALWAYS create an experience that encourages them to see dental care as positive parts of their overall health and well-being. Once a fearful patient realizes that we can be counted on, they relax. When they realize they are truly in charge of the pace of their treatment, they relax. And, when they realize how wonderful it feels to have a healthy, confident smile, they smile when they walk into our office and smile when walking out!

While I focus on providing the highest level of skills and technology in all procedures, creating a comfortable experience throughout each patient’s visit is a commitment I try to bring to every aspect of care. This is exemplified throughout the practice. From the staff who greet you to the hands that care for you, we believe you deserve a warm, caring team from start to finish.

Some fearful adults do well when Oral Sedation is combined with their visits. This is in pill form and taken prior to arriving to our office. By the time you enter, you’ll be relaxed. You’ll be seated in a treatment chair and covered with a warm blanket while the pill takes full effect.

In addition to helping you relax, Oral Sedation has an amnesiac effect that helps to erase most (if not all) memory of treatment afterward. Throughout your treatment, you’ll be monitored for safety and comfort by a specially trained staff member.

After your procedure, you will return home to rest. Recovery is quick and most feel back to normal within several hours.

In addition to treating fearful or anxious patients, we are also experienced in treating dental phobics. These individuals have such high levels of dental fear they shake or sweat at the mere thoughts of walking into a dental office. In these situations, IV sedation (twilight sleep) is often the preferred option. This is an in-the-vein form of sedation that places you in a sleep state. Most have no memory of treatment after but do need a longer recovery period as a result.

While we are sensitive to the needs of ALL of our patients, we are especially so with those who have fear associated with dental visits. Often, however, the patients who require sedation for one or two visits will decide to forego it upon realizing they can trust us to be gentle and caring at all times.

If you have dental fears or know someone who does, begin by calling toll free 1-866-9-Smiles to speak to a friendly staff member. Ask for a no-cost, no obligation consultation. I’m always happy to meet with patients in this private room that is removed from the clinical side of the office. During this time, we can discuss your concerns and I’ll explain how we can help you at a pace you feel is right.

If desired, we can also put you in touch with some patients who have overcome their dental fears and are now smiling confidently and beautifully!

Don’t let a traumatic episode in your past hold you back from the smile you desire. Take that first step today by making a telephone call. You’ll be treated kindly and respectfully.

Weight Can Be Affected By Sleep Quality

It’s the first week of January. Drive by any fitness center and you’ll see a parking lot full of new and rededicated members. Trying to shed pounds through a treadmill takes an enormous amount of time and energy. Although we applaud those who want to tone and boost stamina, weight loss this way is a long, slow process. This is probably why the parking lot will look much differently by the end of March.

Want to lose weight? Begin by checking your quality of sleep. Through scientific research, we now have a better understanding of how the brain functions and plays a prominent role in our lives.

Based on findings surrounding the importance of restful sleep, I decided to become trained in oral sleep devices to offer to our patients in need years ago. The severe (and even deadly) health repercussions of sleep disorders made me determined to help heavy snorers and sleep apnea sufferers.

The National Sleep Foundation points out that people who suffer from disorders like sleep apnea may find it harder to begin or sustain an exercise program due to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. However, being overweight not only contributes to sleep problems such as sleep apnea, sleep problems can contribute to obesity.

The National Sleep Foundation cites a 1999 study by scientists at the University of Chicago. The study found that accumulating a sleep debt in just less than a week can impair metabolism and disrupt hormone levels. The study restricted 11 healthy young adults to 4 hours of sleep for 6 nights. Researchers found the participants’ ability to process glucose (sugar) in the blood not only declined, some fell to the level of diabetics. (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/obesity-and-sleep/page/0/1)

In another recent study, it was revealed that sleep quality affects the mix of gut bacteria that impacts whether you are lean or obese. The natural circadian rhythm of our bodies has peaks and lulls that determine certain functions, such as when to sleep. Apparently, intestinal bacteria have a circadian rhythm, too. These help in the production of serotonin and neuro-transmitters that influence sleep.

During sleep, good gut bacteria sweep away the build-up of ‘bad’ bacteria. Researchers noted that insufficient sleep can hamper the ability of the good bacteria to sweep out the bad kind. This leads to an imbalance of the two, which can contribute to anxiety, depression, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), ADD, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Weight gain and obesity from insufficient sleep has to do with the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite while leptin sends the brain a message when you are full.

Lack of sleep suppresses the production of leptin, leaving you feeling less satisfied after eating. Too little sleep makes this worse by increasing ghrelin levels, which stimulates your appetite so you are hungry more often. When these two hormonal imbalances collide, the result is weight gain.

Now that scientists have found the additional complication of imbalanced intestinal bacteria, sleep is taking a higher priority in healthy living commitments. While the recommended amount of sleep is 7 hours each night, though, nearly 35% of American adults get less.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommend that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being. In addition to weight gain and obesity, sleeping less than seven hours is associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, migraines, depression and impotency. (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html)

Symptoms of sleep apnea are typically daytime fatigue, being more accident prone, nodding off easily during the day, poor attention span and alertness, and feeling cranky or unmotivated. It has been said that sleep apnea sufferers behind the wheel are more dangerous than drunk drivers.

In the past, a common remedy for sleep apnea has been CPAP therapy. However, many who have the devices are not consistent users, citing feeling confined, claustrophobic, embarrassed or being uncomfortable with the noise. For those with mild to moderate sleep apnea, we make custom-fitted, FDA-approved oral devices that are small and comfortable so they do not interfere with sleep.

Begin with a free consultation to have your questions answered thoroughly. We can discuss costs, payment options and even put you in touch with patients who have opted for oral appliance therapy and now sleep restfully every night!

Don’t give up on the treadmill, though. Just give your potential to lose weight a leg up by tending to your quality of sleep. Call toll free 1-866-9-Smiles.

Moms-To-Be Should Read This!

Pregnant women have a long list of things to tend to for the health of their baby. Eating a healthy diet, taking vitamins, avoiding certain foods and medications, getting proper exercise and having regular visits with their OB-GYN are ways to ensure a healthy baby. However, an often overlooked component in the health of mom and baby is the mom’s oral health. Yet, it can play a significant role in a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnant women have elevated hormone levels that can cause greater vulnerability to gum disease. As a matter of fact, nearly half of pregnant women will experience a form of gum disease known as Pregnancy Gingivitis. Symptoms include swollen, red and tender gums that bleed while brushing.

It is estimated that about one-third of pregnant women have gum disease. Because pregnancy hormones make the gums more susceptible to inflammation, they are more susceptible to the potent bacteria of periodontal disease.

While the smile of the mother-to-be is at risk, oral bacteria can penetrate the bloodstream through tears in weakened gum tissues. This bacteria can trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body, including the placenta.

Studies have shown that gum disease increases the risk for preterm delivery (earlier than 37 weeks) and babies of low birth weight. Gum disease also increases the risk for poor obstetrical outcomes, late miscarriage and pre-eclampsia. Researchers have noted that the preterm birth rate for females without gum disease is approximately 11% compared to nearly 29% for women with moderate to severe gum disease.

The links between the oral health of the mother and babies prior to birth is becoming more profound as research continues. One study found that that blood from pregnant women who had higher levels of antibodies to oral bacteria also had higher incidences of preterm birth and low birth weight babies. These same elevated antibodies have been found in amniotic fluid and in fetal cord blood samples of infants delivered preterm or of low birth weight.

Studies also show that treating periodontal disease reduces the risk of preterm births, leading to a growing number of obstetricians who are advising pregnant patients to ensure their oral health is in good shape. Symptoms of gum disease include gums that bleed when brushing, tender gums or gums that are red in color rather than a healthy pink.

Please don’t delay treatment. Gum disease continues to worsen without treatment. In our office, periodontal therapy is safe for pregnant women as well as for all patients.

With a healthy mouth, both mom and baby can have an added advantage for a healthy beginning. Begin by calling 1-866-9-Smiles for a free consultation.