Could It Be TMD?

grinding teethApril is the month of spring showers, spring cleaning, and……. TAXES. If you haven’t filed your federal income taxes yet, you may be feeling the stress of tax time. One thing that we know well at at our Georgetown dental office is that feeling in your jaw and your head may be more than stress. It may actually be temporomandibular disorder, also known as TMJ disorder or TMD.

What Exactly is TMJ?

Technically speaking, your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the ones that connect your lower jawbone to your skull. If you touch just below your ear you’ll feel it moving as you speak, chew, and swallow. They’ve got a lot of work to do, and sometimes those joints can be thrown out of alignment by an uneven bite, an injury, or stress on the joint from the stress in your life making you clench your jaw. (sound familiar?)

Symptoms of TMJ

There are a ton of different symptoms of TMJ/TMD, but these are some of the most common ones that we see at our Georgetown dental office:

  • Popping, clicking sounds in your jaw when you eat or talk
  • Ringing in your ears or generally stuffy ears
  • Frequent headaches and / or neck pain
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw

And the most dreaded symptom of all…

  • Occasional locking of the jaw or limited movement

Any of these symptoms are concerning and shouldn’t be ignored. It’s not just stress! Call our office to set up a consultation to see if your feelings of discomfort, even minor ones, could be the beginnings of TMD. Something as simple as a dental nightguard could make a world of difference and prevent further damage to your teeth and jaw.

You don’t have to live with the pain and discomfort of TMJ/TMD. Give our office in Georgetown a call today to see what treatment may be right for you… and your smile.

Can Snoring Harm My Smile?

couple snoringYour dentist in Georgetown always wants what’s best for you and your smile. That’s why if there’s something you’re concerned about, we hope you’ll take the time to talk to us. One of the biggest questions we seem to get from time to time is about snoring and how it affects our teeth. The truth is that this is an excellent question and we’re happy to break it down for you in this latest blog post. Read on, enjoy, and don’t hesitate to ask questions when we’re done.

There Could Be More to Your Snoring Than You Think

Wrap your head around this fact: The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that almost 90 million Americans are struggling with unruly snoring every time their head touches the pillow. This isn’t good for you or your bed partner! Sometimes snoring is just that: snoring. But in some cases, snoring is attributed to a serious condition called sleep apnea. One of the craziest things about this issue is, so many people have it and are losing sleep over it every single night, but don’t even know it!

Some of the most common signs of sleep apnea related snoring are:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness throughout the day
  • Night sweats
  • Choking
  • Gasping for air
  • Sudden awakenings where you have to restart breathing
  • Falling asleep at unwanted times

Understanding Sleep Apnea

It’s important to understand that if you or someone you know thinks sleep apnea may be to blame for their snoring, that there’s a safe, personalized solution for everyone that can help you get the restful night’s sleep you need and deserve.

Sleep apnea is usually classified into two distinctively different ways:

1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – This is, by far, the most common form of sleep apnea being diagnosed across the country today. At our dental office in Georgetown, we’ll always tell you to seek help if you or someone in your family continues to have issues with snoring. If you or someone in your household is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s usually caused by a blocked airflow during sleep due to your soft tissue collapsing in the back of your throat.

2) Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea is more difficult to diagnose because it involves a specific problem with how your brain signals your breathing muscles to respond. Unlike OSA, your airway isn’t blocked in this case; it’s your brain that fails to signal your muscles to breathe.

Snoring and Your Smile

There’s no doubt snoring affects your oral health. It mainly has to do with dry mouth and the lack of saliva that’s no longer present when your mouth stays open for long periods of time. Your teeth can be subject to decay and deterioration because your mouth loses the ability to wash away harmful bacteria, acids, and plaque. This means your teeth could be susceptible to enamel erosion and foul odor.

We always hope you’ll feel comfortable discussing both your oral and overall health concerns with the talented team at our Georgetown dental office. If you think your snoring is becoming out of control and you’re worried about your smile, please don’t hesitate to talk to us. Together, we can get you the help you need and keep your teeth protected and healthy enough to last a lifetime.

How to Deal with Losing a Filling

woman embarrassedDental fillings are an incredibly common type of dental restoration used to treat cavities and decay. In fact, nearly 91% of Americans between 20 and 64 have at least one dental filling. While dental fillings are strong and can last for many, many years, there are still some things that can cause a dental filling to become loose or fall out. Here’s what to do if that happens.

Don’t Wait, Call

Before you do anything else you should call your dentist in Georgetown. Many times our dental office will be able to see you the same day or the next day. At the appointment, you can expect to have a thorough exam of the area so your dental team can assess the damage. This allows us the opportunity to determine the best way to fix it.

What to Expect

Sometimes your dentist may recommend replacing the filling with another one. This is typically what happens if the filling was small and the damage didn’t really affect the tooth. Other times a filling just won’t get the job done and a dental crown may be recommended. Dental crowns cap the entire tooth and provide greater protection.  

Do Your Part

If you lose a filling there are important steps you should take in order to protect your tooth and ease any discomfort.

  • Clean the area. When a filling falls out, your tooth is left with a small hole that food and bacteria can get wedged into. If left there, it could lead to more damage. Rinse with salt water or gently brush the area after eating.
  • Reduce the pain. Using pain reliever can help minimize any sensitivity and increase comfort. There are also temporary fillers available at many pharmacies. Look for one that contains zinc oxide and place it in the gap, but only temporarily.

Avoid the Problem in the First Place

While very common, there are ways you can avoid losing a filling… including choosing your snacks wisely. Many lost or loose fillings are the result of sticky foods or hidden popcorn kernels, so be sure to eat these in moderation and use caution. Tooth grinding or clenching is also a common cause of lost fillings. Make sure to use a nightguard if you grind your teeth in your sleep to protect both your dental restorations as well as your jaw health. Lastly, seeing your Georgetown dentist every six months can help catch any loose fillings before they have a chance to fall out when you least expect it.
We’re always welcoming new patients at our dental office in Georgetown and are here to help with any dental concern. If you’ve lost a filling or suspect you may need one, we welcome you to give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

Ways to Enjoy Those Last Moments of Summer

kids swimmingIt’s August, and that means that we’re spending our free time thinking about back to school supplies, the beginning of football season, and all the pumpkin spice-ness that will come with the start of the Autumn season. What you may not have thought about are things like getting your kids sports mouthguards for fall sports, getting them their back to school checkups and cleanings, and capturing those last precious moments of summertime fun. Your dentist in Georgetown wants to help with your to-do list, so let’s check these boxes one by one…

Sports Mouthguards? CHECK.

We’ve previously shared some scary statistics with you about mouth injuries, like the fact that 5 million teeth are knocked out every year, with up to 39% of them being from sports injuries. Of those, 80% of dental injuries involve the top front teeth. No matter what age you are, or what sport you play, no one wants to deal with the pain (and cost!) of damaging your smile when it can be prevented. Just ask your Georgetown dentist about a custom sports mouthguard at your child’s next appointment. And speaking of which….

Cleanings for the Kids? CHECK.

Whether your kids are in elementary school or off at college, setting up their appointments for checkups and cleanings is easy. We offer convenient hours including super early appointments to fit into your (and your child’s) busy schedules.

Enjoying the last moments of summer? Big Time CHECK.

There’s still one more Movie In the Park to enjoy at the soccer fields on August 17th, Music on the Square on Friday nights, and of course, our three Georgetown area Farmers Markets will continue to be full of the bounty of the seasons for healthy vegetables and fruits to add to your end of summer feasts.

So go ahead, catch those fireflies in a jar, take one more dip in the pool, and eat another blue ice pop – just be sure to brush your teeth after that last one. And of course, call your Georgetown dental office to quickly and easily take care of the first two items on your to-do list, so you can spend more time concentrating on those last precious moments of summer.

Don’t forget, we’re always accepting new patients, so tell your friends and family about your favorite dental office.

Do I Need a Dental Night Guard?

dental night guardDental night guards are usually recommended for patients who suffer from nighttime tooth grinding, also known as bruxism. According to the American Dental Association, bruxism affects around 10-15% Americans, so it’s a pretty common problem. While night guards are typically the treatment of choice for bruxism patients, our dental office in Georgetown would like to explain why, how they help, and options you may have.

Why is a Night Guard Used to Treat Bruxism?

Many people who grind their teeth do so during sleep when they are unaware of the problem. And since they’re unaware, they can’t do anything consciously to help correct it. This is when a night guard can help. Night guards are appliances that are fitted individually to each patient and designed to wear while sleeping. They help keep the patient from grinding their teeth together and limits jaw movement. If bruxism is left untreated, the chance of chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, and problems with TMJ/TMD are increased.

Types of Night Guards

There are two types of night guards that may first appear very similar, but are actually quite different. Night guards you can buy at any drugstore are usually cheaper and follow the boil-and-bite method of molding. While they can work to stop tooth grinding, they’re not always the best choice. Custom-made night guards created by a dentist are usually the better option. These professionally crafted night guards use precise molds of your teeth for a tight, proper, comfortable fit. Your dentist will also look at your jaw positioning during the fitting process to ensure your jaw is aligned properly. This may help avoid additional problems with your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) later on.  Custom night guards can also last up to 10 years as opposed to the over-the-counter night guards which may only last a few months before you need a new one.

Other Ways to Treat Tooth Grinding

Night guards are the most commonly recommended treatment method to combat tooth grinding, but just because it’s the most common doesn’t mean it’s the only option. Depending on the case, treatments may include orthodontics, stress reduction exercises, limiting caffeine intake, or considering an alternative medication that may include a stimulant.

Know the Signs of Bruxism

Your dentist in Georgetown may suspect bruxism before you do, but there are signs you should be aware of.

  • Flat or chipped teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Waking up with sore jaw muscles
  • Neck or facial pain
  • Headaches

Bruxism can be treated following a proper diagnosis from a dentist. There’s no need for you to live with pain or at risk for tooth damage and TMJ problems in the future. If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth at night, we encourage you to give our Georgetown dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’ll evaluate your individual needs and recommend the best treatment option for you.

Back to School Brushing and Dental Care

teen football player with mouthguardIt’s back to school time! Signal the groaning of children and the celebration of parents everywhere!

Getting back into the routine of getting ready for school is vital, no matter if you’re a child, a teenager, or a college student.  Everyone has to jump out of bed and get ready to take on the day’s classes, exams, and after school activities. Be sure that each morning starts with a thorough brushing and flossing of your teeth. Not only will it remove plaque and that ‘morning mouth’ feeling, it will also help to wake you up! Besides, no one wants to go to class with morning breath.

Once classes have started, consider storing a travel toothbrush and a small box of dental floss (or floss picks) in a plastic bag inside your backpack. Because that bit of lettuce from your lunchtime salad doesn’t need to be a part of your smile all afternoon long. Or worse, that garlic smell that seems to linger on your breath from that yummy shrimp pasta. Taking a moment to brush and/or floss will keep you feeling fresh, and more confident, as you continue your busy day.

Many students have sports practice after school. Don’t forget your sports mouthguard! Your Georgetown dentist will tell you that more than 5 million teeth are knocked out every year, with up to 39% of them being from sports injuries. Of those, 80% of dental injuries involve the top front teeth. No matter what age you are, no one wants to deal with the pain (and cost!) of damaging your smile when it can so easily be prevented. Ask your Trade Winds Dental team about sports mouthguards so that you can be sure you have the proper type for your activity level.

Going back to school might not always make you want to smile. But with properly cared for teeth, and your Georgetown dental team here to support you, those confident pearly whites should take you to the head of the class.

Top 10 Habits That Ruin Teeth

woman opening bottle with teethAt our dental office in Georgetown, we like to focus on preventive dental care to ensure the health of our neighbors. This usually means seeing us for regular dental visits at least every six months and following a proper hygiene routine at home. But there are other things you may be doing on a daily basis that are harming your smile and you don’t even know it. In this week’s blog, we’d like to cover the top 10 most common habits that ruin teeth.

Brushing Too HardYour dentist in Georgetown recommends brushing your teeth twice a day using small, gentle circles. If you vigorously scrub away at teeth, you can damage gum tissue and cause it to recede, making teeth super sensitive.

Crunching Ice Cubes – Ice cubes are hard and aren’t meant for crunching. Their tough texture can cause you to break teeth, damage dental restorations, or create tiny chips in the enamel where bacteria can thrive.

Eating LemonsThese bright yellow fruits are packed with acid, and when the acid comes in contact with teeth, it can easily erode enamel.

Biting NailsThe angle your jaw adjusts to while nail biting can cause problems with your jaw, also known as TMJ or TMD. Nail biting may also result in chipped teeth.

Using Teeth as ToolsYour teeth are meant for chewing, not opening packets or holding things. When they are used in this manner, cracked teeth are incredibly common.

Playing Sports without a MouthguardPlaying any sport without a mouthguard isn’t only potential dangerous for your smile, it’s also dangerous for your brain. Mouthguards protect teeth from elbows, hockey pucks, or baseballs and can help minimize the risk of concussions.

Drinking SodaSoft drinks are usually packed with sugar, and as we all know, sugar is terrible for teeth. When sugar is in a liquid format as in soda, it can be even more damaging since it’s being exposed to the entire mouth, usually over a long period of time.

Chewing on PencilsJust like you should use your teeth as tools, you also shouldn’t hold or chew on your writing utensils. Pencils and pens alike are hard and can damage teeth pretty easily.

Smoking or Using TobaccoNot only is tobacco use bad for overall health, it’s also detrimental for oral health. Smoking or chewing tobacco can discolor teeth and has been linked to gum disease and oral cancer.

Clenching or Grinding TeethWhether you clench or grind out of stress or while you sleep, you’re essentially banging your teeth together over and over again. Habitually clenching or grinding can result in broken teeth or jaw problems(TMJ).

If you found yourself identifying with any of the habits above, we would encourage you to work on breaking them. In the meantime, if you happen to damage your teeth, whether from a bad habit or any other reason, we’ll be happy to get you back to smiling. Give our Georgetown dental office a call to schedule an appointment.