Everything You Need to Know About TMJ Pain

Everything You Need to Know About TMJ Pain

TMJ pain affects an estimated 15 percent of Americans and can cause a variety of issues, from headaches to tooth damage. But what does it mean? And what does it mean for your mouth? Here’s everything you need to know about TMJ pain and TMD.

What does TMJ stand for?

TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joints, which include the jaw muscles and joints that work the jaw, allowing you to open and close your mouth and to chew, swallow, and talk.

The TMJ are located on each side of the face and are ball and socket joints with a complicated network of discs, bones, ligaments, and muscles that work together to allow the jaw to move.

What does TMD stand for?

TMD is an acronym for temporomandibular joint dysfunction or temporomandibular disorder, sometimes also referred to as a TMJ disorder. Any issue that causes pain during or interferes with the function of the TMJ can be referred to as TMD.

What causes TMD?

TMD can be caused by a variety of issues, including misalignment of the teeth or jaws, injury, dislocation of the jaw, arthritis, and stress (which can cause grinding or clenching the teeth).

What are the symptoms of TMD?

A major symptom of a TMD is TMJ pain. TMD can also cause tenderness in the jaw muscle, clicking or popping of the joints, or difficulty moving the jaw.  

How do you treat TMD?

TMJ disorders can be treated with various methods, depending on the cause of the disorder. Your dentist may recommend that you quit chewing gum, eat soft foods, or use heat to ease the pain. You may be fitted for a night guard or bite plate, which can prevent tooth grinding and clenching.

If your TMD symptoms are caused by stress, you may need to use relaxation techniques to reduce stress and relieve tension on the jaw. If your teeth or jaw is not properly aligned, you may be prescribed orthodontic treatment to correct the misalignment. In cases of arthritic TMJ pain, anti-inflammatory or arthritis medication may ease your symptoms.

Should I see a dentist for my TMJ pain?

Absolutely. Only by seeing a dentist can the cause of your TMJ pain be diagnosed and the course of treatment be undertaken to ease your TMJ pain.

Are you experiencing tooth or mouth pain that you think may be caused by TMJ issues? Schedule an appointment with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.

Could Your Bad Breath Be a Sign of Something Worse?

Could Your Bad Breath Be a Sign of Something Worse?

Bad breath is in and of itself a problem: it’s unpleasant, unattractive, and can affect your interactions with others. But sometimes bad breath is more than a sign of bad hygiene, it’s a symptom of an underlying problem or health condition.

What causes bad breath?

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a few different things. It can be caused by something as harmless as foods with strong odors, like garlic or onion, or food being trapped between teeth that need to be brushed or flossed out. But it can have some more sinister causes, including tooth decay or gum disease. Using alcohol-based mouthwashes can also exacerbate bad breath. Even though they claim to freshen your breath, the alcohol dries out the mouth, which can make your breath smell even worse.

Other medical problems can cause bad breath as well, particularly those that involve digestion, stomach, or liver issues. Dry mouth due to dehydration, mouth breathing, or medicinal side effects can cause bad breath, as can infections such as strep throat, tonsillitis, and sinusitis.

How do you find out what’s causing bad breath?

First, make sure you’re dental hygiene habits are up to snuff. Bad breath isn’t always a sign of a deeper medical issue, so before you panic, make sure that you’re brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing every day to get out the tricky bits of food, and that you brush your tongue when brushing your teeth—food particles and residue can get stuck on your tongue, too. Also, consider what you eat. If you eat a lot of stinky foods, cut back for a time to see if that makes a difference in your halitosis.

If your dental hygiene is amazing and you still have bad breath, then it’s time to see a dentist. Your dentist can confirm that your oral care routine is working (and if it’s not, can help you fix it) and determine whether the issue is caused by something else. If it’s an issue of gum disease, dry mouth, or tooth decay, that’s something your dentist can catch and treat. For other issues, they will be able to recommend that you see a doctor who can thoroughly diagnose your issue.

Is it time you found a solution to your bad breath? Whether it’s from dry mouth, diet, or something more serious, we can help! Set up an appointment today with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry.

How to Take Care of Your Oral Health During Pregnancy

How to Take Care of Your Oral Health During Pregnancy

While your oral health is always important, just like other aspects of your health, it’s particularly important during pregnancy. There are myriad dental concerns that can arise with pregnancy that you should be aware of before and during pregnancy.

Gum Disease

New research suggests that women with gum disease who become pregnant are at a higher risk for having premature babies who are at a low birth weight. This might occur because gum disease causes increased levels of the fluids that induce labor. While this hasn’t been definitively proven, you should keep gum disease in check by practicing good dental hygiene and having regular dental checkups.

Morning Sickness

Vomiting from morning sickness can have more than just an effect on your stomach and your appetite. The stomach acid and bile in sick can erode the enamel of your teeth. After episodes of morning sickness, rinse your mouth with water and either brush your teeth or use a mouthwash with fluoride to cut acid levels and fortify your teeth.

Dry Mouth

Many pregnant women experience dry mouth, which can put them at risk for tooth decay and infection (not to mention bad breath!). Staying hydrated with water and chewing sugarless gum can help alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth, but if it gets too severe or uncomfortable, your dentist can help find a mouthwash or other solution.

Red or Bleeding Gums—”Pregnancy Gingivitis”

Many pregnant women also find that their gums appear more red than normal or bleed very easily during tooth brushing; some even have severe gum swelling and bleeding. All of these symptoms are signs of “pregnancy gingivitis,” a common experience beginning as early as the second month of pregnancy. These symptoms occur due to the increase in estrogen and progesterone, which enhance the gums’ reaction to irritation. Good oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day and flossing daily are the best ways to handle these symptoms.

 

If you have concerns about your dental health at any point in your pregnancy, don’t hesitate to see a dentist. Set up an appointment today with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry!

Tooth Sensitivity or Cavity?

Tooth Sensitivity or Cavity?

Tooth pain can be frustrating—and just downright painful—and can affect your oral and physical health, as well as your ability to eat your favorite foods. In order to do anything about your tooth pain, you have to figure out what’s causing it. Two of the most common causes of tooth pain, cavities and sensitivity, can be easy to confuse. Here’s how to tell whether you’re suffering from a cavity or sensitive teeth.

Cavities

Cavities are permanent damage to the tooth in the form of tiny holes. Without treatment, they can get larger and even lead to infection or tooth loss. Only a dentist will be able to fix a cavity, which will often require a filling.

Symptoms

  • Obvious holes or pits in tooth
  • White, black, or brown stains on tooth surface
  • Pain when eating or drinking hot, cold, or sugary foods
  • Pain when biting
  • Pain occurring spontaneously

Causes

  • Poor brushing habits/not cleaning teeth well enough
  • Consuming lots of sugary drinks and treats
  • Not getting enough fluoride
  • Frequent snacking

Tooth sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is an issue that affects many people, and it occurs when the tooth material, dentin, loses its protective enamel and is exposed, causing the nerve endings in the tooth to be exposed. There are toothpaste, mouthwash, and other over-the-counter products that can help treat sensitivity, but severe cases may call for a trip to your dentist.

Symptoms

  • Pain when brushing teeth
  • Pain when eating hot or cold foods/drinks
  • Pain when eating sweet foods/drinks

Causes

  • Overbrushing
  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth grinding
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth erosion/enamel loss

If you have issues with tooth sensitivity or cavities, seeing a dentist is the best way to find a solution. Set up an appointment today with Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry!

How to Recover from Oral Surgery

How to Recover from Oral Surgery

If you’re facing an upcoming oral surgery, whether you’re just getting a filling or getting your wisdom teeth removed, you might wonder what to do to speed up your recovery and protect your mouth while it heals. Here are our tips for recovering from oral surgery:

Take your Prescribed Antibiotics

If your oral surgeon prescribed antibiotics for after your surgery, it’s crucial that you take them as directed. If you don’t, you could get an infection, which could delay your healing time and cause other major health problems.

Avoid Hard/Crunchy Foods

This might seem obvious, but hard or crunchy foods could hurt your recovering mouth. Stick with things that are liquid, like soup or milkshakes, or soft, like mashed potatoes, bananas, and applesauce, until you’re sure you’re healed.

Follow Care Instructions

If your oral surgeon says to change your gauze every X hours or to use a special mouthwash or anything else, you should do it. Your surgeon knows what is necessary to prevent infection and encourage speedy healing, and following their directions will get you healing faster.

Don’t Use Straws

This advice is particularly important if you’ve had your wisdom teeth removed or another tooth pulled, but using a straw can cause dry sockets, a painful condition that can also delay healing or lead to nerve damage.

Avoid Chewy Foods

Anything that requires a lot of chewing (steak, salad, etc.) is going to put stress on your mouth and should be avoided while you’re recovering from an oral surgery. Foods that stick to your teeth, candies, marshmallows, and gum, for example, should also be avoided, as they can stick around and cause decay.

Don’t Neglect your Oral Hygiene

You should always be diligent about brushing and flossing, but don’t let your oral hygiene slack because you’re not feeling well. Keeping your teeth clean is crucial for oral health and the best way to avoid needing another oral surgery.

Whether you’re having a tooth pulled, your wisdom teeth removed, or a cavity filled, Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry can help you. Set up an appointment today!

Why It’s Important to Follow the Rules with Braces

Why It’s Important to Follow the Rules with Braces

Braces are a reality for most teens and even some adults, whether for cosmetic or medical purposes. And any braces-wearer knows that there are a lot of rules you’re supposed to follow: foods you can’t eat and ways you have to floss and brush. Do you really have to follow them though?

YES. We can’t say it enough times: yes. Why?

  • Eating hard or sticky foods or chewing gum can cause brackets to pop off. This can hinder your progress and require extra trips to the orthodontist to get the brackets reattached.
  • Not brushing after every meal and snack can leave food particles trapped against your teeth. This can cause tooth decay or staining. When you get your braces off, the last thing you want to discover is that you have to get a cavity filled or that your tooth surface under the brackets is whiter than the rest of your teeth!
  • Not flossing properly can have the same effects as not brushing enough: tooth decay or staining.
  • Eating sticky foods and chewing gum can also cause sugar to stick to your teeth around the brackets, which can result in tooth decay.
  • Eating hard or sticky foods that stress the brackets and wires can even inhibit the progress the braces make in moving your teeth and keeping them there, so you might need braces again.
  • Not wearing your retainer after you get your braces off is a major reason that people’s teeth move back after they get braces so that they have to get braces again.

 

If you want the first time you have braces to be the only time you have braces, and you want the results to be as beautiful and painless as possible, you should listen to your orthodontists rules for braces-wearers, and avoid hard foods like popcorn and jawbreakers, sticky foods like hard candies and suckers, and regular chewing gum. You should also be sure to brush your teeth after eating and to use braces-friendly flossing tools.

Think you need braces? The dentists at Weber, Mountford & Ruszkowski Family Dentistry can help determine the best course of action for improving your smile. Set up an appointment today!