Posts for: October, 2017
Ongoing jaw pain can be disruptive to your entire life: it can make eating, sleeping, and talking difficult. If you have been experiencing jaw pain and aren't sure why, it's time to make an appointment with Dr. Robert Hoffmaster, your dentist in York, PA, to find out if you have TMJ. You may have heard of this term but aren't sure what it means. This is a great place to start to learn more about TMJ.
What is TMJ?
TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint, which is the area of the jaw that moves when you talk and chew. It's also the area that is affected by poor alignment or degradation of the joint's cushioning tissues. Prior trauma to the jaw, such as from a car or sports-related accident, may also cause TMJ to develop. Its symptoms include a clicking or popping sensation during jaw movements, pain and tenderness in the immediate area, or "referred" pain in the neck, shoulder, or ear. TMJ may also be referred to as TMJD or TMD, with the 'D' standing for "dysfunction." TMJ is a common problem seen by your York dentist; it's estimated that over 10 million Americans deal with some form of it.
Treating TMJ with medication
The first step in treating your TMJ is to contact Dr. Hoffmaster, who has extensive experience and training in diagnosis and management of TMJ. A regimen of anti-inflammatory medicine can be extremely helpful in keeping the associated pain under control. Muscle relaxants may also be effective for TMJ symptoms, but they need to be used on a short-term basis with strict adherence to a schedule to avoid adverse side effects. Antidepressant medications have also shown to be useful in helping to relax the jaw and reduce pain.
Other ways to treat TMJ
Your York dentist may recommend that you wear an appliance, also called an orthotic or a splint, in your mouth during sleep to help hold your jaw in the proper position. Many people see significant relief from wearing these devices. Surgical procedures, such as joint replacement or steroid insertion, are typically only recommended if the conservative treatments listed above fail to bring any relief.
For sympathetic and experienced care of TMJ, contact Dr. Hoffmaster's office in York, PA for an evaluation.
There are a variety of methods for treating periodontal (gum) disease depending on its severity — from routine office cleanings to periodontal surgery. But the goal behind all of them remains the same: remove bacterial plaque and calculus (tartar), the root cause for gum disease, from all tooth and gum surfaces.
The traditional method for doing this is called scaling in which we use special hand instruments (scalers) to mechanically remove plaque and calculus. Scaling and a similar procedure called root planing (the root surfaces are “planed” smooth of plaque to aid tissue reattachment) require quite a bit of skill and experience. They're also time-consuming: full treatment can take several sessions, depending on how extensive the infection has spread.
In recent years, we've also seen a new method emerge for removing plaque: lasers. Commonly used in other aspects of healthcare, lasers utilize a focused beam of light to destroy and remove diseased or unhealthy tissue while, according to studies and firsthand accounts, minimizing healthy tissue destruction to a better degree than traditional techniques. Procedure and healing times are likewise reduced.
Because of these beneficial characteristics, we are seeing their use in gum disease treatment, especially for removing diseased and inflamed tissues below the gum line and decreasing sub-gingival (“below the gums”) bacteria.
Dentists who have used lasers in this way do report less tissue damage, bleeding and post-treatment discomfort than traditional treatments. But because research is just beginning, there's not enough evidence to say laser treatment is preferably better than conventional treatment for gum disease.
At this point, lasers can be an effective addition to conventional gum disease treatment for certain people, especially those in the early stages of the disease. As we continue to study this technology, though, the day may come when lasers are the preferred way to stop gum disease from ruining your dental health.
If you would like more information on treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Lasers Versus Traditional Cleanings for Treating Gum Disease.”
Watching your newborn develop into a toddler, then an elementary schooler, a teenager, and finally an adult is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences there is. Throughout the years, you’ll note the passing of many physical milestones — including changes that involve the coming and going of primary and permanent teeth. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about children’s dental development.
When will I see my baby’s first tooth come in?
The two lower front teeth usually erupt (emerge from the gums) together, between the ages of 6 and 10 months. But your baby’s teeth may come earlier or later. Some babies are even born with teeth! You will know the first tooth is about to come in if you see signs of teething, such as irritability and a lot of drooling. The last of the 20 baby teeth to come in are the 2-year molars, so named for the age at which they erupt.
When do kids start to lose their baby teeth?
Baby teeth are generally lost in the same order in which they appeared, starting with the lower front teeth around age 6. Children will continue to lose their primary teeth until around age 12.
What makes baby teeth fall out?
Pressure from the emerging permanent tooth below the gum will cause the roots of the baby tooth to break down or “resorb” little by little. As more of the root structure disappears, the primary tooth loses its anchorage in the jawbone and falls out.
When will I know if my child needs braces?
Bite problems (malocclusions) usually become apparent when a child has a mixture of primary and permanent teeth, around age 6-8. Certain malocclusions are easier to treat while a child’s jaw is still growing, before puberty is reached. Using appliances designed for this purpose, orthodontists can actually influence the growth and development of a child’s jaw — to make more room for crowded teeth, for example. We can discuss interceptive orthodontics more fully with you at your child’s next appointment.
When do wisdom teeth come in and why do they cause problems?
Wisdom teeth (also called third molars) usually come in between the ages of 17 and 25. By that time, there may not be enough room in the jaw to accommodate them — or they may be positioned to come in at an angle instead of vertically. Either of these situations can cause them to push against the roots of a neighboring tooth and become trapped beneath the gum, which is known as impaction. An impacted wisdom tooth may lead to an infection or damage to adjacent healthy teeth. That it is why it is important for developing wisdom teeth to be monitored regularly at the dental office.
If you have additional questions about your child’s dental development, please contact us or schedule a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Losing a Baby Tooth” and “The Importance of Baby Teeth.”