May is National Women’s Health Month, and Dr. Thompson would like to discuss a disorder that is nine times more likely to affect a woman than a man. Twenty years ago, most people had never heard of the condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD), even though some research estimates that over 10 million Americans are affected. It wasn’t until celebrity cases such as Burt Reynolds combined with a concerted effort to change the way dentists are educated, that the public became more aware and informed about what could be affecting their day-to-day life. The term TMJ encompasses a large range of symptoms and manifestations, ranging from short-term, manageable discomfort to long-term, excruciating pain. One big question remains: why does it affect so many more women than men?
April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and Peter L. Thompson DDS is working with health care providers around the country to educate people about the causes of this terrible disease and how everyone can lower their risk of contracting it. Approximately 35,000 people will be diagnosed with some form of oral cancer this year, and there are many kinds that can affect people.
Crowns are individual restorations that patients receive when the integrity of a particular tooth’s structure has been jeopardized by decay, frequent bruxism (grinding), or other corrosive forces. It is understood, when a patient decides to receive a crown, that much of the original tooth structure will be lost. A tooth that receives a crown is a peg for the new restoration to be permanently and securely cemented into place. Successful crown placement can restore the tooth to its original function and help the patient to chew, speak, and maintain a clean oral cavity better than if a poorly functioning tooth were left alone. There are two types of crowns (temporary and permanent) and several materials that are frequently used during crown placement. The success of either temporary or permanent crowns has much to do with proper cleaning of the crown by the patient every day at home.
For varying reasons, dentists may decide to place a temporary crown before a permanent one is crafted in a lab. Such reasons can include checking the health of a tooth (or, seeing how a tooth responds to a temporary crown before a more expensive, more permanent one is cemented in place), waiting for a permanent crown to be crafted (a process which can take several days to several weeks, and leave a decayed tooth vulnerable), and waiting for the patient to feel financially comfortable with paying for a permanent crown (in other words, a temporary crown is often better than an untreated tooth). Regardless of the reason, patients may be curious as to the role and variety of materials that are used when a temporary restoration is placed. The materials involved in the placement of a temporary crown often include acrylic resins and zinc oxide-eugenol.
Acrylic resins are used to create the tooth structure of a temporary crown, because they are easy to work with, cost-effective, and can be prepared in a timely fashion. A dental assistant often helps the doctor to take an impression of the teeth which is used as a guide for creating the temporary crown. Once the acrylic resin is poured, it is mixed with a powder, and each chemical works together to make the fabricated tooth harden. This process is referred to as ‘polymerization,’ and once it is complete, the temporary crown is ready to be placed.
Zinc Oxide-Eugenol (or ZOE, for short), is a type of soothing material that is used in a cement form to place a temporary crown. Eugenol cement can be mixed together easily, and is comforting to a tooth structure when there is exposed dentin. Because of its soothing properties, ZOE cement is also used in a variety of other procedures including root canals, regular fillings, and the placement of more complicated restorations.
Following the placement of a temporary crown, a permanent crown is cemented in to place once it has been fabricated in a lab.
Permanent Crown Materials
Permanent crown materials can include porcelain, which is a strong, sturdy substance that mimics the color of a natural tooth. In addition, crowns that are porcelain fused to metal, silver, and gold can also be used. The type of material that is selected for a permanent crown is up to the patient. This decision can be influenced by the cost, aesthetic result, and strength of a particular material.
Taking Care of Your Permanent Crown
On average, permanent crowns, depending on the material used, last from five to fifteen years. If a crown becomes chipped, cracked, or falls off prior to the need for a new restoration, dental professionals will remedy the problem during an appointment. Caring for a permanent crown should be very similar to care of regular teeth. It is important to brush, floss, and use a mouth rinse around any tooth with a crown just as frequently, and crown placement does not mean that a tooth is entirely protected from infection or dental caries (cavities). Cleaning a crown meticulously will prolong the life of the restoration and promote the health of the tooth structure that lies underneath.
For more information on dental crowns, contact Dr. Peter Thompson at his Portales office today!
At Peter L. Thompson DDS, we are always looking for new ways to make your life healthier and happier and new studies now prove that dentists can join primary care physicians in fight against diabetes. Dr. Thompson and his staff want to do everything possible to help patients live a long and happy life.
The act of grinding or clenching the upper and lower sets of teeth against each other is called bruxism. It may take place at any time of the day. Often, it occurs when someone is either sleeping or taking a nap. If this happens occasionally, then there is no cause for concern. However, habitual bruxism may lead to oral health problems.
Probable Causes Of Habitual Bruxism
There are several things that may lead to a person habitually clenching or grinding their teeth. It may be the result of too much stress, a traumatic incident like a car crash, an existing medical condition, or due to a simple allergic reaction. It can sometimes start out as a reflex chewing activity resulting from certain stimuli. Anxiety, or the other factors mentioned, can cause it to happen often enough that it becomes a habit.
Although this condition can happen to anyone, certain people are particularly susceptible. For instance, misaligned, uneven, or missing teeth can trigger the chewing reflex. People who are subject to higher amounts of stress, such as those with poor sleeping habits and poor posture may exhibit bruxism during their sleep.
Signs And Symptoms
Most of the time people are not aware they have this habit, especially while they are asleep. Many only become aware due to complaints made by those sleeping nearby.
One such indicator is a sore jaw upon waking up in the morning or after an afternoon nap. This may be accompanied by a dull, constant headache. Some painful symptoms can even be felt in the ear area because the muscles used in clenching or grinding teeth are also found in this area of the face.
Aside from the pain, teeth may also exhibit abnormal wear patterns in the biting surface of teeth found towards the back of the mouth. These are the ones used to grind food when eating.
When bruxism occurs over a long enough period of time, portions of teeth may break away or become fractured. Some may also be loosened, leading to the eventual loss of one or more teeth. These types of damage will need to be treated by a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further or more severe dental complications.
Aside from this, other parts of the mouth and face may also be affected. For instance, habitual bruxism may lead to a pain disorder in the joint below the temples and in front of the ears. This is the joint used when chewing food or moving the jaw. Hearing loss is another possibility. Because it affects the teeth, the jaw, and muscles associated with chewing, it can even result in a change in appearance.
Early Intervention And Treatment
Treating this problem involves addressing the cause or stimulus that triggered the habit. If it is related to stress, treatment that incorporates stress reduction will be very helpful. Some stress reduction options include taking exercise or participating in stress counseling. Using prescribed muscle relaxants may also help.
If the problem is sleep related, doing things to normalize sleep is essential. This includes abstaining from foods that contain caffeine or chocolate, colas, or other substances that may adversely affect sleep. Alcohol also tends to increase bruxism, so should be avoided. It is likely that a mouthguard may be prescribed to prevent bruxism during sleep.
There are also other practical measures that may also help in breaking the habit. These include only using teeth for the purpose of eating, and refraining from chewing gum, or doing some other activity related to habitual chewing or jaw clenching. A warm washcloth placed over the jaw area in front of the ears can also be helpful in relaxing the muscles used in chewing or clenching.
It is important to consult with a dentist if bruxism is suspected. A dentist will help in identifying the cause and can come up with the right treatment program to help address it. In some cases, they may refer the patient to another physician who is better suited to deal with whatever is causing the habit.
Bruxism, if it does not become habitual, is not a cause for concern. If it becomes a habit, however, it can lead to various oral health problems. Identifying it early and treating the underlying cause will help prevent it from causing irreversible damage.
For more information about teeth grinding or mouthguards, or any other dental issues, please contact your Portales, NM dentist, Dr. Peter Thompson today.
Dr. Thompson’s Associations
- Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies Graduate
- Fellow of the Misch International Implant Institute
- Fellow of Academy of General Dentistry
- Fellow of the Dental Organization of Conscious Sedation
- Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantologist
- See all of Dr. Thompson's associations
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