There's still much about the underlying nature of chronic jaw joint dysfunction we have yet to unravel. Treating these conditions known as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMDs) may therefore require some experimentation to find what works for each individual patient.
Most TMD therapies are relatively conservative: eating softer foods, taking anti-inflammatory pain relievers or undergoing physical therapy. There have been some surgical techniques tried to relieve jaw pain and dysfunction, but these have so far had mixed results.
Recently, the use of the drug Botox has been promoted for relieving jaw pain, albeit temporarily. Botox contains tiny amounts of botulinum toxin type A, a poisonous substance derived from the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can cause muscle paralysis. It's mainly used to cosmetically smooth out small wrinkles around facial features.
Because of these properties, some physicians have proposed Botox for TMD treatment to paralyze the muscles around the jaw to reduce pain and discomfort. While the treatment sounds intriguing, there are a number of reasons to be wary of it if you have TMD.
To begin with, the claims for Botox's success in relieving jaw pain have been mainly anecdotal. On the other hand, findings from randomized, double-blind trials have yet to show any solid evidence that Botox can produce these pain-relieving effects.
But even if it lived up to the claims of TMD pain relief, the effect would eventually fade in a few weeks or months, requiring the patient to repeat the injections. It's possible with multiple Botox injections that the body will develop antibodies to fight the botulinum toxin, causing the treatment to be less effective with subsequent injections.
Of even greater concern are the potential side effects of Botox TMD treatment, ranging from headaches and soreness at the injection site to more serious muscle atrophy and possible facial deformity from repeated injections. There's also evidence for decreased bone density in the jaw, which could have far-reaching consequences for someone with TMD.
The best approach still seems to lie in the more conservative therapies that treat TMD similar to other joint disorders. Finding the right combination of therapies that most benefit you will help you better manage your symptoms.
If you would like more information on treatments for TMD, 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 “Botox Treatment for TMJ Pain.”
Half of adults over age 30, and an astounding 70% over 65, have had some form of periodontal (gum) disease. Unchecked, a bacterial gum infection can spread into the supporting bone and destroy attachments between the teeth and gums. Because of its rapidity and aggressiveness, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults.
But there may be even more harm caused by gum disease beyond losing teeth: There's growing evidence gum disease may worsen other diseases like diabetes, heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with gum disease are also more likely to suffer from one or more of these systemic conditions.
The link between gum disease and these other diseases appears to be inflammation. When tissue becomes injured or diseased, swelling (inflammation) occurs to isolate these tissues from the rest of the body. Under normal circumstances, this is a critical defense mechanism to protect the body overall.
But this response is a temporary measure—if it becomes chronic, it can actually damage the tissues it's trying to protect. This often happens with gum disease as inflammation can't overcome the gum infection, and both sides settle into a kind of trench warfare. The same story plays out with other diseases with an inflammatory response. And if the body is waging war with a gum infection, it can worsen these other conditions.
It's important then to take care of your gums and the rest of the body to minimize chronic inflammation. You can help prevent a gum infection by brushing and flossing every day and getting your teeth cleaned professionally at least every six months. You should also see your dentist if you notice swollen, reddened or bleeding gums, often the first signs of gum disease.
It can also benefit your gums if you're addressing other inflammatory issues in your body. Besides regular medical care, you can reduce your risk for other systemic diseases by eating a healthy diet, keeping your weight at an optimum level and avoiding smoking.
The individual parts of your body aren't isolated islands: Diseases that affect one can eventually affect all. By preventing or treating gum disease as early as possible, you'll also help reduce the effects of other systemic diseases.
You could have an unattractive smile because of a chipped tooth or one slightly out of alignment. Or, it could be both of the above, plus some heavy staining to boot. Correcting each flaw individually might require a combination of different methods like orthodontics or porcelain crowns, which can take an extended period of time to complete.
But you may be able to correct numerous smile flaws with just one method—and in no more than a couple of treatment visits. It's called direct veneers.
Unlike regular veneers, direct veneers don't require a dental technician to craft a thin porcelain shell to bond over teeth. Rather, a dentist applies a tooth-colored material called composite resin to the problem teeth and "sculpts" an entirely new look that can correct multiple dental flaws at one time.
The dentist usually begins the process by creating a model ("wax-up") of proposed changes based on physical impressions of the jaw and teeth. Both dentist and patient can study the model and modify it if necessary, when finalizing the treatment plan.
At a subsequent appointment, the dentist prepares the tooth surface for bonding by removing a thin layer of tooth enamel, then shapes the teeth to better accommodate the composite resin. This tooth prep is similar to that done with traditional veneers, so it's permanent—the teeth will require some form of restoration from then on.
After applying an etchant and a bonding agent, the dentist applies the composite resin in small amounts, hardening each layer with a special light before applying the next one. With each subsequent layer, the dentist sculps the composite material to eventually resemble the wax-up model.
After completing the composite application, the dentist then uses hand tools and a dental drill to complete shaping, as well as an abrasive strip between teeth to aid future flossing. After just a few hours, the transformation is complete.
Direct veneers are durable, but not to the same extent as regular veneers or other cosmetic enhancements. They can also pick up stains over time, and may require re-treatment at some point. Still, direct veneers are a cost-effective way to improve the appearance of teeth with multiple flaws that could radically change your smile for the better.
When was the last time you went to your dentist? If the answer is over a year ago, it's time to make an appointment at the family dentistry office of Dr. Melinda Kuhn.
Kuhn Family Dentistry in Reno, NV, provides all your dental care needs. Keeping up with your visits is key to a healthy, beautiful smile for decades to come. From cleanings to restorations to exams, regular appointments complement and enhance your daily oral hygiene routine.
What does a family dentist do?
At our family dentistry office in Reno, NV, we encourage coming in every six months for an examination and professional cleaning. While brushing and flossing are essential, plaque and tartar can still develop and it takes more than a toothbrush to remove them. We have special tools to remove stubborn buildup before it spreads or creates decay or cavities. With small mirrors, we can closely examine the health of each of your teeth and provide a detailed cleaning that reaches every surface. A professional cleaning buffs away stains, revealing white, shiny teeth, and we can apply a fluoride treatment to help prevent cavities.
Your appointment is also the time for us to identify any dental issues, such as cavities, chips, cracks, decay or discoloration, and provide the necessary treatments. By keeping up with your visits, problems will be caught in a timely manner, before they worsen. Visits to your family dentistry office may include x-rays, which help us identify any problems not visible to the naked eye.
A family dentist can also work with you on any cosmetic or restorative dentistry needs, such as tooth replacement options, straightening devices, whitening treatments, or crowns.
Keeping up with your dental appointments will help you save time and money in the long run, and prevent you from the potential pain of dental problems going untreated.
Call the family dentistry office of Dr. Kuhn in Reno, NV, at (775) 829-9331 today to make your next appointment.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a smile that doesn't stain? That's only one benefit that porcelain veneers provide. Porcelain veneers deliver a strong, durable, and resilient alternative to natural enamel for chipped, cracked, crooked, gapped, discolored, or broken teeth. This non-invasive procedure is performed in-office by your dentist using tooth-colored materials to create a healthy, confidence-boosting appearance. Dr. Melinda Kuhn can complete this procedure in three steps and discuss details during a visit to our Reno, NV office.
Renew Your Smile With Porcelain Veneers
A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain that your dentist bonds to the surface of tooth enamel. Porcelain veneers can be used on a single tooth or group of teeth, resulting in a minor makeover or a complete smile transformation.
First, some of the tooth enamel is removed for a proper fit. Your dentist then takes an impression of your smile that is sent to a laboratory where your veneers are custom made. They will match the rest of your teeth in size and color unless you choose to brighten your smile with veneers. Finally, your Reno, NV, dentist will cement the porcelain veneers to the teeth.
Brushing twice a day for two minutes, flossing daily, and sleeping with a bite guard are all excellent ways to protect your new veneers. You'll also benefit from frequent professional cleanings and routine checkups.
Talk to your dentist today to determine your candidacy for porcelain veneers. If your teeth require a more semi-permanent cosmetic option, such as teeth whitening, crowns, or bonding, Dr. Kuhn can go over these services with you during the consultation.
For more information about porcelain veneers, as well as services provided in our Reno, NV office, visit our website. Please call (775) 829-9331 for appointment scheduling.
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