Are you dealing with a TMJ disorder? Find out how to alleviate your discomfort.
Everything from dental misalignments to stress can lead someone to deal with an uncomfortable and common jaw problem known as a TMJ disorder. TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which are joints found on both sides of the face that connect the jawbone to the skull. These joints are responsible for all jaw movements, from speaking to chewing. To learn more about TMJ, talk to Dr. Mike Maurer and Dr. Gary Olen at Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry and Orthodontics. Learn more about the symptoms and what you can do for treatment at our office in El Cajon, CA.
Is my jaw pain due to a TMJ disorder?
So, how do you know what’s causing your jaw pain? This is where our services come in. If the pain is severe enough or persistent, then you may want to play it safe and schedule a consultation with us. If you do have a TMJ disorder, symptoms may include:
- Aching jaw pain
- Jaw pain that gets worse when speaking, chewing, or biting
- Jaws that are tender to the touch
- A clicking or popping sound when opening your jaws
- Jaws joints that lock up when opening or closing your mouth
- Limited mobility of the jaw joints
You may also feel like your jaws get tired more easily, especially when chewing. Of course, there are some people who have a TMJ disorder but don’t experience pain or other issues.
How do you treat jaw pain?
Medications, certain therapies, and lifestyle modifications may be recommended to help reduce jaw joint pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. Some people find success by eating softer foods and avoiding bad habits like chewing their nails. Even avoiding bubble gum can help!
Common medications include muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories, to reduce both pain and swelling. You can also apply moist heat or a wrapped ice pack to the area when pain is exacerbated.
If your TMJ disorder is due to a tooth and jaw misalignment, orthodontic treatment may be recommended to correct the problem. If your TMJ disorder is due to teeth grinding or stress, our dentist can create a custom nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep. Sometimes counseling or finding outlets to alleviate your stress can also reduce your symptoms.
If you are dealing with severe or chronic jaw pain, it’s important that you turn to Dr. Mike Maurer and Dr. Gary Olen at Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry and Orthodontics for an immediate evaluation. The sooner you seek care the sooner you’ll be on the road to recovery. Call our office in El Cajon, CA, today to find out how we can help get rid of your TMJ disorder pain, at 619-440-5915.
Braces. They conjure up images of unsightly headgear, hours and hours at the bathroom sink, and cumbersome retainers. However, today's orthodontic treatment from Dr. Mike Maurer and Dr. Gary Olen at Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry and Orthodontics in El Cajon, CA, is more comfortable and efficient than ever before. Learn here about the importance of orthodontics.
What is orthodontia?
It's the dental specialty that corrects a variety of cosmetic and functional smile issues stemming from:
- Bite problems (malocclusion)
- Crooked teeth
- Missing teeth
- Oral injury
- Differences in tooth size and jaw size
Besides correcting aesthetic issues, the orthodontic treatment creates smiles that are easier to keep clean, thus avoiding the perils of tooth decay and gum disease. Also, correctly aligned teeth and jaws are far less prone to jaw joint pain and headache caused by Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, or TMJ/TMD.
Should you get braces?
The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children receive an orthodontic examination by age seven to make treatment, if necessary, easier. Most young people who do need braces begin wearing them before the age of 14. However, the Association also says that about 20 percent of current orthodontic patients are adults.
To settle the question of getting or not getting orthodontic treatment, we perform a complete dental examination, noting tooth number, size, shape, and position. We take digital X-rays to look at roots and bone structure and evaluate the size and shape of your upper and lower jaws. We also note how upper and lower mandibles close together. Oral impressions allow us to create a study model to determine the best course of treatment for you as needed.
Life with Braces
Your dentist will determine what kind of braces are best for your particular needs. Appliances may include:
- Traditional metal or ceramic braces
- Lingual, or tongue-side, braces
- Clear aligners from Invisalign
- Palatal expanders which widen the jaw
- Space maintainers to leave room for erupting adult teeth
While conventional braces often impose dietary restrictions and oral hygiene routines which can be complex, clear aligners are removable and easy to clean. Treatment times, of course, vary case to case, but generally, clear aligners straighten smiles more quickly than other kinds of braces.
Your smile goals
Orthodontic treatment could be the path to your aesthetic smile goals and your best oral health. Why not contact Dr. Mike Maurer and Dr. Gary Olen at Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry and Orthodontics in El Cajon, CA? Call us at 619-440-5915.
Did you know that your dentist doesn’t just treat your teeth, but sleep apnea as well? Dental sleep medicine focuses on oral appliances for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This condition is recognizable by the tissue in the back of an individual’s throat collapsing as they sleep, blocking the airways throughout the night. This is a serious condition that causes many short and long-term effects, so it’s important you schedule your appointment with Dr. Mike Maurer and Dr. Gary Olen at Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry & Orthodontics in El Cajon, CA, right away. Here are several signs of sleep apnea and how you can manage this sleep dentistry condition.
Common sleep apnea signs
If you have sleep apnea, you may notice one or more of these signs:
- Frequent Snoring: Snoring, one of the most well-known signs of sleep apnea, occurs when your throat muscles vibrate when you sleep. If you have sleep apnea, your throat muscles relax and your airway becomes narrower when you sleep, which increases vibrations and worsens snoring.
- Gasping and Choking: Sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing multiple times during the night, usually for a few seconds at a time. Gasping and choking serve an important purpose because it opens your airway and allows you to begin breathing again. Unfortunately, chronic oxygen deprivation can lead to strokes, high blood pressure, and type II diabetes.
- Fatigue: When your sleep is constantly interrupted, it's hard to feel rested and energetic. Fatigue can be a sign that you have sleep apnea.
- Difficulty Concentrating: In addition to fatigue, you may also notice that it's harder to concentrate. Difficulty concentrating can be particularly dangerous if your job involves operating heavy machinery or driving for hours at a time.
- Morning Headaches: Oxygen deprivation can also lead to morning headaches. Although the headaches usually go away an hour or two after you wake up, they can be a warning sign of sleep apnea.
- Irritability: Sleep deprivation can also affect your moods, leaving you feeling irritable and depressed.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Oral Appliance Therapy is the key to treatment and healthy life. Your dentist will give you an oral appliance that you’ll wear during the night. A mandibular repositioning device moves your jaw forward while you sleep to keep your airways open. Another option is tongue retaining devices that work by keeping your tongue in place so it can’t block your breathing.
Your dental team offers a low-tech solution for your sleep apnea. These dental sleep medicine treatments ensure that you and your spouse or significant other can sleep soundly once again. Are you interested in learning how sleep dentistry can help you beat sleep apnea? Call Dr. Mike Maurer and Dr. Gary Olen at Pediatric & Adolescent Dentistry & Orthodontics in El Cajon, CA, at 619-440-5915.
There are different ways to ease a child's potential nervousness with dental visits, like starting those visits around their first birthday or seeing a pediatric dentist who specializes in children. But even doing those things won't guarantee your child won't develop some form of dental anxiety, which could complicate their dental care.
To help make appointments easier for anxious children, many dentists use conscious sedation as a means of helping them relax. With this technique, the dentist administers a mild sedative to the child to take the edge off their nervousness, while allowing them to remain awake during treatment.
Sedation isn't anesthesia, the means we use to stop pain during treatment (although sedation may be used with anesthesia). Rather, sedation reduces emotional fear and anxiety. And unlike general anesthesia, a sedated child can still breathe without assistance and, depending on the depth of the sedation, respond to physical and verbal stimuli.
In most cases, children are administered sedation medications by mouth, usually as a syrup, although on occasion it might be delivered intravenously with an IV. The dose is usually given some time before their treatment session after the dentist has evaluated them. Dentists mostly use mild sedatives like Midazolam or Hydroxyzine with very little risk of side effects for children.
During the procedure, a designated staff member continually monitors the child's vital signs. Besides heart rate, pulse and respirations, they may also check the child's exhaled carbon dioxide levels to ensure they're breathing normally.
After the treatment session is over, staff will continue to monitor the child until their vital signs return to pre-sedation levels. If the child is of driving age, they'll need someone to drive them home. Children who've been sedated should remain home for the rest of the day, but they can usually return to school the next day depending on what kind of dental work they've undergone.
Dentists follow strict protocols for pediatric sedation adopted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Dental Society, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. In addition, many states have also established processes for administering sedation therapy. It's a safe and effective method to ease a child's anxiety over their dental visit.
If you would like more information on making dental visits easier for kids, 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 “Sedation Dentistry For Kids.”
You know what people say: "Protect your tooth enamel, and it will protect your teeth." Then again, maybe you've never heard anyone say that—but it's still true. Super strong enamel protects teeth from oral threats that have the potential to do them in.
Unfortunately, holding the title of "Hardest substance in the human body" doesn't make enamel indestructible. It's especially threatened by oral acid, which can soften its mineral content and lead to erosion.
That doesn't have to happen. Here are 5 things you can do to protect your enamel—and your teeth.
Don't brush too often. Brushing is essential for removing bacterial plaque, the main cause for dental disease. But more isn't always good—brushing too frequently can wear down enamel (and damage your gums, too). So, limit daily brushing to no more than twice a day.
Don't brush too soon. Oral acid normally peaks at mealtime, which can put your enamel into a softer than normal state. No worries, though, because saliva neutralizes acid within about an hour. But brushing before saliva finishes rebuffering could cause tiny bits of softened enamel to flake off—so, wait an hour after eating to brush.
Stop eating—right before turning in for the night, that is. Because saliva flow drops significantly during sleep, the decreased saliva may struggle to buffer acid from that late night snack. To avoid this situation, end your eating or snacking at least an hour before bedtime.
Increase your calcium. This essential mineral that helps us maintain strong bones and teeth can also help our enamel remineralize faster after acid contact. Be sure, then, to include calcium-rich foods and calcium-fortified beverages in your diet.
Limit acidic beverages. Many sodas, sports and energy drinks are high in acid, which can skew your mouth's normal pH. Go with low-acidic beverages like milk or water, or limit acidic drinks to mealtimes when saliva flows more freely. Also, consider using a straw while drinking acidic beverages to lessen their contact with teeth.
Remember, enamel isn't a renewable resource—once it's gone, it's gone. Take care of your enamel, then, so it will continue to take care of you!
If you would like more information on caring for your tooth enamel, 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 “6 Tips to Help Prevent the Erosion of Tooth Enamel.”
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