Santa Cruz Family Dentists | Smile With Confidence in Santa Cruz

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All Posts Tagged: tmj

It’s not “just a cleaning”

So you have been a patient here for years, or maybe you are a new member of the family, either way, do you know really what happens at your teeth cleaning?

If you’re like most people,  the only thing you hear is “cavity” or no cavity.  However, so much more than just the evaluation of tooth decay is going on during those cleanings.  Besides polishing of the tooth’s surface, here’s what’s really going on while your mouth is open…

A review of medical health history

Gums and oral tissues can be greatly affected by changes in your medications or health and  can cause pocketing, dry mouth, or tooth and bone loss.

Blood pressure screening

High blood pressure has been labeled “the silent killer.”  People with elevated blood pressure often don’t know until they have suffered a heart attack or stroke.  Your health and safety is of the utmost importance to us.

American Cancer Society Oral Cancer Exam, Soft Tissue and Hard tissue Exam

Who looks in your mouth more than us?  Regular cancer screenings check for abnormalities or changes in cheeks, gums, tongue, tonsil, and lining of the mouth.  Early detection is the key.  In the United States 3 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every hour, that’s 30,000 Americans every year.

Periodontal exam

Periodontal disease is the #1 leading cause of tooth loss in Americans.  Periodontal disease is an infection of gum tissues.  We take measurements of 6 sites around the teeth to determine the health of the gum tissue and severity of infection.  Early treatment can not only prevent tooth and bone loss, but also save money (and teeth!) in the long run.

TMJ exam

Some say that 20% of the population if affected Tempromandibular Disorder (TMD) which affects the tempromandibular joint.  Early detection can help alleviate major jaw issues in the future including muscle stiffness, locking of the jaw, and changes in the way your teeth fit together.

Occlusal exam

Occlusion is the manner in which the upper and lower teeth come together when the mouth is closed.  Often referred to at the “bite.”  This is super important for not only chewing, but the health of the jaw joint.    A healthy bite means a healthy jaw.

It’s not “just a cleaning”

Every time you open your mouth here at out office rest assured we are looking out for you even when you aren’t entirely aware of it.  Early detection of of high blood pressure can prevent a heart attack.  Early detection of a cavity can prevent a crown.  Early detection of periodontal disease can prevent tooth loss and cardiovascular disease.  Coming to your regularly scheduled cleanings and exams can  spare you unnecessary pain, tooth loss and money with early detection.  Do something good for you, let us keep you healthy.

To your health,

Dr. Bob

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A stable bite means a healthy jaw

A healthy mouth is not just teeth and gums, but a healthy bite. Misaligned occlusion can lead to complications with the joints and muscles of the face.  If teeth do not fit together properly, muscle tension, headaches and an unhealthy joint may result.  This makes it difficult to open and close smoothly and easily.

On average a person swallows 2,000 times a day.  Every time a person swallows the upper and lower teeth meet and push against the skull.  On the person with a poorly aligned bite or frequent headaches this is a recipe for pain.  In an unstable bite, the jaw must work harder to come together causing muscle strain, inflammation around the jaw, fatigue and it may cause long term damage.

A complicated joint

A wide range of movement calls for some complicated tissues.  The Temporomandibular Joint is one of the most complex joints in the body.  Obviously it opens and closes, but the jaw is also capable of a wide variety of side to side, back and forth, and rotating motions.  To do this TM Joint employs the help of a whole group of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  Each one specifically designed to allow speech, mastication and opening.

Signs and symptoms

When muscles around the TM Joint become tense it can lead to a variety of symptoms.  Blood cannot circulate properly, wastes from metabolic processes build up causing headaches.   It may also cause face pain and ear discomfort.   Tense muscles can affect nerves making you feel dizzy.  Clicking and popping sounds are often a result of the tense muscles and tendons and their proximity to the ear.

TMJ Disorder can cause

  1. Headaches
  2. Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  3. Grinding, crunching or popping noises while chewing.
  4. Dizziness

Keep your bite on track

The best solution is prevention.  Ensure a healthy jaw by scheduling regular check-ups.  In a lot of cases TMJ Disorder can be identified and treated conservatively and quickly if identified early.   If you think your teeth are not aligning properly or if you notice any new sounds or discomfort in your jaw call the office.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.

To your health,

Dr. Bob

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