Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) isn't just painful, it can severely interfere with one of life's essentials—eating. For a person with TMD, an enjoyable meal with family and friends can turn into an agonizing, painful experience.
Especially during flareups, the action of chewing can be extremely uncomfortable for someone with TMD. The condition also makes it difficult to open the mouth, which can interfere with the types of food you can eat.
Managing TMD in general often requires a combination of treatment techniques, including medication and physical therapy. For meals in particular, making some adjustments in the types of foods you eat, how you prepare them, and how you eat them can help you enjoy your mealtime experience more.
If you have TMD, here are 4 things that could ease your discomfort and bring the joy back into eating.
Peel fruits and vegetables. Although the hard skins of some foods like apples or cucumbers are edible, the extra jaw effort to eat them can trigger pain if you suffer from TMD. Take the time, then, to peel fruits and vegetables with tough outer skins.
Cut food into small bites. With limited ability to open your mouth, normal-sized portions can prove challenging. Make it easier by cutting foods into smaller than normal bites. Taking the extra time to do this can give your jaws relief and reduce the discomfort and pain associated with opening your mouth.
Chew slowly. Chewing normally may still be too vigorous for someone with TMD—the chewing action increases the pressure on your jaw joints and can result in painful spasms. By slowing down your chewing, and taking breaks along the way, can make it less likely your jaws will become overworked.
Moisten tougher foods. Although delicious, a number of meats and vegetables are by nature "chewy." You can make them easier to eat with a little liquid. Use cooking methods like braising or stewing to make these foods more tender; you can also add gravies or sauces where appropriate to help make chewing easier.
If you would like more information on coping with 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 “When TMJ Pain Flares Up.”
If it seems like your teeth have gotten longer, it's not likely they've magically grown. The changed appearance, often accompanied by tooth sensitivity, may mean you have gum recession—the gums have actually shrunk back or receded from the teeth.
Ordinarily, the gums cover the teeth to the edge of the crown enamel, but if their attachment to the teeth weakens, the gums can shrink back, exposing the tooth below the crown near the roots. Although recession can happen because of overzealous brushing or other forms of trauma, the most common cause is periodontal (gum) disease.
Gum disease usually begins as a bacterial infection in the tissues around the gum line, usually triggered by a thin film of bacteria and food particles on tooth surfaces called dental plaque. Unfortunately, the infection rarely stays there, but can quickly spread deeper into the gums and eventually impact the roots and supporting bone in the jaw. The infection also weakens the gums' attachment to teeth, resulting in recession.
While your smile can suffer from gum recession, that may be the least of your problems. Receded gums expose portions of a tooth that depend on gum coverage for protection against disease. Gum coverage also muffles sensations in these areas of the tooth, so that without it affected areas can experience a sharp, painful response to sudden hot or cold temperatures.
Fortunately, you may be able to avoid recession if you take steps to minimize your risk of gum disease. Your chances of an infection go down significantly if you gently brush and floss daily to remove dental plaque and you see your dentist regularly for dental cleanings.
If you do develop a gum infection, it's crucial to have it treated as early as possible. A mild occurrence of gum recession might even reverse on its own after comprehensive treatment (more advanced recession can require grafting surgery to encourage regeneration). Be on the lookout, then, for signs of gum disease—swollen, reddened or bleeding gums—and see your dentist as soon as possible if you do.
Protecting your teeth and gums can help you avoid gum recession. And should you experience recession, addressing it as soon as possible may help you regain normal gum coverage.
If you would like more information on gum protection and care, 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 “Gum Recession.”
What started as an occasional twinge in your cheeks has now escalated to moments of excruciating pain. Worst of all, you're in the dark about why you're having these severe episodes of facial pain.
The answer may be a nerve condition called trigeminal neuralgia (TN). This disorder involves the trigeminal nerves, which course down each side of the face and upper jaw. Approximately 150,000 people are diagnosed annually with TN, mostly women over 50.
The pain may sometimes be connected to other nerve-damaging conditions like multiple sclerosis, tumors or lesions. Normally, though, there's a more benign reason. An artery or vein is pressing on one or more of the three branches of the nerve. The ensuing pressure damages the myelin sheath, a fatty outer covering that insulates and protects the nerve from undue sensation.
The nerve at this point of damage can become hypersensitive and reactive to such innocuous things as chewing, a light touch or even air blowing on the face. The erratic response spurs pain episodes, often just a few seconds long, ranging from mild to extreme.
Treating the condition first requires making sure you actually have TN, and that the pain isn't being caused by something else. Jaw joint disorders (TMD), dental abscesses and similar conditions may mimic TN symptoms. Uncovering the true cause may require advanced diagnostic tools like an MRI scan, and the help of different specialties, ranging from dentistry to neurology.
Once confirmed, there are several treatment options for TN that, if not curative, may help minimize painful episodes. Most patients begin with conservative approaches like medications or injections to block pain signals to the brain, or that help reduce abnormal nerve firing.
There are also more invasive procedures to address extreme cases. With percutaneous treatment, for example, the physician inserts a thin needle into the nerve and selectively damages some of its fibers to stop the transmission of pain signals. A surgeon can also use a microsurgical technique to relocate an impinging blood vessel compressing the nerve.
Which treatment methods you and your doctor choose depends on factors like your age or history with TN. Whichever treatment path you take, there's real hope that you can find lasting relief from this bedeviling condition.
If you would like more information on trigeminal neuralgia, 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 “Trigeminal Neuralgia: A Nerve Disorder That Causes Facial Pain.”
If you're considering getting an implant, you'll most certainly have questions for Dr. Tariq Riyal and Dr. Thomas Kaminski of Miswak Dentistry in Ukraine Village, Chicago. You might be wondering how a dental implant compares to a real tooth. Let's look at some of the differences between implants and natural teeth.
It should be noted that one of the primary goals of implant dentistry is to try to provide the same form and function as your natural teeth. However, with that in mind, know that an implant is not a tooth. An implant does not decay and does not have dental pulp or periodontal membrane-like teeth.
An implant won't always work in every case, but they do have some great advantages when they are called for.
Some advantages of an implant:
- Often last for decades without needing to be replaced
- Create a functional and aesthetically pleasing replacement for your missing tooth
- Don't require surrounding teeth for support
- Do not decay like natural teeth
- Can be fixed or removable
- Can replace a single tooth or multiple teeth
There are downsides to implants where natural teeth win out. The disadvantages of implants include:
- Higher cost compared to traditional dentistry
- It's a surgical procedure that requires a period of healing afterward
- Fracturing of fixtures and loosening of screws can occur (only in about 5% of patients)
- Since there is no cushion between the implant and the bone, the fracturing of crowns and bridges is more common with implants than with natural teeth, though this is rare.
It's best to speak with Dr. Tariq Riyal and Dr. Thomas Kaminski about your options regarding implants. Let us know what you want to achieve and we'll work with you as best we can to accomplish that. And don't hesitate to contact Miswak Dentistry in Ukraine Village, Chicago for further questions about the procedure. Call 773-661-0330.
Although Elvis Presley left us more than four decades ago, he still looms large over popular culture. It's not uncommon, then, for personal items like his guitars, his revolver collection or even his famed white jumpsuit to go on sale. Perhaps, though, one of the oddest of Elvis's personal effects recently went on auction (again)—his gold-filled dental crown.
It's a little hazy as to how the "King" parted with it, but the crown's list of subsequent holders, including a museum, is well-documented. Now, it's looking for a new home with a starting bid of $2,500.
The interest, of course, isn't on the crown, but on its original owner. Dental crowns weren't rare back in Presley's day, and they certainly aren't now. But they are more life-like, thanks to advances in dental materials over the last thirty years.
Crowns are an invaluable part of dental care. Though they can improve a tooth's cosmetic appeal, they're more often installed to protect a weak or vulnerable tooth. In that regard, a crown's most important qualities are strength and durability.
In the early 20th Century, you could have utility or beauty, but usually not both. The most common crowns of that time were composed of precious metals like silver and, as in Presley's case, gold. Metal crowns can ably withstand the chewing forces teeth encounter daily.
But they simply don't look like natural teeth. Dental porcelain was around in the early days, but it wasn't very strong. So, dentists devised a new kind of crown that blended durability with life-likeness. Known as porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crowns, they were essentially hybrids, a metal crown, which fit over the tooth, overlayed with a porcelain exterior shell to give it an attractive appearance.
PFMs became the most widely used crown and held that title until the early 2000s. That's when a new crown leader came into its own—the all-ceramic crown. In the decade or so before, the fragility of porcelain was finally overcome with the addition of Lucite to the tooth-colored ceramic to strengthen it.
Additional strengthening breakthroughs since then helped make the all-ceramic crown the top choice for restorations. Even so, dentists still install metal and PFM crowns when the situation calls for added strength in teeth that aren't as visible, such as the back molars. But for more visible teeth like incisors, all-ceramic usually stands up to biting while looking life-like and natural.
For a star of his magnitude, Presley's crown was likely state-of-the-art for his time. In our day, though, you have even more crown choices to both protect your tooth and enhance your smile.
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