What is TMJ or TMD?

The initials stand for Temporomandibular Joint or Temporomandibular Disorder. In short, it’s your ‘jaw joint’. When your jaw ‘pops’, ‘clicks’ or ‘crunches’, it’s caused by some part of the joint’s anatomy not working harmoniously. There are many degrees of the disorder, and a variety of treatments at each stage of the disorder. It is a common and significant aspect of your health which is important to address and treat as necessary.

My teeth are crooked and I’m 45. Can I still wear braces, or what are the alternatives?

If your oral health is good, you may well be a candidate for braces at age 45. Much depends on your health status, the status of your remaining teeth, and your own time frame for treatment. Many adults now choose instead for the modern porcelain coverings for their front teeth as a method to improve their appearance. The porcelain option offers a more rapid treatment time and more control over the finished ‘product’.

How often should I have my teeth cleaned?

For the young patient or adult patient with no gum or bone disease, cleanings every six months is usually the rule. Since gum and bone infections are the most common infection of mankind, and since more adult teeth are lost to gum and bone disease than anything else, a high percentage of adults should have their teeth cleaned every three months. What is most important is that your cleaning is intended to keep your gums and bone healthy. Your cleanings should be scheduled at intervals to address your own oral health condition.

Is flossing necessary?

No single method of home care is sufficient to completely clean your teeth. Tooth brushing is only one component. Flossing cleans between the teeth where the toothbrush can’t go. In a word, yes, flossing is a necessary component of cleaning your teeth.

At what age should I bring in my child for his first appointment?

Generally, at about age three, when his/her baby teeth have come in. However, it’s not a bad idea to bring baby in with mom or dad just to familiarize him/her with the surroundings and to get to know the sights, sounds, and smells of the dentists’ office. Doctor may wish to put the baby on his knee and get to know the child, and even to give some advice about diet.

How important is diet?

Diet is perhaps even more important to your oral health than to other aspects of your general health. In our society, we eat many refined foods, and raw foods are much less common in our diet. Those refined foods are soft and readily adhere to our teeth. Left alone, without frequent brushing and cleanings, those soft foods are what cause plaque, the substance which leads to oral diseases. Attention to a sugar free or limited sugar diet is critical to your oral and general health.

I’ve seen those extreme makeovers on TV. Can you do that for me, or can my smile be changed?

In most cases, the answer is yes. This is one of the more exciting new developments in dentistry over the past twenty years or so, and it is not uncommon for a patient to ask this question. As long as there is sufficient health and support remaining in your existing teeth, dramatic results are achievable for most patients.

I have a loose/discolored front tooth. Can I save it?

Loose teeth are not a very good sign. Generally, that would imply there is little bone remaining around those loose teeth. Discolored teeth, however, do not necessarily have to be removed. In each case, there are replacement techniques available to the patient which will result in an attractive, functional treatment.

Why save my tooth or teeth instead of extracting them?

As a rule, there is nothing like the real thing. Your teeth have developed as they were intended in the jaws, and most commonly are the best system you can have. In the event there is a problem with an existing tooth or teeth, the best course of action is to examine how they may be treated as opposed to extracted. If a tooth is extracted, then some form of prosthethic device is required to replace it in order to retain the integrity of they mouth.

Why are mouthguards so important?

Mouthguards are used for those persons involved in sports or other activities that could result in an injury to the mouth. If a person sustains a blow to the mouth, teeth can be fractured or knocked out. The mouthguard will protect the teeth and mouth from injuries, some very serious, should a person be hit in the mouth with an elbow, ball, head, or other flying object. It is the safest protective mechanism available today to protect the teeth and mouth from sports injuries.Mouthguards are also used as a noninvasive method for treatment of TMJ.

How can I pay for all this?

If you have dental insurance, that will help cover for a portion of treatment. Some, if not most, insurances will cover the cost of routine cleanings, x-rays, and even some sealants for children and young adults. The remainder of treatment may or may not be covered by dental insurances, and most often there is a ‘ceiling’ or maximum amount the insurance company will allow as a benefit every year.There are many different methods of payment for the balance not covered by insurance or for the uninsured patient. Call our office for an examination appointment, at which time we can address costs and the methods of payment available to you.