Online Dental Education Library
Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
It is our goal to keep your mouth healthy, your teeth fully functional, and your smile bright — and we are proud of all the services we offer to do exactly that. At the same time, we want you to understand all that modern dentistry in general has to offer you. To that end, we have assembled a first-rate dental library in which you can find a wealth of information on various dental topics, including:
Cosmetic & General Dentistry
From a thorough professional cleaning to a full smile makeover, there is an amazing array of services that cosmetic and general dentists offer to make sure your teeth stay healthy, function well and look great. If your smile is not all you want it to be, this is the place to start. Read more about Cosmetic & General Dentistry.
This is the branch of dentistry that focuses on the inside of the tooth — specifically the root canals and sensitive, inner pulp (nerve) tissue. When this tissue becomes inflamed or infected, a root canal procedure may become necessary. But contrary to the popular myth, a root canal doesn't cause pain, it relives it. Read more about Endodontics.
If you are missing one or more teeth, dental implants offer the comfort and security of a permanent replacement that looks and functions just like your natural teeth. Dental implants also help preserve the tooth-supporting bone in your jaw that naturally deteriorates when even one tooth is lost. Read more about Implant Dentistry.
Oral health is an essential component of general health and well-being. Good oral health means a mouth that's free of disease; a bite that functions well enough for you to eat without pain and get ample nutrition; and a smile that lets you express your happiest emotions with confidence. Read more about Oral Health.
A major goal of modern dentistry is to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy for a lifetime. By following a conscientious program of oral hygiene at home, and coming to the dental office for routine cleanings and exams, you have the best chance of making this goal a reality. Read more about Oral Hygiene.
The word “surgery” often brings to mind a stay in the hospital, general anesthesia, and perhaps a lengthy recovery period. However, the experience of having oral surgery is usually very different from that. Some common oral surgery procedures include: tooth extractions, dental implant placement, and biopsies of suspicious oral lesions. Read more about Oral Surgery.
Adults and kids alike can benefit from the boost in self-confidence that comes from having a great-looking smile with beautifully aligned teeth. Orthodontic treatment can even improve chewing, speaking and oral hygiene in certain cases. And with today's virtually invisible orthodontic appliances, it's possible to keep your treatment a private matter… until your new smile is unveiled, of course! Read more about Orthodontics.
It's never too early to get your child started on the path toward a lifetime of good oral health, and there are many services to do exactly that. Monitoring your child's dental growth and development, and preventing and intercepting dental diseases along the way, is the primary focus of pediatric dentistry. Read more about Pediatric Dentistry.
If you want to keep your teeth for life — a completely reasonable goal in this day and age — you need to make sure the tissues that surround them are also healthy. Should gum problems arise, you may need periodontal therapy to restore diseased tissues to health. Read more about Periodontal Therapy.
In the field of dentistry, new technology is constantly changing the way diseases are diagnosed, routine procedures are performed, and illnesses are prevented. Although they may seem unfamiliar at first, new and improved dental technologies offer plenty of real benefits for patients. Read more about Technology.
If you experience ongoing pain in the area near your ear, your jaw or the muscles on the side of your face, possibly accompanied by a clicking or popping sound or restricted jaw movement, you may be suffering from TMD — an abbreviation for Temporomandibular disorders. Sometimes people incorrectly use the term TMJ to refer to these problems, when in fact TMJ is the abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint — or jaw joint — itself. So while you definitely have a TMJ (two of them in fact), you may or may not have TMD.
TMD, then, describes a group of conditions characterized by pain and dysfunction of the TMJ and/or the muscles surrounding it. It's not always so easy to figure out exactly what's causing these symptoms, but the good news is that most TMD cases resolve themselves with the help of conservative remedies that you can try at home. In fact, it's important to exhaust all such reversible remedies before moving on to anything irreversible, such as bridgework or surgery.
The two TMJs that connect your lower jaw, the mandible, to the temporal bone of the skull on either side, are actually very complex joints that allow movement in three dimensions. The lower jaw and temporal bone fit together as a ball and socket, with a cushioning disk in between. Large pairs of muscles in the cheeks and temples move the lower jaw. Any of these parts — the disk, the muscles or the joint itself — can become the source of a TMD problem. If you are in pain, or are having difficulty opening or closing your jaw, a thorough examination can help pinpoint the problem area; then an appropriate remedy can be recommended.
Causes of TMD
As with any other joint, the TMJ can be subject to orthopedic problems including inflammation, sore muscles, strained tendons and ligaments, and disk problems. TMD is also influenced by genes, gender (women appear to be more prone to it), and age. Physical and psychological stress can also be a factor. In some cases, jaw pain may be related to a more widespread, pain-inducing medical condition such as fibromyalgia (“fibro” – connective tissues; “myo” – muscle; “algia” – pain).
Signs and Symptoms of TMD
Clicking Sounds — Some people with TMD hear a clicking, popping or grating sound coming from the TMJ when opening or closing the mouth. This is usually caused by a shifting of the disk inside the joint. Someone standing next to you might even be able to hear it. Clicking by itself is actually not a significant symptom because one third of all people have jaw joints that click, studies show. However, if the clicking is accompanied by pain or limited jaw function — the jaw getting “stuck” in an open or closed position, for example — this would indicate TMD.
Muscle Pain — This can be felt in the cheeks (masseter muscles) and temples (temporalis muscles), where the two big pairs of jaw-closing muscles are located. If you feel soreness and stiffness upon waking up in the morning, it's often related to habits such as clenching and/or grinding the teeth at night. If you have this type of nocturnal habit, a custom-made nightguard should be very helpful in decreasing the force applied to your teeth, which will in turn allow your muscles to relax and relieve pressure on your jaw joints. Other self-care remedies are discussed below (please see Relieving the Pain).
Joint Pain — Pain that's actually coming from one or both jaw joints technically would be described as arthritis (“arth” – joint; “itis” – inflammation) of the TMJ. Radiographs (x-ray pictures) show that some people have arthritic-looking TMJs but no symptoms of pain or dysfunction; others have significant symptoms of pain and dysfunction but their joints look normal on radiographs. There is no cure for arthritis anywhere in the body, but medication can sometimes help relieve arthritic symptoms.
Relieving the Pain
Once you have been examined, a strategy for treating your condition and managing your pain can be developed. Sometimes a temporary change to a softer diet can reduce stress on the muscles and joints. Ice and/or moist heat can help relieve soreness and inflammation. Muscles in spasm can also be helped with gentle stretching exercises. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and muscle relaxants can also provide relief.
Other Treatment Options
Severe TMD cases may require more complex forms of treatment, which might include orthodontics, dental restorations like bridgework, or minor procedures inside the joint such as cortisone injections or lavage (flushing) of the joint. It's rare for major surgery ever to be necessary in a case of TMD. Again, it's important to try the wide range of conservative, reversible treatments available, and give them enough time to work as they almost always prove effective. The first step is an examination at the dental office. To learn more about available treatment options, view this Chart on TMD Therapy
TMD – The Great Impostor This “chameleon” of dental disorders manifests in a variety of ways, including joint pain, sinusitus, ear pain, tooth and headaches. Dear Doctor magazine examines the causes of TMD, its signs and symptoms and what can be done to treat this common disorder... Read Article
Seeking Relief From TMD TMD, or Temporomandibular Disorders, is an umbrella term for various painful conditions that affect the jaw joints. There are different treatment approaches to TMD problems, but not all are based on science. It's important to be up on the latest information and to be an educated consumer. In this comprehensive article, Dear Doctor magazine provides state-of-the-art information and guidance on what you should know, whom you should see, and what you should ask... Read Article