March 13th, 2023, 2:00 PM

Kneib Dentistry offers a wide range of dental treatments — what do they involve, and how do we determine a plan that promises the best results for you?

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder (or TMJ) is a condition that causes pain in the various joints and muscles that make up the part of the jaw that controls movement. The temporomandibular joint acts similar to a hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. There is one on each side of your face, and TMJ problems occur when the muscles or ligaments surrounding these joints become inflamed or irritated. TMJ is usually accompanied by a clicking sound when opening the mouth and chewing. 

It is vital to seek out dental treatment if you experience ongoing pain, tenderness of the jaw, or problems opening your jaw the entire way. Pain for this condition can range from mild to severe, moving to the neck, face, and head. Though TMJ is treatable, the exact causes are unknown. However, it is thought to be related to ailments such as improper bite, arthritis, injury, and acute stress.

Symptoms of TMJ 

  • Jaw pain or soreness
  • Jaw pain while yawning, biting, or chewing 
  • Earache 
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Tinnitus (ringing noises)
  • Clicking or grinding noise while opening and closing mouth 
  • Difficulty opening and closing mouth 
  • Stiff jaw 
  • Sensitive teeth 

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should first consider a thorough dental exam that reviews your personal health history and a clinical exam of your mouth (which may involve X-rays). Rick factors consist of fluctuating female hormones, poor posture, prolonged times of stress, and joint hypermobility. 

Treatment of TMJ

Dental treatments may be simple or require additional steps if the condition is more severe. Some treatments include reshaping the teeth, using bite guards, or incorporating muscle relaxants into your routine. Pain relievers, soft foods, stress management, and surgery may also be needed to ensure a successful recovery. Please note that pushing treatment off could lead to even more damage to your muscles and teeth. 

If surgery is deemed necessary by your dentist, the joint may need to be replaced. Other dental treatments (i.e. crowns, bridges, braces) can be utilized to address bite ("occlusion") problems. 

Laser Dental Surgery

Laser dental surgery is a treatment that allows for precise focus on oral tissues, all while reducing pain and speeding up the recovery process. There are multiple benefits to this method; the patient may not need stitches or anesthesia during the treatment. The use of lasers in dentistry have created a more comfortable, effective, and affordable option for patients. 

Laser dental surgery works by using light energy, which is then exposed to specific oral tissues and bones. There are two main types-hard tissue lasers and soft tissue lasers. Hard tissue lasers are used for teeth (i.e. cavities, tooth sensitivity, dental fillings), while soft tissue lasers target the gums and similar tissues. 

Dental treatments achieved with lasers

There are several common uses for laser dental surgery. In crown lengthening, for instance, the laser reshapes gum tissue, uncovering a healthier tooth structure underneath. 

Another dental treatment is the correction of gummy smiles, which also involves reforming gum tissue. The goal is to increase the amount of visible tooth length while removing excess tissue blocking the tooth. Frenectomies (connective tissue revisions), which are ideal for children, improve feeding and help treat/prevent speech impediments that develop early on. 

After the surgery is completed, stick to foods that are soft but have low sugar and acidity. Healing time depends on the specific treatment, but the average range is roughly two to four weeks.

Gum Disease Diagnosis and Treatment

Periodontal gum disease affects 75-80% of adults. It is a bacterial infection of both the gums and the supporting structures of the teeth. The disease is mainly caused by improper brushing or flossing habits, which allows plaque — a thick, white coating of bacteria at the gum line — to build up on teeth. Plaque can easily spread to the roots of teeth and break down the bone structures supporting them. The bacteria leads to inflammation, causing the plaque to further harden into tartar. 

Stages of gum disease

Gingivitis (bleeding and puffy gums) is the most common form of periodontal disease, with about 90% of the population being afflicted — we see it all the time with new patients at our dental offices in Erie, Pa.  Redness and swelling of the gums, bad breath, and a receding gum line are other common symptoms. Eventually, the infection can progress to an advanced stage called periodontitis, which can lead to tooth and bone loss.

Periodontal gum disease can, in fact, go on for years before you notice any pain, so early detection is integral in preventing tooth loss. Make sure to keep up a healthy oral routine at home, and visit your dentist regularly for checkups. If you notice your gums do bleed or become irritated with brushing, switch up your brushing technique (or toothbrush — look for soft or extra soft bristles, and strongly consider an electric toothbrush), floss brand (look for words like "gentle" or "sensitive"), and incorporate a dental rinse into your regimen.

Periodontal disease risk factors

There is a higher risk of gum disease during pregnancy, as the hormonal changes make the patient more susceptible. Though the effects are still being researched, there have been cases of preterm birth and low birth weight recorded. Patients who smoke are more likely to develop gum disease, in addition to those with a history of diabetes, AIDS, or genetic disorders. 

Bacteria from periodontal gum disease also has a risk of infecting joint replacements. Patients with this condition should consider undergoing a full evaluation before any surgical treatment is to occur. To ensure a successful surgery, it may take anywhere from two weeks to two months following treatment of the disease. 

Get Your Dental Treatment Today

For as many things that can go wrong with the mouth, we have just as many ways to make things right. Contact the team at Kneib Dentistry today to book your next appointment.

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