Blog Bucktown Dental Associates
You’ve suddenly noticed a significant amount of pain radiating from your jaw, so severe you can barely bring your teeth together.
First things first: with this level of pain you should see us as soon as possible. There are a number of possible causes, but only a thorough examination will give us the correct diagnosis and answers we need to develop a plan to treat the cause and alleviate the pain.
With that said, here are a few possible causes for that severe jaw pain.
Injured or diseased teeth. Although the pain you feel seems to come from the jaw in general, the true source may be an individual tooth that’s been traumatized or infected. Because of the interconnectivity of nerves throughout the oral structure, the pain could be radiating from the teeth to the jaws. By effectively treating the affected tooth, we may in turn reduce the jaw pain.
Trauma around the joint. If you’ve taken a physical blow to the area around the jaw joint, the resulting swelling in the joint space is keeping the head of the jaw joint (the “condyle”) from seating in the space properly. You may also notice the upper and lower teeth in the back of your jaw won’t touch. As the swelling from the injury subsides (aided by anti-inflammatory drugs that also reduce pain), the joint should eventually return to its normal position.
Jaw fracture. The most common jaw fracture occurs in the area just below the condyle. The pain is usually much more severe than you might experience with indirect trauma. Fractures are normally treated by repositioning the broken bone and immobilizing the area to allow healing.
Joint dislocation. The injury you’ve sustained may have actually moved the condyle out of the joint space. If this is the case careful manipulation may be needed to reseat the condyle back into place, along with anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling.
TMJ or TMD. Muscle spasms can cause significant pain with similar symptoms, including limiting jaw movement. Only an examination with x-rays (to determine if it’s a soft tissue or bone-related injury) can narrow down the possibilities to the true cause. The sooner we make that determination and begin treatment the better you’ll feel — and the less likely the injury will result in irreversible damage.
If you would like more information on the causes of jaw pain, 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 “Jaw Pain — What’s the Cause.”
What would it take to get you to give up tobacco? For major league baseball player Addison Reed, it took the death of his former coach, Tony Gwynn. Gwynn, a Hall-of-Famer who played for the San Diego Padres in addition to coaching at San Diego State, was just 54 years old when he died of oral cancer. As soon as Reed heard the sad news, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ relief pitcher says he knew what he needed to do: He took every can of smokeless tobacco he owned and dumped them all in the trash.
“It’s just become a habit, a really bad habit,” Reed told an interviewer at MLB.com. “It was something I always told myself I would quit.” But quitting took him many years — in fact, Reed admitted that he first started using smokeless tobacco as a junior in high school.
People begin using tobacco — in the form of cigarettes, cigars, pipes, or smokeless types (snuff, chewing tobacco, or dip) — for a variety of reasons. One major draw is that they see others doing it. And, while smoking is prohibited in most all Major League venues, the use of smokeless tobacco has remained fairly widespread.
Smokeless tobacco isn’t a safe alternative to cigarettes. According to the National Cancer Institute, it contains 28 carcinogenic agents. It increases the risk not only for oral and pancreatic cancer, but also for heart disease, gum disease, and many other oral problems. It’s also addictive, containing anywhere from 3.4 to 39.7 milligrams of nicotine per gram of tobacco — and its use has been on the rise among young adults.
But now the tide may be turning. After Addison Reed’s announcement, his former college teammate Stephen Strasburg (now a pitcher for the Washington Nationals) resolved that he, too, would give up tobacco. “[The] bottom line is, I want to be around for my family,” said Strasburg. Mets left-hander Josh Edgin has vowed to try quitting as well. It’s even possible that Major League Baseball will further restrict the use of smokeless tobacco at games.
What does this mean for you? It may just be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for… to stop using tobacco. Dentists have seen how quickly oral cancer can do its devastating work — and we can help you when you’re ready to quit. The next time you come in for a checkup, ask us how. Your teeth and gums will thank you — and your family will too.
Concussion in athletes is a topic that’s getting lots of attention recently — not only in professional leagues, but also at the level of high school, collegiate and amateur sports. Helmets are being increasingly used in both contact and non-contact sports, like skiing and biking. But when you’re looking for quality gear that gives you additional protection against head and facial injuries, do you think of getting it at the dental office?
According to some new research, you should. A study published in the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry shows that a custom-made mouthguard, obtained at a dentist’s office, is more than twice as effective against mild traumatic brain injures (MTBI) and concussions than the over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguards you can get at a sporting-goods store.
The randomized study followed six different high school football teams, with a total of 412 players. Half were assigned to wear custom-made mouthguards, while the other half used OTC types; all wore the same type of helmets. When the season ended, a total of 24 MBTI/concussion injuries were reported, for an overall rate of 5.8 percent.
But the study revealed that not all mouthguards are created equal: The incidence of concussion for players wearing OTC mouthguards was 8.3 percent, while the group with dentist-provided custom mouthguards had an incidence rate of just 3.6 percent — less than half the rate of the OTC group!
That’s a big difference — and there’s one more thing to consider: While they can give you additional protection against concussion, mouthguards are primarily designed to protect your teeth from serious injury. It is well established that athletes who wear mouthguards significantly reduce the risk of dental and facial injury. That’s why they are recommended by the American Dental Association, and why so many sports leagues and associations require their use at all levels of play.
A custom fabricated mouthguard, made from a model of your own teeth, fits you better than any generic type can; it’s also a better investment. The mouthguards we provide last much longer than the “boil-and-bite” or self-molded ones available in sporting-goods stores and big-box retailers. And if it prevents a single serious injury, a custom-made mouthguard can pay for itself many times over — not only in terms of medical bills, but also in time lost from school or work… and on the field, the trail or the slopes.
If you have questions about custom-made athletic mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”
Life lessons are learned in the most surprising places. This is no different for celebrities. Take, for example, Florence Henderson, an actress, singer, philanthropist, author and star of the hit television series, The Brady Bunch. As she told Dear Doctor magazine, her experience with having four impacted wisdom teeth removed — at the same time — “...only made me more aware of how important dental care is.” She continued, “This is why I have always gone every six months for a check up.”
Another important lesson we want to share is the fact that even if your impacted third molars (wisdom teeth) are not bothering you or causing any pain, you may still need to have them removed.
Why? Having a tooth submerged below the gum, pressing on the roots of other teeth is problematic; the tooth should be removed so that you can avoid major dental problems before they occur. For example, it is not uncommon for us to find an impacted third molar pressing against the roots of the adjacent second molar. Furthermore, because the enamel crown of this impacted tooth is trapped below the gum, we sometimes find an infection, gum disease or even cyst formation occurring.
Often, the best time to remove a wisdom tooth is when it is not causing any problems. This is because a painful wisdom tooth or pain in the area of the wisdom tooth may be a sign that significant damage has occurred or is occurring. It is also better to remove wisdom teeth when you are young, as young healthy people with no prior infections at the site provide the best opportunity for us to remove the tooth with no complications.
To learn more about impacted wisdom teeth, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removing Wisdom Teeth.” Or if you suspect or already know that you have an impacted wisdom tooth, contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination that includes x-rays. During this private consultation, we will also address any questions you have as well as your treatment options. And if you want to read the entire article on Florence Henderson, continue reading “Florence Henderson.”
Water is essential to life. It’s relatively abundant and affordable in the United States, with treated water averaging about $2.00 per thousand gallons. It’s also critical to dental health as part of oral hygiene and as a vehicle for added fluoride to protect against tooth decay.
Water is also big business. We Americans drink an estimated 85 million packaged bottles of water every day. As with any profitable business, there’s no small marketing hype by the bottled water industry, including claims of superiority over community tap water.
These claims should be examined more closely. One advocacy group, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), subjected several brands of bottled water to independent analysis with some surprising results. Many of the samples contained disinfection byproducts, wastewater pollutants like caffeine or drug residue, heavy metals and, in some cases, bacteria. While none of the contaminants found exceeded legal limits, companies weren’t forthcoming with consumers on the possible presence of these substances in their product.
If fluoride is one of those unidentified substances in bottled water it could affect the dental health of an infant or small child. While fluoride is a proven cavity fighter, infants and smaller children can ingest too much for their body weight. For this reason, parents often use bottled water to mix with formula, believing it to be fluoride-free, when in fact it may not be.
Because bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, it isn’t subject to the more rigorous standards for tap water administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Manufacturers also aren’t required to identify the source of their water, the methods and degree of purification and testing for contaminants. There are independent organizations that seek those answers on behalf of the public. For example, EWG publishes a Bottled Water Scorecard online (www.ewg.org/research/ewg-bottled-water-scorecard-2011) with ratings and information on different brands of bottled water.
If you have concerns about your tap water, you may want to consider another alternative to bottled water — in-home water filtration. EWG also has a guide on various types of filtration methods at www.ewg.org/tap-water/getawaterfilter.
The purity of your water greatly impacts your family’s health, including your teeth. Distinguishing between fact and hype will help you make better decisions about the water you drink.
If you would like more information on water quality and safety, 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 “Bottled Water: Health Or Hype?”
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