Posts for: December, 2016
Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.
In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.
Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.
What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.
Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.
A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”
Are you concerned about cracks, missing teeth or fragile teeth? Crowns and bridges offer a simple way to solve your problem. Dr. Kathleen Geipe, your Salisbury, MD, dentist, explains how these versatile dental restorations can help your smile.
Crowns are an excellent solution to many dental problems in Salisbury
Crowns are hollow, custom-made porcelain shells that completely cover teeth. They may also be made of other strong materials, such as ceramic, resin, gold, nickel alloys or porcelain-fused-to-metal. Crowns are often used for:
- Cracked Teeth: Cracks, even small ones, weaken the structural integrity of teeth. When you have a crack, it's only a matter of time until the tooth will break if you don't do something to stabilize it. Crowns protect and strengthen cracked teeth and prevent them from fracturing.
- Discolored Teeth: One or two discolored teeth can make you feel a little self-conscious about your smile. Since crowns cover your teeth completely, they're a good option if a tooth has been discolored because of a large filling or due to medication side effects.
- Unattractive Teeth: Just one oddly shaped tooth can affect the symmetry of your smile. Whether your tooth is pointed, twisted or pitted, you'll benefit from a dental crown.
- Short Teeth: Your bite may suffer if one tooth is shorter than the others. Adding a crown to the tooth lengthens it and makes chewing easier.
- Teeth Weakened by Dental Treatments: Root canals, large fillings and other dental treatments restore teeth, but also tend to make them weaker. Crowns prevent these fragile teeth from cracking or breaking.
- Broken Teeth: Broken teeth can cut your mouth or tongue, make chewing more difficult and altering your appearance. Crowns restore the full width and height of broken teeth.
Bridges replace missing teeth
Would you like to do something about a missing tooth? Bridges, which consist of one or more artificial teeth anchored by crowns on either side, restore your appearance and your smile. They not only replace your missing tooth, but also prevent nearby teeth from drifting.
Could you benefit from crowns and bridges? Call Dr. Geipe, your Salisbury, MD, dentist, at (410) 543-0599 to schedule an appointment to learn more about your options.
Our nerves serve a vital purpose, alerting us to bodily discomfort, injury or disease — we couldn’t remain in good health for long without them. But when they malfunction due to genetics or disease, they can themselves become a source of pain and discomfort.
One such nerve disorder that affects the face is known as trigeminal neuralgia (TN) or tic douloureaux (from the French for “painful”). The nerves in question are the trigeminal, a pair that travel up from the brain stem through the skull into each side of the face where they each branch into the upper, middle and lower parts of the face and jaw. The pain can radiate from one or more of these branches.
TN is characterized by recurring episodes of brief but severe pain with accompanying muscle spasms. It may begin as a short twinge recurring over weeks, months or years before becoming increasingly painful. The slightest actions can trigger a painful episode: chewing, speaking, shaving or even the wind blowing on your face.
While it may be hard to determine its exact cause, it often seems to result from an artery or vein pressing on the nerve, causing it to signal pain at the slightest stimulation and then failing to stop transmitting when the stimulation is removed. It’s also associated with other inflammatory disorders like multiple sclerosis where the protective insulation around a nerve is damaged.
Before receiving treatment you should undergo a complete examination to rule out any other facial pain causes like temporomandibular (jaw joint) disorders or a dental abscess. You may also need to undergo a neurological examination and possible MRI imaging to pinpoint the exact cause, like a tumor or blood vessel pressing on the nerve.
Although the condition may not be curable, there are several effective management treatments. The more conservative approaches usually involve medications to block the nerve’s pain signals or decrease its abnormal firing. If this isn’t sufficient to diminish symptoms, there are surgical options: passing a thin needle through the nerve to selectively prevent fibers from firing, or moving aside a blood vessel pressing on it. High-dose targeted radiation may also be effective, especially with older patients.
The best treatment approach will depend on the exact cause, your age and overall health. Whatever the approach, you can gain significant relief from the pain of TN.