What do TMJ and TMD mean?
Medical terms can be confusing and overwhelming for some patients and even medical professionals from time to time. You may have heard your friends and family describing their diagnosisRead More
Why Do I Need A Retainer After Braces?
The day you remove your braces is a huge milestone! You can finally eat all those foods that you’ve been wary of during treatment. However, we want to remindRead More
Orthodontic Treatment and Pain Relief
Though braces and other orthodontic appliances are more comfortable and durable than ever, that does not make them pain-free. There is no denying that treatment, such as braces, canRead More
Dangers of “Do It Yourself” Orthodontic Treatment
As we enter the holiday season, we know everyone is trying to put their best self forward preparing to gather around with loved ones. A good-looking smile with evenRead More
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What do TMJ and TMD mean?
Medical terms can be confusing and overwhelming for some patients and even medical professionals from time to time. You may have heard your friends and family describing their diagnosis of TMJ, with symptoms of a clicking jaw or earaches, while others refer to it by a different name, TMD. Though these terms can sound the same, they refer to different conditions and we are here to offer you a better understanding of what TMJ and TMD are and how they may affect you.
TMJ and TMD
TMJ is an abbreviation for the temporomandibular joint which connects the mandibular, or your lower jaw, to the temporal bones of the skull. The TMJ is one of the more unique joints within your body as it allows you to move your jaw forward, backward, and side to side so that you can chew, talk, sing, yawn, and more. This joint can be found just in front of your ears on both sides of your head.
Any problem with the muscles, ligaments, discs, bones, or the joint itself are known as temporomandibular disorders or TMD and refers to the actual disorder, where the jaw joint is misaligned and causing problems such as pain, inflammation, and inability to move or operate the jaw. However, these problems or conditions are often incorrectly called by the joint name of TMJ instead.
What are the causes of TMD?
There can be a variety of causes for TMD and can arise from problems with the jaw, the muscles near the jaw, or the joint itself. If you notice some of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor who may refer you to a specialist to determine the cause of the oral problem. Some common causes for TMD include:
- Injury to the joint, jaw, or muscles along your neck and face
- Grinding or clenching your teeth which puts pressure on the joint
- Movement or dislocation of the soft cushion, or disc, between the joint parts
- Arthritis of the joint
- Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial or jaw muscles
- Tooth/jaw misalignment
Signs & Symptoms
Patients with TMD often experience severe pain and discomfort that can be temporary or chronic. Symptoms depend on the severity and cause of your condition and can show on one side or both. There are many signs and symptoms of TMD that can overlap with other conditions, which makes a diagnosis by your doctor all the more important.
Some of the most common symptoms of TMD include:
- Pain in the face, jaw, or ear area
- Pain or pressure around the ears, face, and behind the eyes
- A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Dislocation of jaw
- Locked, stiff, or stuck jaw
- Tenderness of jaw muscles
- Limited jaw movement
- Swelling of the face
- Dental occlusion (the way the upper or lower jaw/teeth fit together)
As stated above, many of the symptoms of TMD can overlap with other conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease, sinus problems, or arthritis. To determine the cause, your orthodontist will conduct a physical examination and medical history review.
During your appointment, your jaw will be tested for pain or tenderness, and your doctor will examine how your jaw works when you open and close it while listening for clicks, pops, or sounds when you operate your jaw. Your bite and facial muscles will also be tested. It is not uncommon for x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to be required to determine the cause as these images can provide insight into the joint, surrounding tissues, and structures of your jaw. Depending on the diagnosis, you may need to be referred to another doctor or specialist for further evaluation and treatment.
Several different treatment options are available depending on your condition and the severity of your symptoms. In most mild cases TMD can be treated with self-care practices at home. Home methods include:
- Taking over-the-counter medication to relieve muscle pain and swelling
- Using moist heat or cold packs
- Eating soft foods or cutting your food into smaller pieces so you chew less.
- Avoiding hard, crunchy, or chewy foods
- Limiting extreme jaw movements that force you to open your jaw wide
- Reducing stress levels
- Performing jaw stretching exercises
If your symptoms do not improve with these home remedies or if your case is more complex, your doctor may prescribe pain medication, anti-inflammatory medicine, muscle relaxants, or even Botox to reduce tension in muscles and nerves. Your doctor may also provide you with custom made bite guards or splints to prevent clenching or grinding of your teeth.
Other treatment options may include low-level laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, or low-level electrical stimulation to provide muscle relief. If misaligned teeth or bite is the cause, corrective dental treatment may be necessary. In extreme cases, surgery can help to remove fluid or debris from the jaw or replace/realign the joint.
Every case is unique, and a careful diagnosis and treatment plan will help to address your needs. If you have any questions about TMD or your temporomandibular joint, please contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today so that we can help.
Why Do I Need A Retainer After Braces?
The day you remove your braces is a huge milestone! You can finally eat all those foods that you’ve been wary of during treatment. However, we want to remind you that although your braces are removed, that doesn’t mean your orthodontic treatment has come to an end. Sometimes even after braces teeth don’t want to stay straight, so there is a second stage of treatment called retention.
What are retainers?
Even as we age our teeth tend to shift regardless of whether or not we’ve had treatment. After braces, it isn’t uncommon for teeth to want to return to their original position once your braces are removed. This makes retainers the key to maintaining all the hard work you’ve already accomplished so far.
For a minimum of two years, your teeth will want to revert back to their original position. Retainers are designed to keep your teeth in place and prevent shifting.
A retainer is a custom-made plastic/acrylic or metal appliance that keeps teeth aligned after orthodontic treatment. A mold of your mouth is made once your braces are removed and the retainer is used to keep your teeth in place. Retainers typically fit the top of the teeth and mouth.
There are two main types of retainers:
- Hawley retainers are most likely the ones that come to mind when you hear the word retainer. It is an acrylic/plastic piece with a wire that fits around the outside of the teeth to keep them in line.
- Essix retainers are similar in design and appearance to Invisalign aligners. They are meant to fit over all your teeth and are completely clear.
How long do I have to wear my retainer?
Several factors determine the length of your treatment, and each treatment plan will vary based on the patient’s needs. However, it isn’t a 24/7 commitment that you will have to uphold for the rest of your life. Once your braces are removed, your orthodontist will fit you for a retainer and tell you how long you should wear it and when. You may have to wear it 24/7 for several months, but eventually, you may only need to wear it at night or every few days. Always consult with your orthodontist and follow their advice so your teeth don’t shift back.
If you don’t wear your retainer as instructed, your teeth will likely shift back to their original position and require braces once again depending on how far they have shifted. As mentioned above, the first two years are crucial to keeping the smile for which you’ve worked so hard. Your retainer works to stabilize your bite and help your teeth, gums, and bones adapt to their new position. By wearing your retainer every day and night, you consistently prevent shifting.
If your retainer no longer fits due to shifting, please contact us immediately so we can fit you for a new one. Do not try to fit it over your teeth as you may damage your teeth and mouth.
If you have any questions about the process or your retainer, contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today. You have put in so much work and time to get your perfect smile, and we want to help you protect it!
Orthodontic Treatment and Pain Relief
Though braces and other orthodontic appliances are more comfortable and durable than ever, that does not make them pain-free. There is no denying that treatment, such as braces, can be uncomfortable, especially after a tightening. The movement of teeth can cause a sore mouth that can last for days as braces apply pressure to the teeth, not to mention the physical rubbing of metal against your mouth’s soft tissues.
Understandably, one of the biggest concerns about orthodontics is the pain and discomfort associated with treatment. However, rest assured, you won’t be in constant pain. The discomfort will primarily be felt after they are first installed and also when appliances are tightened.
Your mouth will need time to adjust to treatment; in the meantime, our orthodontists will do their best to provide patients with ways to alleviate aches and pains. Here are our tips and advice on how to relieve pain from orthodontic treatment.
Over-the-counter medication can help you manage the discomfort. If you anticipate pain during or after your appointment, consider taking medication an hour before to help you feel less pain. Make sure to read the instructions and follow the dosage carefully. If pain or discomfort continues, contact your orthodontist.
Oral Numbing Gel
A simple way to get some relief is to rub an oral anesthetic or numbing gel onto your teeth and gums. You can use a cotton swab or your finger to apply it. This will desensitize your teeth and gums to help alleviate your pain, though the taste may be momentarily unpleasant.
Your orthodontist will most likely send you home with orthodontic wax, which can help protect the inside of your mouth, such as your cheeks, lips, and gums from chafing. It is a non-toxic wax that can be applied with your finger, however, remember to take it off before you brush your teeth and reapply it afterward.
A warm salt-water rinse will help you to combat any pain you may feel. Irritation from metal rubbing against your cheeks, lips, gums, may lead to sores. The warm water will soothe swollen gums, and the salt will help to relieve irritation and prevent any infection that might develop. You can purchase salt-water rinse mixtures at the store or make your own at home. Gargle and swish for at least one minute before spitting out the mixture.
Ice can help reduce swelling while providing a numbing effect on your mouth. A cold compress, ice pack, or gel pack, can be handy during aftercare, just apply it to the outside of your mouth for relief.
Adjusting Your Diet
With orthodontic appliances, adjustments to your diet are often required. Avoiding foods that will irritate or damage your appliances such as hard, crunchy, chewy, or sticky foods will help you on the road to pain prevention. Follow the guidelines of what is acceptable to eat and drink with your treatment and avoid foods that can displace your hardware.
Maintaining Dental Hygiene
Taking care of your teeth is always important, even if dental appliances such as braces make it more difficult. Follow your dentist’s instructions on how to clean both your appliances and the areas around them. Keeping both your teeth and braces clean will help you to avoid tooth decay and irritation, which will only add to any pain and discomfort you may feel. By maintaining a good dental hygiene regime, you are guaranteeing yourself a happy and healthy smile.
Massage Your Gums
Massaging your gums can provide some comfort and relief. Rub your gums in a circular motion with your fingers or a cube of ice, and this will help relax your swollen gums and relieve pressure.
First-time appliances or newly tightened braces will be painful, but it is temporary. Unfortunately, the pain only subsides after your mouth has adjusted to the hardware or a tightening. Keep in mind your overall goal of a healthier, beautiful smile. The pain or discomfort should only last a few days while your new smile will be with you always, as long as you maintain proper care.
Orthodontic appliances such as braces are one of the most effective ways of improving your smile not only on the outside but the inside as well. Wearing braces can be painful, but should not be long-lasting or unbearable. If you experience persistent pain that cannot be addressed with any of the tips provided, please schedule an appointment with our office so that we can assist you immediately. For more information on pain relief for orthodontic treatment, contact Bracify 3D Orthodontics today.
Dangers of “Do It Yourself” Orthodontic Treatment
As we enter the holiday season, we know everyone is trying to put their best self forward preparing to gather around with loved ones. A good-looking smile with even teeth can be a major confidence booster and helps to make a lasting impression on others whether on a date, reunion, or even interview.
Each year millions and even billions of dollars are spent on products to help people achieve that beautiful smile. These days there are dozens of products and methods spreading across the internet claiming they can get your teeth to “pearlfection”. There are even some who have resulted in making their own concoctions of dental care to save on money.
Please heed our warning, when it comes to dental care, doing it on your own can have dangerous and disastrous results.
Recent videos and posts of how to perform “do-it-yourself” or DIY dental procedures have become more popular and resulted in a rise of patients suffering from DIY procedures gone wrong. These are problematic trends that can have serious consequences.
We’d like to warn you about some of these dangers in hopes that you will see through the false promises they give. Instead, save yourself the trouble and toothache of DIY treatments and come to us for your dental needs.
An internet trend that has come to our attention is the increasing videos and articles on how to make your own braces. While we understand that many people consider braces a rite of passage and trendy look, it is important to note that orthodontic treatment is a dental procedure and not something one should take into his or her own hands.
What are they?
To make these DIY braces, people fasten household items to their teeth to move their teeth to where they think they should be. Some of these items include rubber bands, dental floss, hair ties, paperclips, and earring backs.
A popular method of DIY orthodontic treatment is to use clear hair ties to close a gap or straighten teeth.
The idea is to wrap these ties around the misaligned teeth and after an indeterminate amount of time (daily or nightly wear), the gaps are supposed to close and straighten your bite. A small pack of these hair ties costs around $5 and some people who claim to see results in as little as 45 days. The appeal of DIY braces can be awfully attractive, but it is truly a case of you get what you pay for–and you should beware!
Straightening your teeth isn’t just about closing gaps; braces help align the upper and lower teeth to reduce pressure on your jaw and keep your teeth from wearing on each other over time.
What are the effects of DIY orthodontics?
The shape of teeth vary greatly as each mouth is unique. It can be easy for those rubber bands and ties to slide into soft tissue. Once embedded into your gums they can be difficult and nearly impossible to remove without professional help.
If left untreated, it will continue to move further into your gum line causing nerve damage as it makes its way towards the root of your tooth. This process will cause the crowns of your teeth to extrude as the roots are slowly killed and the tooth becomes loose and falls out. The loss of teeth and nerve damage are common complications that we see from DIY orthodontics but are not the only things to worry about. Other complications include:
- Choking on makeshift brackets such as earring backs
- Metal clips such as paper clips and other metals can become toxic if left in the mouth for extended periods
- The snapping of bands directly onto your teeth can crack your enamel. Enamel loss is permanent.
- The gums can become infected, resulting in serious and often expensive treatment
- Crooked smiles due to teeth being moved at the wrong angle.
- Pain and lacerations from bands sinking into soft tissue
- Long term issues and pain from moving teeth too quickly.
Quality dental care is not quick, easy or inexpensive. Creating the perfect smile is a practice that requires education, training, experience, and skill to know how to properly and safely move teeth.
Mail-Order dentistry or “teledentistry” is now on the rise. Instead of going to a dentist or orthodontist, there are now direct to consumer companies that will supply you with orthodontic appliances. These companies will often send an at-home impression kit for you to make your own impressions and mail them back to the company for evaluation. The company will then decide if you meet their criteria and once approved the aligners are made and sent back with instructions on how to correct your teeth at home.
These products are significantly cheaper making them appear to be more convenient to consumers. However, the criteria for the company’s acceptance does not take into account clients who might suffer from oral health issues such as gum disease and dental decay. These conditions often cause the misalignment of teeth and cannot be corrected with mail-order productions.
Mail-Order companies have the goal of making money by selling you products that should be supervised by qualified oral health professionals and are willing to compromise consumer health and safety for the sake of profit.
Dangers of Mail-Order Orthodontic Treatment
Orthodontists do more than just straighten your teeth. They identify and treat oral health concerns before considering treatment. This is why a comprehensive exam is performed before recommending any form of orthodontic treatment. With mail-order companies, other issues that the consumer might have can easily be overlooked as they can’t be seen with a simple impression kit.
Some dangers of these products are:
- Poorly fitted products – A one-size-fits-all aligner or impression mold done without a professional evaluation can lead to poorly fitted aligners that may result in the loss of teeth, damage/infection of gums, inability to open/close jaw, and often teeth are left worse after receiving mail-order treatment.
- Lack of supervision – There is no supervision with mail-order companies. Your teeth might move faster or slower than anticipated which is why orthodontic treatment requires frequent check-ups to see your progress throughout treatment. Without a dentist or orthodontist supervising you, issues will go unnoticed and may lead to further problems.
- Aligners aren’t always the right choice – Aligners are not the ultimate solution to uneven or misaligned smiles. Your mouth is unique and different treatments may be required for you to achieve your perfect smile.
It is important to remember that orthodontic treatment is a medical service, not a simple product or device to buy easily. Dental health professionals are here to decide what treatment plan will work best for you. Though these options can be tempting on the wallet, often consumers find themselves spending more money in the long-run when they come in for treatment to fix issues created by mail-order or DIY products.
Your teeth will thank you for putting your trust in dental professionals when it comes to achieving your perfect smile. Bring your questions and desires with you during your next Bracify 3D Orthodontics appointment and we will be sure to help you. Together, we will make a safe plan on how to achieve your best smile.