By Mark Levy | September 27, 2011
When a patient calls with a “toothache” the detective work begins. While the top reasons for toothache are cavities or gum disease there are other causes for oral pain. A thorough examination, including x-rays, is needed to diagnose the cause of the pain.
Usually our examination will show obvious dental decay or an abscess that is the cause of the pain. On some occasions the cause may not be obvious. Has the patient had recent dental restorations? Perhaps the reason for the pain is a crown or a filling that is not in proper alignment with the other teeth – the forces exerted by chewing can irritate the nerves and cause a toothache type pain. In some cases the pain is due to an improper bite or grinding of the teeth which causes pain and damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). In these cases it is important to restore the bite to the perfect position using the principles of neuromuscular dentistry.
In extremely rare cases toothache pain may not be caused by a problem with the teeth, gums or jaw but instead could be a symptom of heart disease (angina or heart attack), ear infection or even a sinus problem. If your dentist is unable to discover a dental cause for the discomfort you may be referred to your physician to make sure no underlying medical condition could be causing the pain.
The good news is that most toothaches are caused by simple cavities and can easily be remedied by removing the decay and placing an appropriate restoration such as a tooth colored filling or crown. To avoid experiencing a toothache remember to schedule regular visits with your dentist and have all needed dental care completed as soon as possible — waiting until later to have that crown or filling replaced can lead to needing more expensive treatment in the future.
Please contact StoneRidge Dental Care in Gahanna, OH today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your appointment. We look forward to seeing you.
By Mark Levy | August 25, 2011
This is the longest recession in modern history and almost everyone has experienced increased levels of stress. One sign of this stress that we are seeing more frequently is a condition called bruxism, or teeth grinding. Patients clench or grind their teeth, usually at night during sleep, so they don’t even realize they are doing it until a tooth breaks or daily headaches cause them to seek treatment.
Normally, 10 to 15 percent of people grind but during the economic downturn many dentists who treat bruxism have seen an increase in stress-related grinding. Traditionally, grinding appears in middle-age and women have typically been the ones seeking treatment. Today however, more neuromuscular dentists are reporting an increase in male patients.
The damage caused by untreated bruxism can be severe. Normal chewing puts about 68 pounds of pressure per square inch on the back teeth, grinding unconsciously at night can cause up of 900 pounds of pressure. Little wonder that teeth break and wear down. This pressure also causes inflammation and damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) leading to facial pain, jaw clicking and headaches.
The treatment for bruxism? For many cases a custom orthotic (sometimes called a night guard) protects the teeth from wear and places the jaw in a position that reduces stress on the temporomandibular joint. For patients who have been grinding their teeth for a long time a full-mouth reconstruction may be needed to correct the damage.
In the Columbus area your neuromuscular dentist is Dr. Mark Levy at StoneRidge Dental Care. Please contact us today at 614-476.6696 if you are experiencing the signs of tooth grinding. Speedy treatment will allow us to stop further damage and start the healing process.
By Mark Levy | July 29, 2011
Clenching our jaws and grinding our teeth is often blamed on stress but many times the cause is not easily found. Most people who grind their teeth do so during sleep and may not even realize they are doing it until a bed partner comments on the noise or a visit to the dentist shows wearing of the teeth. Because bruxism (tooth grinding) occurs at night some have tried to label it a sleep disorder, others think it is simply habit.
Whatever the cause the outcome is usually the same. Bruxism causes the teeth to wear down and the stress on the jaw joint leads to temporomandibular joint pain and dysfunction (TMJ) with symptoms including facial pain, headache, neck and back pain and even changes in hearing. Over time the teeth continue to wear which changes the bite, which adds to the stress on the jaw joint and can also include damage to the gums and facial muscles. Since stopping bruxism from happening is almost impossible, the answer lies in protecting the teeth, TMJ and muscles with a bruxism appliance created by a neuromuscular dentist.
A neuromuscular dentist is someone who has advanced training in how the musculature of the head and neck work together with the jaw joint and teeth. By finding the optimal position for your jaw and creating a custom appliance that will hold your jaw in that position during sleep the damage from bruxism can be avoided. For those patients who have already experienced severe damage to their teeth from this condition a full mouth restoration may be the answer.
If you are experiencing frequent headaches, facial or jaw pain you may be grinding your teeth. Early intervention is vital to protecting the health of your teeth and jaw joint. Please contact our office at 614-476-6696 today to schedule your evaluation.
By Mark Levy | June 10, 2011
About 45 million Americans suffer from headaches each year robbing them of time at work, school or with their families. More people complain about headaches than any other medical condition and attempting to discover the reason for the headaches often leads to many visits to physicians and specialists without receiving a diagnosis.
Migraines or frequent, continual headaches may be a sign of temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ. This is especially true of headaches that occur in the morning. The temporomandibular joint (jaw joint) is one of the most complex in the human body. Common causes of TMJ pain include accidents, bruxism (grinding teeth at night) or a bad bite (malocclusion).
Malocclusion can occur for many reasons. Teeth may not fit together properly because of old, broken dental work, misaligned teeth or missing teeth. A dentist who has specialized training in the field of neuromuscular dentistry has the ability to correct the improper bite and relieve stress on the temporomandibular joint, allowing the muscles surrounding the joint to relax. This relieves the recurring headaches and the neck and shoulder pain that often accompany them.
If you suffer from frequent, recurring headaches please contact StoneRidge Dental Care at 614-476-6696 today to schedule your appointment for a TMJ evaluation.
By Mark Levy | July 16, 2010
There are many causes for temporomandibular joint dysfunction and, treatment for the disorder will vary for each individual. Until you can visit your neuromuscular dentist for diagnosis and treatment here are some ideas to help relieve your discomfort.
- Do NOT chew gum.
- Apply cold packs. Apply an ice pack to the side of your face for 10 minutes (wrap in a towel to protect your skin). Reapply after 20-30 minutes.
- Eat a soft diet. Stick to soft foods such as yogurt, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs and soup. The idea is to rest your jaw muscles as much as possible. Don’t eat hard, crunchy foods like raw carrots, pretzels or really chewy foods.
- Avoid opening your mouth too wide. Try to keep your mouth movements small when you yawn. Do not order the overstuffed sandwich or the double bacon cheeseburger. You will be more comfortable if you avoid extreme jaw movement.
- Hold the Phone. This means hold it with your hand, not between your ear and shoulder.
- Don’t Rest Your Chin - Do you rest your chin on your hand? Time to stop. Also, check your pillow position at night – find a comfortable position that doesn’t place pressure on your face or jaw.
- Lips Together, Teeth Apart – Practice keeping your teeth slightly apart to help avoid unconscious clenching or grinding of your teeth during the day.
- Try Over The Counter Medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofin (Advil, Motrin, etc.) can be purchased at your local retailer. Follow the dosing directions carefully and remember to always have food in your stomach before you take these medications (see #3 above) because they can injure your stomach lining.
Hopefully these tips will help alleviate some of the pain, headaches and other symptoms you are experiencing until your appointment. They are not a treatment for temporomandibular joint dysfunction and will not replace a visit to your neuromuscular dentist. Proper diagnosis and treatment of your individual case is necessary to avoid further damage to the jaw joint.
In Gahanna, Ohio please contact Dr. Mark Levy today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your consultation. Relief from the pain and headaches associated with TMD are only a phone call away.
By Mark Levy | July 14, 2010
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is your jaw joint. It is the hinge that connects your lower jaw to the upper part ofour skull. The joint is extremely complex and flexible allowing movement both up and down and side to side. This allows us to talk, chew, yawn with a wide range of motion. The muscles surrounding the joint control the movement and position of the jaw.
A temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a problem with the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. Symptoms of TMD include:
- Pain or tenderness in the jaw, face, neck or shoulders
- Limited range of opening the mouth
- Clicking or popping noises in the jaw
- Difficulty or discomfort chewing
- Headaches or migraines
- Swelling in the jaw area
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears or a feeling of “fullness” in the ears
- Ear aches
With so many varied symptoms it is not unusual for patients to visit many different specialists and undergo many tests before finally being diagnosed correctly.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above you may be suffering from TMD. An experienced neuromuscular dentist can perform a clinical examination to determine whether or not your jaw joint is the cause of your symptoms. Treatment options for TMD will vary by patient depending upon the severity of the problem and the underlying cause. I will discuss some basic, conservative self-care techniques in my next blog. While these techniques will not replace proper treatment they may make you more comfortable until your appointment.
TMD problems do not typically “go away” and putting off treatment may only make the problem worse. Please contact my Columbus, Ohio neuromuscular dental office today at 614-476-6696 to schedule a consultation.
By Mark Levy | April 1, 2010
How Bruxism, teeth grinding, from stress can impact your dental health
COLUMBUS, OH – We keep learning more about the negative effects that stress has on our physical health. But did you know that stress also takes a toll on your teeth? Dr. Jennifer Ashton, medical correspondent, discussed this matter on the CBS Early Show. All across the country dental offices are seeing more and more people abnormally grinding their teeth.
Grinding the teeth in this manner is called Bruxism. Dr. Ashton explained how teeth grinding can do more than just damage the teeth – it can also affect the muscles surrounding the head and neck which leads to other problems including temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJ, for short.
Typically patients do not even know they are grinding their teeth. Many times their spouse complains about the grinding noise at night and that is how the problem is discovered. You may be grinding if you have these symptoms:
- Unusual headaches, especially in the morning
- Tooth sensitivity
- Facial pain
- Jaw joint pain
- Biting the inside of your cheek
The New York Times reported that an increase of 20-25% in bruxism has been seen in a dental practice they surveyed.
Protecting your teeth and jaw joint from TMJ and other damage caused by bruxism calls for a visit to your neuromuscular dentist. While Dr. Levy can’t get rid of the stress in your life, he can create a custom orthotic appliance that will save your teeth, jaw joints and muscles from further damage and allow them to heal.
Protect your teeth and overall health by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Levy to discuss your dental health needs. In the Columbus, Ohio area contact us at 614-454-3488.
By Mark Levy | February 23, 2010
Self help solutions to ease the pain caused by TMJ
COLUMBUS, OH – Headaches, facial pain, neck pain, strange noises in your ears, clicking jaw joints – all symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction and all difficult to live with. If you are suffering from any one or more of these symptoms you could have a TMJ problem. Until you are able to get an appointment with your neuromuscular dentist here are some do-it-yourself suggestions that can help alleviate your discomfort.
Remember that ice is your friend. Gel ice packs are available at your local pharmacy and are easy to apply to the jaw area. Just like you might apply ice to a sprained ankle, ice on the temporomandibular joint helps reduce swelling and pain. If you can tolerate ibuprofen, it is a wonderful drug to reduce inflammation and help begin healing.
Modify your diet. Again, think of your injured jaw joint like a sprained ankle. Every time you eat hard or chewy foods, you are “running” on that jaw joint. Place yourself on a non-chew soft diet. Nothing harder than the consistency of cooked pasta. No chewing gum or ice and stifle your yawns as much as possible. In general, minimize using your mandible as much as possible.
Gentle passive exercises to strengthen the muscles of the temporomandibular joint and mouth area are important to maintain a healthy range of motion. A referral to a qualified physical therapist is always beneficial in getting the TMJ muscles relaxed and pain free.
Treating temporomandibular joint dysfunctions is not something that every dentist is trained to do. The jaw joint is among the most complex in the human body and it takes advanced training in neuromuscular dentistry to effectively treat these types of cases. Dr. Mark Levy is an LVI Fellow which means he has attained the highest levels of neuromuscular training at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.
These self-help tips will not “cure” your TMJ problem but may help make you more comfortable until your appointment with Dr. Levy. Please contact us today at 614-476-6696 to schedule your consultation.
By Mark Levy | February 19, 2010
TMJ can be the cause of Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
COLUMBUS, OH – What is that constant ringing in my ears? One of the most vexing conditions is tinnitus – a ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. Fortunately for most sufferers the condition is not related to serious illness but is extremely annoying and can affect social relationships or work.
What causes the bells to start ringing? Sometimes it is damage to cells of the inner ear. This damage could simply be age related or caused by previous traumatic injury. Some medications cause tinnitus. A frequently overlooked cause of funny sounds in the ears is TMD or temporomandibular joint disorder.
The temporomandibular joint is the joint where your lower jaw attaches. This joint is one of the most complex in the human body – flexing and bending in many directions. The jaw joint is also under constant stress from talking, chewing and, for many people, grinding their teeth. While the most common symptoms of TMD are facial pain, neck pain, clicking in the jaw and severe headaches many patients report ringing, buzzing or a feeling of “fullness” in their ears.
Many patients have gone from one specialist to another for many years seeking relief, only to be told that their ears look fine. There are effective treatment options from a trained neuromuscular dentist. Treatment of these conditions requires extensive education such as that offered at LVI (The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies). As an LVI Fellow, Dr. Levy is uniquely qualified to care for patients with TMD in the Gahanna, Ohio area.
Contact our office for a consultation about neuromuscular dentistry and tinnitus at 614-454-3488 or visit our website at www.marklevydds.com.