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All About TMJ for National TMJ Awareness Month

November 4th, 2018

If you experience throbbing headaches, pain and tenderness in your jaw, or have difficulty chewing, you may be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from a TMJ disorder. This November is TMJ Awareness Month, and we’re breaking down the causes, symptoms, and treatments of TMJ disorders so you can learn the most effective ways to stay pain-free year -round. 

What is TMJ?

Every person has two temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that rest in front of each ear. These joints allow your jaw to move in hinge and sliding motions so you can talk, chew, or swallow. When TMJ disorders strike, they can cause pain and restriction of the jaw, along with a myriad of other unpleasant side effects that can critically damage quality of life, including:

  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth (jaw locking)
  • Tenderness and pain in the jaw
  • Pain in or around the ears
  • Migraines and tension headaches
  • Neck and shoulder pain

Oftentimes, there are a number of factors that can contribute to painful TMJ disorders, ranging from stress, to teeth grinding, to a bad bite. Most of these factors place undue pressure on your jaw’s joints, leading to the characteristic symptoms of pain, tightness, and restricted range of motion.

Treatment Options for TMJ

Because TMJ disorders can affect your ability to speak, eat, and even sleep, managing the pain and discomfort brought on by TMJ problems can feel overwhelming. However, regardless of stage, there are a number of effective treatments for patients to try. While most TMJ disorders are resolved with conservative treatments, surgical intervention is sometimes needed to relieve discomfort and pain. Some conservative treatments include an adjusted diet, bite realignment, wearing a mouth guard, or restorative dentistry. Patients with stress-induced TMJ may find counseling and exercises to be helpful.

If patients have TMJ caused by malocclusion (an improper bite), one of the most effective treatments is orthodontics. Orthodontic treatment can correct the improper bite and ensure that the jaw functions without compensating for misaligned teeth. In many cases, orthodontics can also reduce rates of jaw clenching or teeth grinding, since misaligned teeth are more prone to these TMJ-inducing habits.

If you routinely suffer from painful TMJ disorders, take the first step toward a pain-free life by scheduling an appointment with us today. By determining the causes of your pain, we can discuss treatment options that will transform the way you feel and leave you with your happiest, healthiest smile yet.

Be Picky If it's Sticky! Halloween Advice for Your Best Smile Yet

October 10th, 2018

Halloween is right around the corner and many Americans are eagerly awaiting the festivities, candies, and sweets that the holiday brings. While families are stockpiling their sugary treats, it’s crucial to be extra mindful of orthodontic and dental care this season to keep your teeth healthy, clean, and pearly white. In preparation for the sweet season, we’ve compiled these expert tips that will keep your smile looking its best during Halloween and beyond!

Do remember to maintain regular dental care routines.

It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene when you have braces— especially during a season known for candy consumption! Remember to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, replacing your toothbrush every three to four months (or sooner if you notice the bristles are fraying). Continue to floss once a day as it will help remove plaque and food particles stuck in your braces or teeth.

Don’t snack on and off throughout the day and night.

It’s best to have Halloween candy or other sugary foods around mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals, which helps maintain the pH balance in your mouth and rinse away food particles. Snacking, especially on sugary snacks, can increase your risk of cavities because there is less saliva to mitigate the bacteria or acid in the mouth.

Do choose candy carefully.

Although reducing your sugar intake is a safe way to lower your risk of developing cavities, you can still satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your dental health or braces! Soft chocolates like Hershey Bars, Reese’s Cups and Three Musketeers make excellent choices for a healthy smile this Halloween. Just be sure to avoid chocolates that have nuts or caramel inside (Snickers…we’re looking at you!)

Don’t get into a sticky situation.

Sticky, chewy, and gummy candies are the most difficult to thoroughly remove from your mouth—plus they put your braces (specifically wires and brackets) at risk. These candies additionally stick to the grooves of teeth and increase risk of tooth decay, making them the worst candy for both your oral health and orthodontic treatment.

Do treat yourself to sweet options beyond the candy bag.

While candy is certainly in abundance during the Halloween season, encourage your family and friends to enjoy more braces-friendly treats like fruit, milkshakes, or cookies since they tend to stick to braces and teeth less than candy.

Don’t forget to drink water.

Water is a dental superhero, loosening food that gets stuck in braces and washing it away. Fluoridated water can even help prevent tooth decay, so be sure to stay hydrated for better oral health.

By establishing healthy braces habits this season and beyond, you can enjoy your healthiest and happiest smile yet. If you have any questions about orthodontic care or want to schedule an appointment, call us today. From all of us, we wish you a happy and safe Halloween!

Braces-Friendly School Lunch Ideas

August 8th, 2018

In the whirlwind of shopping for school supplies, clothes, and groceries, a balanced braces-friendly lunch can fall to the sidelines. So to help you make back-to-school a little less overwhelming, we’ve searched high and low to bring you four mix-and-match  brown bag lunch ideas that will keep students smiling and their braces safe.

Lunch #1: PB&J on whole wheat bread with sides of cucumber slices, yogurt or ranch dip, and string cheese

Peanut butter is a great source of protein and fiber, while cucumber is one of nature’s toothbrushes. Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, which promote strong tooth enamel. For an added boost, whole wheat bread contains more natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber than white bread. Pro tip: toasting your bread slightly may make your sandwich less crumbly and less likely to stick to braces!

Lunch #2: Turkey and cheese rolled together with sides of apple slices and Greek yogurt

Turkey, cheese, and Greek yogurt power this protein-packed meal. We advise patients to avoid whole apples to protect braces, but cutting up these fresh fruits makes them braces-friendly. Apple slices are high in fiber and fun to eat, while still providing a braces-safe crunch.

Lunch #3: Bean salad with sides of melon wedges, blueberries, banana, and reduced-fat cheddar cheese cubes

Beans can provide the foundation for a balanced lunch with their high density of protein, and melons and bananas contain fiber.

Lunch #4: Sliced hard-boiled egg with sides of bell pepper, strawberries, and a mini corn muffin

For this lunchbox, eggs provide the protein, bell pepper and fruit contain fiber, and a mini corn muffin is a teeth-friendly alternative to packaged sugary desserts.

A nutritious midday meal ensures students have the energy and focus needed for the entire school day and it can even have a positive impact on their report cards. Packing a braces-friendly school lunch doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive as long as you plan ahead and encourage the entire family to help choose from a variety of healthy options. You’re well on your way to that perfect smile!

Beat the Heat with 5 Braces-Friendly Snacks for Summer

June 4th, 2018

Before braces, most of us were used to reaching for our favorite crunchy snacks and chewy candy without a second thought. But once we get braces, most of these foods are off the menu, as we now have to consider snacks that won’t be painful or damage new orthodontic devices. Although wearing braces limits some of the foods you can eat, there are still plenty of choices for safe and tasty snacks.

We suggest enjoying these fun summertime snacks that won’t harm your braces.

Fruit salad

There are few things more refreshing than a ripe, juicy berry! Bananas, blueberries, and grapes are good examples of fruits soft enough for you to chew easily and confidently. (It's always a good idea to have bite-size pieces and brush after you eat.)

Cucumber slices and ranch dip

Kick off summer with this seasonal spread, perfect for outdoor fun at the beach or park! Cucumbers can be helpful for those wearing traditional braces or Invisalign® due to their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Ice cream

A cold, creamy classic, ice cream is sure to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth—and cool you off, too. Just remember that your teeth are more susceptible to cavities when you have braces, so always brush after eating sugary foods.

Seedless watermelon

Watermelon slices are a summer picnic staple. You can even insert a popsicle stick and freeze them for a healthy twist on the traditional popsicle!

Pita bread and hummus

Serve this tried-and-true combination as an easy and healthy snack or party appetizer bursting with fresh Mediterranean flavor.

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