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May 4th, 2019

TMJ: It's Nothing to Yawn About

Have you been ignoring that clicking sound coming from your jaw? Or are you quick to dismiss the stiff, achy feeling your mouth has in the morning? Don't let these things go unchecked! You might find yourself in for a rude awakening.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder ("TMJ" or "TMD"), a serious condition affecting the connective joint between the skull and jaw, often gets overlooked until it becomes severe. To keep TMJ at bay, get a closer look at the symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Common Symptoms

In addition to muscle stiffness and a noisy jaw, other symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Inability to open your mouth completely without pain and difficulty
  • Frequent "locking" sensation of the jaw when opening or closing your mouth
  • Acute facial and/or neck pain and sensitivity while chewing or talking
  • Constant earaches, tinnitus (a ringing sound in the ear), or pain close to your ears
  • Discomfort while chewing, as if your teeth have shifted out of alignment
  • Inexplicable facial swelling, usually around your cheeks
  • Headaches or migraines that are chronic in nature

Some symptoms can occur without pain, and in certain cases, TMJ may be ruled out by the dentist. For your health and peace of mind, however, it's always wise to get a professional assessment.

Contributing Factors to TMJ

The direct cause of TMJ remains unclear, but there are many well-known risk factors and habits linked to the condition. Women between the ages of 20 and 40, in particular, are at heightened risk for TMJ, as are individuals with jaw abnormalities or deformities. Those who have suffered jaw or other facial injuries in the past are also more susceptible to TMJ.

From a behavioral perspective, repetitive actions that place added stress on the jaw (e.g. teeth grinding or excessive chewing of gum, icy or hard foods) could contribute to the problem. Poor posture, stress and arthritis are also associated with TMJ.

Treatment Options and Self-Care Suggestions

If your dentist has diagnosed you with TMJ, there are a few general treatment options. Extreme cases may require surgery, but for those with milder symptoms, anything from injections to prescription medications and/or dental splints (an appliance akin to a mouth guard) may be recommended.

There are also a number of things you can do at home to help ease the pain:

  • Apply an ice pack to the problem area if swelling becomes an issue
  • Pick foods that are easy to chew, and cut everything into bite-size pieces
  • Go to physical therapy or get frequent massages to alleviate chronic symptoms
  • Exercise your facial muscles regularly (consult your dentist for instructions)
  • Add meditation or other relaxation techniques to your daily routine

The Long Term Outlook for TMJ

Depending on the severity of your condition, as well as your general health and lifestyle, your experience with TMJ may be temporary or more persistent in nature. Staying committed to the treatment plan advised by your dentist, however, can make things more manageable and help minimize painful flare-ups. If any of the symptoms or risk factors of TMJ apply to you, make it a priority to visit your dentist in the near future.


Temporomandibular Joint Disorders. (2014, October 26). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/temporomandibular-disorders-tmd

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome. (2015, February 3). Retrieved May 24, 3015 from http://www.medicinenet.com/temporomandibular_joint_syndrome_tmj/article.htm

TMJ Disorders. (2013, December 13). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tmj/basics/definition/con-20043566


Adult Braces

April 27th, 2019

The Buzz on Braces for Adults: 5 Things You Should Know

Wish you could go back in time to straighten your teeth? Good news: the ship hasn't sailed for that dream just yet! More and more adults are heading to the orthodontist's office to get the smile they've always wanted.

If news about the topic or a passerby with braces has left you wanting to know more, your curiosity is about to be satisfied. Below are key insights about adult orthodontic treatment that can help you decide whether braces are right for you.

  1. Braces are possible at any age.

Tradition may hold braces as a rite of passage for pre-teens and teens, but the truth of the matter is that they are an effective solution to improve your smile no matter how old you are. Even senior citizens can (and increasingly do) get their smile straightened at the hands of an orthodontist.

  1. Certain oral health conditions can exclude you from getting orthodontic care.

In some extreme cases, patients with receding gums may not be eligible for care. If your teeth have very shallow roots, this can also make orthodontic treatment unviable. Don't rule out braces, however, until you get the professional opinion of an orthodontist.

  1. Treatment lasts longer, but you'll still get results.

The primary difference between getting braces as an adult versus a teenager is the length of time for treatment. Because adult jaws are less malleable, correcting misalignments and/or crowding may require teeth to be pulled if there is not enough space. This is different than treatment for young patients, since a growing jaw can be stretched and shaped to accommodate teeth. Healing time also tends to slow down with age, which means moving teeth can take a bit longer. Despite these adjustments, you'll still be able to achieve a straighter smile.

  1. There are more options than ever.

Times have changed, and metal braces aren't the only choice. For those who are less than enthused about having a "metal mouth", or are anxious about their braces becoming a distraction, there are more discreet options to consider. While metal braces offer the speediest route to a straighter smile, ceramic and clear braces are much less noticeable. It's important to note that ceramic and clear braces can stain easily, but if you don't smoke and steer clear of dark beverages, either might be a great choice for you.

  1. Braces make your smile better inside and out.

It can take more time to straighten your teeth, but the benefits are significant — and not just cosmetic! In addition to improving your appearance and self-esteem, straighter teeth can reduce unnecessary stress on your jaw, make chewing/eating more efficient, and help keep gingivitis and tooth decay at bay.

Schedule a Consultation

Get a dentist's perspective on which type of braces is best for you, and an estimate on the length of treatment you can expect. Don't be afraid to ask for referrals or reviews, and remember that a slow, gradual approach may be safer and more manageable in the long run.


Frequently Asked Questions: Adult Orthodontics Patients. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.bracesinfo.com/adult.html

Straight Talk About Braces for Adults (2005, March 18). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/straight-talk-about-braces-for-adults


Max your Dental Insurance Benefits

April 20th, 2019

5 Ways to Maximize Your Dental Benefits Plan

With terms like PPO, HMO, in-network, and out-of-network to describe dental benefits, it's no surprise that many don't understand how to make the most of their plan. This means you may be overlooking benefits that are critical to maintaining your oral health.

Don't settle for just what you understand as part of your coverage. Read on for 5 simple tips to take advantage of everything your plan has to offer.

Tip #1: Take Time to Understand Your Plan

The best way to take advantage of your plan is to ensure you know the type of plan it is and its deductibles, copayments, and annual maximums.

There are two main types of dental plans:

  • HMO Plans – With an HMO, you'll be required to choose a dentist in your primary network to handle most of your needs. You are charged a relatively low co-payment for office visits, procedures, etc. There is no coverage if you visit an out-of-network provider. HMOs typically have no deductible or maximum.


  • PPO Plans – With a PPO, you have the option to see both in-network and out-of-network providers, but coverage is better if you stay in network. Once you hit your deductible, you are reimbursed for a percentage of office visits, procedures, etc. The percentage may vary depending on the treatment and is much higher if you see an in-network dentist.

Key things to understand about your plan are its:

  • Deductible – The dollar amount you must pay for covered services prior to claiming benefits under your plan.


  • Copayment – A fixed dollar amount you must pay when you visit your dentist. Some plans with copayments don't have a deductible whereas others may have both.


  • Annual Maximum – The maximum amount a plan will pay for dental care for an individual or family during a specific benefit period (often, benefit periods last for 12 months).

Tip #2: Take Advantage of All Benefits Covered Under Your Plan

In addition to understanding the basics of your plan, it is important to explore all of the associated benefits.

Most individuals are aware of and will use diagnostic and preventative services for professional cleanings every 6 months. These services are often covered in full by HMO plans and between 80% and 100% by PPO plans.

However, there are other benefits that should be included both in your plan booklet and online. These benefits may cover restorative care (like fillings), major restorative care (like crowns and bridges), as well as orthodontic care. By doing your research, you can determine what procedures are covered, what limitations each procedure has, and if there are any exclusions.

Tip #3: Use a Dentist in Your Network

One of the most significant challenges for many individuals is determining whether or not a dentist is in their network. This can be particularly difficult for plans that have multiple networks because dentists may participate in all or some of them.

If you choose a dentist that is out of your network, the amount of insurance coverage you receive for your treatments will vary. As such, seeing an in-network dentist allows you to maximize your benefits.

Coverage will differ if you go out of network on either type of dental plan:

  • HMO Plans – If you visit a dentist other than your primary or a referred specialist, your services won't be covered (even if that dentist is also in your network).


  • PPO Plans – PPO plans allow you to visit any licensed dentist and you will still be covered. However, choosing a dentist in your network offers top savings (allowing you to maximize your benefits and coverage).

Tip #4: Control Expenses with Treatment Plans

To maximize your benefits, it is best to schedule treatments in advance to align with your annual maximum. In many cases, you can strategically plan multi-stage treatments with your dental professional to minimize your costs as much as possible. Of course, it is also important to be prepared for unforeseen dental emergencies.

Tip #5: Track Claims and Remaining Benefits

Track claims as you receive treatment so you are aware of when you are approaching your annual maximum. After each appointment, review your treatment summary to see what your carrier covered. Then, subtract this amount from your annual maximum to calculate your remaining coverage for the given benefit period.

Get What You Pay for by Maximizing Your Benefits

You sign up for dental insurance for the benefits and you should receive what you paid for. By utilizing each of the tips above, you can make the most of all your benefits and keep your smile looking great.


10 Tips to Maximize Dental Benefits. (2014, February 14). Retrieved July 2, 2015 from https://www.dentalinsurance.com/blog/?post_type=resources&p=1554

Maximizing a dental benefits plan: 6 easy tips. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from https://www.deltadentalins.com/administrators/guidance/maximizing-a-dental-benefits-plan.html


When To See the Dentist

April 13th, 2019

When To See the Dentist

BECAUSE PREVENTION IS such a major part of good dental care, it’s critical to visit the dentist for regular checkups. In most cases, two regular dental cleanings a year will be all you need, but not always. So what are the signs that you shouldn’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to come back? For this blog post, we’ve listed the top five.

  1. Aches Of Any Kind

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, that could mean a cavity has gotten to the point where the dental pulp is getting infected. Don’t tough it out thinking it’ll just go away on its own. Other types of pain you should bring to the dentist are an aching jaw and frequent headaches. These are often connected to oral health issues such as bruxism (teeth-grinding), and the dentist can help!

  1. Mouth Sores And Bleeding Gums

Mouth sores usually go away on their own, but they can also be a sign of infection or disease, so it’s important to get those looked at when they appear. If you notice that you’re bleeding after brushing or flossing, it’s time to come see the dentist, particularly if you’re already using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Bleeding gums are one of the first symptoms of gum disease, so don’t ignore the signs!

  1. Previous Dental Work

If you’ve had dental work done in the past and there’s a problem with it now, don’t wait until a regular appointment to get that fixed, because it will likely get worse. A cracked or chipped crown needs to be repaired quickly so that infection doesn’t set in. Worn-out fillings need to be replaced to prevent bacteria from thriving in the gaps between the tooth and the filling.

  1. Serious Medical Concerns

Serious conditions such as diabetes, eating disorders, and gum disease affect our oral health more than we realize, and sometimes the treatments have negative impacts too. Many medications cause dry mouth, which can seriously jeopardize oral health. That’s why if you are diagnosed with a chronic disease and/or have new medications prescribed to you, your dentist needs to know about it.

  1. Bad Breath

Few things are as mortifying as being in a social situation and realizing you have bad breath, but did you know that bad breath is sometimes a symptom of gum disease or other health problems? If you find yourself having an unusually hard time keeping your breath minty fresh, it’s a good idea to visit the dentist so we can discover the underlying cause.


Keep Up Your Regular Visits!

While we hope you come to see us right away if you notice any of these signs, we want to reemphasize the importance of scheduling regular appointments. Most dental health problems appear gradually, and an appointment every six months is enough to catch these problems before they become serious.

Thank you for trusting in us to take care of all your dental concerns!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.


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