Posts for: January, 2015

By Smart Family Dental Care
January 28, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmd   tmj disorders   tmj  

After ruling out other causes for your jaw pain, your doctor or dentist has made a diagnosis: a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). With TMD, your pain symptoms and other dysfunctions are due to a problem associated with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that connects your lower jaw (mandible) to your upper skull (cranium).

There are a number of treatment options, but most can be classified as either aggressive or conservative. Aggressive treatments are more interventional and target problems with the teeth such as bite problems or jaw relationships as they relate to the bite, which are thought to be underlying causes for TMD. Such treatments include orthodontics to realign teeth, crown or bridgework, or surgical treatment to the jaw or joint itself. These treatments are controversial and irreversible — with no guarantee of symptom relief.

It’s thought by many to be appropriate, then, to start with more conservative treatments. Many of these are based on treating the TMJ — which is a joint, a moveable bony structure connected by muscles and tendons — with an orthopedic approach, using treatments similar to those used for other joint problems.

Here, then, are some of those conservative therapies that may relieve your TMD pain and other symptoms.

Physical Therapy. Commonly used to treat pain and dysfunction in other joints, physical therapies like manual manipulation, massage, alternating hot and cold packs or exercises can be used to relax, stretch or retrain the muscles that operate the TMJ while reducing pain and inflammation.

Medications. Medications may be incorporated into the treatment plan to relieve pain, reduce inflammation or relax tense muscles. Besides prescription drugs, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) are also commonly used.

Bite Appliances. If night-time teeth grinding or clenching habits are a primary cause for the TMD, you may benefit from wearing an occlusal bite guard while you sleep, designed to specifically fit your upper teeth. Because the lower teeth can’t grip the guard’s smooth plastic surface when biting down, they’ll more likely produce less force. This gives the jaw muscles a chance to relax during sleep.

Diet changes. Changing to softer foods, which don’t require strenuous chewing, and eliminating the chewing gum habit will further help reduce stress on the TMJs and also give your muscles a chance to relax and heal.

If you would like more information on TMD and treatment options, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Seeking Relief from TMD.”


A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” featured an engaging 93-year-old strongman called The Mighty Atom Jr. The mature muscleman’s stunt: moving a full-sized car (laden with his octogenarian “kid brother,” his brother’s wife, plus Atom’s “lady friend”) using just his teeth. Grinning for host Howie Mandel, Atom proudly told the TV audience that his teeth were all his own; then he grasped a leather strap in his mouth, and successfully pulled the car from a standstill.

We’re pleased to see that the Atom has kept his natural teeth in good shape: He must have found time for brushing and flossing in between stunts. Needless to say, his “talent” isn’t one we’d recommend trying at home. But aside from pulling vehicles, teeth can also be chipped or fractured by more mundane (yet still risky) activities — playing sports, nibbling on pencils, or biting too hard on ice. What can you do if that happens to your teeth?

Fortunately, we have a number of ways to repair cracked or chipped teeth. One of the easiest and fastest is cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. Bonding can be used to fill in small chips, cracks and discolorations in the teeth. The bonding material is a high-tech mixture of plastic and glass components that’s extremely lifelike, and can last for several years. Plus, it’s a procedure that can be done right in the office, with minimal preparation or discomfort. However, it may not be suitable for larger chips, and it isn’t the longest-lasting type of restoration.

When more of the tooth structure is missing, a crown (or cap) might be needed to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. This involves creating a replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth in a dental lab — or in some cases, right in the office. It typically involves making a model of the damaged tooth and its neighbors, then fabricating a replica, which will fit perfectly into the bite. Finally, the replacement crown is permanently cemented to the damaged tooth. A crown replacement can last for many years if the tooth’s roots are in good shape. But what if the roots have been dislodged?

In some cases it’s possible to re-implant a tooth that has been knocked out — especially if it has been carefully preserved, and receives immediate professional attention. But if a tooth can’t be saved (due to a deeply fractured root, for example) a dental implant offers today’s best option for tooth replacement. This procedure has a success rate of over 95 percent, and gives you a natural looking replacement tooth that can last for the rest of your life.

So what have we learned? If you take care of your teeth, like strongman Atom, they can last a long time — but if you need to move your car, go get the keys.

If you would like more information about tooth restoration, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”

By Smart Family Dental Care
January 13, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Dental Anxiety  

Dental AnxietyDental anxiety is an unfortunate, yet common concern for our patients. Whether you had a bad experience with a dentist in the past, or you are afraid of going to the doctor in general, you can be assured that our Norcross, GA dentist staff will take every step possible to make you comfortable during your visit.

We recommend taking the following steps in reducing your dental anxiety, which can help you have a more pleasant experience:

Talk To Us Ahead of Your Visit

While we understand that all patients may have some fear of the dentist, we understand each person has unique dental anxieties. By calling us ahead of time to explain your concerns, we are better able to work with you to achieve a comfortable appointment. This can include increasing communication about what we are doing, playing music that comforts you, or creating a hand signal that indicates when you may need a break from a cleaning or dental procedure. There are many steps we can take to help - you need only tell us in advance so we can prepare.

Take Anxiety-Relieving Measures Prior to Your Appointment

Getting a good night’s rest prior to your dentist’s appointment can help you to feel better and less anxious. You should also avoid drinking caffeinated beverages prior to coming to our Norcross, GA dentist’s office because this could make you feel more jittery and nervous. High-protein food options, such as a meal of grilled chicken, turkey sandwich or handful of nuts can create a calming effect.

Focus on Your Breathing

When you undergo a dental treatment, holding your breath can only make you feel more panicked. Practice breathing in and out through your nose prior to your appointment to slow your breath. You can also think of positive thoughts to focus on, such as a favorite place or happy memory. This can reduce your anxiety and help you feel more at ease during your appointment.

For more information on how our Norcross, GA dentist’s office can relieve your dental anxiety, please call our office at (770) 446-5700.

By Smart Family Dental Care
January 12, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Gum Pain  

Gum pain is nothing to be ignored. Whether an individual has red, swollen and bleeding gums or has canker sores. gum pain and sensitivity can be treated and prevented, too.

What causes gum pain?

An individual with gums that are swollen and sensitive may be suffering from a common oral infection called gingivitis. AccordingGum Pain to the National Institutes of Health, many American adults suffer from this irritation of the gums which has its origin in the build-up of sticky plague and tartar at the gum line. If not addressed, gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease which causes gums and bone to recede and which can lead to tooth loss.

Another source of gum pain is canker sores, small white sensitive spots on the gums or on other places in the mouth. These bothersome sores can be caused by:

  • stress
  • hereditary factors
  • flu and cold viruses
  • vitamin deficiencies
  • smoking
  • some medications
  • diabetes
  • poorly fitting dentures
  • puberty, menstruation, pregnancy and menopause

What should be done about gum pain?

There are some immediate treatments an individual can try when his gums hurt. These include rinsing with warm salt water several times a day and also applying over the counter topical analgesics such as Orajel. Persistent gum pain requires a trip to the dentist.

Prevention is the best treatment.

Correct and routine oral care can help keep gum pain from starting. Of course, brush teeth after meals and at bedtime using a soft or medium bristled brush with a gentle circular motion. This removes the sticky plague that forms on teeth and gums after eating and overnight. Daily flossing between the teeth is critical, too, as this curtails the formation of hard, yellow tartar, the biggest enemy of healthy gums.

Your dental hygienist will be happy to show you the correct way to brush and to move floss between and around teeth, using a motion that removes the debris but does not abrade the gums. Floss at least once daily.

Visits to the dentist for semi-annual cleanings and for x-rays and exams will help prevent gum pain, too. Be sure to visit his office whenever you are concerned about the health of gums and teeth.

In addition, healthy lifestyle habits are paramount to a healthy, pain-free mouth. Eating a good diet, reducing stress and stopping smoking are tried and true ways to keep a great smile.

Don't wait if you are experiencing tooth or gum pain.

Orson Baek DDS, MS invites you to visit his Norcross, Georgia office for your next dental check-up. He is highly skilled in restorative and preventative dentistry and specializes in periodontics. Call 770-446-5700 to set an appointment.