Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S. - 220 North Washington Ave., Cookeville, TN 38501 (931)526-2613

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Posts for category: Oral Health

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
December 05, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   tmd   tmj  
HowtoStopthePainofTMD

The term TMD means “Temporomandibular Disorder.” But if you suffer from this disorder, it means pain. The pain can be mild or severe, acute or chronic, and it can appear to be centered in different locations, making it difficult to diagnose.

People who clench or grind their teeth because of stress often experience the pain of TMD. They might not even know they are engaging in these habits, because they do them subconsciously, for example when driving in traffic or engaging in vigorous exercise. Another cause of TMD might be an injury such as a blow to the jaw.

You can feel your temporomandibular joints working if you place your fingers in front of your ears and move your lower jaw up and down. On each side the joint is composed of an almond shaped structure at the end of the lower jaw, called the condyle, which fits neatly into a depression in the temporal bone (the bone on the side of your skull near your ear). A small disc between the two bones allows the lower jaw to move forward and sideways. The joints are stabilized by ligaments and moved by muscles.

TMD pain is the result of a process that begins when a stimulus such as psychological stress or an injury to the joint causes spasms (involuntary muscle contractions) in the muscles that move the joint. Blood vessels in the muscle begin to accumulate waste products, causing chemical changes and lactic acid buildup in the muscle. Nerves in the muscle then signal the brain to stop the movement of the jaw by registering pain.

TMD pain can appear to originate from various locations in your jaw, head, or neck. This is why it's important to make an appointment with our office for a professional assessment and diagnosis.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms of pain and discomfort and to prevent them from recurring in the future. Treatment can include heat, mild painkillers, muscle relaxants, soft diet, and simple jaw exercises, as well as education regarding the causes of TMD. To prevent further pain you may be provided with a “bite guard,” or referred to relaxation training with a licensed therapist. A bite guard is designed to prevent the lower teeth from biting hard into the upper teeth. It is commonly worn at night, but can also be worn during the day if clenching and grinding are apparent.

If these simpler treatments do not solve the problem, we may recommend more complex procedures such as bite adjustment or, as a last resort, surgical treatment may be needed.

Contact us today to discuss your questions about TMD. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “TMD: Understanding the Great Imposter.”

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
November 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum recession  
WhatIsGumRecessionandHowIsItTreated

Gum recession is a common problem affecting millions of Americans to some degree. If you have it, you will notice that the pink gum tissue surrounding one or more of your teeth has shrunk or receded and left the tooth-root surfaces exposed. How does this happen? And does it require treatment? The answers to both of these questions will vary from person to person. The good news is that treatment is available for those who need it.

The way you care for your teeth can be a major factor in gum recession. If you do not effectively remove plaque (bacterial biofilm) from your teeth daily, you may develop gum inflammation, gum disease and/or recession. Conversely, if you brush or floss too hard or for too long, you can also damage your gums. Please remember that it doesn't take a lot of pressure to remove biofilm; you just need to make sure you get to each tooth, right down to the gum line.

Other causes of gum recession include: mal-positioned and/or prominent teeth that are not fully encased in supporting bone; muscle attachments (frenums) pulling at the gum line; habits such as holding foreign objects (nails, pins) between the teeth that press on the gum tissues; and badly fitting oral appliances such as dentures, braces – even tongue bolts and lip piercings.

Besides not looking too great, gum recession can lead to anything from minor tooth sensitivity to tooth loss in the most severe cases. If you are experiencing any discomfort from a loss of gum (also called “gingival”) tissue, we'd certainly like to know about it. We would be happy to examine your condition and make recommendations.

There are surgical procedures that are very effective in treating these problems. Procedures such as gingival grafting or periodontal plastic surgery (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth), often involve taking a small piece of healthy gingival tissue from the roof of your mouth and grafting it to the area where it is needed. Ultrafine sutures hold the graft in place until it “takes.” Laboratory-processed donor tissue can also be used. In either case, the procedure has a terrific success rate.

If you have any questions about gum recession, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. To learn more about the topic of oral appliance therapy, please see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Plastic Surgery.”

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
October 31, 2012
Category: Oral Health
SomeFactsAboutThumbSucking

It may alarm some people, but finger or thumb sucking is a completely normal activity for babies and young children. In fact, sonograms often reveal babies sucking a finger or thumb while still in the womb! However, if children are allowed to suck fingers, thumbs or pacifiers indefinitely, it can become problematic, with serious consequences particularly as they get older.

The list below contains important facts about thumb sucking and pacifiers that all parents of young infants should know.

  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents and caregivers encourage children to stop thumb sucking by age 3.
  • Recent studies have shown that pacifier use after the age of two may cause long-term changes in the mouth; thus these researchers recommend stopping pacifier use by 18 months.
  • If thumb and finger sucking habits do not stop soon enough, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come into the correct position in the mouth.
  • Most children who suck their thumbs or fingers tend to stop between the ages of 2 and 4.
  • For obvious reasons, a pacifier habit is often easier to break than a finger or thumb-sucking habit.
  • One tip for encouraging older children to stop this habit gradually is to use behavior modification with appropriate rewards given at pre-determined intervals to refrain from using a pacifier, or sucking fingers or a thumb.

Be sure to inform us if any of your children suck their fingers, thumb or a pacifier so that we can begin monitoring their development. Our general recommendation is that you schedule an appointment around your child's first birthday.

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
October 22, 2012
Category: Oral Health
SnoringampSleepApneamdashAreYouAtRisk

If you wake yourself by snoring or have been told by others that you snore, you should share this fact with us during your next visit. Why? Many people are shocked to learn that their dentist is a vital resource for treating snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition that occurs when the upper airway (back of your throat) is blocked or obstructed causing significant airflow disruption or even no airflow whatsoever for 10 seconds or more.

Self Test For Sleep Apnea

While your responses to the following questions are not a diagnosis for OSA, they can be warning signs that you may have OSA or another condition that is impacting your sleep.

  1. Are you a loud habitual snorer?
  2. Has anyone ever witnessed you holding your breath, gasping for air or even choking while asleep?
  3. Do you regularly feel un-refreshed or tired even after waking from eight or more hours of sleep?
  4. Do you find yourself easily falling asleep throughout your day at work or at home?
  5. Do you suffer from poor concentration or judgment, memory loss, irritability and/or depression from lack of sleep?
  6. Are you 15 pounds over the normal weight range for your height and/or does you neck measure more than 17 inches around if you are male and 16 inches if you are female?

If you answered, “yes” to any of the above questions, you should share your responses to all of these questions with both your physician and us so that you can receive a thorough examination to address your sleep concerns. And if you are diagnosed with OSA, we can help with specific oral treatment options that may work best for you.

Learn More

Learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options when you read “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation.

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
October 03, 2012
Category: Oral Health
CanThumbSuckingHarmYourChildsTeeth

Sucking their fingers or thumbs makes young babies feel secure and is completely normal behavior. Babies have been observed to suck their fingers or thumbs even before they are born. But like many comforting habits, over-doing pacifier, thumb, or finger sucking habits may be harmful.

Stop Pacifier Use by 18 Months

Studies have shown that pacifier use after the age of two may cause long-term changes in a child's mouth. We recommend that pacifier use should stop by about 18 months. A pacifier habit is often easier to break than finger or thumb sucking.

Stop Thumb and Finger Sucking by Age Three

Most children naturally stop thumb and finger sucking between two and four years of age, but some children continue this habit much longer. This may cause their upper front teeth to tip towards their lips or to come into position improperly. It can also cause their upper jaw to develop incorrectly. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children stop these habits by age three.

Use of Behavior Management to Encourage Quitting

We offer creative strategies for gentle ways to cut back and stop pacifier use, including behavior management techniques that use appropriate rewards given at predetermined intervals. Meanwhile, make periodic appointments with us to carefully watch the way your child's teeth and jaws develop.

When your child is old enough to understand the possible results of a sucking habit, just talking about what may happen to teeth as a result can often encourage him/her to quit. As a last resort, a mouth appliance that blocks sucking may be needed.

If you are worried about your child sucking a pacifier, thumb, or fingers, please visit us to put your mind at rest. For more information read “Thumb Sucking in Children” in Dear Doctor magazine. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about children's thumb sucking.