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

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Posts for tag: 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.
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.
September 25, 2012
Category: Oral Health
IfYouSnorePleaseReadMore

Do you constantly feel like you are running on empty? Do you snore, feel like napping every day, or even drink multiple cups of coffee just for the caffeine boost? You may have a sleep related breathing disorder (SRBD) or Sleep Apnea (“a” – without; “pnea” – breath) in which your airways become obstructed causing chronic loud snoring. The good news is that we can help both diagnose and treat this disorder, which means you will be able to finally get the rest that you (and your sleeping partner) so desperately need.

The reason that sleep apnea is so disruptive to daily living is that it causes awakening for a few seconds up to 50 times per night, significantly decreasing the amount of deep sleep that is necessary for full rejuvenation. Airway blockage during sleep commonly results from obesity, an enlarged tongue or tonsils, and other factors that can cause your airway to close off when you lie down, all increasing the likelihood that you will suffer from sleep apnea. These conditions are dangerous and impair the brain and heart from receiving adequate oxygen, increasing your risk for both stroke and heart attack.

The study of sleep and its disorders is relatively new. One successful way to treat sleep apnea is with a “CPAP” machine which uses a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure mask overnight to keep air passages open while sleeping. Another more comfortable, less noisy, and unobtrusive method is to use Oral Appliance Therapy, which features an appliance like a retainer that can be custom fitted to your mouth made by a dentist trained in sleep medicine.

And yes, dentists are increasingly being recruited to help study and treat sleep disorders. There are actually several ways in which we can help. Because we see our patients on a regular basis, we are uniquely qualified to diagnose early signs of SRBDs. For example, if you start to snore almost immediately after falling asleep in the dental chair, we will be able to discuss this important warning sign with you. We can also examine the back of your mouth to see if you possess any of the traits that point to SRBDs, including large tonsils and/or an elongated uvula — the tissue in the back of your throat that looks like a little punching bag.

So, if you want to stop snoring and start sleeping well or you think you may have a SRBD, call our office to schedule a basic oral exam and consultation. If you would like to learn more about the link between dentistry and the treatment of sleep disorders, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
September 10, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
RegularDentalExamsAreKeytoReducingYourRiskofOralCancer

Oral cancer is on the rise in the United States, yet few people are familiar with the disease and its risk factors. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) estimates that 35,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. The good news is that prevention and early detection can greatly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.

Risk Factors for Oral Cancer Include:

  • Tobacco: Smoking and using chewing tobacco have been shown to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
  • HPV virus: The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the same virus linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), many young people and women are being diagnosed with oral cancer as a result of exposure to the HPV virus.
  • Age: Although it occurs more frequently in people over the age of 40, the incidence is increasing in younger people.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Oral cancer is six times more common in those who drink alcohol excessively.
  • Diet: People who consume lots of red and processed meat and fried foods are at greater risk.

Symptoms: Alert our office if you notice a change in your mouth such as a sore that doesn't heal or bleeds easily; a lump, thickening, crust or erosion; pain or tenderness; or a change in the way your teeth are positioned. Our office can administer an easy, painless test that detects abnormal cells.

Other symptoms may include unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth, difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, hoarseness, chronic sore throat or changes in your voice.

Importance of Dental Screenings: In its early stages, oral cancer can often go unnoticed, but visiting our office regularly can ensure that any cancerous cells are detected and treated early. Our office will check your tongue and the area under your tongue, as well as your lips and palate and the back of your mouth.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions that you may have regarding oral cancer. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer: This Article May Save Your Life.”