Posts for: December, 2014

By Keith W. Strausbaugh, DMD, PA
December 30, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: stress   dental care  
TreatmentOptionstoKeepStressFromCausingDentalProblems

Chronic stress can cause any number of physical problems like back pain, insomnia or stomach ulcers. In the mouth, it can also be the cause of teeth grinding or clenching habits that may lead to pain and tooth damage.

Besides toothaches and jaw pain, stress-related teeth grinding may also be causing your teeth to wear at a faster than normal rate. While the teeth can withstand normal forces generated from biting and chewing, a grinding habit could be subjecting the teeth to forces beyond their normal range. Over time, this could produce excessive tooth wear and contribute to future tooth loss.

Here, then, are some of the treatment options we may use to stop the effects of stress-related dental habits and provide you with relief from pain and dysfunction.

Drug Therapy. Chronic teeth grinding can cause pain and muscle spasms. We can reduce pain with a mild anti-inflammatory pain reliever (like ibuprofen), and spasms with a prescribed muscle relaxant drug. If you have sleep issues, you might also benefit from occasional sleep aid medication.

A Night or Occlusal Guard. Also known as a bite guard, this appliance made of wear-resistant acrylic plastic is custom-fitted to the contours of your bite. The guard is worn over your upper teeth while you sleep or when the habit manifests; the lower teeth then glide over the hard, smooth surface of the guard without biting down. This helps rest the jaw muscles and reduce pain.

Orthodontic Treatment. Your clenching habit may be triggered or intensified because of a problem with your bite, known as a malocclusion. We can correct or limit this problem by either moving the teeth into a more proper position or, if the malocclusion is mild, even out the bite by reshaping the teeth in a procedure known as occlusal (bite) equilibration.

Psychological Treatment. While the preceding treatments can help alleviate or correct dental or oral structural problems, they may not address the underlying cause for a grinding habit — your psychological response to stress. If you’re not coping with stress in a healthy way, you may benefit from treatments in behavioral medicine, which include biofeedback or psychological counseling.

If you would like more information on dental issues related to stress, 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 “Stress & Tooth Habits.”


By Keith W. Strausbaugh, DMD, PA
December 19, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: celebrity smiles  
HowiTheBiggestLoseriStarJillianMichaelsKeepsHerWinningSmile

Anyone who has seen fitness and life coach Jillian Michaels on The Biggest Loser and Losing It with Jillian knows she has the expertise and determination to help overweight people reach new levels of fitness and health. Using her own difficult life experiences, Jillian is able to help others look below the surface to the roots of their own unhealthy lifestyles. As a child, she suffered from night terrors, then her parents divorced when she was 12. She reacted to her anger and unhappiness by comforting herself with food. By age 17 she weighed 175 pounds — too much weight for her small 5'2" frame. To get Jillian involved in physical activity, her mother signed her up for a martial arts class. It was the right choice. Jillian loved the physical and spiritual aspects of martial arts practice, and this training pointed the way to what ultimately became her career.

It's no wonder Jillian is concerned about America's obesity problem — especially in children. To counter it, she and a business partner put together a Wii game, “Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum.” “If you turn exercise into a game, it's much easier to get kids to join in,” she says.

For adults, Jillian is concerned with unhealthy body images put forward by the fashion industry and media. She says, “Educating women on the importance of a healthy diet and exercise program is essential, but getting them to realize that women are supposed to have curves is equally important.” She is working on a new book, which is designed to help people live a healthy lifestyle, realize their true potential, and find happiness in just being themselves.

Since good health also includes good oral health, here's a sampling of what Jillian discussed about healthy habits in her interview with Dear Doctor magazine.

How can parents encourage their children to have healthy habits? Jillian says it starts with parents setting a good example. Parents can persuade children to get exercise by going outside to play with them. Gardening together and serving kids home-grown vegetables is a good way to encourage healthy eating.

What is her dental care routine? Jillian brushes her teeth two or three times a day with an electric toothbrush and she flosses daily. She never leaves home without toothpaste, an electric travel toothbrush, and floss as well as some sort of lip gloss. She sees her dentist, whom she calls “amazing,” at least twice a year for cleanings.

How does she guard against damage from martial arts? Jillian broke her two front teeth as a child and had them repaired with crowns. Now she wears a mouthguard when doing vigorous exercise.

What other cosmetic dental procedures has she had? She also had braces and has had her teeth whitened.

Jillian knows that it takes hard work and commitment to health and exercise, along with good oral health habits, to look and feel your best. You can learn more about Jillian by reading the entire interview in the article “Jillian Michaels: The Biggest Loser's health and wellness expert talks about her oral health, keeping fit and plans for the future.” Contact us today to discuss your questions about tooth whitening, crowns, or mouthguards or to schedule an appointment.


By Keith W. Strausbaugh, DMD, PA
December 04, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj   tmd  
AnsweringCommonQuestionsonTMJDisorders

You have probably heard a lot of people talk about TMJ disorders, but do you know what it all means? How do you know if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder?

Below are answers to some common questions about TMJ disorders.

What is a TMJ disorder?
First, we should explain that TMJ actually refers to the Temporomandibular Joint, which is the formal name for your jaw joint(s). TMD stands for Temporomandibular Disorders, which is the correct name for the muscle and/or joint symptoms that commonly arise when there is TMJ pain and dysfunction. You may have heard people refer to the actual disorder as TMJ, but this name is incorrect.

When I experience TMJ pain, what exactly is happening?
Let's first understand all of the parts that play a role in your pain. The temporomandibular joints connect your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull on both the left and right sides, which makes the lower jaw the only bone in the body with completely symmetrical joints at both ends. There is a ball-and-socket relationship between your jaw and your skull on both sides, but the unique part is the presence of a cushioning disk between the two surfaces in each joint. Each TMJ has a disk between the ball (condyle) and socket (fossa), and this sometimes ends up being an especially important area when trouble arises.

So, how do I know if I have TMD?
You can never be absolutely sure, but here are some symptoms you should be sure to share with us during your examination:

  • Clicking. You may experience a clicking sound in the jaw, usually due to a shift in the position of the disk inside the joint. However, if you do not have pain or limited jaw function, this symptom may be insignificant.
  • Muscle Pain. The next symptom is jaw muscle pain, usually in the cheeks or temples. If the muscle is sore or stiff in the morning, this pain is usually related to clenching or grinding in your sleep. However, there are more complex muscle pains that can spread to your head and neck.
  • TMJ Pain. This third symptom refers to pain actually inside one or both of your jaw joints, technically described as arthritis of the TMJ.

If diagnosed, what can I expect from treatment?
We will first need to assess the damage to your TMJ, and from there we will recommend a course of treatment to relieve your pain. Treatment may range from hot or cold compresses and anti-inflammatory medications to physical therapy or a bite guard. We may also advise you to do jaw exercises at home. In general, we will do our best to treat your issue without orthodontic treatment or surgery.

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