What is TMJ disorder? How do I know if I have it?

June 28, 2013

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joints, the joints connecting your lower jaw with the upper jaw. Your dentist checks for TMJ disorder during your semiannual dental exam.

Sings of the disorder include:

  • An earache with no infection
  • Tenderness of the jaw muscles
  • A clicking or popping noise when you open or close your mouth
  • Problems opening or closing your mouth
  • Pain when you yawn, chew or open your mouth
  • Certain headaches or neckaches

Treatment can range from wearing a bite splint and taking prescribed medications, to adjusting your bite with braces. If you have any of the above signs, contact your dentist for an exam.


Sources: Michigan Dental Association and American Dental Association


Q&A: How do I know if a product is approved by the American Dental Association (ADA)?

May 13, 2013

Not all oral health products are approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Be sure to look products with “ADA Accepted” on the packaging. ADA has approved products in several categories from toothbrushes and toothpastes, to tooth whitening bleaches and sugar free chewing gum. For a complete list of ADA accepted oral hygiene products visit, www.mouthhealthy.org/en/ada-seal-products. The ADA also provides names of water filters that will not filter out fluoride from the water supply.

Is there anything I can do for my baby’s teeth to ensure he/she will have healthy adult teeth?

May 1, 2013
It's never too early to teach kids good dental habits!

It’s never too early to teach kids good dental habits!

The sooner you instill good dental health habits with your children, the more likely they will be to have healthy adult teeth. You can start when they are babies.

  • Gently wipe your baby’s gums with a clean cloth after feedings.
  • If you give your child a bottle during bedtimes or at naps, make sure you use only water in the bottle. A bottle of sweetened liquid, like milk, formula, juice or pop may lead to tooth decay.
  • You can begin brushing their teeth as soon as the first tooth comes in. Start with a little water and continue to clean the gums that remain toothless.
  • Help your child brush and use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Teach him/her to spit out toothpaste and to rinse with water.
  • Set a good example for your child! Brush your own teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Be positive about dental visits.

Source: Michigan Dental Association

Are oral piercings really that bad for my health?

April 2, 2013

You may think oral piercing, like any other body piercing is simply a form of self-expression. But it can cause problems for your teeth and overall oral heath. The bacteria in your mouth can cause swelling around the piercing, leading to a closed airway or serious infection like hepatitis or endocarditis.

Before you pierce your lip, tongue, cheeks or uvula (the tiny tissue that hangs at the back of the throat), consider the following:

  • Infection, pain and swelling. Your mouth is a moist environment, home to huge amounts of breeding bacteria, and an ideal place for infection. An infection can quickly become life threatening if not treated promptly. It’s also possible for a piercing to cause your tongue to swell, potentially blocking your airway.
  • Damage to gums, teeth and fillings. A common habit of biting or playing with the piercing can injure your gums and lead to cracked, scratched or sensitive teeth. Piercings can also damage fillings.
  • Hypersensitivity to metals. Allergic reactions at the pierced site are also possible.
  • Nerve damage. After a piercing, you may experience a numb tongue that is caused by nerve damage that is usually temporary, but can sometimes be permanent. The injured nerve may affect your sense of taste, or how you move your mouth. Damage to your tongue’s blood vessels can cause serious blood loss.
  • Excessive drooling. Your tongue piercing can increase saliva production.
  • Dental appointment difficulties. The jewelry can get in the way of dental care by blocking X-rays.

Source: American Dental Association

What are the warning signs of gum disease?

July 31, 2012

According to the Michigan Dental Association, more than 75 percent of Americans over the age of 35 have some form of gum disease. In fact, more than $10 billion is spent each year replacing teeth sacrificed to gum disease–the main cause of tooth loss in adults.

The warning signs:

  • Bleeding gums while brushing
  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that pull away from the teeth
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Pus between the teeth and gums (leaving a bad taste)
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Changes in the fit of partial dentures

A mild form of gum disease is gingivitis. The most common signs are red and swollen gums that bleed easily. To prevent gum disease make sure to brush and floss every day, and get regular exams by your dentist. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to other health issues such as respiratory disease, heart disease and low birth-weight babies.

What is the “correct” way to floss?

June 14, 2012
  1. Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the rest around the same finger on the other hand. This finger will take up the floss as it is used. Only keep 3-4 inches of floss between your fingers at any one time.
  2. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth, using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into your gums, as this can injure the gum tissue. You will need to place one of your fingers with floss on it in your mouth, next to the tooth you are flossing.
  3. When the floss reaches the gumline, curve it into a “c” shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  4. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently run the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions.
  5. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Be sure not to forget the back side of your last tooth.

 Source: Michigan Dental Association

What is the “correct” way to brush my teeth?

April 26, 2012
  1. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in a circular motion.
  2. Since your toothbrush will only clean one or two teeth at a time, change its position to properly clean each tooth.
  3. Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces and the chewing surfaces of all your teeth.
  4. Use the tip of your brush to clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  5. Be sure not to brush your teeth too hard or use a hard bristled toothbrush, as this can cause your gums to recede and also wears down the tooth structure. These conditions can lead to tooth sensitivity.
  6. Last but not least, remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.


Source: Michigan Dental Association