Patient Education

stock_libraryWe know that an educated patient makes a great patient! You should have the opportunity to be fully informed before visiting our Pearland dental practice, so we have collected some helpful articles on this page that describe and discuss issues that could be affecting your dental health and the services that Dr. David Montz and his team provide. Feel free to read through them, and please call our office with any questions or to schedule a personal consultation.

The Crux of Bruxism

Some patients react to stress by grinding their teeth unconsciously during the day or, more commonly, while sleeping. The constant pressure and motion can harm teeth, as well as muscles and tissues in and around the jaw. The condition, known as bruxism, can be remedied with a nightguard.

The Facts about Clenching & Grinding

Common symptoms of bruxism include a sore jaw, headaches, or earaches. Causes vary, but may include stress, anxiety, tension, misaligned teeth, posture, diet, sleeping habits, and other factors. Bruxism is most prevalent in women and generally found in about one-third of the population.

Individuals who react to stress with anger, pain, frustration, aggression, or competition are most commonly affected. People with bruxism may have other biting habits, such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips, or the insides of their cheeks.

Constant clenching and grinding of the teeth can cause not only the aforementioned symptoms, but it may also contribute to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, which has a long list of side effects associated with pain in the head and neck. Teeth rubbing together consistently will result in surface wear over time, which will cause dental problems. Insomnia, eating disorders, and depression can result from bruxism if left untreated.

A Solid Solution

How can you stop an unconscious habit? A thorough evaluation will allow us to check your teeth, tissues, and muscles. If we determine that you suffer from bruxism, we’ll create an orthodontic appliance, also called a night-guard or splint, to prevent grinding and clenching. Many types of nightguards exist, and patients react differently to the various styles. If one appliance does not work, another may. In many cases, simply wearing a nightguard will eliminate the problem. However, if the condition persists, we can prescribe alternative therapies to correct the issue.

Some practices that can relieve symptoms of bruxism include stress and anxiety management, focused facial relaxation, massage and stretching of face and neck muscles, applying ice or wet heat, proper rest, eating soft foods, and hydrating the body. If your teeth were damaged because of bruxism, or if we find TMJ to be a factor, our team will repair and treat you to provide complete relief.

Pain Primer

If you’ve ever experienced dental pain, you know that “tooth ache” is a major understatement. Understanding the basics of tooth pain will help you know when to take action to prevent an all-out episode of severe discomfort.

Nerve fibers connected to your teeth are different than those in the rest of your body. Although they can send pain signals to your brain, they do not transmit specific location signals like nerves in other parts of the body. If damage exists in a back left molar, your brain may tell you that your entire jaw hurts.

Many different nerve fibers exist, and each produces a different pain sensation. This makes it difficult and confusing to specify the cause of dental pain. Once it starts, oral pain can affect a single tooth or the entire jawbone, muscles, jaw joints, face, head, and neck…even transmitting from one area to another, creating secondary pain.

Professional Pain Killers

Recognizing and diagnosing this complex pain is not an easy job. A dental professional with a comprehensive knowledge base of all the relevant variables, astute diagnostic skills, and years of experience recognizing the clinical manifestations can help. No one wants to be in pain, and no medical professional wants their patient to be in pain. But even more importantly, such pain can be a latent sign of a moderate to serious condition, and can escalate rapidly to seemingly unmanageable proportions. That’s why we encourage our patients to call us at the least sign of discomfort, from tooth sensitivity and aching jaws or face muscles to chronic headaches or any other kind of oral pain. The sooner we see you, the sooner we can identify and resolve the root of the problem and alleviate your pain.

Cavity Preventions

Many people have deep pits and grooves in their teeth where bacteria and food particles can hide and cause decay. Children with poor brushing habits may also develop decay on hard-to-reach molars. For situations like these, dental sealants offer a means of protecting molar and premolar chewing surfaces from decay. Recognized by the American Dental Association as a key means of cavity prevention, dental sealants are simply a thin plastic film that can be applied to teeth.

First, we identify and fill any spots of decay, then prepare your teeth with a cleaning and etching solution. After about 15 seconds, we thoroughly rinse the solution, dry the surface, coat your teeth with the sealant, and harden it with a curing light. The entire procedure is fast, easy, and comfortable. It takes about 10 to 45 minutes, depending on the number of teeth to seal.

Dental sealants create an impenetrable physical barrier for small food particles and cavity-causing bacteria, making them highly effective in preventing tooth surface decay and the resulting cavities. Sealants can last up to ten years. Most insurance companies only cover sealant procedures at a minimal level, but the good news is that insurance companies seem to be recognizing this technique’s value as a preventive measure that will help reduce future dental costs and more aggressive treatments.

Damaged Enamel Causes Indecent Exposure

Incredibly hard enamel protects your teeth above the gum line so that you can bite and chew without pain or discomfort. Beneath the enamel, a more porous layer, dentin, extends to below the gum line. A soft interior portion called pulp contains vital nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. The pulp fills the root canals, and it is the source of life to the tooth.

Damage, such as receding gums or chips and cracks in enamel, or heavy clenching or teeth imbalance, exposes the dentin and can create a condition known as dentin hypersensitivity. Through tiny pores in the dentin, called tubules, temperature fluctuations, air, and pressure can directly affect nerves. This type of sensitivity can cause sudden, acute, and unexpected oral pain. About 45 million Americans suffer from tooth sensitivity, and if you’re one of them, we can help.

In some cases, laser therapy may seal the tiny exposed tubules and solve the problem. Another therapy includes dental sealants or bonding agents, which create a barrier similar to natural enamel. Sometimes treating the symptoms is the best solution. We may suggest a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect your gums from further irritation, an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensitive automatic shut off, or special toothpaste formulated with potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to block or insulate nerves. A fluoride rinse or gel, or an oxalate compound applied to an exposed tooth root may reduce your tooth sensitivity. For a few weeks, as you wait for these measures to take effect, you’ll need to monitor what you eat and drink to avoid extreme temperatures.

Painful Pulp

Your teeth contain several layers: the outer protective enamel, a secondary layer of sensitive dentin, and an inner pulp that contains components commonly referred to as the “nerve” of the tooth. Each pulp chamber branches off, forming canals that lead toward the tooth root tip. These infamous root canals provide a means for the tooth to absorb what it needs from the blood and get rid of toxins or other unnecessary materials via the bloodstream. A deep cavity, traumatic injury, or tooth fracture can make the canal susceptible to bacterial infection, which can kill the pulp, stimulate increased blood flow, and create pressure within the tooth. This can cause severe tooth pain and may initiate bone degeneration, tooth loss, and even more acute pain. If you see a dentist in the earliest stages of this condition, the tooth may be saved with a root canal. Otherwise, it should be extracted and replaced with a prosthetic.

Easy Does It

Will root canal therapy hurt? Not with today’s advanced analgesics and technology. In fact, the entire process can be so comfortable that many patients doze off. Oftentimes, root canal therapy can be completed in a single appointment. We simply clean out the diseased canal, fill it with a biologically-inert substance, seal it from further infection, and you’re on your way. While some patients experience post-procedural soreness or slight tissue inflammation, these are controllable with over-the-counter analgesics. Follow-up care involves thorough home hygiene and regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups.

Porcelain Tooth Restorations

If you’re self-conscious about cracked, broken, decayed, or worn teeth, we can bring back your healthy, natural-looking smile with dental crowns, also called caps. A crown can return structure, strength, and function to a tooth with extensive decay or damage. Designed to fit snugly and function as a healthy tooth, a crown will protect your tooth from further damage and preserve the jaw’s correct natural alignment.

We use precious metal, porcelain pressed (or fused) to metal, or all-porcelain crowns. To maintain a fully white smile, we recommend all-ceramic crowns. Our precise color-matching system allows us to find the right shade of porcelain to blend with your natural tooth color. Porcelain crowns are also extremely durable and long lasting, and these benefits make them popular with dentists as well as patients.

Typically, we can design, fit, and place your crowns in just a couple of short appointments. Once a crown is placed, you can care for it as you do your natural teeth. Conscientious brushing twice a day and daily flossing will protect the base of your crown from bacterial growth. Be sure to see us at least two times each year for professional cleanings and a preventive exam, too.

CALL OUR OFFICE today to schedule an appointment for friendly, unparalleled family and cosmetic dentistry!