If you regularly wake up with headaches, a sore neck, or a sore jaw it could be related to grinding/clenching.
There are 5 main muscles associated with clenching and grinding.These muscles, like any muscles in the body, can tense up and develop “knots” in similar ways that people’s shoulders and back develop these.During a TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint) screening, us dentists evaluate these areas as well as any jaw abnormalities.
Almost 90% of my patients experience mild/moderate TMJ issues at some point in their life and for the majority of them I recommend an over the counter nightguard (once I have confirmed via a TMJ screening).
BUT at what point does this need further customized care?
If you have experienced crowns breaking, fillings cracking, or your front teeth getting shorter as you age, it’s a good indication that you need a TMJ screening to prevent damage to your teeth.Additionally, there are even patients that have their jaw lock in in open or closed position for some amount of time.This also is a good indication that a bigger problem may occur.
The good news though is that once we have found the cause of this problem, there are simple preventative measures we can do to ensure this ends the downward cycle.
Stop by our office today for a no charge TMJ assessment to stop the cavity development in its tracks.
“For fast acting relief, try slowing down.” ~ Lily Tomlin
Everyone hates needles, and we know that
There is no surprise that you don’t like getting injections (or shots) at the dentist.We all are aware that it is probably one of the biggest triggers for you at the dentist! Here are a few tips for making this process much easier to deal with if you have an appointment where you know you will need to get numb for the procedure.
Trust should be established before an injection is performed.
See the previous post on questions you should ask your dentist! [LINK TO THIS POST]. Then:
Explain your triggers
Opening up a conversation about any bad past experiences is crucial to having an easy visit.By doing this with a provider who is sensitive to dentally anxious patients, there are a lot of “tricks” we are able to use to overcome a sometimes painful administration of local anesthesia (a.k.a., getting a shot).
Mindful breathing has been immensely helpful while I worked with patients chair-side throughout my career.The principles may seem very basic, but in reality it gives you something to focus on other than pain. Additionally, slow deep breathes have a helpful physiologic response during this procedure. I have learned to coach my patients chair-side for every single injection on mindful breathing techniques and I am then able to time my injection at the easiest moment for my patient.
For a quick mindful breathing exercise, see the video below:
“Walking into our stories of hurt…can feel dangerous and foreboding, and what we must ultimately confront is ourself.The most difficult part of our stories is often what we bring to them – what we make up about who we are and how we are perceived by others.” ~Bréne Brown
EVERYONE has a unique brand of crazy
Trust me, you do. I say this with lots of love in my heart, but everyone has very unique traits and beliefs that will undoubtably make them crazy (ok, maybe unique is a better word) to someone else. This is the side people are embarrassed to talk about, but it is also what makes them unique. These characteristics should be discussed with a dentist you trust. This explanation can open so many doors that will enable the right provider to create customized care that fits you exact needs.
So, what is the BIG question to ask?
Trust is about vulnerability. Putting yourself in someone else’s hands is tough, especially for those with dental anxiety. I think it is also important to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. This means that for some people only one question is needed, and for others it may need a special visit just to “meet and greet” the dentist.During either of these types of visits, the question I would like you to feel comfortable asking is: “What do you do differently for dental anxious patients?”The secret to this is not the question or necessarily the answer you get; it’s the need to open the door for both of you to discuss how to make your visit an easy one.
“When ‘I’ is replaced by ‘we’ even illness becomes wellness” ~ Malcom X
How does your body work?
The first step to overcoming your dental anxiety is to figure out how your body and mind work in anxious situations.Knowing this information is critical to moving forward because your anxiety is not obvious to anyone but you.
Find the right dentist that can work with you
I am a firm believer that nothing good can come from a relationship without a fundamental level of trust. The problem is that as a patient, it’s extremely hard to know who to trust.Sure, we can scour the internet, read online reviews, or get referrals from friends, but in the end, how closer are you to making the right decision? How do you know who will be able to handle your unique brand of dental anxiety?The truth is that you don’t know.This is where trust and having a gut instinct come into play.
In our next post, we discuss topics to address with your dentist to begin creating a more trusting environment and learn how capable your dental provider is in treating your unique needs.
While practicing dentistry, I’ve discovered an unfortunate truth: people are often too scared to ask questions about their own oral health or don’t know where to turn for advice. Too often, they get their information by online sleuthing whenever something hurts or believing false ad claims intended to sell a product.
I’m a firm believer that dental knowledge should be easily accessible, accurate, and free.
As a dentist and educator at Tufts School of Dental Medicine for more than seven years, my goal has been to shed light on topics that have plagued, pained, or confused my patients. I want to be a source of information for anyone looking for some truth on oral health care. As owner of Sweet Spot Dental in Cambridge, MA, I take pride in creating an environment where my patients can bring their questions and have them answered without any fear or judgement. My goal with them is to build a relationship that better addresses their dental needs. I never wanted to be someone who just fixes/cleans teeth, but a resource that can ultimately lead to a healthier smile. As someone curious about dental health, I want to be that resource for you, too.
Please check out the following video and blogs that are part of my dental anxiety series. I dive into what causes dental anxiety, how it manifests, and how it can be tamed. Via this series, I hope to enlighten you and teach you a few things you may not know. I strongly encourage you to reach out to me with any comments, concerns, or questions that I might be able to address in future videos or blogs. Thanks for reading and watching, and for joining me on this educational journey!
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