Common Ailments

TMJ is a disorder that affects the jaw joint and the muscles that control chewing. The pain can be as minor as slight clicking to popping sensation when the mouth is opened or closed, or as serious as chronic pain extending into the face, neck and shoulders. Ususally discomfort from TMJ is occasional and not permanent, sometime occuring in cycles.

Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars or starches, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and after many such attacks, the enamel can break down and a cavity forms. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss deaily and visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

Gum disease, caused by plaque (a sticky bacteria film that forms on the teeth), is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. The plaque creates toxins that can damage the gums. In the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, the gums can become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing. In the more advanced stages of gum disease, the gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged. The teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be removed by a dentist.

A layer of enamel, the strongest substance in the body, protects the crowns of healthy teeth. A layer called cementum protects the tooth root under the gum line. Underneath the enamel and the cementum is dentin, a part of the tooth that is less dense than enamel or cementum. The dentin contains small hollow tubes. When the dentin loses its protective covering, the tubes allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to stimulate the nerves and cells inside the tooth. This causes hypersensitivity and occasional discomfort. Fortunately, the irritation does not cause permanent damage to the pulp. Dentin may be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity near the gum line. Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing gums from receding and causing sensitive-tooth pain.

Ideally, you want to see some spacing between the baby teeth which would allow for full alignment of the erupting permanent teeth. Most patients begin orthodontic treatment between ages 9 and 16, but this varies depending on each individual. Because teenagers are still growing, the teen years are often the optimal time to correct orthodontic problems and achieve excellent results. Most orthodontic problems are inherited. Examples of these genetic problems are crowding, too much space between teeth, protruding upper teeth, extra or missing teeth and some jaw growth problems.

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