Dentists treat our teeth and gums, which are part of a structure known as the maxillofacial region. In plain terms, this means from the neck up but plain is not a fair description.
This complex part of our body brings most of our sensory input, speech, the ability to eat and far more. All managed by an infinite mosaic of nerves, glands, muscles, blood vessels and interacting tissue.
In terms of knowledge and training, there is an overlap between medicine and dentistry. A percentage of dentists are oral surgeons, others, such as Fadi Barrak at our practice, are also qualified doctors.
We would not suggest you visit us instead of your doctor, although there can be exceptions where a dentist, or dental specialist is a good fit.
Jaw Problems, Headaches & Dental Occlusion
Dental occlusion, where the teeth in your upper and lower jaw do not bite together cleanly, is quite common. Alongside tooth wear, or damage, this can lead to muscle strain, or spasm, headaches, or issues in the jaw joints.
Our lower jaw moves on ball and socket facilities called temporomandibular joints, situated just below your ears. Incorrect function may bring clicking, grinding, pain in your jaw, ringing in your ears, or difficulty opening your mouth.
Joint issues can be a cause in themselves, or a symptom of teeth being out of line, or damaged. Occlusal problems deserve an holistic approach and should be investigated by a specially trained dentist.
They can assess muscle soreness, teeth wear and alignment, breakages, hidden fractures, or gum damage, along with understanding your individual symptoms.
Jaw stiffness, or tenderness when you wake up, pain behind your eyes, or in your neck, shoulders, or back are common. This can be at any time, although is more likely after grinding your teeth whilst asleep, even if you are unaware of this.
Your dentist may suggest making a temporary, soft nightguard, tailored to your teeth. When you bite on the guard, your teeth will then meet correctly and in a position where your muscles are relaxed.
If the guard relieves your symptoms, this suggests your bite may need to be permanently corrected. Tooth adjustment, or replacement with a denture, bridge, or implants may be required, alongside other options.
Medication can help in certain cases, although this is often temporary, hormone replacement therapy can help for women. Dietary changes, or exercises the dentist will show you may be useful, or relaxation techniques.
Curing your issues can be straightforward, or require orthodontic care, or wider dental intervention. Apart from removing unpleasant symptoms, this also helps to prevent future damage to your teeth, or gums.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) & Salivary Glands
Dryness in the mouth is quite common and can be a short term issue, caused by medication, or stress. Where this becomes a longer term problem, your physical and oral health could suffer significantly.
The primary cause is your salivary glands not functioning correctly. This may effect your speech, ability to eat, drink, or taste, keep you awake. The lack of saliva to protect and clean your teeth could bring decay, or swollen gums.
Salivary gland malfunction can be caused by viral infections, or autoimmune disorders, or result from damage following radiotherapy. Glands may also become blocked by crystallized saliva deposits.
The latter option is the most common and blockages may be able to be removed, by massage, ultrasound, or possibly surgery. If this is the case, our dentist will give a clear view on whether you need to see a specialist.
They may be able to assist directly and even where there isn’t a permanent solution, symptom relief is available from specialist gels, sprays, mouthwashes, or toothpastes. Used regularly, they can keep your mouth moist, comfortable and healthy.
Feeling dry and thirsty is no fun and has unwanted effects. In most cases, we can help and by doing so, improve your wider oral health.
A Range Of Medical Concerns
Our dentists can assist with a number of other oral health conditions, from incorrect healing, such as a dry socket, to a condition called lost canine guidance, where canine wear allows your back teeth to damage each other.
Oral infections, or mouth sores are quite common and can normally be addressed. More serious symptoms could point to oral cancers, kidney disease, or diabetis, thankfully rare but early diagnosis leads to more effective treatment.
We simply want you to know that our team are here to help, with advice, diagnosis, treatment, or specialist referral where this is best. With a number of specialists in house, we can often provide support.
Elgin Dental Care believes in preventative dental treatment and all round oral health, by all means talk to our staff about any issues you have.