Conditions & Symptoms
If you are having difficulty chewing, your prosthodontist may be able to help. The specific answer will depend on your dental and medical history.Do you wear dentures? If so, having the dentures adjusted or relined will improve the fit. This is necessary every so often as the shape of your mouth changes over time.
Are you experiencing a clicking sensation and jaw pain as you chew? TMJ/TMD treatment might help.
If missing or damaged teeth are posing a problem, your prosthodontists can help!
A cracked tooth may occur when you chew on hard foods, may be caused by an accident or may be caused by grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism. Cracks are often shallow and don’t cause any problems. You may not even realize that you have a cracked tooth.On some occasions, a cracked tooth may cause pain or sensitivity if biting causes pressure on the cracked portion of the tooth. Treatment may vary depending on the size and location of the cracked tooth.
Because these cracks are sometimes not visible, it can be challenging to diagnose the problem. Discomfort from biting pressures could mean the tooth is cracked, but could also be the result of other things. If you feel pain when you bite down on things, it is recommended you see your prosthodontist. They will be able to run tests to help determine the source of the pain.
When teeth are cracked and symptomatic, it is often recommended to place a crown on the tooth. A crown works to hold the tooth together, preventing the separation of the segments on either side of the crack.
A broken tooth may occur as a result of chewing hard foods, trauma, or by grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism. Sometimes the broken teeth are already full strength and at risk of breaking. This risk is higher when the tooth already has extensive restorations (large filling or crown). Teeth with notable cracks in them are also at a higher risk of breaking.When the break in the tooth is minor, the treatment is as simple as a direct restoration, or filling. This is indicated when the broken portion does not involve the cusp of the tooth. When the cusp is broken on a tooth, the ideal solution more often involves an onlay or crown.
Sometimes the break in the tooth is so extensive, that the tooth is not able to be repaired. In these cases, the tooth is likely extracted and efforts are focused on replacing the missing tooth. When a tooth breaks, discuss options with your prosthodontist. They will help assess the extent of the break and recommend the ideal treatment for your specific tooth.
A chipped tooth may occur when you chew on hard foods, may be caused by an accident or may be caused by grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism. You may not even realize that you have a chipped tooth. A chipped tooth may not be visible to the eye or show up on an x-ray. A chipped tooth may cause pain or sensitivity if biting causes pressure on the chipped tooth. Treatment may vary depending on the size and location of the chipped tooth.The appropriate treatment for a chipped or broken tooth will depend on the extent of the damage to the tooth. Some chipped teeth will only require smoothing, but others may be so badly broken that extraction will be necessary.
If your dentures are in good condition, having the dentures adjusted or relined will improve the fit. This is necessary every so often as the shape of your mouth changes over time. If your dentures have been used for many years, it is possible that your dentures have expired their use. Typically, dentures should be checked every year, and often they should be remade when they lose their fit and are loose in your mouth after 5-10 years of use.Ask your prosthodontist about supporting your denture with dental implants. Implants can be used to stabilize and retain the denture allowing you to chew more efficiently and feel the confidence of knowing that your denture will stay in place.
Regular visits to your prosthodontist are recommended to ensure your dentures are functioning properly.
Tooth decay, gum disease, and injury are common causes of missing teeth. Some people are born without certain teeth, and this condition is called congenitally missing teeth. Genetic factors cause congenitally missing teeth and this condition is often seen in generations of a family. The most common missing teeth are wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and second premolars/bicuspids.Certain systemic conditions, usually inherited disorders, also result in multiple missing teeth. One of the most common genetic defects affecting teeth is called ectodermal dysplasia. Individuals affected by this syndrome often have missing teeth. A patient with congenitally missing teeth associated with ectodermal dysplasia should have the dental problems evaluated early in life, and a prosthodontist’s training allows a comprehensive approach to the missing teeth.
It is important to replace missing teeth for proper chewing of food, jaw support, stability of the remaining teeth, and an attractive smile. Missing teeth disrupts proper function and the teeth next to and above the missing tooth/teeth will shift, move, and tip into the space in time. It is much easier to restore a missing tooth soon after it is lost than waiting a number of years after teeth have shifted significantly. A prosthodontist can determine the best method to replace your missing tooth or teeth.
Missing teeth are replaced through removable partial dentures, fixed dental prostheses (“bridges”), or dental implants. A discussion with your prosthodontist would help in determining which option is right for you.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, usually happens at night while you sleep. Most people with bruxism are not aware that they are grinding their teeth in their sleep – unless a partner is awakened by the noise. This habit of bruxism is extremely destructive and in time may wear away your teeth, strain your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or tire the muscles used in chewing.Studies have shown that bruxism tends to be related to stress, and people generate much greater forces when grinding their teeth than they do during normal jaw function. The movements of the jaw during bruxism are more exaggerated than the more limited movement of someone’s normal jaw function.
Although no cure for bruxism is available, your prosthodontist can produce a device that will protect the teeth, support your TMJ, and provide relief from muscle fatigue. This device has many names, but generally is referred to as a splint. A splint helps with bruxism through careful control of the interaction of your teeth and through providing something else to damage rather than your teeth. Splints can easily be adjusted or replaced, making them a better recipient of these destructive forces.
Teeth Sensitivity or Pain
The type of tooth pain varies based on the condition, but may range from a fleeting sensitivity to a persistent dull ache. Only a dental professional can determine the exact cause of your pain and the appropriate treatment.If you are experiencing pain from a tooth, it is recommended you see your prosthodontist to have the area assessed. Sometimes the problem is larger than you might believe and you are weeks, days, or hours away from increased pain.
Sleep apnea is when, because of a temporary pause in breathing while sleeping, your lungs are unable to get the oxygen your body needs. The pause may last a few seconds to a several minutes. Often, sleep apnea occurs when an individual’s airway is blocked, which interrupts the airflow and snoring may occur. Typically an individual with sleep apnea is unaware that he or she is having difficulty breathing during the night. Symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, restless sleep, or tiredness during the day.Different treatments for sleep apnea are available. The gold standard for treatment of sleep apnea is a CPAP (continuous positive airflow pressure) machine. This requires the user to wear a mask over the nose and/or mouth. A constant flow of air inflates the airway and delivers oxygen to the lungs. Sometimes people cannot tolerate this treatment or their apnea is so mild that they could investigate other options. A great alternative to a CPAP is an oral appliance. These work by repositioning the lower jaw or tongue forward to help improve the airflow during sleeping.
Research supports the use of an oral appliance in the treatment of sleep apnea in cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea. If you have sleep apnea and cannot tolerate other treatment options, consider talking with your prosthodontist about this option.
Facial or jaw pain in the chewing muscles or jaw joint is a common symptom of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ/TMD).Facial pain may also be caused by dislocation or injuries which are internal changes to the joint involving a displaced disc, a dislocated jaw, or injury to the muscle. Arthritis and degenerative or inflammatory joint disorders also may lead to facial pain.
Facial pain may be relieved by eating soft foods, applying ice packs when pain occurs, and avoiding extreme jaw movements (including wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing). Since facial pain is often associated with stress and/or cramps in the chewing muscles, techniques to reduce stress and practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises to increase jaw movement may be helpful. Short-term use of common pain medicines may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort and facial pain.
Congenital Dental Defects
Congenital defects are disorders that occur while a baby is developing in the mother’s body, often during the first three months of pregnancy. Often called birth defects, most congenital defects are due to inherited or spontaneous genetic mutations. However, some congenital defects are caused by environmental factors such as drug or alcohol use, infections, nutritional deficiencies, or medical conditions.Congenital defects can involve any part of the body, and can be mild or serious, leading to death. One in every 33 babies is born with a defect and congenital defects may cause 1 in 5 infant deaths. Some congenital defects can be detected before the baby is born and treated. Other conditions can be treated with surgery or medication after birth.
There are many parts of the body at risk of developmental defects and the teeth are no exception. Sometimes this is an absence of teeth, poorly developed tooth structures, or clefts.
When there are congenital problems with teeth, a consultation with your prosthodontist can help guide you to the options that are right for you.
Discolored or Stained Teeth
Tooth discoloration may be caused by problems with the formation of the tooth enamel, problems within the tooth, or by simple stains from food, beverages, or habits. Certain medications or chemicals taken by a pregnant woman or by a very young child can disrupt the development of tooth enamel and result in the tooth becoming discolored, mottled, or pitted.Tooth discoloration also may be caused by a tooth that is chronically infected or necrotic with the tooth taking on a uniform grayish hue. In this situation, the infection must be treated first and then the color can be corrected by bleaching or a restoration. The simplest form of tooth discoloration is the stains caused by external factors such as food/beverages or tobacco use.
Tooth discoloration may be managed by a professional cleaning, tooth whitening procedure, and/or the placement of porcelain veneers. These procedures may remove the discoloration and restore the teeth to their original brightness and whiteness.