THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away....

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR ORAL HEALTH

On the list of common reasons people avoid the dentist, cost is usually near the top. It is a fact — some dental treatments are expensive. However, you have some control in working to avoid pricey dental procedures. Two of the best ways to avoid needing expensive dental treatments are to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and cleaning and following proper dental hygiene advice every day.

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COMMON SLEEP DISORDER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE BODY

The National Sleep Foundation estimates over 18 million adults in the United States, or about one in every 15 people, suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing, resulting in disruptive sleep. Individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse throughout their sleep, which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

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DIAGNOSING & TREATING TMD

pain and craft the best, personalized course of treatment for their condition.


By the time Hannah visited Dr. Moreno-Hay, she was experiencing distracting pain in her jaw area and was unable to open her jaw fully. “I was limited to a very small opening and physically could not pry it open any further. This was embarrassing, because I couldn’t eat food normally. To eat a sandwich, I had to break it into tiny pieces so it could fit in my mouth,” Hannah said.


With the pain and jaw limitations affecting Hannah’s day-to-day life, a conservative treatment for TMD was initiated promptly. In this initial phase of treatment, Hannah learned about the benefit of eating softer foods and started to become aware of when she was clenching her jaw. She learned about posture and breathing and gained other skills with the help of the behavioral team at the UK Orofacial Pain Clinic. Hannah was also fitted for a night guard to wear in her mouth during sleep to help address possible teeth grinding. In an effort to improve Hannah’s condition, trigger point injections and different physical therapy options such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which involves using a mild electrical current to help relieve pain, were also added to Hannah’s treatment plan.


As these approaches only partly addressed Hannah’s pain, Dr. Moreno-Hay conferred with Dr. Enif Dominguez-Fernandez of UK Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery to discuss a treatment option called arthrocentesis. Arthrocentesis involves injecting the jaw joint area to dilute and flush out inflammatory chemicals and may involve removing damaged tissue in the area. Patients are under anesthesia during the process.


“Generally we like to start with conservative treatment options and if the patient’s pain is not completely resolved after a few months of conservative treatment, we then consider a referral to oral surgery for arthrocentesis of the TMJ,” said Dr. Moreno-Hay. “A multidisciplinary approach is key for the successful management of TMD.”


“The arthrocentesis procedures with Dr. Dominguez-Fernandez were very helpful. Combined with the behavioral training and other treatments, they have allowed me to resume living pain-free on a daily basis,” said Hannah.


“One of the great features UK Dentistry has to offer patients is the vast experience that our providers have in a wide range of specialties,” said Dr. Dominguez- Fernandez. “We’re able to learn a patient’s needs and work together as needed to help reach the best outcome for a patient, whether we need to partner with a provider in the Orofacial Pain Clinic, Oral Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics or any other needed subspecialty.”


“I still do everything the clinic taught me,” Hannah said. This has helped her stay pain free most of the time for over a year now.  

UK DENTISTRY

UK Dentistry offers expert, personalized care for the general and specialty dental and oral health needs of adults  and children. We're committed to improving Kentucky, and beyond, one smile at a time.

 More information about UK Dentistry is available at www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/dentistry.

more articles by UK Dentistry

When Lexington resident Hannah Andrews started suffering from pain in her jaw that migrated toward her ear, she visited an urgent care clinic to confirm whether she had an ear infection. Ear infections may require an antibiotic for treatment. But when she was checked, Hannah was told her ears looked fine. Instead, clinic personnel thought the real culprit could be linked to an issue with her temporomandibular joint – a small joint located on each side of the jaw responsible for connecting the jawbone to the skull. They referred Hannah to her primary care physician.


Temporomandibular disorders, or TMD, are a collection of issues that can affect the temporomandibular joint as well as surrounding muscles, nerves and tendons. TMD mostly affect patients between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, and more women tend to seek treatment for TMD than men. Often individuals will experience pain that mimics a toothache, earache or headache, when in reality the cause is related to the jaw area. Because a group of conditions may be responsible for causing issues here and symptoms vary from person to person, diagnosing and treating TMD can be challenging.


After visiting her primary care physician, as well as a neurology clinic, Hannah was referred to the University of Kentucky Orofacial Pain Clinic, where she met Dr. Isabel Moreno-Hay and her team. The UK Orofacial Pain Clinic is a multi-professional clinic comprised of dentists specializing in various areas, psychologists and physical therapists, all who routinely work together to determine the cause of a patient’s