4200 Columbia Rd, Martinez, GA 30907



Posts for: December, 2016

By Augusta Smilecare
December 29, 2016
Category: Oral Health

Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.

In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported.

Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.

What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.

A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”

By Augusta Smilecare
December 14, 2016
Category: Oral Health
Tags: jaw pain  

If you're suffering from jaw pain or impaired function, it may not be the only source of chronic pain in your body. Of the millions of adults with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), many have also been diagnosed — among other conditions — with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis or sleep problems.

TMD is actually a group of painful disorders that affect the jaw joints, muscles and surrounding tissues. Besides pain, other symptoms include popping, clicking or grating sounds during jaw movement and a restricted range of motion for the lower jaw. Although we can't yet pinpoint a definite cause, TMD is closely associated with stress, grinding and clenching habits or injury.

It's not yet clear about the possible connections between TMD and other systemic conditions. But roughly two-thirds of those diagnosed with TMD also report three or more related health conditions. Debilitating pain and joint impairment seem to be the common thread among them all. The similarities warrant further research in hopes of new treatment options for each of them.

As for TMD, current treatment options break down into two basic categories: a traditional, conservative approach and a more interventional one. Of the first category, at least 90% of individuals find relief from treatments like thermal therapy (like alternating hot and cold compresses to the jaw), physical therapy, medication or mouth guards to reduce teeth clenching.

The alternative approach, surgery, seeks to correct problems with the jaw joints and supporting muscles. The results, however, have been mixed: in one recent survey a little more than a third of TMD patients who underwent surgery saw any improvement; what's more alarming, just under half believed their condition worsened after surgery.

With that in mind, most dentists recommend the first approach initially for TMD. Only if those therapies don't provide satisfactory relief or the case is extreme, would we then consider surgery. It's also advisable for you to seek a second opinion if you're presented with a surgical option.

Hopefully, further research into the connections between TMD and other inflammatory diseases may yield future therapies. The results could help you enjoy a more pain-free life as well as a healthy mouth.

If you would like more information on TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”

By Augusta Smilecare
December 01, 2016
Category: Oral Health

If thoughts of the dentist leave you dead in your tracks find out how sedation dentistry can help.

While some people really don’t mind their six-month visit to see our Augusta, GA dentist, Dr. John Massey, there are others who are so dental anxietyfearful of the dentist and any dental procedures that they put off necessary care and treatments. Don’t let this be you! By not getting dental care that your smile needs, you could end up suffering from tooth loss, gum disease and other issues. Find out how sedation dentistry can make your next trip to the dentist so much easier.

We understand that everyone responds differently to the dentist. You may only experience mild anxiety or you may find calling our Augusta general dentist makes you break out in a sweat. Fortunately, we cater to all different severities of anxiety.

Mild Dental Anxieties

If you have only mild dental anxiety then you probably feel just fine sitting in the dental chair without feeling too nervous. Of course, the idea of a dental procedure could have you on edge. If this sounds like you then ask us whether nitrous oxide could help you.

Better known as “laughing gas,” nitrous oxide is administered through a mask that is placed over your nose. Within a couple of minutes you will start to feel calm and relaxed in our Augusta, GA, office. Once the procedure is over, we will turn off the gas. The effects from the nitrous oxide will only last a couple of minutes, which means you don’t have to worry about having someone pick you up or drive you home.

Moderate Dental Anxieties

Those with moderate levels of anxiety surrounding the dentist may find it simple enough to pick up the phone and give us a call but may find it more difficult to actually set foot in our office. If this sounds more like your anxiety level, then we may prescribe an oral medication to take prior to your visit. This medication (typically an anti-anxiety pill) is often taken in our office about a half hour before your procedure to help keep you relaxed. You may feel groggy during your treatment and some patients may even nod off. Patients who receive prescription medication to treat their anxieties will need to have someone else drive them home.

Augusta SmileCare in Augusta, GA is dedicated to making your dental experience easy, pain-free and even stress-free. Give us a call and let us know if you are interested in finding out whether sedation dentistry is right for you. Make your upcoming dental appointment a breeze!

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John D. Massey, DMD
4200 Columbia Road
Martinez, GA 30907