Diet or Dentist For TMJ?

I feel a little foolish asking this question but I’m wondering if TMJ can be a diet related problem? I have horrible jaw and head pain, especially in the mornings. My closest friend truly believes that if I switch to a whole foods diet it will be taken care of. Even as I type it, it seems like a stupid idea. However, I’ll have to admit my friend is a lot healthier than I am. So maybe there is something to what she has to say.  Do I need a dentist or a diet change?

Lucia M.

Dear Lucia,

There is one aspect of TMJ which can be diet related, but one only. Chewing. TMJ is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint.  Changing your diet won’t repair the joint. However, if you’re eating things such as raw carrots and apples it could be adding stress to the joint. It might be a good idea to lay off the hard and chewy foods while your dentist gets to the cause of your problem.

Your symptoms sort of sound like the cause could be teeth grinding. You wouldn’t necessarily even know you’re doing it if it’s happening while you’re asleep.

If that’s the cause, a simple mouthguard could be just the solution for you. Your dentist can custom design one to fit comfortably in your mouth while you sleep. If you start to grind your teeth, the mouthguard will absorb the pressure, protecting your teeth and your joint.

This will also protect your teeth from damage. The grinding can cause your teeth to become loose or cracked, causing you to need a dental crown.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

I Can’t Eat with Dentures

I’m feeling absolutely desperate. I haven’t eaten properly in weeks. I’m able to get down soup but that’s about it. Ever since I’ve gotten dentures it’s been almost impossible to eat. Food gets underneath them. I don’t chew well. My dentist says I’ll get used to it, but it doesn’t feel that way.  I know I should have gotten dental implants, but I would have needed quite a few and I can’t afford that. Do I have any options?

Mary Anne P.

Mary Anne,

I’m sorry for the difficulty you’ve been having with your dentures. While some patients do adjust, many do not.  Even the best fitting dentures will reduce your chewing capacity by 50%.

Yes, dental implants are ideal, but like you mentioned they can be quite expensive. The good thing about dentures is you can work up to a full set of dental implants.

Hopefully, your dentist gave you all your options. I don’t know if he mentioned snap-on dentures. These use as few as two implants to secure the dentures in place.  This will help with the chewing, not as much as a full set of implants, but it will improve the situation.

In case your dentist neglected to give you all the information, I want to make you aware of something called facial collapse. When your teeth are removed, your body begins reabsorbing the minerals in your jawbone. After a while, it causes you to lose so much jawbone you can’t even retain your dentures. It also gives your face an aged sunken appearance.

Beginning to get implants, such as with snap-on dentures, helps you prevent that. You can do two implants at a time, preserving at least some of the bone and then gradually save up to a larger amount of implants.

I’m hoping you had all the information at the beginning when you first made your decision. However, you haven’t had your dentures long, so even if you didn’t there’s likely not much damage done.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.

How Do You Avoid a Smile Makeover Disaster?

My friend Cecilia just spent thousands of dollars on a “smile makeover” and it’s awful. The teeth are thick and bulky. They look opaque. In all honesty, she went from having an okay, but not beautiful smile to having horse teeth. I didn’t even have to tell her it was bad. She burst into tears the minute she walked through my door. I told her to ask for a refund or to have it re-done, but she said the dentist thinks it’s beautiful and the problem is in her mind. If I go with her and tell the dentist I agree with her will it help? I was planning on having my own smile makeover. I still want to do it but would love to know how to avoid my friend’s issue. Any tips?

Lucy S. – Seattle

Lucy,

I can tell you right away what went wrong with your friend’s makeover. She went to a family dentist who doesn’t have a great deal of training or experience with cosmetic dentistry. Based on the description you gave of your friend’s new smile, it sounds like her dentist placed Lumineers on her teeth. That wouldn’t surprise me because they’re often marketed to inexperienced cosmetic dentists as being easy to place. Unfortunately, horse teeth are usually what you end up with when someone without skill places them.  They’re just a brand of porcelain veneers. A brand most cosmetic dentists don’t prefer.

I don’t think you going and telling the dentist he did a bad job is going to change his mind. Your best bet is to have her go to an expert cosmetic dentist and have THAT  dentist tell him it was a bad job. An expert cosmetic dentist would never be satisfied with a case in which the patient is dissatisfied. Ever. However, a family dentist, who doesn’t do much cosmetic work will be more interested in what his peers think. If colleague thinks his work is subpar, he won’t want to look bad by not re-doing it.

So, your friend’s problem is how to find an expert cosmetic dentist.  This is your issue too, because you want a gorgeous smile makeover when you decide to go forward with yours. You want to go to an AACD accredited dentist. The AACD is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Now bear in mind any dentist can become a member of the AACD, but accreditation has to be earned. Only the top cosmetic dentists reach this level. If you get a smile makeover by them, you’re pretty much guaranteed a gorgeous smile. In fact, many highly skilled cosmetic dentists (like Dr. Burba) have a beautiful smile guarantee.

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Did My Dentist Ruin My Smile?

I’ve had the same dentist since I was a little girl. I love the guy, but I’m afraid he really messed up my porcelain veneers. I was asked to be a speaker at a major convention and it was my big opportunity to shine and get investors for a project I’ve been working on. I mentioned it to my dentist because I was concerned about my smile and he said that he could get me fixed up with porcelain veneers. I let him do them and I really regret it now. They don’t look like they’re shaped right, for starters. They also don’t feel right. I keep catching my tongue on them when I talk and it has affected my speech. Lastly, the coloring is off. It looks like I have pieces of gum stuck to my front four teeth. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I really want to get them taken off and go back to my normal teeth. What’s the best way to approach this with my dentist?

Sincerely,

Lucia

Dear Lucia,

Unfortunately, porcelain veneers can’t just be taken off. It’s very likely a sliver of tooth structure was shaved before the porcelain veneers were put on, they won’t look right. Plus, being unprotected, they will be quite vulnerable to decay.

It sounds like your dentist is a decent general dentist, who cares enough to try to help you, but doesn’t have a lot of cosmetic expertise. He may be a great guy who treated you well for years, but cosmetic work takes a significant amount of post-graduate training. Training most family dentists don’t have.

This is a common issue in general practices, as the doctors don’t usually get the extra training they need to do truly beautiful restorations and they don’t do it often enough to keep their skills up. If you want truly stunning results, you’ll need to see an expert cosmetic dentist. Many of them even give a beautiful smile guarantee.

If this was only a matter of speech, there’s a chance that you might adapt to it in time. Failing this, small adjustments made by the dentist would help with making it easier to talk. However, you’re dealing with some pretty big cosmetic issues and these can only be cleared up by replacing the porcelain veneers.

You could ask your regular dentist to redo them, but the results will likely be the same. Going forward, you’ll need to meet with a cosmetic dentist to correct the issues. In this case, there’s really no need to talk it over with your regular dentist first, but there’s no harm in mentioning to him that you’d like to have them redone and why. You may be able to get some or all of your money back, so you can apply it to having them done properly.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Randall Burba.