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Diagnosed with TMJ from Numb Fingers

I mentioned that my fingers were numb during my last dental check up.  I wasn’t looking for a diagnosis, just making a passing comment. My dentist said it was because I have TMJ.   Is it possible he’s right.  That seems like quite a leap to me.

Hannah S. – Mesa, AZ

Hannah,

TMJ can cause numbness in your fingers. Here is what happens. TMJ can cause muscle spasms. All the muscles in your body are connected to one another. This can cause a tingling or numbness in different extremities, including your fingers. However, it isn’t the only cause of numbness, nor is it the only symptom of TMJ.  I wouldn’t just jump into TMJ treatment based on that alone.  If it is combined with other symptoms then I might be more comfortable.

I would see a TMJ specialist and tell him or her all your symptoms. Let them look at you, check your bite, and evaluate you. Then, if your sure you have TMJ you can have more confidence in getting treatment. If the dentist (with the right credentials) doens’t think it is TMJ, then you would need to see your doctor. Neuropathy needs to be looked at.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Can my dentist treat me for TMJ?

My dentist told me I had TMJ after an exam and we talked about some pain I was having. He told me he was a TMJ specialist, but after doing his splint treatment I am still in pain. Is there something else wrong?

Brenda D – Pennsylvania

Brenda,

First, you should be aware that there is no recognized specialty for TMJ.  Any general dentist can call themselves a TMJ Specialist. That means you’ll have to do some homework before seeking treatment.  An accurate diagnosis is critical for successful treatment.  Treatments can vary from wearing a mouth guard, to TENS therapy, to surgery.  You want to make sure whoever is treating you truly has the expertise to make a correct diagnosis.

The first thing to look for is their post-graduate treatment.  You want a dentist who has been to a someplace like the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.

You may also want to read some reviews by patients who’ve been treated by them.  Are they getting relief or just racking up bills for ineffective treatments?

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Celebrity teeth

I graduate high school this year and want to be an actress. I’m planning on moving to California right after I graduate. I know the one really visible flaw I have is my teeth. One is crooked and there is a gap in my front teeth. I want to get them fixed, but can’t afford porcelain veneers. What other options are there?

Gina May C. – Louisville, KY

Gina May,

When we think of celebrity teeth we think of them as being straight and white. You’re right that porcelain veneers will accomplish that and I do understand you can’t afford them. So, my next suggestion would be two fold. You’ll want to whiten your teeth and you’ll want to straighten them.

I’m sure, as you’ll be trying to get auditions for parts you won’t want traditional braces. There is a line of orthodontics called Invisalign. They can straighten your teeth without anyone even knowing you’re wearing them. You could even wear them to auditions.

You may even find a dentist who will let you use your Invisalign aligners as whitening trays. That will let you do both treatments at once and save the cost of needing whitening trays.

When you make it big in Hollywood, remember us “little people”. I’ll expect an autograph.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Reaction to my filling

I had to get my first filling. I have an allergy to mercury. I didn’t know there was mercury in dental fillings. I found out when I had an allergic reaction to my filling. Shouldn’t the dentist have told me about that? I filled out a medical history. What should I do about filings?

Sarah Anne – Texas

Sarah Anne,

Your dentist definitely should have talked to you about the mercury in the fillings. If you noted your mercury allergy on your health history, there is no legitimate reason for your dentist to give you an amalgam filling, which is mostly mercury.

In the future, you’ll need to ask for mercury-free fillings. Composite fillings are a great choice and actually help strengthen your teeth instead of weaken them, like amalgam fillings do.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

 

How many appointments are necessary with Invisalign?

I have some crooked teeth. They’ve never bothered me, but I’ve been asked to be the public spokesperson for a medical mission that I’ve served in the past.  They suggested I fix my teeth and maybe whiten them.  The problem is I am leaving for Africa for six months to help with vaccinations and other health mission work. I have about three months before I have to leave. I read that the treatment can take six months or longer sometimes. Will I need appointments in the time period I am in Africa or can it wait?

Jason B. – Seattle

Jason,

What an admirable thing you’re doing. The length of treatment will depend on the severity of your case. So, there isn’t  a way to be sure if you’ll need further treatment in Africa or you’ll be done by then. However, let’s make the assumption that you will still need treatment in three months.

It is possible for your dentist to supply you with the remainder of your Invisalign aligners before you leave.  As you would before you leave, you’ll need to change them every two weeks.

It would be best if there was a dentist there who could work with you. Are there any dentists on your mission? Maybe he could meet with your state-side dentist ahead of time.

You could whiten your teeth simultaneously, using your Invisalign aligners as whitening trays. Your dentist can supply you with the necessary whitening gel.

Good luck on your mission.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

My dentist thinks I’m a flake because I want the mercury out of my mouth

I have an immune disorder and have been having lots of problems. I’ve done some research and I think my mercury fillings could be adding to the problem.  I don’t think it is causing the immune disorder, but I don’t think it is helping it either. However, my dentist thinks I’m some kind of flake.  Which of us is right?

Katharine C. – Indiana

Katharine,

The debate on the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings has been heating up for years and shows no sign of slowing down.  There also seems to be no sign of the two sides agreeing. That being said, I think your dentist is absolutely out of line for making you feel like a flake.  At the least, he should treat you with respect while disagreeing with you.

I recently read an article about the mercury debate on a medical website. In a quote a dentist admitted that many of the dentists that still favor the old amalgam (silver) fillings do so because they are easier to work with.  The new composite (white) fillings require knowledge of advanced bonding techniques. Not all dentists have invested in the post-graduate training necessary to place them even if they wanted to place them. To compensate, many dentists will discourage their patients from getting composite fillings.

Please don’t pressure your dentist. The techniques necessary to place them properly are quite advanced. Without adequate training and experience, you could end up with some serious problems.

As I am sure your dentist has told you, the official position of the American Dental Association (ADA) is that amalgam fillings are perfectly safe. Each dentist comes down on a different side of this issue. Many dentists are now mercury-free, meaning that they do not place any fillings that contain mercury.  Others see no problem with them and place them regularly.

Regarding your issue, I wouldn’t fault anyone for not wanting a toxic metal in their body, but especially if they had immune issues to deal with on top of that. I would be fine with your having them removed. When you do have your silver fillings removed, it needs to be done properly or you could end up with more mercury in your system than if you just left your fillings alone. You want to go to someone who does a sanitary amalgam removal.

Most mercury free or holistic dentists would know how to do that.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Just started invisalign and HATE my dentist

So, here is the thing. I just picked a dentist who did invisalign, without really checking them out ahead of time.  The invisalign is great. The dentist is a complete jerk.  He tells inappropriate jokes and is rude to his staff. I do not want to go back, but I have really just started my treatments.  Can I switch dentists or do I have to start over?

Chris D. – Bronx, NY

Chris,

What an aweful experience for you! I would want to switch dentists too.

It should make you feel better to know that your dentist is under an ethical obligation to make your transition to a new dentist as smooth as possible.

It will be quite easy to continue your Invisalign treatment. I’m glad you are at least having a good experience there. It is pretty hard for your dentist to mess this treatment up, because of the computer programming involved.  The patient satisfaction rating with Invisalign is quite high.  I think you’ll continue to be happy with it and will love your results.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Tired of braces

I’ve been wearing braces for three years. I am quite tired of things being on my teeth. I got the braces off two days ago, which was great. Now the dentist says I have to wear this stupid retainer. I’ve been wearing it, but I don’t want to. What would happen if I just stopped wearing it?

Marisa O. – Wisconsin

Marisa,

It is important you continue to wear your retainer. I know it is tempting to leave it off. However, in as few as two days your teeth will start to shift back to their old position.

Your orthodontist will let you know when it is safe to stop wearing the retainer, or when it is OK to wear it less. Follow his or her instructions carefully. After wearing braces for so long, I am sure you do not want your teeth to shift back to their old position and have to start all over.

There are elastic fibers in your gums that hold your teeth in place. The orthodontic treatment stretches the fibers and they need time to re-form enough to hold your teeth in their correct position. This is why you wear the retainer.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

My dentist says composites are dangerous

I wanted to get one of the white, composite fillings for my tooth, but my dentist says it is an unreliable treatment and that amalgam fillings are better for your teeth. What can I do if I really want to get white fillings?

Samantha – Virginia

Samantha,

You can get white fillings, but I don’t think you’ll be able to get them through the dentist you currently have.  It is possible that he doesn’t have the training to place composite (white fillings), and rather than tell you that he trys to discourage you from the procedure.  Many dentist, especially ones who went to dental school over five years ago were never instructed in how to place composites, because amalgam fillings were still the standard treatment.

I disagree with your dentist that they are an unreliable treatment. In fact, unlike amalgam fillings, composite fillings can strengthen your teeth, while the older fillings weaken them.

I especially like the fact that they are mercury-free.  Traditional silver fillings  are over 50% mercury.  That is one of the major reasons people like the newer white fillings.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full mouth reconstruction disaster

I had some problems with my bite.  My dentist thought it needed to be opened up.  I was just hoping the clicking in my jaw and the headaches would stop.  He decided to do a full mouth reconstruction. He did that by crowning every single one of my teeth. The procedure itself was a nightmare, but I suppose that is to be expected.

While the crowns look beautiful, my bite seems worse. On the right side the teeth are touching, but on the left side the bite isn’t meeting. Because they’re already cemented on I’m not sure what can be done, but this is more uncomfortable than I was before. Would it be possible for him to sand down the right side, so the left will touch?

Justine B.- Birmingham, AL

Justine,

I’m a little concerned about this situation. A full-mouth reconstruction is never to be undertaken lightly. In fact, the skills neceessary for this type of procedure isn’t taught in dental school.  This type of training is received at advanced dental training centers, such as: The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Education, the Pankey Institute in Florida, and the Dawson Center for Advanced Dental Study, also in Florida.

If you’re going to get such an advanced, complicated procedure, you really need to make sure they have the training necessary or you will end up in the kind of situation you now find yourself. At miminum you need someone with specific TMJ Speciality training.

These should not have been cemented on until your bite was checked. First your bite would be opened with temporary crowns and adjusted until you are comfortable with the vertical dimensions. The permanent crowns will be modeled after those decisions. Even after the permanent ones are ready, they needed to be seated and adjusted for comforted. Until all of that is done it would be stupid to cement them on.

Unfortunately, your dentist didn’t follow those conventions and now your case has to be re-done.  I think your dentist should take responsibility for that. You may not want him to re-do the case himself. Instead, you may just need to ask him for at least a partial refund. Look for a dentist that has TMJ training from one of the places listed above.

This blog is brought to you by Chicago Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.