It’s Back to School Time! Where Do You Come in?

It’s that time of year again! With kids going back to school, where do you, the dentist, come in? I know what you’re thinking, “I’m a dentist, what does that have to do with school?” A lot, actually. As a dentist offering craniofacial pain and dental sleep medicine services, you play an important role in the back to school season. Whether it is for younger children, high school kids, college students or even the parents of each age bracket, you can play an important role by offering tips to combat stress.

I have touched base on this before, but stress can be a leading factor in TMD pain and sleepless nights (in addition to sleep apnea, of course). Let’s take a look at some helpful tips you can offer your patients to help them relax during the stressful back to school months.

Take Deep Breaths

One of the simplest things a patient can do is to take deep breaths in. Have them concentrate on slow deep breaths, which, in turn, will help them transfer their focus onto something other than their stress. You might even want to recommend yoga—hey, it is extremely relaxing and good for your body! At the end of the day, stress can take a toll on everyone, but thinking and taking deep breaths in and out can help bring a sense of calm to the situation.

Call a Friend

Another stress relieving thing your patients can do is to take a break and call a friend or a family member to talk about whatever their problems are. Good relationships with friends and loved ones are important to any healthy lifestyle, and there is no time that is more evident than when a person is under a lot of stress. By hearing a reassuring voice, it can really help you put everything in perspective again. When you are stressed, who is your go-to person to call? That answer might be just what your patients need to hear.

Eat Right

Food can play a role in a person’s stress and how he or she manages it. Stress levels and a proper diet are closely related. Unfortunately, it is when we have the most work that we forget to eat well and resort to using sugary, fatty snack foods as pick-me-ups. When stressed at work, encourage your patients to avoid the vending machine and plan ahead. Instead, they should put together fruits and vegetables, and add in fish with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids—a tuna sandwich really is brain food!

Exercise

Exercise doesn’t have to mean power lifting at the gym or training for a marathon. A short walk around the office or simply standing up to stretch during a break at work can offer immediate relief in a stressful situation. By getting the blood moving, endorphins are released—this can improve a person’s mood almost immediately.

Remember to tell your patients not to let stress get the best of them. By offering these helpful tips, hopefully your patients can find relief from their stress without causing further complications. I mean, I think I need to follow these tips to help me relieve stress, too! What about you?

The Connection between TMD and Tinnitus

Tinnitus is often referred to as “ringing of the ears,” and can be one of the less common symptoms of TMJ disorders. Many patients suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) with coexisting tinnitus find that TMD therapy often helps to improve or resolve their tinnitus in conjunction with their TMD symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between TMD and tinnitus so you can help provide proper treatment to your patients.

The Relationship

There is a close relationship between certain problems with the TMJ and tinnitus. Some scientific studies even show that people with problems with their TMJ are more likely to suffer from tinnitus, while some individuals who have sustained an injury to their neck may also suffer from tinnitus. If your patient suffers from TMD or neck problems, he or she may find that they can alter the intensity of their tinnitus by moving their mouth, jaw, face and neck.

Tell Me More…

The chewing muscles are near some of the muscles that insert into the middle ear. This, in return, may have an effect on hearing, which promotes tinnitus. There is also a direct connection between the ligaments hat attach to the jaw and one of the hearing bones that sits in the middle ear. Through the nerve supply from the TMJ, a connection has been shown with the parts of the brain that are involved with both hearing and the interpretation of sound. The general discomfort associated with TMJ problems can also aggravate any pre-existing tinnitus.

Treatment

By learning more about TMD and how it relates to tinnitus, you can provide your patients with further treatment options. There are a variety of treatment options currently available to help improve TMD symptoms, as well as symptoms of tinnitus. If you would like to learn more about tinnitus and TMD, feel free to contact my office or to attend one of the upcoming fall seminars!

Patients and Neck Pain: How You Can Help

We have all experienced what might seem like a stiff neck because we slept the wrong way or whipped our head around too fast. Or, let’s face it, we might have even done one small movement that normally wouldn’t cause pain, but did—we’ve all been there. Either way, when your patients experience neck pain it can disrupt their daily activities while limiting movements. That neck pain or stiffness they are experiencing can be related to their oral health.

Understanding Neck Pain

When it comes to neck pain, it is important to help your patients find a treatment option. Neck pain can come from many different places, with the most common cause being simple overexertion or muscle strain. Regardless of the source of the neck pain, it is clear that treating it can often be a challenge—especially in cases of chronic discomfort.

Many treatments simply address neck pain without correcting the actual issue that is causing neck pain in the first place. Today, more and more people are beginning to discover the benefits of visiting their dentist about their neck pain. So, when a patient suffers from neck pain, you want to be able to provide them relief within your dental practice—it saves them another trip to the doctor!

The Connection

It is important to understand the underlying connection between neck pain and oral origins. Most people consider neck pain to be limited solely to physical stress. However, the mouth and jaw hold significant clues as to why your patients are experiencing neck pain—it is often linked to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is highly complex and has a wide range of motions.

The TMJ is responsible for coordinating every movement of the mouth, whether speaking or chewing. While it is responsible for an array of movements of the mouth, it can often be prone to improper function, which is TMD. This shifting can disturb the natural and correct pattern in which a patient’s teeth come together, which can cause inflammation of the surrounding tissues.

Due to this inflammation and pain, your patient might be experiencing neck pain. Through your knowledge of TMD and the problems that are associated with the TMJ, you can help your patients find relief from their neck pain. To learn more about TMD, neck pain, and craniofacial pain, I encourage you to attend an upcoming seminar or lecture series—it can make all the difference in helping you diagnose and treat your patients’ pain.

Upcoming Lectures to Get You Ready for Fall

It’s that time again! While your children might be getting ready to go back to school, don’t you think it is time for you to think about continuing your education, too? I think so! As your children get ready for school, make sure you take a look at some of our upcoming lectures for the rest of the year. Here are the lectures from September through the end of the year because you won’t want to miss out!

Pinpoint the Pain

Our Pinpoint the Pain lecture series takes place September 25-26, 2015 and is located in Jupiter, Florida. This two-day seminar gives dentists the opportunity to understand the neuroanatomical relationship within the cranio-cervical area that can complicate the diagnosis of a simple toothache or other orofacial related pain. Pain referral patterns can render misdiagnosis, which can potentially lead to unnecessary or ineffective treatment. In this lecture series, we will discuss pain and how to pinpoint pain.

Advanced Dental Sleep Medicine

In this two-day lecture series in Jupiter, Florida we will take a look at Advanced Dental Sleep Medicine. October 9-10, 2015, join us in this two-day lecture series on the next step in implementing dental sleep medicine. It empowers dentists and their teams to overcome clinical and administrative obstacles to incorporate sleep apnea into their practice.

Other Lectures

In addition to these lectures, check out some more upcoming lectures throughout the year:

October 23-24, 2015

Topic: Sleep Medicine for the Sleep Dentist  & Hygienist’s Role in dental Sleep Medicine

Location: Atlantic City, NJ

November 11-14, 2015

Topic: Sleep Medicine and Dentistry Mini-Residency Class 3

Location: San Diego, CA

December 4-5, 2015

Topic: A Multidisciplinary Pain, TMD and Sleep Symposium 

Location: Atlanta, GA

December 14-15, 2015

Topic: A day in the life: Run your practice like the experts

Location: Atlanta, GA

Explore each of the upcoming lectures to choose which ones would be best for you and your office! I look forward to potentially meeting you and helping you with your journey to improve services offered in your practice!