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You may have heard your St. Paul TMJ Dentist use the term “bruxism” and wonder what they are referring to. Simply put, it is grinding or clenching of the teeth and jaw. Patients who have TMJ disorder usually develop methods for avoiding the pain associated with TMJ. They may avoid chewy or sticky foods that they know will aggravate the discomfort in their sensitive jaws. 

But there are some habits that they can develop that they are not even aware of. These can really make their TMJ symptoms more pronounced and cause significant discomfort. Here are some basic facts about bruxism, and how it impacts TMJ disorder.

What is bruxism?

The first step is to understand exactly what bruxism is and why it plays such a big part in dental health. Bruxism is a chronic condition that can affect patients of all ages. Patients with bruxism grind and clench their teeth for a number of different reasons. 

When someone is under stress they often carry excess tension in the jaw, face, and neck muscles. This often leads to dental grinding and clenching of the jaw. If your bite is uneven, you may grind your teeth in your sleep without being aware that you are doing so. 

How is bruxism related to TMJ?

Patients with TMJ often find that their symptoms are made worse by bruxism. This is because bruxism, or bruxing, puts great stress on the temporomandibular joint and jaw muscles. You may find that you have a stiff, painful jaw, or that your jaw is making clicking sounds. Some patients even end up with limited jaw mobility. If you’ve already been diagnosed with TMJ problems or bruxism, speak to your doctor about how you can avoid painful complications.

If you suffer with TMJ or believe that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth, contact our St. Paul TMJ Dentist to schedule a consultation. We will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan to alleviate symptoms and maintain a healthy and comfortable smile.  

The more we understand about the potential dangers of mercury in our bodies, the more reasons you have for replacing old amalgam fillings. Many dentists have chosen to discontinue the use of amalgam fillings containing mercury altogether. As an example, the St. Paul Family Dentist has not placed a single mercury filling in 30 years.

New Knowledge, New Treatments

Fillings containing mercury were widely used by dental professionals for decades. At the time, amalgam fillings were used because of their strength and durability. Over the years many studies have emerged that indicate that excess levels of mercury in our bodies is a serious medical concern. As a mercury-free dentist we see an increasing number of patients who want their old mercury fillings replaced with attractive, safe composite fillings.

A dental filling made of mercury has the potential to leak. Not only is this a health risk, but it increases the opportunity for dental decay to develop, leading to deterioration of the tooth. Another potential problem is that amalgam fillings containing mercury expand and contract, leading to possible cracking or breaking of the tooth.

This can be painful and result in several visits to the dentist to restore the tooth. You may need a dental crown and possibly a root canal to save the tooth. In extreme cases, you may need to have the tooth extracted.

Healthy, Tooth-Colored Fillings

But advances in modern dentistry offer the safe and aesthetically pleasing option of tooth-colored composite fillings. The following steps will be taken when you arrive at our St. Paul Family Dentist office for removal of old amalgam fillings:

  • A rubber dam will be placed in your mouth to prevent debris from being swallowed.
  • Cold water will be used during removal to keep the mercury cool and prevent possible release of harmful vapors.
  • The amalgam filling will be carefully removed in chunks to avoid drilling and the possible release of mercury vapors.
  • High-volume vacuum equipment will be used to remove airborne particles of mercury and its vapor.

We use state-of-the art equipment in the treatment room that captures airborne mercury vapor and contaminants. A nasal hood is provided to eliminate the possibility of inhalation of harmful mercury vapors. Once the fillings have been removed safely, all supplies used are carefully disposed of.

You do not have to live with unattractive and potentially harmful mercury fillings. If you are concerned about the safety of your fillings, contact our office for a consultation to discuss your specific situation.

Old dental fillings that are dark and unattractive can make you feel self-conscious when you smile. The St. Paul Family Dentist offers strong and durable porcelain tooth fillings to replace old, unsightly mercury fillings, eliminating the discolored the metallic solutions left behind.

Why Use Porcelain?

Porcelain is an ideal material for use in dental fillings because of its similarities to your natural teeth. Porcelain fillings can be made to closely match the color and shade of your teeth. This makes porcelain fillings an excellent choice for restorations that include your front teeth or other visible parts of the teeth.

The bond that is created when the material is affixed to your natural tooth actually makes them stronger. Porcelain used by our dentist has many uses including filling material for decayed teeth and restorations on chipped, broken or worn teeth.

Replacement of Silver Amalgam Fillings

In addition to providing the restorative qualities as mentioned above, porcelain fillings can also be used to replace old mercury amalgam fillings. Although The American Dental Association (ADA) has stated that no conclusive proof exists that mercury (silver) fillings cause bodily harm, some research suggests that mercury amalgam fillings may cause toxins to enter the body.

Amalgam fillings are still in use today by some dentists, but advancements in modern dentistry such as porcelain fillings provide better alternatives for patients seeking a more aesthetically pleasing outcome.

If you have concerns about replacing your mercury fillings with tooth-colored fillings the St. Paul Family Dentist can help you improve the appearance of your smile with porcelain fillings. Dr. Malterud can SAFELY remove your old mercury fillings following the recommended protocols of the International Association of Mercury-Safe Dentists (IAMSD).


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