Frequently Asked Questions

GENERAL

Click on any of the questions below to find more about a specific issue:

What is TMJ?

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders are a family of problems related to your complex jaw joint. If you have had symptoms like pain or a jaw joint clicking sound, you'll be glad to know that these problems are more easily diagnosed and treated than they were in the past. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more serious conditions, early detection and treatment are important. No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely and treatment takes time to be effective.

Trouble with Your Jaw?
TMJ disorders develop for many reasons. You might clench or grind your teeth, tightening your jaw muscles and stressing your TMJ joint. Or, you may have a damaged jaw joint due to injury or disease. Whatever the cause, the results may include a misaligned bite, pain, clicking or grating noises when you open your mouth, or trouble opening your mouth wide.

Do You Have a TMJ Disorder?

  • Are you aware of teeth grinding or clenching your teeth?
  • Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
  • Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
  • Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
  • Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
  • Does your jaw joint click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
  • Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat or yawn?
  • Have you ever injured your neck, head or jaws?
  • Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
  • Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
  • Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
  • Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
  • Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered "yes," the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they're treated.

Treatment
There are various treatment options that Dr. Hirshberg can utilize to improve the harmony and function of your jaw. Once an evaluation confirms a diagnosis of TMJ disorder, Dr. Hirshberg will determine the proper course of treatment. It is important to note that treatment always works best with a team approach of self-care as well as professional care.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease can go on for years without pain and without detection unless specific examination procedures are performed. Visual oral examination by itself (even by a dentist) will not reliably detect periodontal disease until it has reached an advanced stage.

Early detection and adequate diagnosis require measurement of gum pockets (the crevice between the tooth and gum) with a periodontal probe. Effective prevention and treatment is available, but the damage caused as the disease progresses is irreversible.

Early detection and treatment is critical to prevent tooth loss and disfigurement. Although the procedure is simple, painless and requires only a few minutes, millions of American adults have never had it done. Signs of periodontal disease include bleeding gums, redness of gum tissue, swelling of gums around the teeth, bad breath, receding gums, mobility of teeth.

I have a poor self-image of myself, which results in a low self-esteem. What can I do fix this?

The appearance of the teeth has a dramatic effect on both the person's attractiveness to others and on their own self-image and self-esteem. Studies have shown that a person's appearance will have a strong effect on their social and career success, by influencing how others perceive them.

While the appearance of the teeth is one of the most important contributors to facial beauty, it is also probably the most often neglected when improvements to appearance are sought. A person with low self-esteem connected to their facial appearance, can often be greatly helped by cosmetic dentistry.

Dental make-overs have become more common, less invasive, and more effective in correcting deformities and cosmetic dental problems. The effect of these procedures can be nothing short of dramatic both in terms of appearance and also in terms of correcting, at least partially, personality deficiencies caused by poor self-image.

I have Cancer, can there be complications when attending the Dentist?

Each year about 400,000 people with cancer develop treatment-related complications in the mouth ranging from lesions to chronic dry mouth to bone disintegration. If serious, these complications can be life threatening. While many are unavoidable, some can be prevented or minimized.

It is recommended that whenever possible, a pre-therapy dental evaluation with a full set of mouth x-rays be performed. Any decay, gum disease and abscesses should be treated, if time permits, prior to chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy.

Even patients who have no pain or dental disorders need a thorough cleaning. The goal should be to have the patient's mouth in optimal health prior to beginning chemotherapy.

How should I choose oral care products?

Even savvy shoppers can be baffled by the seemingly endless variety of dental care products. Choose products that carry the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance – an important symbol of a dental product’s safety and effectiveness. Oral care products that may carry the ADA Seal include toothpaste, manual and electric toothbrushes, floss and other interdental cleaning aids, mouth rinses and oral irrigators.

How often should I replace my toothbrush?

Treat yourself to a new toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become worn, splayed or frayed. A hard, brittle toothbrush can injure your gums. Children’s toothbrushes may need to be replaced more often, as they can wear them out more quickly.

What is the proper way to brush my teeth?

Thorough brushing twice a day, and cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or other interdental cleaners, removes dental plaque. Keep these tips in mind when brushing your teeth. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.  Place the brush on your teeth with the bristles angled toward the gums using gentle circular motion. Remember to clean the inside teeth surfaces where plaque deposits are heavy, and clean the back teeth and your tongue. Replace your brush when the bristles become frayed or worn about every three to four months.

Can I damage my teeth if I brush improperly?

Yes. Even though teeth are protected by a hard layer of enamel, they can become worn out from improper tooth brushing. Toothbrush abrasion can occur on the crown of the teeth as well as in the softer cementum that covers the tooth roots, which can be exposed by receding gums. These exposed surfaces can become more prone to decay. When you brush, be sure to use gentle, short, circular strokes.

How do I clean between teeth?

Floss and other interdental cleaners remove plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline, areas where the toothbrush can’t reach. If you haven’t been in the habit, it’s never too late to start.

When flossing, keep in mind these tips. Gently ease the floss between the teeth and gumline, never snap it. Form a "c" against the sides of both teeth and gently rub the floss up and down the tooth, moving it from under the gumline to the top of the tooth.   Establish a regular pattern of flossing and remember to floss the backside of the last teeth.

NOTE: If you use interdental cleaners, feel free to consult us on how to use them properly, to avoid injuring your gums.

How do dental X-rays work?

When X-rays pass through your mouth during a dental exam, more X-rays are absorbed by the denser parts (such as teeth and bone) than by soft tissues (such as cheeks and gums) before striking the film. This creates an image on the radiograph. Teeth appear lighter because fewer X-rays penetrate to reach the film. Cavities and gum disease appear darker because of more X-ray penetration. The interpretation of these X-rays allows the dentist to safely and accurately detect hidden abnormalities.

What are oral irrigating devices?

Oral irrigating devices use a stream of water to remove food particles from around the teeth. They are meant to be used as an aid and not to replace regular brushing or cleaning between the teeth with floss or interdental cleaners. Oral irrigators are helpful for people who have braces or bridework.

Will a water filter remove fluoride from water?

Depending upon the filtration system that you use at home, journal articles have reported that reverse osmosis and distillation filtration units do remove varying amounts of fluoride from the water. Activated carbon units were shown to remove only trace amounts. Several tests of water filters, however, have shown conflicting answers. Feel free to consult us about your family’s fluoride needs.

Some dental problems are easy to see! Why you should see the dentist!

One of the easiest problems to spot is a build-up of dental plaque. Plaque is the soft, sticky layer of bacteria, which is constantly forming on the teeth. Usually it is invisible to the naked eye, but when a person is not brushing adequately, it can build up to where it appears to be a thick whitish coating on the teeth at the gum line. If not removed, it can lead to gum disease.

Another potential problem, which is easy to spot, is missing teeth. Many patients assume that if they are still able to eat, there is no problem. But very often, losing just one tooth can lead to the loss of support, and teeth begin to drift into the empty space, causing a change in the bite. It also forces the remaining teeth to carry an additional load, sometimes past their ability to adapt. In most cases, when even one tooth is lost, the remaining teeth suffer and are more likely to be lost as well.