What is TMJ?

You may have heard someone say “I have TMJ”. This is true as everyone has a TMJ. What these people mostly mean is that they are suffering from a TMJ disorder. Your temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, make opening and closing your mouth possible. Your TMJ can be found on either side of your skull and work in conjunction when you chew, speak or swallow. Muscles and ligaments that are involved in this are also considered part of the TMJ system as is the jaw bone. Your TMJ also operate your mandible — your lower jaw — as it moves forward, backward and side to side.

Each TMJ has a disc of cartilage between the ball and socket of the joint. This spongy disc supports the load while enabling the jaw to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that interferes with the proper working of this complicated system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones can be called a TMJ disorder (TMD). Dentists like Dr. Albert Caves in Columbus GA can diagnose and treat this problem to alleviate the discomfort and stop the progression of dental issues that TMJ disorders can cause.

What Causes TMJ Disorders (TMD)?

Possible causes of TMJ disorders include:

  • Arthritis
  • Dislocation
  • Injury
  • Alignment of jaw and teeth
  • Teeth grinding due to stress

How is TMJ Diagnosed?

A dental examination is needed to diagnosis the issue before treatment can begin. A typical dental examination should include checking the joints and muscles of the jaw for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty of motion.

Depending on the severity of the diagnosis, Dr. Caves may refer you to a physician or a dental specialist for more advanced treatment.

How is TMJ Treated?

For basic cases, there are several methods of treatments for TMJ disorders. These basic lifestyle changes and quick fixes are good to try at home before moving on to more involved dental or medical treatment. These steps — a “less is more” approach in treating TMJ disorders — include:

  • Eating softer foods
  • Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
  • Applying heat packs to the pain
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or biofeedback, to relieve tension in the jaw.

If your symptoms are more severe, the following treatments are next steps that may be recommended by Dr. Caves:

  • Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
  • Medications such as muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-inflammatories
  • Anxiety Medication
  • A mouth guard or bite plate to physically reduce the clenching or grinding of teeth.

In some cases, your dentist may need to correct an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping

some teeth. Orthodontic may even be necessary. Dr. Caves can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the determined cause.  If you are in the Columbus GA area and think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, any other dental ailment or just need a cleaning or consultation, please call 706.407.4851 to schedule with Dr. Caves or schedule with our office online.

Posted in: Jaw Pain Columbus, TMD columbus, TMJ Dentist Columbus

4 Reasons Dental Implants May Be Right For You

Have you lost teeth to tooth decay or gum disease?  Or maybe an auto accident or a sports injury has cost you your natural, complete smile? Dental implants can help adults of all ages restore their complete smiles, no matter how you lost your missing teeth. Even adolescents, once facial growth and development has been completed in their late teens, can benefit from implants.

Dental implants are a cut above other tooth replacement alternatives such as dentures and bridges. Here are four reasons to choose dental implants that Dr. Albert Caves in Columbus GA want to make you aware of.

  1. Dental Implants Feel Like Normal Teeth

Dental implants feel, look, fit and work just like your natural teeth. Once the implantation site has healed you won’t even be aware they’re not your natural teeth. There is no need to remove them for cleaning as you do dentures as you’ll brush and floss them just like your natural teeth. Implants can also help your face shape retain its’ natural shape and smile, preventing the caved-in looking mouth that some denture wearers have.

  1. Dental Implants Last a Lifetime

Dental implants have longevity. Implants, when cared for properly, can last several 20-30 years. Dental bridges and dentures, usually need to be replaced after every 5 to 10 years of use. Being replaced less means that, although implants may be more money up front, you will save in the long run and you’ll spend less time in the dentist’s chair.

  1. No More Adhesives

Your dental implants will be installed in your jaw bone, so you won’t need any messy adhesives to keep them from slipping or clicking when you talk, eat or laugh like dentures sometimes do. You may also feel like your speech is more natural with dental implants. Implants can be a way for you to smile, talk, laugh and eat with confidence again.

  1. Dental Implants Preserve and Promote Oral Health

Implants protect your jaw bone tissue and other teeth. Empty spaces in your mouth can hasten jawbone deterioration. Dental implants bond with your jaw and stimulate new bone growth which is something dentures and bridges do not do. Having implants installed as soon after losing a tooth as possible helps prevent bone loss at the site. Additionally, dental implants do not need the adjacent teeth be ground down for bridges to be anchored or partial dentures to be attached.

Dental Implants in Columbus, GA

If you have lost teeth and are interested in finding out if dental implants can help you have the smile you want, Dr. Caves and his team in Columbus GA are ready to help. Please call us at 706.407.4851 or schedule a consultation online today!

Posted in: Cosmetic Dentistry Columbus, dental implants columbus

Why Do My Teeth Hurt?

Toothache, Columbus, GAAnyone who’s ever experienced dental pain knows the sooner it can be relieved, the better. Feeling pain in your teeth is not normal and can be a sign that a problem that needs to be addressed. If your teeth are hurting you, it is always a good idea to see a dentist like Dr. Albert Caves of Columbus GA as soon as possible. They can do a thorough examination and answer the frustrating question you’ve been puzzling over, “Why do my teeth hurt?”  It can be a number of reasons, but Dr. Caves can fill you in on some of the most common:

Cavity: A cavity is simply decay in your tooth due to bacteria eating away at tooth enamel. It can exposed nerves and create sensitivity that results in tooth pain. Cavities are easiest to manage when they are small and the tooth can be resealed with a filling.

Damaged or Lost Filling: Sometimes a filling can fall out or be damaged, which can bring on issues with your bite and chewing and lead to pain. A visit to your dentist can determine what needs to be done to alleviate the pain.

Teeth Grinding/Clenching/TMJ: If you find yourself bearing down on your teeth during the day, or wake up with a sore jaw, this is a good indication you are clenching or grinding your teeth at night. Dr. Caves can evaluate your problem and offers solutions such as customized mouthguards to help save your teeth from excessive wear and tear, as well as painful headaches, toothaches and jaw pain.

Abscessed Tooth: A abscessed tooth forms when there is an infection festering at the tooth’s roots. It can be extremely painful and needs antibiotics to resolve the infection before the underlying cause (such as a crack or chip in the tooth enamel) can be addressed. Failure to address an abscess can lead to a widespread infection that endangers your life.

Wisdom Teeth: When your wisdom teeth begin to emerge, they can cause a great deal of pain, swelling, and jaw stiffness. Your dentist can determine if the teeth are growing in properly or if they are impacted (bumping up against other teeth) and should be removed.

Injury: Injury caused by such things as contact sports or an accident can cause any number of problems including a “bruised” or deep discoloring of the tooth, a broken tooth, or total loss of one or more teeth.

Temperature Sensitivity: When the underlying layer of the tooth, called the dentin, is exposed due to cracks in the enamel or the recession of the gums, your teeth may become sensitive to either hot or cold temperatures, or both.

Orthodontic Treatment: When your braces have been adjusted you are likely to experience some level of tooth pain. This is normal and using an over-the-counter pain medicine, or if the issue is caused by the hardware itself, a little ball of dental wax should do the trick.

Teeth Whitening: Most people will feel some minor discomfort after a professional teeth-whitening treatment, but the pain should resolve within a day. Talk to your dentist if it is too painful or problematic.

Tooth Pain Treatment in Columbus, GA

No matter what the reason, we know that living with tooth pain can be miserable, so stop asking, “Why do my teeth hurt?” and schedule an appointment with your dentist today. If you’re in the Columbus GA area, call our scheduling specialist at 706.407.4851 or contact us online to schedule with Dr. Caves. If you are experiencing pain, we will do our best to fit you in as soon as possible.

Posted in: Dentist Columbus Georgia, tooth pain

Get the Most Out of Your Dental Insurance Benefits

Insurance plans frequently include restrictions to shift the cost of dental care back onto you. However, the end of the year turns the tables and opens up an opportunity for you to get the most out of your insurance coverage. If you want more for your dental insurance dollar, here’s why you should schedule a dental appointment with Dr. Albert Caves of Columbus GA before the New Year.

Maximize Your Dental Insurance Benefits

  1. The Yearly Max

Dental insurance plans normally mandate an annual maximum coverage cap. This amount usually falls somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 per person, with the coverage amount renewing on January 1st. Since this amount resets with the New Year, it makes sense to attempt to use up to your maximum if you can.

  1. Overlapping Years

If you need a number of expensive dental procedures, it is possible to schedule them to start before – and complete after – the start of the New Year. In this way you minimize your out-of-pocket costs by dipping into the maximums of two benefit years.

  1. Taxes

If your employer has available as a benefit a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) to contribute to out of your pay on a pre-tax basis, it’s in your best interest to use your entire deduction amount for the year. If not, you will be giving up any FSA contribute you don’t use by the end of year deadline. If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), you are permitted to use the balance to improve your oral health without suffering any tax penalties.

  1. Deductibles

Most dental plans obligate you to pay up to a specific amount of money out-of-pocket before your benefits start paying for procedures. Once this amount has been met, you should consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Caves for any procedure you may have been putting off. After all, once January 1st rolls around, you’ll have to reach that deductible all over again.

  1. Monthly Premiums

If you pay monthly premiums for your dental insurance coverage, you should be using those benefits. Many people view dental insurance as a safeguard against high costs related to unexpected emergency dental procedures. However, even if you don’t currently have any serious dental concerns you need addressed, you should utilize your benefits to have routine services such as cleanings. This will expose minor issues before they become major ones.

  1. Fee increases

The ever-rising cost of materials, equipment and staffing, means that dentists must also raise their fees occasionally. As the New Year begins, dental offices often review their pricing to ascertain whether fee increases are needed to cover overhead. If you wait until after the New Year, you may be saddled with a higher co-pay. For this reason it’s a good idea to schedule your appointment in November or December, before any potential fee increases occur.

  1. Dental Problems Will Get Worse

While it’s not unusual to procrastinate about things we don’t want to do, especially when that thing is dental work that might be uncomfortable or costly, the vast majority of dental issues will only get worse with time. Delaying can lead to more discomfort and higher costs when you finally do seek treatment. If you see Dr. Caves now, before the end of the year, you are likely to pay less for your treatment. On the other hand, if you wait, you may have to pay more due to the problem being more serious or complicated and your dental insurance provider may not be willing to cover as much for a more complicated procedure that would not have been necessary if you’d had preventative care.

To learn more about the insurance and payment options accepted by Dr. Caves in his Columbus GA office, call 706.407.4851.

Posted in: HSA expenses

Toothbrush Care 101

Your toothbrush is inside your mouth for four minutes every day, so you need to make sure it’s clean, stored properly, and know when to retire it. Dr. Albert Caves of Columbus GA encourages you to take a look at the do’s and don’ts of how to care for your toothbrush so you can keep your smile healthy.

DO:

Rinse your toothbrush with tap water after using it. Leaving toothpaste residue on your bristles means that your brush won’t be clean for the next time you use it, and the rinsing will wash away the plaque that was just removed from your teeth.

Store the brush upright and open to allow it to air dry. This allows the excess water to run off so you won’t get mildew or bacteria growing on your toothbrush. Some bacteria die when exposed to air, so letting the brush air dry will take care of them!

Replace the toothbrush every 3-4 months- every six months  at most. Do it when you see your dentist for a regular cleaning so you remember. If you notice bristles coming off your brush, bending, or fraying, you should replace the brush then.

DON’T:

Don’t share toothbrushes with others- even family! Sharing toothbrushes allows for the transfer of germs and bacteria to others which risks not only your oral health, but the other person’s as well.

Don’t leave the toothbrush soaking in mouthwash or other sanitizing agents. This is unnecessary and could even be poisonous to you. Allowing the brush to air dry is effective for killing most bacteria.

Don’t store your brush in a closed container. While you may have heard that toothbrushes can be exposed to bacteria from the toilet, it’s still not wise to store them in closed containers. Sealing up your brush allows bacteria to flourish in the moist and enclosed environment, which would be harmful to your mouth and your health.

That being said, don’t store your toothbrush too close to the toilet either. Germs can indeed go airborne after your flush and could land on the toothbrush. Try to store it somewhere far away from the toilet but where it’s still able to air dry.

Toothbrushes do not need special treatment in order to keep them safe and sanitary. A good rinsing after use and allowing them to air dry is enough to keep your smile clean and healthy – just make sure you replace them regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

Posted in: oral hygiene tips

Getting To The Root Of Root Canals

Root canal: To merely name the procedure makes some people shiver. “I need to have a root canal done.” Someone complains and you answer: “Oh. I’m sorry.” However, if you were to inquire of most people what a root canal is or why they’re something to dread, you’re likely to get many different answers.  People tend to fear what they don’t understand. However, a little knowledge can help to light up the dark that is the fear of the unknown. So let’s take a few minutes to get to the root of the dreaded root canal.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal treatment, often simply referred to as a “root canal”, is necessary when the tissue inside your tooth, called the pulp, becomes infected. This can happen as a result of deep decay, also known as a cavity, or a chip or a crack in the surface of your tooth. This pulp infection can spread down through the root canals into the tissues of your gums, creating an abscess. This is a very severe and painful infection that can lead to other health complications.   

How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?

Signs that you may need a root canal include sensitivity of the tooth to hot and cold, sensitivity to touch or while chewing, and inflamed and sensitive gums around the tooth are all signs. Informing your dentist during your exam about these and any other symptoms you may be having. This will allow your dentist to decide if a root canal is necessary for your condition. Some dentists will perform their own root canals but others will refer you to an endodontist. An endodontist is a kind of dentist who specializes in treating the insides of your teeth.

A root canal treatment consists of your dentist or endodontist drilling into the crown of your infected tooth to remove the infected pulp from inside the tooth and the root canals. Our adult teeth no longer require the pulp as they continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissues. After the pulp has been removed, a biocompatible material temporarily fills the now-empty space inside your tooth until your dentist can begin the restoration. Where tooth decay may have degraded one of the roots and made the tooth unstable, a tiny metal rod may need to be installed in the root to hold the tooth in place in your gums.

The final stage of the process is restoration wherein a crown is created and placed over your compromised tooth. Your dentist or specialist creates the crown, an artificial tooth, matching it to the natural hue of your natural teeth, and uses it to seal up the tooth. The swelling of the inflamed tissues will go down and the “new” tooth can be used just like your natural teeth within several days.

Things to Know

Many people will choose to endure pain or have teeth pulled due to the belief that root canals will be painful or because they may have heard “horror stories” of complications from the procedure. Decades ago the procedure may have been painful, but with our modern technology and anesthetics, the procedure is only about as painful as having a filling installed.

Hopefully, the root canal isn’t so frightening anymore and you can see it for what it really is: a procedure designed to alleviate pain and save your natural teeth, helping you to chew properly and smile confidently. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and scheduling regular exams with Dr. Albert Caves are all important steps to avoid needing a root canal, especially if your teeth have recently developed any chips or cracks. But if you do need a root canal, now you know there’s nothing to fear.  To schedule with Dr. Caves today, call 706.407.4851 or schedule an appointment online.

Posted in: Uncategorized

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

If you cringe when you see someone bite into ice cream with their teeth because it gives you brain freeze, you probably have sensitive teeth. While everyone’s teeth are sensitive to extreme cold, some have more sensitivity to cold and hot foods. Did you know your sensitive teeth could be a sign of a more complex dental health concern? Columbus family dentist Dr. Albert Caves has some solutions for your sensitive teeth.

Teeth become sensitive when the dentin becomes exposed. Dentin is what your teeth are made of and it has tiny nerve endings. Normally, teeth have a layer of enamel that acts as a shield over them, but over time, this enamel wears away, and the sensitive dentin is exposed. There could also be a few other reasons you may have sensitive teeth.

Contact Dr. Caves if you think you have the following dental concerns:

Broken Teeth: Teeth are strong, but sometimes they break. When a tooth breaks, the dentin in the broken section is exposed, because enamel is only on the outside of the teeth. This exposed dentin is very sensitive to temperature and pressure changes, meaning that your morning cup of coffee might hurt more than usual.

Tooth Decay: Over time, the natural layer of enamel wears away. In addition to discoloration and stains, loss of enamel increases tooth sensitivity. Decay can be prevented by regular brushing, flossing, and in-office cleanings. Tooth decay can lead to further dental problems if left untreated, so be sure to visit Dr. Caves before the problem progresses.

Gum Disease: Just like our teeth, gums can decay over time. Bacteria builds up in hard-to-reach places like the back of the mouth and in between teeth near the gumline. When bacteria get to the gums, it can cause temperature and pressure sensitivity. Many Americans experience gum disease, and an easy prevention method is regular tooth brushing and flossing. Left untreated, however, gum disease can lead to health problems beyond the mouth.

Tooth sensitivity may be a warning sign of a more complex dental health concern. Dr. Caves will consult with you individually to diagnose complex dental issues early and find the most conservative, comfortable treatment possible. Schedule an appointment online or call 706.407.4851 today!

Posted in: Columbus Dentist, Cosmetic Dentistry, Family Dental Care, General Dentistry, oral health, Tooth Decay, tooth pain

Are Dental Veneers Right For Me?

Teeth do a lot of work for us. Digestion starts in the mouth when we chew our food, and over time our teeth can develop battle scars in the form of gaps, cracks, minor misalignment, or discoloration. Instead of having separate cosmetic procedures to fix these issues, dental veneers might be a good option for you.

Porcelain veneers can be used to repair chipped, discolored, cracked or broken teeth. Porcelain veneers are thin, porcelain ceramic covers that are permanently bonded to the front and sides of your teeth. Dr. Caves can work with you to create natural looking, durable porcelain veneers that blend with your natural smile.

When teeth start to look less bright and white, many people choose at-home or in-office teeth whitening services. Dental veneers are made of medical-grade porcelain, which lasts longer against acidic or pigmented foods like sugar, fruit, coffee, and wine. They don’t absorb those pigments or erode as quickly as natural enamel, so you won’t have to worry about teeth whitening for a long time!

If you’re keeping your smile to yourself because of small gaps, minor misalignment, or chips in your teeth, veneers may be worth considering. Instead of extensive (and expensive) orthodontic work, veneers are designed to fit on top of existing teeth, creating an enhanced version of your natural teeth. Each dental veneer is customized to the individual, and Dr. Caves consults with each patient individually, so our team can ensure your veneers are perfect for you and your needs.

There are some dental problems that you may want to discuss with Dr. Caves before having porcelain veneers placed on your teeth. If you often grind your teeth (bruxism), veneers may not be the best option. While they’re sturdy, they’re more prone to breaking off with too much grinding.

Patients with sensitive teeth should also discuss directly with Dr. Caves. Some patients have experienced increased tooth sensitivity because installing veneers requires removal of a thin layer of natural enamel. While dental veneers act as armor against further tooth decay, more enamel loss on already-sensitive teeth may require a different approach such as composite bonding.

To learn more about whether porcelain veneers are right for you, schedule an appointment with the family dentist office of Dr. Caves in Columbus, GA. Call 706.407.4851 or schedule an appointment online today.

Posted in: Columbus GA Dr. Albert Caves, Cosmetic Dentistry, Cosmetic Dentistry Columbus

Why do I wake up with a headache?

Do you wake up with daily headaches? 

Woman with a Headache treatment for tmj and teeth grinding columbus ga dentistRecurring headaches can be indicative of a serious dental health concern. TMJ is a chronic pain disorder that often results in recurring headaches.  Finding the right dentist with the appropriate training can help you find relief. Dr. Albert Caves helps patients with jaw pain and headaches diagnosis the root cause of their discomfort allowing for more precise and effective treatment. 

Columbus, GA dentist Dr. Albert Caves is highly trained and experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. Utilizing the latest technology and techniques, Dr. Caves is able to diagnose and treat TMJ with more accuracy. 

TMJ is most common in women aged 20 to 40.

TMD encompasses a wide range of issues that cause dysfunction and discomfort in your jaw and bite. TMJ is a complex disorder that requires an accurate diagnosis to allow for effective treatment.  Symptoms of TMD can vary in severity and can worsen over time. Dr. Caves encourages patients to seek help as soon as they notice signs of TMJ. D

Signs You May Have TMJ

  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Sore jaw or jaw pain
  • Neck or shoulder pain
  • Poor range of motion in the jaw joints and/or locking jaw
  • Popping noise in the jaw joint
  • A pressure in the ear or earaches

 TMJ Treatment Columbus, GA 

There is no one cause for TMJ making it a complex condition to diagnose and treat. Every case and treatment plan is as unique as the patient. Dr. Caves will help you identify the underlying cause of your jaw joint discomfort so that he can recommend a treatment plan that will provide long-term relief. Taking the time to discuss your treatment options and incorporating your personal goals and budget, your dentist will build a TMJ treatment plan that fits your lifestyle and offers lasting results.

  • Oral Sleep Appliance or Splint:  A dental splint or an oral sleep appliance is an effective and conservative treatment option often reccomened for reducing TMJ headaches.  Dr. Caves will custom fit a dental appliance that will bring your teeth and jaw joints into proper alignment allowing the jaw to rest while you sleep.  Over time the facial muscles begin to heal and relax easing tension headaches and other painful symptoms. The custom oral appliance fits securely and comfortably into your mouth allowing for higher compliance rates and improved results. 
  • Bite Correction Procedures: For patients with advanced malocclusion or damaged teeth or gums, Dr. Caves may suggest more in-depth treatments such as bite adjustment, orthodontics or even dental restorations such as dental crowns or veneers to fully restore your smile. 

You do not have to live with chronic headaches and facial pain.  If you think you may be suffering from a TMJ disorder find relief with help from our Columbus, GA dentist office.  Schedule a consultation with Dr. Caves in our Columbus dentist office. 

 

Posted in: Dentist Columbus GA, facial pain, General Dentist Columbus, General Dentistry

Can I Brighten My Teeth With Teeth Whitening?

Teeth Whitening Columbus GA Yes, professional teeth whitening can be a quick, effective solution to brighten discolored and stained teeth. Dr. Albert Caves offers a full range of cosmetic dentistry services to enhance the appearance of damaged or healthy teeth. Dr. Caves offers professional teeth whitening as an effective solution for addressing stained or discolored teeth.

To determine if professional teeth whitening is right for you, contact our Columbus, GA dental office. Dr. Caves will work with you to provide the right solution to safely and effectively brighten your smile.

Is teeth whitening effective?

Yes, professional teeth whitening can be effective for whitening stained or discolored teeth. We use professional grade bleaching agent to safely whiten discolored multiple shades in just one visit to our Columbus, GA dental office. Patients also have the options of take-home teeth whitening treatment to safely and gradually whiten their teeth on their own time.

How do I maintain my teeth whitening treatment?

Teeth whitening can be maintained by performing your normal oral hygiene routine. Patients should brush their teeth twice a day, floss daily, and use an antibacterial rinse. Visiting the dentist at least twice a year can help keep your teeth healthy and functional. In some cases, Dr. Caves may provide take-home teeth whitening trays for routine touch-ups.

Is teeth whitening right for me?

Dr. Caves will perform a full comprehensive exam to determine if professional teeth whitening is the right cosmetic treatment for you. Certain stains cannot be treated with professional teeth whitening. In advanced cases, Dr. Caves may recommend porcelain veneers or dental bonding to address the appearance of stained or discolored teeth.

What are my options to brighten discolored teeth?

Depending on the condition of your teeth and your dental goals, Dr. Caves may suggest porcelain veneers or dental bonding to address stained or discolored teeth. Dr. Caves will work with you to determine the best options for your smile.

How do I schedule an appointment?

If you would like to explore your cosmetic dentistry options, contact our Columbus, GA dental office. Dr. Caves is an experienced, trusted dentist dedicated to helping you achieve your ideal smile.  To schedule an appointment, call 706.407.4851 or schedule an appointment online.

Posted in: teeth whitening