What is Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

What Are the Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (a.k.a. TMJ Disorder or TMD) is a broad term that refers to a variety of issues or dysfunctions that affect the temporomandibular joint’s ability to function properly, often resulting in dental migraines and pain around the jaw, face or neck.

How Do I know If I Have Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

The mandible (lower jawbone) is connected to the skull via the temporomandibular joint. Acting as a hinge, the temporomandibular joint is responsible for the movements necessary to perform daily tasks such as talking, chewing and even yawning. When the temporomandibular joint is not functioning properly, it results in the clashing of teeth, lock-jaw, dental migraines and strained muscles. Other signs and symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction may include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Extreme discomfort when yawning
  • A clashing of teeth when chewing
  • Difficulty or a strained sensation when opening your mouth
  • Facial swelling, particularly around the jaw area or near the temporomandibular joint
  • Pain around your jaw joint(s), face, neck and shoulders
  • A grating or clicking sensation (or even a popping sound) when moving the jaw
  • Lock-jaw that occurs when the mouth is open or closed
  • Reccurring headaches or migraines that always seem to appear first thing in the morning
  • Facial swelling, especially around the jaw area

What Causes Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?

Covered in cartilage and separated by a small disk that acts as a shock absorber, the temporomandibular joint utilizes both a hinge action and sliding motion to facilitate the smooth, natural movements of the mouth.
When the shock-absorbing disk experiences malalignment or erodes, or if the cartilage that covers the joint is damaged as the result of arthritis or trauma, painful symptoms may begin to manifest. It should be noted, however, that oftentimes the exact cause of temporomandibular joint dysfunction is not clear, even to experienced medical professionals.

Additionally, there are no standardized tests that can accurately diagnose the exact cause of your temporomandibular joint dysfunction so the most likely course of action your medical professional will take is to note your symptoms, examine any particularly painful areas and take a detailed medical history. They may even recommend that you have specialized imaging done, such as x-rays or an MRI, in an attempt to identify what the possible causes of your TMJ pain may be.

What Can I Do to Manage My TMJ Pain?

Thankfully, the vast majority of temporomandibular joint dysfunction cases are not serious. In fact, many individuals suffering from TMJ pain can benefit greatly and reduce their pain levels quite significantly with a number of basic lifestyle changes and self-care remedies, including:

  • Applying ice or heat to the specific pain points
  • Eating only soft foods
  • Avoiding any extreme jaw movements (exceptionally wide yawning, loud singing, etc.)
  • Incorporating relaxation and stress-relieving techniques into your daily routine, to reduce the frequency or severity of teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Not chewing gum
  • Avoiding clenching or tensing the jaw

It is important to keep in mind that every case of temporomandibular joint dysfunction is different and it takes a qualified dentist to properly diagnose and successfully treat TMJ. Smilecreator of Naples has helped many find relief who have suffered from this condition.

Stop living with the pain of TMD, contact Smilecreator of Naples today for a temporomandibular joint dysfunction diagnosis and an individualized treatment plan. (239) 564-3100

What is Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy (LAPT)?

Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy – What to Expect

Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy (a.k.a. LAPT) treats periodontal diseases using a new, state-of-the-art laser technique. We do not use scalpels and there are no sutures used with laser gum treatment; instead this groundbreaking procedure utilizes the Denmat Sol Laser, so any fears you may have of gum disease treatment are, quite simply, unfounded when it comes to laser gum treatment. LAPT is the safest, cleanest and most pain-free treatment for gum disease available.

Dr, Nilo Hernandez is trained in the latest Laser Periodontal Therapy™ techniques for the treatment of gum disease, like periodontitis and gingivitis. This new LAPT gum treatment is pain free, highly effective and a great treatment option to consider.

How Does LAPT Laser Periodontal Treatment Work?

The bacteria that are responsible for gum disease live inside your tissues. The Sol laser selectively targets the main bacteria responsible for periodontitis. An excess build-up of tartar or calculus is linked to inflamed gums that often bleed during routine brushing or flossing. During the traditional treatment of periodontal gum disease, calculus or tartar is removed from the tooth’s root surface using a small ultrasonic scaler or hand instruments. Thanks to technological advancements, laser gum treatment is much gentler (and more effective) than traditional scalings alone.

Bone reshaping and replenishing procedures utilize the laser of the Denmat Sol to destroy and disinfect the entirety of the infected gum tissue and root surface. The laser’s energy targets the tooth and gum with pinpoint precision and eliminates the infection. During the laser gum treatment, the Denmat Sol laser eliminates the bacteria associated with gum disease by gently removing small amounts of diseased gum tissue. Once the procedure is completed, your gums will begin to heal naturally and quickly.

Is LAPT Laser Periodontal Treatment Painful?

While the Laser Periodontal gum treatments are painless, we likely will still utilize a local anesthetic to ensure the most comfortable treatment of your gum disease possible. More often than not a simple topical anesthetic spray is all that is required, and any post procedure discomfort you may experience will only last a short period of time.

How Much Time Does the Laser Gum Treatment Take?

Every patient, and every case, is different. The length and complexity of your Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy treatment will depend on both the severity of your periodontal disease, as well as the degree of treatment your particular case of gum disease requires. As a general rule, successful treatment of your gum disease generally takes one or more visits to the office for treatment; the extent of your treatment will, inevitably, be reflected in the cost of your periodontal disease treatment.

Dr. Nilo will discuss with you the details of various treatment options for your gum disease, individual laser gum treatment plans, LAPT Laser Periodontal Surgery and periodontal disease treatment costs, well in advance of any sort of procedure, to determine the best course of action for your particular case.

Compared to Traditional Gum Surgery, Is LAPT Laser Periodontal Surgery More Costly?

The costs vary greatly depending on the severity of the gum disease, the number of visits necessary for successful treatment, the patient’s ability to submit to appointments and whether or not insurance is a part of the equation. That being said, you can expect the costs associated with your LAPT periodontal disease treatment to be generally similar to traditional types of gum surgery. Laser gum surgery for the treatment of gum disease is usually considered a normal periodontal disease treatment cost by most insurance companies.

However, there are a variety of factors in the treatment of gum disease that can affect the end cost of laser gum surgery. Many insurance plans have periodontal disease treatment cost coverage, so your insurer will pay a portion of your laser gum surgery costs. You should discuss your payment options with our dental office, as we do provide periodontal disease treatment cost financing options for both laser gum treatment and laser gum surgery.

What is Root Canal Therapy?

Root Canal Therapy – What to Expect

Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?

Over the years, root canal therapy (also known as endodontic therapy or endodontic treatment) has gotten a very bad rap. For millions of American adults, the words “root canal” often conjure up images of a grotesquely invasive and very painful procedure that many people attempt to avoid at all costs, even when that means putting their own oral and general health at risk!

The fact is that the negative or scary aspects that we associate with root canals are likely based off of experiences people had decades ago and are simply no longer true today in modern dentistry. The “good ol’ days” really were not all that good when it came to the world of dentistry. Anesthetics were neither readily available, nor were they used often. Many of the bad experiences or horror stories people have heard regarding root canals (like stories of patients having to submit themselves to torturous procedures with no anesthetic) come from the relatively distant past and are no longer rooted in reality. Today, nearly all patients who undergo root canal therapy experience a simple and painless procedure that utilizes all the new technologies and methods that modern dentistry has to offer.

Why Would I Need Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy is necessary when the dental pulp (soft tissue located inside the root canal, containing blood vessels and nerves) becomes inflamed or infected. This inflammation and/or infection of the dental pulp may occur for a number of reasons; the most common causes are deep cavities, cracked and chipped teeth or a serious injury to the tooth that resulted in pulp damage.

If left untreated, the inflammation or infection of the dental pulp within just one tooth can spread to the surrounding tissues, resulting in pain, swelling and even severe bone damage. Simply put, without root canal therapy the infection will continue to spread and one or more teeth may need to be removed.

What Can I Expect During (and After) Undergoing Root Canal Therapy?

The truth of the matter is that a root canal procedure is actually rather comparable to having a cavity filled.

Your endodontist or dentist will start by examining the infected tooth and administering a local anesthetic, numbing the tooth and surrounding areas. A small opening is made in the crown of the tooth and a series of very small, virtually unnoticeable instruments are used to remove all the infected dental pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals. After the infected pulp is removed the space is then cleaned and shaped in preparation for filling.

Next, your dentist or endodontist will hermetically fill the sterilized area with a rubber-like, biocompatible product known as gutta-percha, held in place by medical-grade adhesive cement, and place a temporary filling to cover the opening.

Most root canals procedures will require a second visit, so the temporary filling can be removed and replaced with a crown to securely seal off the opening and finish the process. Because the unrestored tooth is very susceptible to cracking and fracturing, it is very important to avoid chewing or biting with the treated tooth until your dentist has completed the restoration.

After undergoing root canal therapy, it is normal to experience mild pain within the treated tooth and surrounding areas for a few days. However, if this pain becomes worse or persists for more than 3 days you should contact your dentist for a follow-up appointment.

Most teeth treated with root canal therapy will last as long as your natural teeth and (with proper oral hygiene routines) will continue to live problem-free for years to come!

The Aging Face & Bone Loss

The Aging Face

Humans are an evolving species. Both intellectually and physically, the human body is in constant evolution. No two people are exactly the same and no one person will ever stay the same.

This is also true for our most precious, unseen commodity; our skeleton. The jaws are comprised of these bones as part of our overall skeleton. So, it reasons that with age, this skeleton will also evolve or in reality; will degrade.

This degradation is what in dentistry we refer to as progressive bone loss. It interferes with the patient’s self-esteem, with correctly fitting dentures and also with a more simplified approach to corrections of missing teeth.

In fact, much can be done by educating the public in ways to preserve this bone and allow for better structures, more youthful smiles and obviously a simpler approach if there was a need to correct a missing tooth or teeth situation.

The Aging Face

This is the TRUE amount of bone that is lost in many patients using full or complete dentures. They will wonder “why” the dentures move around, feel loose and they have difficulties chewing and keeping them secured.

The facial and jaw bone serve as the “tenting” or support for our facial skin. This support is what many refer to as a youthful look and many are spending thousands of dollars having their faces rebuilt while ignoring one the real causes of the aging and wrinkled look.

Dentistry for years would create plastic dentures and while the patient would wear them, they would look more youthful and complete. While the moment they came out, the face would shrivel and wrinkle with an apparent transformation to a much older looking person.

The pictures below depict a face without dentures or teeth and the next with dentures in “supporting” the facial skin. Notice it is the same person, at the same moment in time. The only difference is one has jaw support thereby assisting the skin from collapse.

With and Without Dentures

Implant Dentistry has come to the rescue of this degradation. Where implants are placed and activity within the bony structures is again present… bone will be preserved and a more youthful appearance will emerge.

Patients from all walks of life will fall victim to this phenomenon with the removal of teeth. Modern dentistry has created pathways to preserve, rejuvenate and re create the facial structures for a more youthful and functional appearance.

Advanced methods are available to regenerate lost or missing bone and gums…  Smilecreator of Naples specializes in dental implants and oral surgery.  Call us for a consultation to evaluate your situation and how we can help.

The Benefits Of Dental Implants

The Benefits of Dental Implants

Do you have missing teeth or loose Dentures? Are you thinking about Dental Implants?

Dental Implants are often necessary for a variety of reasons, some cosmetic, others as a result of an injury, tooth decay, periodontal disease or just natural reasons that result in losing teeth. Losing natural teeth can have a negative impact on daily life and often result in a loss of confidence. No matter what the reason may be, we have a permanent solution for you!

Cosmetic issues are not the only reason why you should consider dental implants:

  • You may have problems speaking clearly which can become frustrating for you.
  • Missing 1 tooth or more can result in misaligned teeth causing problems in the future.
  • You may not be able to chew your food properly which may lead to undernourishment.
  • You may have difficulty drinking which could lead to occasional dehydration.
  • Dental Implants can prevent bone loss and jaw collapse.

Dental implants can last a lifetime and will help you regain the ability to eat, chew, talk and return your natural smile! This functionality gives you back a significantly healthier mouth and also restores your confidence.

Dental Implants have changed the face of dentistry over the last 25 years. The practice of implant dentistry requires expertise in planning, surgery and tooth restoration, it is as much about art and experience as it is about science. Dr. Nilo Hernandez provides you with the knowledge and treatment plans you will need to make informed decisions based on what the best options are for you.

Are you a good candidate for dental implants?

  • Are you self-conscious about your smile?
  • Are your partial dentures uncomfortable or unsightly?
  • Do you want to avoid a permanently fixed bridge?
  • Do you want to avoid dentures down the road?
  • Are you having difficulty eating or drinking and digesting food?

If you are uncomfortable wearing loose dentures, we have solutions for you that will permanently secure your dentures. Call us for more information!

Dr. Nilo Hernandez has over 25 years experience, has performed over 15,000 dental implants and has a high success rate.

Call us for your consultation at (239) 564-3100.

Smilecreator Of Naples

Mouthwash vs Flossing

Mouthwash vs Flossing

Can Using A Mouthwash Replace Flossing?

Dentists and hygienists are often challenged with answering this question. Can rinsing with Listerine or a similar product, completely substitute flossing?

Even though this question is not as stimulating, or entertaining as “what came first, the egg or the chicken?” question, there is still scientific debate around it. As with most controversial dental topics, there are two sides of the coin. There is research that supports mouthwash, and there is research that supports flossing.

Recently, there was a summit at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), where two clinical trials demonstrated the effectiveness of rinsing. Their research showed that Listerine Antiseptic Mouthrinse is at least as good and effective, if not better, than flossing. These findings were in regards to improving overall gingival health and reducing plaque in patients. The highlight of the studies was that Listerine is particularly more effective in areas of the mouth where flossing devices find it hard to reach.

One key finding presented at the IADR annual meeting demonstrated that Listerine and flossing are clinically comparable in regards to controlling interproximal gingivitis. Both study groups had to rinse or floss twice a day. In addition, both groups were brushing their teeth twice a day. As a result, the use of antiseptic mouthwash achieved more or less the same effect on reducing plaque accumulation as regular flossing.

Why Flossing Is Better!

There are, of course, those who claim that rinsing cannot compare to flossing. A factual statement asserts that string flossing involves mechanical scraping, and mouth rinse does not. For this reason, products such as Listerine are only capable of softening the plaque. This process would still kill some microorganisms, but the debris of the plaque will remain.

Proponents of flossing entertain the thought that only mechanical debridement has the ability to completely remove accumulated plaque. Mouthwash rinses may be able to kill the bacteria that reside on the surface of the plaque. However, it will have zero to no effect on the bacteria and microorganisms that live inside the dental plaque.

Scrubbing with a string floss completely decomposes the bacteria’s microcosm. This means that the little buggers need to start rebuilding their colony all over again. It is those colonies that cause the most damage to teeth and dental oral health as a whole.

Interestingly enough, in 2005 there was a legal court case that addressed the “mouthwash rinse vs flossing” question. U.S. District Judge Denny Chin found Listerine’s advertisement claiming that mouthwash was as effective as flossing to be false. As a result, advertising campaigns asserting that rinsing with Listerine is good enough to replace string floss were deemed misleading.

The main reason why people choose to rinse, rather than floss, is because it is easier. String flossing can be time-consuming. Also, some research has shown that only about 5 percent of people who floss, actually do it right. This is why there are so many studies that easily and readily discredit flossing.

For instance, not too many people know that they need to hook the floss like a “C” around the tooth. This is to ensure that all plaque is removed from hard to get spots.

Rinsing with mouthwash, on the other hand, is easy and simple. There is nothing that you can get wrong.

Clearly, there are dental health benefits to using antiseptic mouthwash. But, our advice is, do not stop flossing. Instead, try and improve your oral health by rinsing with Listerine after you are done flossing.

You can try using your Waterpick in order to substitute both those options. This is done by mixing Listerine and water within the reservoir of your water flosser. There are no studies to show the effectiveness of this method. But, there are many reviews online to suggest that people have been using this technique with success.

If we can answer any questions regarding your dental health, call us at (239) 564-3100.

Older Adults Have An Increased Risk for Gum Disease

Older Adults Have An Increased Risk for Gum Disease

Did you know that one in 5 Americans over the age of 65 are experiencing untreated tooth decay (also referred to as cavities or caries)?

When cavities and gum problems are left untreated, teeth can become painful, loose, or broken. In some cases, these issues make it harder to eat and may even cause changes in physical appearance. Many may feel less productive or experience low self-esteem because of poor oral health.

We’re fortunate to live at a time when adults are less likely to lose their teeth as they age. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that tooth decay and gum disease – two of the most common mouth diseases – remains a risk, especially for older adults.

Risk Factors for Older Adults

If you’re a senior, several things may put you at an increased risk for tooth and root decay. Here are some of the most common:

  • Receding gums. As we age, many people experience receding gums. This can expose the root surfaces of the teeth, leaving them vulnerable.
  • Dry mouth. Seniors are also more likely to experience excessive dry mouth, which can be caused by certain medications. Saliva is important for protecting your teeth from bacteria – having less of it puts you at increased risk for cavities.
  • Limited dexterity, mobility, and tolerance of stress. Many seniors experience health challenges that can create obstacles for maintaining good oral hygiene, visiting a dental office, or tolerating treatment. In some cases, you may need a caregiver to help maintain daily self-care and to ensure you receive regular oral exams and other preventive

These factors might explain why approximately 50% of people over age 75 have root cavities affecting at least one tooth, and why about 25% of seniors have experienced bone loss around the teeth as a result of advanced gum disease. Without early intervention, these issues become increasingly difficult to treat.

Another issue affecting the oral health of older adults is that, compared to younger generations, seniors experienced higher rates of dental cavities and tooth removal as young adults. This history can lead to greater challenges for dental treatment later in life.

No matter your age, you can always take steps to improve your oral health. Brush and floss daily, and make sure to keep up with your regular dentist visits, including cleanings, exams, and X-rays.

If we can be of any assistance with your oral health, or if you just have questions call us at (239) 564-3100

Smilecreator Of Naples, Dr. Nilo Hernandez


Source: Tooth Wisdom Oral Health For Older Adults

Eating Ice cream or hot food shouldn’t hurt.

Eating Ice Cream Shouldn't Hurt

Sensitive teeth is actually a very common problem and can come and go over time. The Academy of General Dentistry reports that there are approximately 40 million adults in the United States that experience tooth sensitivity. The good news is, it can be treated!

What causes sensitive teeth? There could be a number of underlying dental problems.

  • Tooth erosion due to highly acidic foods and beverages.
  • Tooth decay, worn leaky fillings and broken teeth that expose the dentin of your tooth.
  • Sensitive teeth can be caused by worn tooth enamel from using a firm toothbrush or from brushing aggressively.

Diagnosis starts with your dentist and should be as soon as possible in case you do have tooth decay. The type of treatment will vary depending on what is causing the problem and we may suggest a variety of treatments.

A few things we may suggest if you don’t have any serious dental problems:

  • Use a Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth.  If you have sensitive teeth, you may need to change the toothpaste you use. Toothpaste specifically made for sensitive teeth contains ingredients such as potassium nitrate and fluoride that will protect your teeth and reduces discomfort.
  • Lighten up on the grip when brushing. Brushing your teeth with too much pressure can do more harm than good. Aggressive brushing can wear down the protective layers of your teeth over time which can cause sensitivity. To prevent further harm to your teeth, brush your teeth gently with a soft-bristle brush.

If you have any dental concerns, please call Dr. Nilo Hernandez at Smilecreator Of Naples at (239) 564-3100.

5 Things You Should Eat Or Drink.

5 Things You Should Eat of Drink

Choosing the right food & drinks for your oral health.

Some people don’t realize that eating the right foods can do almost as much good for you as brushing & flossing your teeth. Some food or drink choices can actually help your oral health. Here are 5 things you should eat or drink.

Let’s start with a daily life necessity – water. Rinsing your mouth with water not only cleans your mouth so that your saliva can actually nourish your teeth, water also hydrates your gums and helps to wash away any food trapped between your teeth to avoid plaque. The bacteria in plaque can cause tooth decay or gum disease.

Dairy products such as a light or Greek yogurt or milk are low in acidity and sugar making them a great choice for a healthy snack. Stay away from the sweet yogurts to avoid tooth decay. Milk is rich in calcium, which means you are fortifying teeth and bones while refueling during the day.

Lean Protein such as chicken and turkey are rich in phosphorus. Calcium combines with phosphorus and Vitamin D to produce our teeth and bones. Make sure you get enough protein daily for a number of reasons.

Vegetables – of course, we will say eat your veggies! Broccoli and carrots are rich in Vitamin A from which tooth enamel forms and if you eat them raw you will get even more Vitamin A, as well as clean your teeth and massage your gums. Celery is another great choice as a snack,  eating it uncooked will not only massage your gums but clean your teeth! Celery also induces the production of saliva which will neutralize the bacteria that cause cavities.

Green Tea has a well-deserved reputation for providing many benefits. Green tea offers natural antioxidant compounds that prevent plaque from accumulating on your teeth, therefore reducing the risk of cavities and bad breath. Some green teas also contain fluoride that can further prevent tooth decay, just make sure you check the label before you buy and don’t load it up with sweetener. Green tea is a refreshing treat any time of the day!

If we can answer any of your questions regarding oral health or dental hygiene, please call our office at (239) 564-3100.

Smilecreator Of Naples, Dr. Nilo Hernandez

Why Should You Consider Invisalign?

Why Should You Consider Invisalign

Is Invisalign treatment right for you? For many people, the answer is yes. Invisalign treatment is a popular solution for both teens and adults looking for a virtually invisible option to improve their smile!

What is Invisalign treatment?
Invisalign treatment is the process of wearing a series of clear, removable aligners that gradually straighten your teeth. No brackets and wires, and none of the restrictions that come with metal braces.

What should you expect during the office consultation?
We will discuss what you like and don’t like about your smile, your teeth-straightening goals and we will examine your smile to determine your specific needs. We will also talk about how quickly you can achieve your new smile, as well as treatment cost and provide financing options if needed. We may also recommend a dental checkup and cleaning before you begin your Invisalign treatment to make sure your teeth and gums are in top health and to avoid unnecessary risks.

How will Invisalign treatment straighten your teeth?
Dr. Nilo Hernandez at Smilecreator Of Naples will create a unique, digital treatment plan that maps out the exact movements of your teeth. Your Invisalign clear aligners are then designed to apply the right amount of force to the right place at the right time based on your plan. We will be with you every step of the way to monitor your progress and ensure your aligners fit correctly.

What are the primary benefits of Invisalign treatment?
Invisalign clear aligners are virtually invisible, most people may not even notice you’re wearing them. You can remove them anytime, so go ahead and enjoy that special treat if you want to!  There are no metal brackets or wires that could irritate your mouth or any limits of what you can or cannot eat or drink.

What is the treatment process?
Invisalign treatment starts with an in-office consultation, we will evaluate your smile and then map out a precise, customized digital treatment plan that showcases the step-by-step transformation of your new smile. Once you approve your plan, your unique aligners will be created. You will wear each set of aligners for 20 to 22 hours per day, changing to a new set of aligners every 1 to 2 weeks, as directed by Dr. Nilo Hernandez.

How long will treatment take?
The length of your treatment depends on multiple factors, such as how complex your case is and how often you wear your aligners. We will determine exactly how long your treatment will take based on your specific needs and goals. On average, Invisalign treatment takes 12 to 18 months, you may even start seeing results in a matter of weeks.

How often should you change your aligners?
Based on your individual treatment plan, we will talk about how often you should change to new aligners. We may recommend changing weekly or every other week.

How many hours per day should you wear the aligners?
For the best results, we suggest you wear your Invisalign clear aligners 20 to 22 hours per day, taking them out just for eating, drinking, brushing, and flossing or for a special occasion.

How often will you need to see Dr. Nilo Hernandez?
We will schedule regular appointments, usually every 4-6 weeks and will do our best to accommodate your schedule. The goal of the regular visits is to ensure your Invisalign treatment is progressing as planned.

If we can answer any additional questions, please call our office at (239) 564-3100.

Smilecreator Of Naples, Dr. Nilo Hernandez