My Blog

Posts for: November, 2017

By Healthwest Dental Associates
November 25, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmd   tmj   jaw pain  
JawPainDisordersCouldbeRelatedtoOtherBodyConditions

As many as 36 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of chronic jaw pain. What’s more, many of these may also experience other painful conditions like arthritis or chronic fatigue in other parts of their body.

Chronic jaw pain is actually a group of difficult to define disorders collectively referred to as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD or also TMD). TMD not only refers to pain symptoms of the temporomandibular (jaw) joints but also of the jaw muscles and surrounding connective tissue. Most physicians and dentists agree TMD arises from a complex range of conditions involving inheritable factors, gender (many sufferers are women of childbearing age), environment and behavior.

A recent survey of approximately 1,500 TMD patients found that nearly two-thirds of them also suffered from three or more related health problems like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, depression and problems sleeping. The understanding of TMD’s connection with these other conditions is in its early stages of research, but there’s avid interest among healthcare providers to learn more and possibly devise new treatments for TMD in coordination with these other related conditions.

In the meantime, TMD patients continue to respond best with the traditional approach to treatment, including physical therapy, thermal (hot or cold) compresses to the area of pain, medication and modifying the diet with more easier to chew foods. In extreme cases, jaw surgery may be recommended; however, success with this approach has been mixed, so it’s advisable to get a second opinion before choosing to undergo a surgical procedure.

Hopefully, further study about TMD and its connection with other conditions may yield newer treatments to ease the pain and discomfort of all these conditions, including TMD. You can stay up to date on these and other developments for coping with the discomfort of TMD at www.tmj.org and through your healthcare provider team.

If you would like more information on TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”


By Healthwest Dental Associates
November 10, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
26MillionFansLikeJustinBiebersChippedTooth

Is a chipped tooth big news? It is if you’re Justin Bieber. When the pop singer recently posted a picture from the dental office to his instagram account, it got over 2.6 million “likes.” The snapshot shows him reclining in the chair, making peace signs with his hands as he opens wide; meanwhile, his dentist is busy working on his smile. The caption reads: “I chipped my tooth.”

Bieber may have a few more social media followers than the average person, but his dental problem is not unique. Sports injuries, mishaps at home, playground accidents and auto collisions are among the more common causes of dental trauma.

Some dental problems need to be treated as soon as possible, while others can wait a few days. Do you know which is which? Here are some basic guidelines:

A tooth that’s knocked out needs attention right away. First, try and locate the missing tooth and gently clean it with water — but avoid holding the tooth’s roots. Next, grasp the crown of the tooth and place it back in the socket facing the correct way. If that isn’t possible, place it between the cheek and gum, in a plastic bag with the patient’s saliva or a special tooth preservative, or in a glass of cold milk. Then rush to the dental office or emergency room right away. For the best chance of saving the tooth, it should be treated within five minutes.

If a tooth is loosened or displaced (pushed sideways, deeper into or out of its socket), it’s best to seek dental treatment within 6 hours. A complete examination will be needed to find out exactly what’s wrong and how best to treat it. Loosened or displaced teeth may be splinted to give them stability while they heal. In some situations, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.

Broken or fractured (cracked) teeth should receive treatment within 12 hours. If the injury extends into the tooth’s inner pulp tissue, root canal treatment will be needed. Depending on the severity of the injury, the tooth may need a crown (cap) to restore its function and appearance. If pieces of the tooth have been recovered, bring them with you to the office.

Chipped teeth are among the most common dental injuries, and can generally be restored successfully. Minor chips or rough edges can be polished off with a dental instrument. Teeth with slightly larger chips can often be restored via cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. When more of the tooth structure is missing, the best solution may be porcelain veneers or crowns. These procedures can generally be accomplished at a scheduled office visit. However, if the tooth is painful, sensitive to heat or cold or producing other symptoms, don’t wait for an appointment — seek help right away.

Justin Bieber earned lots of “likes” by sharing a picture from the dental office. But maybe the take-home from his post is this: If you have a dental injury, be sure to get treatment when it’s needed. The ability to restore a damaged smile is one of the best things about modern dentistry.

If you have questions about dental injury, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Repairing Chipped Teeth” and “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”


By Healthwest Dental Associates
November 09, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures

Dental implants can restore your smile and replace missing teeth. They're also vital for reinforcing your jawbone. Your dentists dental implantsin Dothan, AL, Dr. Paul Hufham and Dr. Bayne Heersink are here to help and advise you!

What's a dental implant?

If you're suffering from tooth loss, it's vital to deal with this problem as soon as possible. Tooth loss can lead to the deterioration of your jawbone without the support it needs. Dental implants replace the tooth root to prevent your jawbone from weakening.

What are the advantages of dental implants?

  • They can last a lifetime if cared for properly.
  • They don't slip out of place like dentures, which makes them comfortable and practical.
  • They provide your jawbone with the support it needs so that it doesn't shrink.
  • They are used to fill a single gap in your teeth, a few gaps, or all of your teeth.
  • Dental implants look natural and can give you a beautiful smile.
  • You won't have to worry about being able to bite into and chew your favorite foods.

What does the procedure consist of?

If you decide to get a dental implant, here's what you need to know about the process:

  • A local anesthetic is applied to the area that will undergo the procedure.
  • Your dentist will insert a titanium post into the jawbone. The titanium post acts as the new tooth root and is biocompatible, so there is no worry of tissue rejection.
  • The doctor will then surgically close the area and allow it to heal for a period of 3 to 6 months, while the process of osseointegration takes its full course.
  • When you return, your Dothan, AL, dentist will re-open the area, insert an abutment and place a crown over the abutment that matches the rest of your teeth.

If you have questions or concerns, Dr. Paul Hufham and Dr. Bayne Heersink can help you out. Call their office, located in Dothan, AL, to make an appoint today!