My Blog

Posts for: March, 2017

By Phillip S. Tully III DMD
March 30, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral hygiene   braces   orthodontics  

There are a few things you need to do — and not do — while wearing braces: avoid hard or sticky foods, for example, or wear protection during sports to avoid injury. There's one important thing, though, that should be at the top of your list — extra attention to daily brushing and flossing.

The fact is your risk for developing tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease increases during orthodontic treatment. This is because the braces make it more difficult to reach a number of locations around teeth with a toothbrush or floss. Bacterial plaque, the source for these dental diseases, can subsequently build up in these areas.

Teen-aged orthodontic patients are even more susceptible to dental disease than adults. Because their permanent teeth are relatively young they have less resistance to decay than adults with more mature teeth. Hormonal changes during puberty also contribute to greater gum disease vulnerability.

There are some things you can do while wearing braces to avoid these problems. Be sure you're eating a nutritious diet and avoid sugary snacks or acidic foods and beverages (especially sports or energy drinks).  This will deprive bacteria of one of their favorite food sources, and the minerals in healthy food will contribute to strong enamel.

More importantly, take your time and thoroughly brush and floss all tooth surfaces (above and below the braces wire). To help you do this more efficiently, consider using a specialized toothbrush designed to maneuver around the braces. You might also try a floss threader or a water irrigator to remove plaque between teeth. The latter device uses a pressurized water spray rather than floss to loosen and wash away plaque between teeth.

Even with these efforts, there's still a chance of infection. So, if you notice swollen, red or bleeding gums, or any other problems with your teeth, visit us as soon as possible for an examination. The sooner we detect and treat dental disease while you're wearing braces, the less the impact on your future smile.

If you would like more information on taking care of teeth while wearing braces, 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 “Caring for Teeth During Orthodontic Treatment.”

By Phillip S. Tully III DMD
March 15, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Exchanging passionate kisses with big-screen star Jennifer Lawrence might sound like a dream come true. But according to Liam Hemsworth, her Hunger Games co-star, it could also be a nightmare… because J.Law’s breath wasn’t always fresh. “Anytime I had to kiss Jennifer was pretty uncomfortable,” Hemsworth said on The Tonight Show.

Lawrence said the problem resulted from her inadvertently consuming tuna or garlic before the lip-locking scenes; fortunately, the two stars were able to share a laugh about it later. But for many people, bad breath is no joke. It can lead to embarrassment and social difficulties — and it occasionally signifies a more serious problem. So what causes bad breath, and what can you do about it?

In 9 out of 10 cases, bad breath originates in the mouth. (In rare situations, it results from a medical issue in another part of the body, such as liver disease or a lung infection.) The foul odors associated with bad breath can be temporarily masked with mouthwash or breath mints — but in order to really control it, we need to find out exactly what’s causing the problem, and address its source.

As Lawrence and Hemsworth found out, some foods and beverages can indeed cause a malodorous mouth. Onions, garlic, alcohol and coffee are deservedly blamed for this. Tobacco products are also big contributors to bad breath — which is one more reason to quit. But fasting isn’t the answer either: stop eating for long enough and another set of foul-smelling substances will be released. Your best bet is to stay well hydrated and snack on crisp, fresh foods like celery, apples or parsley.

And speaking of hydration (or the lack of it): Mouth dryness and reduced salivary flow during the nighttime hours is what causes “morning breath.” Certain health issues and some medications can also cause “dry mouth,” or xerostomia. Drinking plenty of water can encourage the production of healthy saliva — but if that’s not enough, tell us about it: We may recommend switching medications (if possible), chewing xylitol gum or using a saliva substitute.

Finally, maintaining excellent oral hygiene is a great way to avoid bad breath. The goal of oral hygiene is to control the harmful bacteria that live in your mouth. These microorganisms can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath — so keeping them in check is good for your overall oral health. Remember to brush twice and floss once daily, stay away from sugary foods and beverages, and visit the dental office regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.

So did J.Law apologize for the malodorous makeout session? Not exactly. “[For] Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, yeah, I’ll brush my teeth,” she laughed.

Hemsworth jokingly agreed: “If I was kissing Christian Bale I probably would have brushed my teeth too. With you, it’s like, ‘Eh. Whatever.’”

If you would like more information about bad breath and oral hygiene, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More than Just Embarrassing.”

By Phillip S. Tully III DMD
March 06, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj   jaw pain  

If you are experiencing periodic jaw pain, the cause might be TMJ disorder. TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. TMJ disorder jaw painoccurs when these joints become irritated, which causes pain and discomfort in the jaw area. Fortunately, there are treatments that can alleviate the pain or for long-lasting relief. For treatment of TMJ disorder in Columbus, GA, Dr. Phillip Tully can help. He treats TMJ and provides a variety of family dentistry services, as well.

What is TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joints are irritated. These are the joints that connect the jawbone to the skull on each side of the head. Joint irritation can affect one or both joints in TMJ patients. Additionally, patients with TMJ disorder often experience a locked jaw sensation in which they cannot fully open their mouth. TMJ disorder can develop after sustaining an injury to the jaw or following the onset of arthritis. Other causes include stress, genetics and constantly grinding the teeth or clenching the jaw.

Symptoms of TMJ

There are several symptoms associated with TMJ disorder. In addition to the jaw area, pain or discomfort can be felt in the eyes, ears, mouth and neck. Headaches can also occur in conjunction with TMJ. Some specific symptoms that can occur with TMJ include:

  • Headaches or pain in the temple
  • A shooting pain up the back of the head
  • Ear aches or ear pain not due to an infection
  • A ringing or buzzing sensation in the ears
  • Jaw joints that click, pop or grind together
  • Frequent grinding or clenching of the teeth
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Shoulder aches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • A locked jaw
  • Inability to open the mouth all the way

Treatment of TMJ

In Columbus, TMJ disorder can be treated by an experienced dentist. Once the dentist confirms a TMJ diagnosis, they will discuss treatment options. The dentist can evaluate your condition and determine which treatments are most appropriate. Medications or heat and ice therapy are often recommended to alleviate the pain and discomfort that occur during a TMJ flare-up. To correct TMJ problems and prevent future flare-ups, the dentist can fit you with a Gelb appliance to improve jaw alignment.

There are a variety of factors that can cause TMJ disorder. No matter what the cause, the pain and discomfort of TMJ can be unbearable for those who suffer with it. Fortunately, treatments such as the Gelb appliance can provide long-lasting relief from TMJ related pain and discomfort by repositioning the jaw joints. For treatment of TMJ in Columbus, GA, contact the office of Dr. Tully by calling (706) 323-6491.