Are you searching for a treatment for your child who suffers from chronic bed-wetting and/or ear infections? Are you among the millions of people who suffer from chronic tension headaches? You should know your dentist may play a role in finding a solution to these ailments. Are you avoiding the dentist because you know you'll be at the opposite end of a dentist's drill? Thanks to technology, there are new treatment options for dental problems that at one time only a drill would cure. Below is a sampling of dental health advancements general dentists will learn about when they converge in Nashville, July 17-20, 2003, for the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) 51st Annual Meeting. For patients, this means AGD members will offer the latest in dental health technology, knowledge and treatment.
Bed-wetting, Ear Infections and the Mouth
Bed-wetting is the most common urological disorder among school-aged children, and 10 to 15 million children regularly suffer from ear infections. When traditional medicine does not offer a cure, these medical issues are often unresolved. Now, new research confirming a direct connection between chronic conditions such as bed-wetting and ear infections and the size and position of the jawbone, reveals other treatment options exist.
"Children with a small or poorly positioned jaw and breathing airways tend to suffer from bed-wetting or ear infections," explains Derek Mahony, DDS, MS and AGD member, who is presenting research at the AGD's 51st Annual Meeting. "Breakthrough dental procedures, which involve using orthodontics to widen the jaw and airway or re-align the jaw among children who suffer from either or both conditions, have been shown to reduce the occurrence or cure the problem completely."
According to Dr. Mahony, parents of children who suffer from either of these conditions should consider orthodontic treatment as opposed to traditional medication or ear tubes. "More research is needed to pinpoint why this is effective," says Dr. Mahony. "What we do know is that orthodontic treatment works and costs much less than other treatment alternatives."
A Pain in the Brain
Of the 46 percent of women and 38 percent of men who regularly suffer from tension headaches, many may not realize the source of head pain may be directly linked to the mouth. Rather than reaching for a bottle of painkillers, people who suffer from tension headaches should consider reaching for their phone�and calling their dentist.
Tension headache sufferers often blame headaches on a stressful day or a bad night's sleep, according to Keith Yount, DDS and AGD member. But when the headaches consistently keep coming back, dentists can help investigate the real source of the pain to determine a diagnosis. "A dentist can look in a patient's mouth and tell by how the jaw is positioned or by how the teeth are aligned whether or not the mouth may be the source of the pain," explains Dr. Yount, who is presenting his findings at the AGD's 51st Annual Meeting.
Nearly two-thirds of tension headache sufferers clench or grind their teeth, which is known to trigger a headache. The size, position and movement of the jaw muscles also is a factor, which is why 70 percent of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) patients complain of this problem. "Although the medical community has a role in helping patients identify and cure headache pain, the dentist's office should be their first stop on the way to becoming headache-free," says Dr. Yount.
Drill-Less Root Canals?
Dentists are now able to offer their patients a faster, less expensive and drill-free alternative to a traditional root canal. Michael Teitelbaum, DMD, FAGD, and AGD member, is at the forefront of performing a cutting-edge bonding technique that could vastly decrease the more than 14 million root canals performed every year.
"Bonded direct pulp capping" is an alternative for patients whose tooth nerve is still alive after decay removal. The dentist covers the nerve with a plastic substance similar to contact lens material, which forms an airtight seal, creating a "direct pulp cap."
"The procedure eliminates the need for a root canal over 90 percent of the time, while also eliminating the need for any further follow-up procedures," according to Dr. Teitelbaum, who will present the process at the AGD's 51st Annual Meeting. "Drill-less root canals are quickly gaining popularity among both the dental community and patients because it gives many patients a new and better option."