Questions about the dental health for you and your family may be very important to your overall health. The mouth often foretells other health problems. In this column Dr. Gary will share with you his expert opinion regarding your oral or dental health questions. Ask Dr. Gary anything related to your dental health or your child's at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Ask Dr. Gary."
Q. I often wakeup with head pain and pressure by my eyes; could this be from a dental problem?
A. Any time teeth make contact – except when chewing and swallowing – it puts excessive pressure on them and the jaw joint (temporomandibular). If you are aware of this clenching and grinding, your mantra should be “lips together, teeth apart.” However, nocturnal teeth grinding cannot be controlled and therefore a custom-fitted night mouthpiece (an appliance or occlusal guard) should be used at night to minimize TMJ stresses that cause headaches and head pain, and other body discomfort.
Q. I had braces when I was very young and stopped wearing a retainer many years ago. Now I’ve noticed my teeth drifting apart. What can I do about it?
A. Teeth have a memory and want to revert to where they were initially. They also naturally move towards the midline of the mouth over time, perhaps due to wear of the side surfaces of the teeth. With clear plastic retainers placed over the teeth, they can be easily and gently repositioned to where they were, eliminating spaces and overlaps. Most likely the use of a retainer throughout life, especially at night, is recommended.