Lake Oconee Dentistry - March 2019

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES

EXPLORING IRISH CULTURE

Ever experience discomfort in your jaw joint while chewing or opening your mouth? If so, you’re not alone. Of all the hinging points in your body, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ, commonly called the “jaw joint”) works harder than any other. Due to its connection to the trigeminal nerve — the largest of 12 cranial nerves that run throughout the upper and lower jaws and into the teeth, eyes, and even the tongue — the smallest misalignment can have a significant impact on the rest of the system. There are numerous conditions that may lead to TMJ pain, many of which become more prevalent as we age. These conditions include tooth movement, injury, craniofacial muscle spasms, and rheumatic disease. The good news is that these issues often resolve on their own. If you suspect you have TMJ issues, there are some steps you can take at home to relieve the discomfort. • Apply moist heat to the side of the face, particularly just in front of the ear, where the TMJ is located • Make a conscious effort to keep your face relaxed, with lips together and teeth apart • Eat softer foods • Take small bites and chew with both sides of the mouth Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to mean heading to the local Irish bar and drinking a large green beverage. If you’re not interested in going out this year and would prefer to do something at home with the family, here are a few ways everyone can celebrate. IRISH-THEMED FOOD What better way to get festive than by making some St. Patrick’s Day-themed dishes? You can make rainbow cupcakes, green cookies, St. Patrick’s Day popcorn, or — for a more traditional dish — Irish soda bread. You can also cook up an array of greens for dinner on March 17, which could include Brussels sprouts, spinach, cucumbers, green beans, peas, or asparagus. A MISCHIEVOUS LEPRECHAUN To treat your kids to a fun game, leave green footprints around the house and participate in impish tricks! Empty a tissue box, hide the remote, swap out regular light bulbs with green ones, or draw rainbows on the windows. You’re only limited by your imagination. MANAGE YOUR JAWPAIN

Another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your family is to sit down and read about Irish culture with your kids. Learn where the legend of the leprechaun came from or read other stories from Irish folklore. You can also watch videos of Irish dance performances and

encourage the kids to make their own. There’s also fascinating history on St. Patrick and why he became the patron of the holiday that your family members can research together. If you have Irish roots, tell your kids about your heritage.

WATCH IRISH MOVIES For a relaxing activity, settle down in front of the TV for a movie night filled with films related to Irish culture. Try “The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Luck of the Irish,” or “The Secret of Kells.” MAKE AN IMPACT Teach your kids how to be “greener” this month by doing more for the environment. Discuss ways to save energy and water in the home, and talk about the importance of taking a break from electronics and enjoying the outdoors.

Tips for Easing the Symptoms of TMD

• Don’t rest your chin in your hand • Don’t bite hard objects, such as pencils, fingernails, cuticles, etc. • Don’t hold your phone between your neck and shoulder • Avoid excessive or extensive movements of the jaw, such as big yawns or chewing gum • Practice stress-relieving techniques

• Do gentle jaw stretches or jaw massages. One approach is to place your thumb or fingertip in the small “notch” located about one inch in front of your ears and on the underside of the cheekbone. Gently pressing inward and upward in this spot and rubbing in soft circular motions may provide some relief. If your TMJ pain continues, there are other options for treatment, including occlusal splints, which can help the jaw settle back into the proper position. Dental adjustments, pain medication, and Botox can also be viable options, however, these approaches

should only be considered after assessing all of the pros, cons, and risks with your dentist.

Excerpted from “The Smile Secret: Your Guide to a Healthy Smile and Healthy You,” by Drs. David and Patti Bradley. If you’d like a copy, feel free to stop by the office or mention it at your next appointment.

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