TMJ: What it is and How to Treat it

Jaw pain can be unbearable and, if your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) hurts, it could affect your day-to-day life. While the causes of TMJ pain are relatively uncertain, the treatment options for the issue are well known. Relieving your TMJ pain is essential as it can have a number of adverse effects on your life.

Here at Pryor Family Dental in Van Buren, MO, we aim to provide everyone in Carter County with the dental treatments they require. While we specialize in dental implants, we provide a variety of services including TMJ pain treatment options. Before you call to schedule your appointment, let our knowledgeable staff fill you in on TMJ pain.

TMJ Pain

TMJ pain is one of the worst issues to live with. While we aren’t sure what causes the TMJ to hurt, there are a number of reputable theories out there. Some of the commonly attributed causes of TMJ pain are:

  • Grinding Your Teeth: When you grind your teeth, your TMJ is clenched. Over time, this can lead to increased pain in the joint.
  • Whiplash: Injury to your jaw or neck have also been thought to cause TMJ pain.
  • Arthritis: Another commonly attributed cause of TMJ pain is arthritis to the joint. Arthritis can cause joint pain and can be treated with medication or physical therapy.
  • Stress: When under a great deal of stress, we often tighten our facial and jaw muscles and clench our teeth.

Avoiding grinding your teeth and taking the proper precautions can help you avoid TMJ pain, as can arthritis treatment and relieving stress. But even then, TMJ pain may still occur. If it does, we here at Pryor Family Dental can help treat the issue in our Van Buren dental office.

TMJ Treatment Options

If you are suffering from TMJ pain, then you understand exactly how difficult it can be to live with. Daily activities like chewing and even talking become painful tasks. Alleviating your TMJ pain is crucial to getting back to living a healthy and normal lifestyle. Some of the common treatment options for TMJ pain are:

  • Botox: Believe it or not, Botox is an effective treatment option for TMJ pain. Botox works to suppress the central nervous system, which can cause joint pain as well as chronic headaches.
  • Medications: Ibuprofen is effective at reducing pain to the TMJ. Other medications such as painkillers and antidepressants are also effective but require a prescription.
  • Mouthguards: Occlusal splints, also known as dental mouthguards, can help position the teeth in a way that stress is not directly applied to the TMJ.

Pryor Family Dental Can Help

Suffering from TMJ pain can be a distressing issue, but with the right precautions it can be avoided. If you are suffering from the issue, however, Pryor Family Dental is here to help. We offer several treatment options for TMJ pain including Botox. You can contact our Van Buren, MO dental office here or call us at 573-323-4787 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Pryor today!

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Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures

As we get older, it can become more difficult to practice good oral hygiene habits. This can lead to tooth loss in many older dental patients, which can lead to greater difficulties.

Patients lose teeth for a variety of reasons. Tooth decay and dental diseases are typically the most common reasons for extensive tooth loss, however, there are many reasons why teeth fall out. Regardless of how your teeth have fallen out, we can help restore your teeth with implant supported dentures.

Here at Pryor Family Dental, we specialize in dental implants, which can help keep your dentures in place better. Before you come get your implant supported dentures, though, let us fill you in on the benefits they can have on your life.

The Procedure

Getting implant supported dentures follows a similar procedure process as having dental implants placed. The only major difference is the abutments placed on the implants once they have bonded to the jaw bone. Rather than placing a false tooth atop the implant, either a ball-and-socket attachment or a bar retainer that snaps on to the dentures can be installed for a more secure fit.

Having dental implants installed, however, can be a time extensive process that requires multiple surgeries to place. First, holes must be drilled into your jaw bone to create a resting place for your dental implants. Once the implants have been installed, they will require a few months to bond to the jawbone through a process known as osseointegration. Once this is complete, your abutments can be placed and your implant supported dentures can be worn.

Benefits of Implant Supported Dentures

Implant supported dentures can have a plethora of advantages over traditional dentures, including the ability to have your teeth remain in place. Some other benefits of implant supported dentures are:


  • Improved Appearance: Dentures can make it appear as though you have never lost a tooth. Implant supported dentures, however, takes it a step further and make it so you don’t even realize your teeth are missing by restoring functionality to your mouth.  
  • Improved Speech: Since implant supported dentures are able to clip into place, they are less prone to fall out while you’re talking. This makes it easier for you to talk without worrying about your teeth flying out of your mouth.
  • Improved Self-Esteem: Many older patients with dentures feel self-conscious about their dentures, but implant supported dentures can improve your self-esteem since they look like real teeth. Additionally, since they can be fastened to your implants, you won’t have to be embarrassed about your teeth falling out.
  • Improved Chewing Ability: By securing your denture to your mouth, your ability to chew is improved. Without teeth, chewing is virtually impossible, and while traditional dentures can improve your ability to do so, implant supported dentures are your best option.

If you are in need of implant supported dentures, or any of the other services we offer at our Van Buren, Missouri office, you can contact us here or call us at 573.323.4287 to schedule an appointment today.

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Sedation Dentistry and Dental Implants

Missing a tooth can be a burden. It makes brushing and flossing difficult and chewing can be painful. Unfortunately, many patients who are missing a tooth put off getting the issue corrected because of dental anxiety.

Here at Pryor Family Dental, we understand dental procedures like dental implants can be a nerve-wracking experience. We want you to be as comfortable as possible while we place your dental implant, which is why we offer sedation dentistry services to our patients. The sedation method we use is the ever popular nitrous oxide sedation, also known as laughing gas.

Sedation Benefits

Nitrous oxide is incredibly efficient at eliminating a patient’s dental anxiety. But reducing anxiety levels is not the only benefit of sedation dentistry, especially when dental implants are being installed. Some of these added benefits of sedation dentistry are:


  • Comfort: Nitrous oxide increases the patient’s pain threshold, making their dental visit more comfortable. This will also make the overall procedure much easier on Dr. Christy Pryor as well as yourself.  
  • Fewer Appointments: When you are sedated during a dental visit, you can typically tolerate longer treatment periods. This means what used to take two or three appointments can now be done in one!
  • Saves Money: While sedation services cost extra, fewer appointments will end up saving you money in the long run. Additionally, you won’t have to take as many days off work.
  • Better Treatment Quality: A relaxed and comfortable patient makes life easier on Dr. Pryor. With nitrous oxide, we won’t have to worry about your gag reflex or movements. Instead, we can focus solely on the procedure.
  • No Memory of the Procedure: Many patients have no memory, or little memory of their dental procedure when sedation is used. This can help with your anxiety for future dental visits.

Impact on Dental Implants

As you can tell, nitrous oxide can be incredibly beneficial for many different types of services. If you are in need of a dental implant, sedation dentistry might be a good option for you. Many patients are anxious about having dental implants placed since the procedure takes several months, there are multiple surgeries, and the implant needs to be placed in your jaw bone.

With sedation dentistry, dental implants are no longer scary. If you are in need of a dental implant and would like nitrous oxide to be administered, you can contact us here or call us at 573.323.4287 to schedule an appointment.

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Bone Grafting for Dental Implants

Patients with missing teeth usually require dental implants to replace their missing teeth. Preserving your natural teeth is crucial to maintaining the functionality of your mouth. However, in instances where natural teeth have fallen out, dental implants are your best option for restoring strength to the affected areas.

Some patients are able to have dental implants installed with ease, but some patients do not have the jaw bone strength to support the implant. This is not all that uncommon, and if this occurs our supportive staff here at Pryor Family Dental can perform a bone graft for your dental implants to help reinforce the bonding area. If you are missing a tooth and require a dental implant, we can determine whether you will need a bone graft first.

The Process

Requiring a bone graft is not uncommon among dental implant patients. When teeth are lost, the root can no longer stimulate the jaw bone. Over time, this causes the bone to deteriorate. Bone grafts can help reinforce the bone and give the dental implant a place to rest until the live bone is able to replace the bone grafted piece.

We can use your own bone or a bovine bone sample as the graft material. Regardless of which, we can use one of our three bone grafting procedures to replace your missing bone: the socket graft, block bone graft, and sinus lift procedure. Which of these three procedures you receive will depend on your circumstances and what your surgeon recommends.

Benefits of Bone Grafting

While the most obvious benefit of bone grafting for dental implants is the ability to have the functionality of your teeth restored with ease, there are many other benefits as well. Some of these benefits are:

  • Reinforcement: Eventually, your natural bone will begin to replace the grafted bone. However, until this occurs, the grafted bone will be able to provide support for the dental implant.
  • Restored Strength: When you’re missing a tooth, the jaw bone below your gums will slowly start to deteriorate. Having dental implants placed can stimulate the jaw bone and promote bone growth.
  • Aesthetics: Having a bone graft performed allows dental implants to replace missing teeth and improve the appearance of your smile. Additionally, faces with weak jaw bones look prematurely aged. Restoring the strength of the jaw bone can help you look younger again.

If you are missing a tooth and are in need of a dental implant, Dr. Christy Pryor can help determine whether you require a bone graft first. You can contact us here or call us at 573.323.4287 to schedule an appointment.

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The Truth About Root Canals

Fear. Anxiety. Regret. These are all feelings patients often get when they learn they have an infected root canal and require endodontic therapy, also known as root canal therapy. There are a lot of myths and half-truths about root canal therapy out there, some of which can be harmful to your health. Here at Pryor Family Dental, we decided to spread the truth about root canal therapy to better educate our patients and bust some of the long-standing myths about root canal therapy.

Myth 1: Root Canal Therapy is Painful

One of the biggest myths surrounding endodontic therapy is that the procedure itself is inherently painful. This has caused many people to put off getting root canal therapy performed, which can cause greater issues like the spread of the infection. The truth is, root canal therapy is not itself painful but rather its the infection inside the dental pulp that causes the pain.

Since many people believe the procedure itself is painful, many dentists offer sedatives to their root canal patients to help them relax before the procedure. Here at Pryor Family Dental, we offer nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, as our sedation dentistry method of choice.

Myth 2: Extraction is a Sound Alternative

Many patients believe that having the damaged tooth pulled, or extracted, is a better way to treat your root canal infection. The truth is that it is always best to save as much of your natural tooth as possible, and since extraction means removing the entire tooth, it is not an efficient alternative.

This myth stems from the fact that many people believe root canal therapy is simply a temporary fix. However, in the last ten to twenty years, the success rate of root canal therapies have improved dramatically. In fact, many root canal therapies are made to last a lifetime, making it a cost-effective way to save an infected tooth.

Myth 3: Root Canal Therapy causes Illnesses

Sometimes, patients who need a root canal research the procedure on the internet and find distressing information telling them that root canal therapy can lead to adverse health problems like kidney disease and heart disease. Sometimes, these websites recommend having the tooth extracted rather than to have root canal therapy performed. This, however, is actually the opposite of the truth.

Having a tooth extracted is a traumatic experience which allows more bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Root canal therapy, on the other hand, removes the infection from the dental pulp inside of the canal, decreasing your risk for a more serious infection.
If you are in need of root canal therapy, or any of the other services we offer here at Pryor Family Dental, you can contact us here or call us at 573.323.4287 to schedule an appointment.

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Cleaning Around Braces

While protecting your teeth from cavities, decay, and the risk of needing dental implants is often an easy task, having braces can make that task more difficult and less effective. The wires and brackets that make up braces leave many hard-to-reach areas throughout your mouth. These small spaces make brushing less effective and raise your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. That’s why it’s important to use the right brushes and utensils to thoroughly clean around braces and keep your teeth healthy.

At Pryor Family Dental, we know the importance of maintaining a good dental hygiene routine. When braces are a factor, keeping your teeth clean and plaque free can save you from future problems. As teeth decay and the health of your gums decreases, dental implants may be necessary. When tooth loss does occur, we’ll be here to help with our dental implants service. But in the meantime, we’ll fill you in on the importance of cleaning around braces and how to do so.

The Right Utensils

The first step in effectively cleaning around your braces is using the right utensils. As mentioned, braces make regular brushing and flossing difficult tasks. A regular toothbrush can’t reach the small areas your braces create, and flossing can be a pain. Below are some utensils you can use to thoroughly clean your teeth in the presence of braces:

  • Spiral Brushes: Shaped like a Christmas tree, spiral brushes are designed to reach in between brackets and under the wires of your braces. These are also great for bringing on the go, so you can clean your braces after meals or snacks.
  • Floss Threaders: Flossing can be a pain with or without braces, but floss threaders are great for patients with braces. You can easily thread through brackets and floss as you normally would.
  • Water Flossers: A great and effective alternative to regular dental floss, water flossers use a pressurized stream of water to clean the gaps between your teeth and are perfect for cleaning around brackets.

The Right Diet

In addition to using the right utensils to clean around braces, eating right and avoiding harmful foods and beverages also plays an important role in maintaining healthy teeth. It’s always important to protect the enamel of your teeth, especially if you have braces. There are many highly acidic foods and drinks that wear down tooth enamel. Here are just a few to avoid:

  • Soda
  • Sports Drinks
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Pickles
  • BBQ Sauce

When tooth enamel does begin to erode, your teeth are put in jeopardy. Cavities will begin to form, then tooth decay takes hold. Aside from the damage to your teeth, without proper care, your gums can suffer as well. All of these factors can lead to tooth loss and, ultimately, the need for dental implants.

Whether you need a simple cleaning or dental implants, Pryor Family Dental can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment and remember to keep those teeth clean!

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Maintaining a Perfect Smile

At Pryor Family Dental, we care about our patients and the health of their teeth. We know the many factors that can lead to tooth decay and, ultimately, the need for dental implants. While we specialize in repairing damaged smiles with dental implants, we’d like our patients to know how to avoid problematic teeth.

From a thorough oral hygiene routine to avoiding harmful foods and habits, there’s a number of ways you can keep your teeth clean and your mouth healthy. Lack of proper care poses a threat to both your teeth and gums, increasing your risk of cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay. Let Pryor Family Dental fill you in on maintaining a perfect smile.

Proper Care

The first step in maintaining a beautiful smile is keeping your teeth clean. While brushing your teeth removes plaque, debris, and bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth, toothbrushes can’t reach every area of your mouth. As you’ve probably heard many times before, flossing is just as important as brushing. Flossing removes harmful substances from between your teeth that a toothbrush won’t.

Of course, we know flossing can be a difficult and even painful task, which is why so many patients skip flossing. However, water flossers are a great alternative to regular dental floss and are proven to be more effective. Brushing and flossing should be done at least twice a day. We even recommend doing so between meals or after exposure to the potentially harmful foods discussed below.

Foods and Habits to Avoid

In addition to brushing and flossing your teeth, it’s important to refrain from eating a number of foods as well as avoiding some habits that can damage teeth. Take a look at the list below to see what you should avoid:

  • Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits and juices, such as lemons and oranges, are highly acidic and pose a serious threat to your tooth’s enamel.
  • Sticky Candy: Sticky and chewy candy like caramel and taffy remain on our teeth for longer, allowing the bacteria in our mouths to feed on the sugar and produce harmful acids that wear down tooth enamel.
  • Biting Non-edibles: Aside from the damage presented by the foods above, you can harm your teeth from chewing on hard objects like pens. Biting these objects puts pressure on your teeth and can cause them to crack or chip.

Though avoiding these harmful foods and habits, as well as brushing and flossing daily, will protect your teeth from decay and other damage, we recommend patients visit the dentist at least twice a year. Dr. Pryor and her friendly staff will give you a thorough cleaning and check for any signs of tooth decay. In severe cases, we can replace heavily damaged teeth with the best dental implants around. Contact us today to schedule and appointment and maintain your perfect smile.

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Tooth Decay: Cause and Effect

When it comes to tooth decay, the list of causes is seemingly endless. From the foods you eat to a lack of cleaning, there’s a variety of factors that pose a threat to the health of your teeth. Whichever it may be, proper care for your teeth can reduce your risk of tooth decay and eliminate the need for dental implants.

Your teeth consist of three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. Without proper care, each of these layers can be damaged, ultimately leading to decay. At Pryor Family Dental, we know the importance of protecting every layer of your teeth, but not every patient does. We’ve compiled a list of causes to ensure our patients know the severity of tooth decay and how to avoid it.

Common Causes

Like we said, there are numerous foods, drinks, and other factors that lead to tooth decay. By avoiding these, in addition to a thorough dental hygiene routine, you can fight off tooth decay and keep your smile healthy and clean. Take a look at some common causes of tooth decay below:

  • Lack of Brushing and Flossing – Brushing and flossing remove plaque and harmful bacteria from the surface and gaps of your teeth. The plaque and bacteria that remain on your teeth will ultimately cause decay.
  • Sugar-filled Foods – The bacteria in your mouth feeds on the sugars found in candy, soda, fruit juices, and much more. If you have trouble avoiding these, be sure to brush and floss after eating for drinking.
  • Lack of Fluoride – Fluoride helps your teeth fight off acids from plaque. While it can be found in water supply, fluoride toothpastes are a great option for your teeth.
  • Dry Mouth – Much like fluoride, the saliva in your mouth helps rid your teeth of sugars and protects tooth enamel.
  • Tobacco – Whether it’s smoking cigarettes or chewing tobacco, it’s harmful to both your teeth and gums. Tobacco not only discolors teeth, but also can result in tooth loss and even mouth cancer.

Effects of Tooth Decay

Though cavities are often easily repaired with fillings, treating more severe forms of tooth decay is not so simple. These more in-depth treatments may require more trips to the dentists, more money, and even tooth extraction. Here is a short list of treatments for tooth decay:

  • Crowns – In less severe cases, crowns are used to replace part of the damaged tooth.
  • Root Canals – A more invasive treatment, root canals remove infected pulp from your tooth, requiring a hole to be drilled into your tooth.
  • Dental Implants – When a tooth is severely damaged by decay, it will need to be extracted and replaced with a dental implant.

Tooth decay can have damaging effects on your teeth and calls for professional treatment. Fortunately, Pryor Family Dental specializes in dental implants. We care about the health of your teeth and strive to provide our patients with the best care possible. If you’re concerned about the health of your teeth, contact us today. We are more than happy to help.

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Invisalign Benefits

Traditional braces are effective at repositioning and realigning a patient’s teeth, but metal braces are not necessary for everyone. If there is mild to moderate crowding or mild to moderate spacing of the patient’s teeth, a sound alternative to metal braces is the Invisalign clear alignment trays method.


  • Comfort- Invisalign trays are made of an elastic thermoplastic that is designed to fit over your teeth comfortably. If the Invisalign clear alignment trays cause irritation to your gums, you can remove them easily. Also, since Invisalign trays are specially designed for your teeth, they will fit your mouth perfectly and do not require tightening appointments, saving you the discomfort of having braces repositioned or tightened. Metal braces can often cut the gums and inside of the mouth, with Invisalign you don’t have to worry about this discomfort.
  • Convenience- Because Invisalign trays are removable, eating is more convenient. With traditional braces, certain foods, like popcorn or seeds, can get stuck in the metal causing an unscheduled dental check up to clean out the braces. With Invisalign you never have to worry about missing out on your favorite foods, just remove the tray and enjoy your meal.
  • Easier Treatment- Invisalign trays do not require extensive dental appointments because they don’t need to be tightened or cleaned. With Invisalign, all you have to do is wear your clear alignment tray for two weeks straight then go to Dr. Pryor’s office in Van Buren, MO to get your next alignment tray. Each tray needs to be worn for at least 20 hours every day for two weeks. Overall, Invisalign trays need to be worn for a little over a year, shortening the treatment time of traditional braces by as much as one year.
  • Appearance- One of the best parts of Invisalign is that, just like the name suggests, they are invisible. The clear alignment trays are much less noticeable than traditional metal braces, allowing you to feel less self-conscious about the appearance of your teeth.
  • Realignment- Despite all of these benefits, Invisalign would be worthless if it did not realign the teeth properly. Because each Invisalign set is molded specially for your teeth they will realign your teeth to the final position that will best serve your mouth.

If you are interested in Invisalign or any of our other services you can make an appointment here or by calling our office at 573.323.4287.

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Dr. Christy Pryor
511 West Elsie Street
Van Buren, MO 63965
Call: 573-323-4287
Fax: 573-323-8120

The Misch International Implant Institute™ was developed in 1984 to help set and elevate the standard of care in implant dentistry using a hands-on approach. Now world renown, the Institute’s goal is to remain at the forefront of implant dentistry through research, education and its unique clinical applications. Using these tools and a well-trained faculty, the Institute is able to provide its students with the most progressive and documented information.