Caring for a Dental Leaf Gauge

February 21, 2024 Lee Ann Brady

Caring for a Dental Leaf Gauge 

Lee Ann Brady, DMD 

In the Pankey Essentials courses, we use dental leaf gauges to train dentists in how to feel for the first point of occlusal contact, as a method for occlusal deprogramming, and as a tool for articulating models on an articulator in centric relation. Dental leaf gauges not only assist us in diagnosis and treatment planning but also in enabling our patients to discover the nature of their occlusion as we help them understand how malocclusion can manifest in TMD symptoms, parafunction, tooth damage, and more. 

In our Essentials 1 course, I am sometimes asked how to take care of leaf gauges, so I thought I would share my answer.  

Although they don’t last forever, dental leaf gauges do last a long time and you can autoclave them between uses. When you sterilize them, the leaves become sticky, so I separate them like a hand of cards before putting the gauge in the autoclave bag and separate them again when I take them out of the bag just before going to the mouth. 

Over time, with use, a leaf gauge will start to look a little beat up. I’m looking at one now. The Teflon screw that holds it together has turned color from going through the autoclave. I can see some ink stains from Madame Butterfly silk. It’s at the point where I think it looks too grungy to keep using. Although it might continue functioning for quite some time, I’m going to toss it and use a new one. After all, they are relatively low cost with a high return on investment.  

I’ve never seen a dental leaf gauge break after many trips through the autoclave. I tested cold sterilizing one and discovered the chemistry in the ultrasonic cleaner started to make the leaves brittle and they came out stickier than when autoclaved. So, my preference (and the protocol in my practice) is to bag them and put them through the autoclave. 

Related Course

TMD & Orofacial Pain: Managing Complex Patients

DATE: January 29 2025 @ 8:00 am - February 2 2025 @ 1:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 37

Dentist Tuition: $ 7200

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

TMD patients present with a wide range of concerns and symptoms from tension headaches and muscle challenges to significant joint inflammation and breakdown. Accurate thorough diagnosis is the first step…

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Restorative Notes on Bonding to Sclerotic Dentin and Removing All-Ceramic Crowns

February 7, 2024 Lee Ann Brady

Restorative Notes on Bonding to Sclerotic Dentin and Removing All-Ceramic Crowns 

By Lee Ann Brady, DMD 

Bonding to Sclerotic Dentin 

Bonding to sclerotic dentin is difficult, if not close to impossible. If the lion’s share of the tooth’s surface is sclerotic, you may not have the longevity that you’re hoping for. I’m specifically thinking of some lower anterior restorative cases I’ve seen over the years, where the veneers just haven’t held up and we’ve had to go to full coverage. 

I don’t trust some of the self-etching adhesives to result in a strong bond on sclerotic dentin, even the newer ones in the eighth generation. Fortunately, one thing we don’t need to worry about is sensitivity because the dental tubules are closed. Since I’m not worried about sensitivity, I can apply the same techniques I would with enamel with the intent of improving the probability of a strong bond. I can do a light prep, get rid of the sclerotic surface, and etch it with phosphoric acid for 25 or 30 seconds. Alternatively, I can use 30- to 50-micron aluminum oxide in an abrasion unit.  

Removing All-Ceramic Crowns 

Removing dental crowns can be a delicate and time-consuming procedure. In a world of so many different materials, it’s helpful to have an idea of which bur to use and how long removing the crown could take. One of the biggest challenges is determining whether a crown is a lithium disilicate or zirconia restoration. The radiograph and visual inspection will give us clues but afterwards, we must go through a process to understand what may be involved. 

Our First Clue: Zirconia looks like metal on a radiograph, and lithium disilicate looks radiolucent like natural tooth structure.   

Our Second Clue: If the crown is partial coverage, it’s much more likely to be bonded and I plan to prep down the entire restoration.  

Lithium disilicate restorations are often easier to cut through or section but they could be bonded and impossible to remove in pieces. Even if we can cut four pieces, we may have extensive prepping to do.  

On the other hand, zirconia can be harder to cut through, especially the 3y or 4y variety. But at least once you get to the cement layer, you can normally break it into pieces and remove them instead of having to extensively prep the entire tooth.  

If the restoration is full coverage, I can easily remove it in sections. In this case, I attempt to make my cuts all the way from buccal to lingual across the occlusal surface without bothering to stop. At this stage, I can pick up a crown remover and apply some general pressure to crack it off. If the crown is not budging at all, I assume it is bonded to the tooth, and the next thing I do is pick up a big flat-top diamond to do my occlusal reduction as if I were prepping a natural tooth. Once all the occlusal is off the glass, the pieces on the buccal, lingual, and interproximal fall off. 

 

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Worn Dentition: Direct & Indirect Adhesive Management Through a Non-Invasive Approach

DATE: October 24 2025 @ 8:00 am - October 25 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 15

Dentist Tuition : $ 2595

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

Enhance Restorative Outcomes The main goal of this course is to provide, indications and protocols to diagnose and treat severe worn dentition through a new no prep approach increasing the…

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Do You Know What Type of Zirconia You Are Using? 

September 5, 2023 Lee Ann Brady DMD

We use the words “multilayer” and “multilayered” to describe lots of different materials from different manufacturers. If your lab tells you they use multilayered zirconia on a restoration or abutment, do you know what you are getting?

One of the ways we use the word multilayered is to describe a puck of zirconia that has two different types of zirconia.

Some of the pucks are a layer of 3y (the strongest but least aesthetic zirconia) with a layer of 5y (the weakest but most aesthetic zirconia). The laboratory technician puts the restoration design in the puck so that the 5y is on the facial of the restoration where you can see it and the 3y is on the incisal edge and lingual.

There are also pucks that are 4y zirconia layered with 5y zirconia. The 4y zirconia is a middle grade of both strength and aesthetics. In this case, the 5y is on the facial and the 4y is on the incisal edge and lingual.

Thus, there are two different ways to mix strength and aesthetics in one puck of zirconia and both variations are called “multi-layered.”

Complicating this even more, we use “multi-layered” to describe layers of chroma gradient or translucency. The laboratory technician can put the design pattern in the puck to achieve different gradient effects, but the restoration is all of one strength (one type of zirconia).

One of the challenges today with zirconia is that there is no place on a laboratory prescription to specify one of these varieties, and it needs to be clarified when communicating with your lab technician. Ask what your lab technician means by “multilayered zirconia,” and communicate clearly the multilayering you want used.

Related Course

Worn Dentition: Direct & Indirect Adhesive Management Through a Non-Invasive Approach

DATE: October 24 2025 @ 8:00 am - October 25 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 15

Dentist Tuition : $ 2595

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (per night): $ 345

Enhance Restorative Outcomes The main goal of this course is to provide, indications and protocols to diagnose and treat severe worn dentition through a new no prep approach increasing the…

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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Acetone to the Rescue!

August 9, 2023 Lee Ann Brady DMD

Seating dental restorations with resin-based cement can be daunting. The process is extremely technique sensitive and requires multiple steps. One of the things I learned years ago is to keep a small cup of acetone or ethanol on the tray table when I am seating restorations using resin-based cement.

All our resin materials have a solvent in them. That solvent is often ethanol or acetone. The solvent disrupts the chemistry, spreads out particles, and stops the resin from polymerizing. So, we can use a solvent to prevent the resin from setting and turn it completely into a liquid then wipe it away. Now we can go back to our steps to clean the ceramic, selenate the ceramic, etch the tooth, apply the dental adhesive, and freshly seat the restoration in the same appointment.

Recently, I was in the process of seating veneers. I prepped #6 and loaded the resin. As I raised the veneer, I realized it was for #11 instead of #6. So, I dropped the veneer in the little cup of acetone on my tray. I soaked a 2×2 in the solvent and completely wiped the resin off tooth #6 and completely wiped the resin off the back of veneer #11. Then, I took a deep breath and was ready for a do-over.

This was the first time I had to use that little cup of solvent in over 15 years, but I was delighted it was on my tray table. Time and again we have thrown that little cup away—for years and years, and now I have experienced firsthand why that cup of solvent is always “at the ready” when I seat restorations using resin-based cement.


Here at Pankey, we are committed to helping you through any of the questions you might have while practicing dentistry. I recommend starting your advanced dental education journey with our Essentials 1 course. You will gain essential knowledge and skills, enabling you to build a solid understanding of fundamental concepts in dentistry. From fundamental principles to essential clinical techniques, The Essentials Series will lay down the groundwork for a successful dental practice and further specialization. 

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Mastering Aesthetic Restorative Dentistry

DATE: November 21 2024 @ 8:00 am - November 24 2024 @ 12:00 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 32

Regular Tuition: $ 6100

night with private bath: $ 290

This course is sold out Aesthetic dentistry is where artistic form meets functional restorative dentistry. Where patients, clinicians, specialists and laboratory technicians communicate with each other in an effective way…

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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Temporary Crowns Are an Occasion for Dental Patient Education 

May 4, 2022 Kelley Brummett DMD

Another dentist asked me, “What temporary cement do you use so your temporary crowns actually stay on?”

The cement I like is TempoCem from DMG America. It is easy to utilize and clean. But there is a more important question than what type of material I like to use. It is: “What is going on with the tooth before the prep is begun?”

I have found that the reason temporaries come off is because something in the functional movement of the patient’s mouth is interfering with the tooth. Before prepping a tooth for a temporary, I anticipate I may need to re-design the tooth first.

Before prepping the tooth, I take an intraoral photo of the bite marks to understand what is going on functionally. I explain to the patient what I am looking for and show the patient the evidence of excursive interferences on the tooth. My goal is to design the provisional and the crown to decrease the forces and increase the functionality of the tooth. I then modify the tooth and take another intraoral photo of the bite marks to show the patient the changes before making the impression of the natural tooth.

I realize many dentists check the bite marks and modify the tooth prior to making an impression without the added step of photography and patient education. But I suggest you try using before and after photo images chairside to educate your patients. This process engages the patient in understanding how their teeth function and why there has been damage to the tooth. I’ve learned it also “opens their eyes” and increases their appreciation for the additional dentistry I recommend based on my comprehensive examination of their mouth and diagnosis.

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E2: Occlusal Appliances & Equilibration

DATE: October 20 2024 @ 8:00 am - October 24 2024 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 44

Dentist Tuition: $ 7200

night with private bath: $ 290

THIS COURSE IS SOLD OUT What if you had one tool that increased comprehensive case acceptance, managed patients with moderate to high functional risk, verified centric relation and treated signs…

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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Understanding Bulk Fill Composites (Part 2)

April 25, 2022 Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dentists love the handling of self-leveling bulk-fill composites because we do not need to move the tip around, which can introduce voids, and we do not need to use a condenser to reduce voids.

A lot of science has gone in today’s bulk fill composites.

  • As manufacturers have advanced the science of composites, they have had to balance the percentage of filler content and the viscosity of the material so it flows and has good handling properties.
  • We now see bulk fill composites that are relatively translucent when they are non-polymerized, and when they are polymerized, they become opaquer. To increase the depth of cure, manufacturers came up with new photo initiators that require less light to activate an equal amount of polymerization.

Cap Layers

The percentage of filler content in the bulk fill composite determines whether you must do a traditional high fill cap layer. A traditional high fill, nano composite cap layer (veneer) is going to have superior physical properties, including wear resistance, esthetics, and flexural stress. When a cap layer is optional, my decision is based on whether the restoration is in a visible place, how fussy the patient is about esthetics, and if the patient is at high risk for functional wear.

A cap layer should be only 1-2 mm in thickness because our traditional high fill composites have a depth of cure of 1-2 mm. In my practice, I use a perio probe to measure the depth of the prepared cavity. When I do a class I filling, where the prep cavity does not descend beyond 4 mm, I can make the decision to fill the cavity partially with bulk fill and add a cap layer or to completely fill the cavity with a high fill bulk fill composite like SonicFill or G-aenial BULK Injectable (discussed below).

When I do a class II filling, I often place a bulk fill layer and then a cap layer. If the cavity is 6-8 mm or greater in depth, two increments of bulk fill composite can be used before adding a cap layer.

Bulk Fill Composites I Use

Personally, I prefer radiopaque materials. On radiographs, I want to easily see any voids and be able to distinguish the composite from the dentin, the enamel, and possible decay.

I’ve tried SonicFill™ by Kerr. A special handpiece injects a high filler composite while delivering sonic vibration. This composite has a higher percentage of filler content than the bulk fill “flowable” composites. The high percentage improves the physical properties of the composite, so you do not need to add a cap layer unless esthetics are important. The sonic kinetic energy temporarily lowers the viscosity of the composite so it optimally flows. This filler has a 6 mm depth of cure because it is very translucent.

Most manufacturers have a flowable composite. For these to flow, they have a lower percentage of filler content. The flowable composites self-level and have a 4 mm depth of cure. All manufacturers’ versions of flowable require a cap layer because they have lower physical properties to withstand occlusal wear.

I’ve used both Venus® Bulk Fill by Kulzer and Tetric EvoFlow® by Ivoclar in my practice. Both allow me to easily fill class I and II cavities in increments of up to 4mm. I classically use Tetric EvoFlow for my class II boxes because it is radiopaque and nicely self-levels. There are many versions of advanced bulk fill composites and veneer systems on the market, like the Tetric EvoFlow® and Tetric EvoCeram® that I use.

G-aenial™ BULK Injectable by GC is different because it has a higher percentage of filler content. This injectable bulk filler is radiopaque and can be used without a cap layer. I’ve used this in my practice to do some small class I and some class IV restorations.

There are even “condensable,” bulk fill deposits on the market with high percentage fill materials that do not require a cap layer and are highly durable. If you use these, you will have the challenge of placing more viscous materials and condensing them.

My Bulk Fill Technique

What I like to do is inject flowable material in a central position, for example, in the center of my class II box, and move the tip of the syringe as little as possible. I watch for the flow to reach the buccal, lingual, and axial walls of the cavity prep, and then I slowly lift the tip of the syringe as the occlusal is filling. I strive to not lift the tip prematurely and put it back in, because this introduces “stuck back” porosities. I do not play with the composite with an explorer or condenser because this creates “stuck back” porosities. I wait 10 full seconds to allow the composite to self-level before I begin light cure polymerization.

Related Course

E2: Occlusal Appliances & Equilibration

DATE: October 20 2024 @ 8:00 am - October 24 2024 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 44

Dentist Tuition: $ 7200

night with private bath: $ 290

THIS COURSE IS SOLD OUT What if you had one tool that increased comprehensive case acceptance, managed patients with moderate to high functional risk, verified centric relation and treated signs…

Learn More>

About Author

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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Two Tips for Placing Screw-Retained Implant Crowns

August 23, 2021 Kelley Brummett DMD

Most of us are placing implant crowns, using screw retained crowns. If the crown needs to be recovered, or the screw needs to be changed or tightened, the restoration can be removed by accessing the screw through the screw channel.

One of the main advantages of screw-retained crowns is the ease of retrieval. I have discovered two ways to make retrieval easier for myself, which involve the colors of the Teflon tape and composite I use.

  1. Now I have colored Teflon tape on hand, and when I place the screw, I put colored tape on top of the screw instead white tape. If I need to remove the composite, I more readily see my gray or yellow tape than I would white tape.
  2. I also like to use a composite color that is not be an exact match with the implant crown. This way I can easily see the material to be removed to access the screw channel… if I need to remove the crown.

If you plan ahead to have colored Teflon tape on hand, you can do what I do. Teflon tape is available in multiple colors at Home Depot and other hardware stores.

Related Course

E1: Aesthetic & Functional Treatment Planning

DATE: October 16 2025 @ 8:00 am - October 19 2025 @ 2:30 pm

Location: Ciao Restaurant

CE HOURS: 39

Dentist Tuition: $ 6800

Single Occupancy with Ensuite Private Bath (Per Night): $ 345

Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

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About Author

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Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

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Using Topical for Optimal Patient Comfort

March 29, 2021 Lee Ann Brady DMD

In a previous blog, I wrote about how we use multiple flavors of topical in my dental practice and the positive patient experience this creates. In this article, we will look at the topical application technique we use to create maximum patient comfort.

I have often debated in my mind whether topical actually makes patients feel more comfortable when anesthetic will be injected. The scientific literature confirms it works great on the surface of mucosa, but it does not reach nerves under the gums or in teeth. From working with my patients, I know it makes a difference to them in how they perceive the injection feels. And there are studies in which patients overwhelmingly self-report that the initial pinch feeling of the needle entering the tissue is reduced after topical.

Before applying topical, thoroughly dry the area so the topical goes directly on the tissue you want to numb. If topical is applied to saliva, its effectiveness is greatly reduced. Ideally, let the topical work for 60 seconds but minimally 30 seconds prior to beginning the injection. My technique is to thoroughly dry the mucosa, swab the dry area with topical, leave the cotton tip applicator in place against the mucosa, cover it with a 2×2, and have the patient close to hold it in place while I watch the clock for 60 seconds to make sure I am not rushing.

To deliver anesthetic I use The Wand computer-assisted anesthetic delivery technology. While I am waiting for the 60 seconds, I explain to the patient that the anesthetic delivery may be different than they have experienced before and how the anesthetic will be delivered.

In my last blog, I wrote about the value of offering patients a choice of topical flavors. I can also fill some of the 60 seconds by asking the patient if the topical administered tastes like the flavor of topical they selected. As soon as the 60 seconds have passed, I immediately remove the 2×2 and cotton tip applicator and begin delivering the anesthetic.

There is good science behind some types of topical acting faster than 60 seconds, so you may want to do some research and select one of these types.

Even if you think topical is not effective, think about the placebo effect topical has on the patient. We are doing something to improve their comfort. We are actively doing something to make the procedure more comfortable and to help them through the process. I believe this act of caring has value to the patient that even exceeds the value of the numbing effectiveness reported in clinical trials.

Related Course

E1: Aesthetic & Functional Treatment Planning

DATE: March 7 2024 @ 8:00 am - March 10 2024 @ 2:30 pm

Location: The Pankey Institute

CE HOURS: 39

Dentist Tuition: $ 6500

Single Occupancy Room with Ensuite Bath (Per Night): $ 290

Transform your experience of practicing dentistry, increase predictability, profitability and fulfillment. The Essentials Series is the Key, and Aesthetic and Functional Treatment Planning is where your journey begins.  Following a system of…

Learn More>

About Author

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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Is Topical Cannabidiol (CBD) for Temporomandibular Joint Pain a Fad or the Future of Treatment?

March 19, 2021 Pankey Gram

Cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, is getting significant attention in new advances of pain management for its non-psychoactive therapeutic properties. Topical CBD oil has been suggested as a way to non-invasively treat pain caused by temporomandibular disorders. But does the science currently support CBD oil or even prove its efficacy versus a placebo?
CBD smoothies, CBD cream, CBD bath bombs… the consumer market is flooded with a variety of premium products touting everything from anxiety reduction to chronic pain treatment. If you haven’t been asked for your medical opinion about CBD yet, you may be soon.

Topical CBD oil is expensive and trendy. Roll-on applicators are often combined with other active ingredients like menthol and arnica to soothe the symptoms of pain. Roll-on CBD may be infused with essential oils, so it even has a therapeutic aroma. With attractive green packaging and clever names to boot, the purchase can be a no-brainer for those suffering from aches and tension in their jaw.

Evidence-based dentistry demands a suspicious eye. Is all this external dressing, pleasant smells, and clever marketing covering up a dearth of clinical evidence? Let’s take a dive into the science:

What CBD Is and What CBD Isn’t

Cannabidiol has come to prominence as the safer alternative to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Evidence has shown it may be effective in the treatment of childhood epilepsy.1 There is even an FDA-approved CBD-based treatment, Epidiolex, for two severe forms of epilepsy.2


Besides this specific use in the management of epileptic seizures, CBD is sold as a supplement.1 The number one issue here is the lack of regulation over supplements. You can’t be certain that the amount of CBD stated on the label corresponds to the actual levels in the formulation.1 Even more concerning, there is no widely accepted, clinical trial approved therapeutic topical or oral dose of CBD designated for the management of chronic pain.1 Can a treatment be ethically recommended when there is no consensus on effective, safe dose?

Unlike THC, CBD does not cause a high. But it can have side effects such as nausea or even impact the level of medications in the blood.1 We know very little about the effects of cannabidiol in the context of large sample size human clinical trials. How long should a patient apply CBD for? At what dose should they apply it? How regularly? The answers to these questions are not currently known.

CBD and TMD: Friend, Foe, or Placebo?

A 2020 systematic review with meta-analysis of topical intervention efficacy for temporomandibular disorders compared the current data on treatments such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), cannabidiol, capsaicin, bee venom, and more.3 Topical therapies are especially attractive because of the serious consequences to long-term oral NSAID use for TMDs.3


Topical doses of a drug or therapeutic can bypass the debilitating side-effects of systemic treatment.3 Topical NSAIDs include diclofenac sodium and methyl salicylate.3 Therapies like bee venom and CBD are called “nutraceuticals,” which refers broadly to food-derived alternatives to pharmaceuticals, usually sold as supplements.3

The 2020 review was only able to find 9 studies regarding topical treatment of TMDs that met rigorous criteria for quality of evidence while also qualifying as randomized controlled trials.3 For topical NSAIDs, the review found no clinically significant difference compared to a placebo.3 Interestingly, ultrasound therapy was found to reduce pain, but applying an NSAID gel with ultrasound had no statistically significant difference compared to ultrasound without the gel.3

The effect of bee venom and capsaicin was similarly inscrutable, with few relevant studies including the proper data values or standard deviations to conduct a meta-analysis.3 The evidence in general was low quality or showed little effect.3

CBD also suffered from a lack of high-quality evidence in the form of studies in humans.3 Animal models have shown that “transdermal cannabinoids” may reduce pain and inflammation, but there is currently no clear evidence for long-term benefits in humans.3

Why is the research for topical treatment of TMD-associated pain so poor? The answer is small sample sizes, poor blinding, and unreported funding sources.3 Because of this, we don’t know whether demonstrated effects, if any, apply to a larger population.

Statistics have less meaning in small sample sizes. Poor blinding means that bias cannot be controlled. Lack of clear funding disclosures may also influence blinding and make it difficult to trust whether research was conducted in good faith.

The Future of CBD in Dentistry

Though data regarding CBD for TMDs is severely lacking, the future may offer some hope. If motivated researchers feel passionately about reducing the burden of chronic pain for sufferers of temporomandibular disorders, they may be able to put forward the time, money, and effort necessary to distinguish the minimum safe yet therapeutic dose of CBD.

They will also have to determine its ideal application parameters and any necessary or helpful active ingredients. They’ll need large numbers of study participants, including hundreds of individuals for control and experimental groups, and a well-considered experimental design.
That outcome may take many years. In the meantime, topical CBD will remain the equivalent of a high-end massage oil.

References:

  1. MD PG. Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t. Harvard Health Blog. Published August 24, 2018. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476
  2. FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy. FDA. Published March 27, 2020. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-first-drug-comprised-active-ingredient-derived-marijuana-treat-rare-severe-forms
  3. Mena M, Dalbah L, Levi L, Padilla M, Enciso R. Efficacy of topical interventions for temporomandibular disorders compared to placebo or control therapy: a systematic review with meta-analysis. J Dent Anesth Pain Med. 2020;20(6):337-356. doi:17245/jdapm.2020.20.6.337

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Preoperative Dental Rinsing: What You Need to Know

January 13, 2021 Lee Ann Brady DMD

I think pre-operative rinsing is here to stay. Science supports it is effective against viruses, including COVID19. And it is easy to do.

Pre-operative rinsing has been discussed in dentistry for a long time, especially before hygiene visits. Today this is an even more relevant conversation, and we are examining its efficacy again with renewed interest. Here are three to consider:

Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash

We know hydrogen peroxide works. It is highly effective against the virus and is recommended as a pre-operative rinse right now. A readymade hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is Peroxyl. You can also take 1% hydrogen peroxide and mix it 50/50 with a flavored mouthwash. The required time for effectiveness is a minimum of 30 seconds. Some publications are recommending the patient rinse with hydrogen peroxide for two 30-second cycles. If 30 seconds is too long for a patient, they can increase the number of times they swish for fewer seconds. You can set a timer to guide the patient and make sure the patient is swishing at least 30 seconds in total.

Iodine Based Mouthwash

The literature indicates iodine based rinsing solutions are also highly effective against the virus. There are iodine based mouthwashes you can purchase for use in your practice. As some people are allergic to iodine, you will need to carefully screen patients before use, asking if they have a known or suspect allergy. Can they have betadine on their skin? Can they eat shellfish? If iodine should be avoided, then you will want to use hydrogen peroxide.

Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

The process of rinsing with chlorhexidine before an appointment and/or adding chlorhexidine so it comes through the water spray of a Cavitron or Ultrasonic Scaler is not new news. For a long time, we have been using chlorhexidine mouthwash as an adjunct to oral hygiene following periodontal treatment. There is science that chlorhexidine kills microbial cells withing 30 seconds of contact in the sulcus biofilm, but is it effective as an antimicrobial pre-operative rinse to reduce the risk of COVID19 exposure? We do not know. We cannot point to the science that would tell us it is equally effective against the virus as other options. However, I have heard studies are underway with good clinical results so far.

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“A Pankey Scholar is one who has demonstrated a commitment to apply the principles, practices and philosophy they learned through their journey at The Pankey Institute.”   At its core,…

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Lee Ann Brady DMD

Dr. Lee Ann Brady is passionate about dentistry, her family and making a difference. She is a general dentist and owns a practice in Glendale, AZ limited to restorative dentistry. Lee’s passion for dental education began as a CE junkie herself, pursuing lots of advanced continuing education focused on Restorative and Occlusion. In 2005, she became a full time resident faculty member for The Pankey Institute, and was promoted to Clinical Director in 2006. Lee joined Spear Education as Executive VP of Education in the fall of 2008 to teach and coordinate the educational curriculum. In June of 2011, she left Spear Education, founded leeannbrady.com and joined the dental practice she now owns as an associate. Today, she teaches at dental meetings and study clubs both nationally and internationally, continues to write for dental journals and her website, sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Cosmetic Dentistry, Inside Dentistry and DentalTown Magazines and is the Director of Education for The Pankey Institute.

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