Posts for: March, 2012
Getting enough sleep is necessary for good health. We all know how energetic we feel when we are sleeping well at night. Yet, many of us do not feel rested, even after seven or eight hours of sleep. Let's answer some common questions about snoring and sleep apnea, problems that are often called sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD).
What is the purpose of sleep?
Scientists know we need sleep, at a particularly deep level, to be rested, but they are not sure why we need sleep. Sleep may have evolved as a way to conserve energy in the body, to conserve food supplies, or to reduce our risk during darkness. Sleep appears to give the brain a chance to store and organize its information and the body a chance to recuperate. Sleep studies have shown that in order to get the full benefits of sleep we need to sleep long and deeply enough to enter into a series of sleep cycles including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep.
What kinds of problems get in the way of the type of sleep we need?
There are eight main categories of sleep disorders, but the ones affecting the largest numbers of people are insomnia, SRBD, and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. SRBDs include snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is a serious health problem.
How do I know if I have OSA or another SRBD?
Often, your bed-partner will tell you that you snore. Chronic loud snoring is an indicator of OSA. To make a diagnosis your physician must take a thorough sleep and medical history. The diagnosis may then be confirmed by a study in a sleep lab.
What causes sleep apnea or OSA?
Snoring and OSA happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block airflow through your upper airway or windpipe. You may briefly awaken as many as 50 times per night because of these breathing lapses. These brief awakenings, called micro-arousals, keep you from reaching the deep stage of sleep your body needs.
What are the treatments for sleep apnea?
Treatments include CPAP therapy, in which patients wear a mask while sleeping. The mask pushes air through the airway, keeping it open. In Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) patients wear a device that moves the lower jaw forward, allowing more room for air to move down the airway. Oral surgical procedures and orthodontic approaches also have the goal of moving the tongue away from the throat. These are all treatments that can be carried out by a dentist who has training and experience in treatment of sleep disorders.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sleep disorders and their treatments. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry” and “Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions.”
If you think your child is too young to need root canal treatment, think again — there is no age limit for this treatment. If his/her primary (baby) teeth have been injured, or if decay has advanced deep into the roots of your child's teeth, a root canal treatment to stabilize teeth may be needed. Root canal treatment removes infection from the pulp, the living tissue that is found inside the tooth's roots. The pulp contains the tooth's nerves, so tooth pain is often an indication that decay has moved into the pulp.
When performing root canal treatment on primary teeth, we must keep in mind that the primary teeth's roots will be resorbed as part of the normal process in which the body makes room for the growing permanent teeth that will take their place.
If a child experiences tooth pain that is related to changes of temperature or pressure, or exposure to sweet or acidic foods, the infection is likely to be minor and easily repaired. But if he or she feels a constant or throbbing pain regardless of stimulation, it may indicate an extensive infection of the pulp and surrounding area.
If the infection is advanced, the baby tooth may have to be removed. But if baby teeth are lost prematurely, a malocclusion (from “mal” meaning bad and “occlusion” meaning bite) can easily result; so we make every effort to keep the baby teeth in place to guide the permanent teeth that are forming underneath them, inside the child's jaw. In such cases an endodontist (from the root “endo” meaning inside and “dont” meaning tooth) or pediatric dentist may perform root canal treatment, removing the diseased and infected pulp from within the tooth's roots and replacing it with a substance that can be absorbed when it is time for the baby tooth's roots to be resorbed naturally.
When baby teeth are injured through a fall or blow to the face (referred to as traumatic injury) they may develop discoloration varying from yellow to dark gray. This is a sign of damage to the pulp tissues inside the tooth's roots. Dark gray discoloration often indicates that the pulp tissues have died. In such cases root canal treatment is needed to remove the dead tissue. If a tooth is completely knocked out of the child's mouth, most dentists agree that it should not be replanted because of the risk of damage to the developing tooth underneath.
Root canal treatment for baby teeth is a better choice than tooth removal if at all possible. It helps a child retain full function of their teeth, jaws and tongue, preventing speech problems, and it helps guide the permanent teeth into their proper places.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about treatment for children's teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Root Canal Treatment for Children's Teeth.”
Just as you would expect, we highly recommend the use of protective mouthguards to anyone participating in contact sports or rigorous physical exercise. The primary reasons we feel this way are substantiated by evidence-based research and experience within our practice. If you don't think mouthguards are helpful, here are some facts you should know:
- Research conducted by the American Dental Association (ADA) found that individuals are 60 times more likely to damage their teeth when not wearing a mouthguard while engaged in contact sports or rigorous physical exercise. This shocking fact alone illustrates the importance of protective mouthguards.
- A study reported by the American Academy of General Dentistry (AAGD) found that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries to the mouth and/or teeth each year.
- Sports-related injuries often end-up in the emergency room; however, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than 600,000 of these visits involve injury or damage to the teeth and mouth.
- In addition to the trauma of having a tooth (or teeth) knocked out, individuals who have suffered from this type of injury may end up spending $10,000 to $20,000 per tooth over a lifetime for teeth that are not properly preserved and replanted. This staggering statistic is from the National Youth Sports Foundation for Safety.
- While protective mouthguards were first used in the sport of boxing during the 1920s, the ADA now recommends their use in 29 (and growing) different high contact sports and activities. Some of these include acrobatics, baseball, basketball, bicycling, field hockey, football, handball, ice hockey, lacrosse, martial arts, skateboarding, skiing, soccer, softball, volleyball and wrestling.
- It used to be that only males were considered when it came to needing mouthguards. However, recent studies have revealed that the growing interest and participation of females in these same sports and activities makes it just as important for them to protect their teeth.
To learn more about the importance of mouthguards, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about protecting your mouth and teeth. And if you have already suffered from a dental injury, let us evaluate the damage and work with you to restore the health and beauty of your teeth.
For many brides and grooms, planning for their wedding is something they start weeks, months or even years in advance. Obviously for most couples, these plans include finding the perfect location, dress, reception area, florist and caterer. However, a growing number of couples (and parents of the bride and groom) are also looking to cosmetic dentistry prior to the wedding. A smile makeover to correct an issue and boost self-confidence makes sure that your wedding pictures are truly memorable.
If this sounds like you, take the first step towards the smile you have always wanted. To create your ideal smile, we will first meet with you to hear your concerns, goals, expectations and wedding day timeline. Feel free to bring in photos or magazine images of smiles that illustrate exactly what you want, do not want, as well as images of smiles that you consider beautiful. We will give you a thorough examination, review photos you bring with you and ensure that everyone understands and agrees with your smile makeover treatment decisions. You will also be informed about what you should expect immediately prior, during, and following your treatment.
We pride ourselves on using the latest technologies and techniques to restore natural-looking smiles. Our smile makeovers have a two-fold design plan in that we artistically create the cosmetic look you want while ensuring you obtain optimal functionality and oral health. After all, we all on the same team for helping you achieve the look you want for your wedding and maintaining your smile for years to come.
Want to learn more?
When it comes to chronic pain, one of the most common problems you can face is Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD), which was formerly known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). TMD is a condition that can be tricky to diagnose because it frequently mimics other conditions. This is why many healthcare professionals refer to it as “the great imposter.” However, regardless of what it is called, the pain it causes is real and can become quite severe — especially if left undiagnosed and untreated.
To grasp the condition fully, you must first understand the TMD pain cycle. It can start with any traumatic, psychological, metabolic, or mechanical stimulant that causes spasm in the muscles that move the jaw joints (opening, closing, chewing, and even smiling.) This is because of the constricted blood supply to the muscles resulting in less oxygen along with the accumulation of waste products. This is followed by chemical changes in the muscles and a buildup of lactic acid due to muscle fatigue. Abnormal or involuntary muscle contractions or spasms lead to pain signals to the brain that can stop muscle movement. Depending on the severity, this cycle can repeat itself resulting in acute pain that may be extremely severe at times. The pain may then seem to disappear only to resurface again later. The good news is that our office has highly trained professionals who cannot only diagnose but also treat your TMD.
If you suffer from chronic jaw pain and feel that you might have TMD, please let us know so that we can address your concerns and conduct a thorough history and examination. Or if you are in constant or severe pain, contact us immediately to schedule an appointment. You can learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatment options for TMD by reading the article “TMD — Understanding The Great Imposter.”