Posts for: July, 2013
You may get a laugh out of jokes about snoring, but in fact snoring and “Sleep Apnea” (“a” – without; “pnea” – breath) is no laughing matter. Nights of chronically disturbed sleep results in accidents, lost productivity and even depression, as well as problems at work and with relationships. Chronic snoring as a result of sleep apnea, results in sleep deprivation and health problems such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, brain damage and strokes.
What causes snoring?
Snoring results when soft tissue structures block the airway (windpipe) in the back of the throat. These structures include tonsils, soft palate, the uvula (the little punch-bag shaped structure at the back of the throat), and fat deposits. As you relax in sleep these tissues collapse onto themselves and the tongue drops back, causing a blockage in the air passage to the lungs. These obstacles to airflow create the familiar sound that we know as snoring.
What is Sleep Apnea?
When the obstruction is severe, it can block airflow completely. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) occurs when your upper airway is so seriously obstructed that there is significant loss of airflow, or even a complete arrest of breathing for 10 seconds or more. Reduced airflow into the lungs causes low levels of oxygen in the blood reaching the brain. Your brain, saving itself from suffocation, wakes you briefly out of deep sleep, followed by a loud gasp as the flow of air starts again. This can happen more than 50 times an hour. Low oxygen levels and fragmented sleep cause most of the dangers of sleep apnea.
What can be done to combat sleep apnea?
Medical and dental treatment includes:
- Staying physically healthy: Being overweight contributes to OSA, so start by losing weight and exercising.
- Oral Appliance Therapy: Specially designed (retainer-like) appliances are designed to maintain an open, unobstructed, upper airway during sleep.
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): CPAP bedside machines send pressurized air through a tube connected to a mask (covering the nose and sometimes mouth), keeping your airway open.
How can we help you combat your snoring and sleep apnea?
The first step is assessment and diagnosis. Dentists, specially trained in sleep medicine, are in a unique position to help diagnose and help treat snoring and sleep apnea as part of a medical team. Contact us today to schedule an appointment if you think you have a problem with snoring and OSA — or if your spouse thinks you do. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snoring and Sleep Apnea.”
Whether you think they're the height of fashion or the depth of “ice,” oral piercings like tongue bolts are a sign of our times. But along with these bodily adornments come a host of questions about risks to the wearer's health, both immediate and long-term. To help sort out these concerns, here are five facts everyone ought to know about oral piercings.
Oral piercings can cause acute health problems.
Rarely, nerve problems may result from an oral piercing. In at least one case, a teenager who had just gotten a tongue bolt developed severe facial pain and the feeling of electrical shocks. A neurologist traced these symptoms to an irritated nerve in the tongue, and the bolt's removal made the pain go away. More commonly, however, the immediate problems are soreness in the area of the piercing, bleeding in the mouth, and the risk of infection.
Oral piercings can lead to gum disease.
Periodontal problems associated with oral piercings include gum recession, inflammation, and even infection. Long-term bone loss may also be an issue. Over time, all of these conditions may affect a person's general health.
Oral piercings can lead to tooth problems.
Tooth pain and sensitivity are sometimes reported after the installation of an oral piercing. Chipping of the teeth is also a possibility, due to repeated contact with the metal of the ornament. People who decide to wear oral piercings should consult with us about increasing the frequency of their dental checkups.
Closing the hole left by a tongue piercing may require minor surgery.
As is the case with an ear piercing, the hole made for a tongue bolt often closes on its own. If it doesn't, a little surgery may be required to help it. In some cases, the tissue around the piercing may need to be removed before the hole itself can be sewn closed. Carried out under local anesthesia (a numbing shot), however, the procedure is usually simple and quick to heal.
Removing an oral piercing improves your oral health.
Losing the piercing reduces your risk factors, and thus improves your oral health. It's as simple as that. But any decision about oral piercings is ultimately yours to make. You should have a frank conversation about its risks and benefits with a knowledgeable health professional.
If you would like more information about oral piercings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How Oral Piercings Affect Your Oral Health,” and “Body Piercings and Teeth.”
You're planning for one of the most important days in your life — your wedding — and you want everything to be perfect. You've chosen the outfits, the setting, the flowers... but there's one more thing to think about. Is your smile just as bright as your hopes for the future? Do you wish you could improve its appearance in time for the big date?
Here's good news: You can! Depending on how much advance notice you have — and what level of enhancement you need — your wedding day smile makeover can range from a thorough dental cleaning to a full-scale orthodontic treatment program. Let's look at a few options that can help you look and feel your best on this very special day.
Getting your teeth thoroughly, professionally cleaned can help remove some surface stains and tartar in just one appointment! Depending on the level of discoloration, and how long it's been since your last cleaning, more than one session may be needed. You have this basic and effective treatment done every three to six months anyway — right? So, be sure and schedule one before your wedding!
Sometimes your smile needs more than just routine maintenance. If that's the case, there are many other options to help it look its best. Tooth whitening is a safe, effective and economical way to lighten teeth by several shades. In-office treatments are quicker and more predictable, but dentist-supervised at-home bleaching kits are also an option if you have more time.
Porcelain veneers offer a more striking and more permanent solution for discolored teeth. To get the optimum “wow” effect from this treatment, figure from two to four office visits, and a total treatment time of at least three months.
Cosmetic bonding is a great way to hide those little chips in the front teeth, or discolored old fillings in back. Using the newest high-tech materials and a dose of old-fashioned artistry, we can restore the shiny, translucent look of your natural teeth — only with fewer imperfections. After a thorough evaluation, cosmetic bonding can often be performed as a one-visit procedure.
If your smile needs even more help, don't despair — there are still plenty of ways to improve it.
Teeth that are damaged or missing can be restored by crowns or bridgework. When the roots are intact, a crown replaces the visible part of the tooth above the gum line. If the tooth is missing, a bridge is used to secure a false tooth to two abutments on either side. Properly done, these restorations may last a decade or more, and generally require two or more visits.
Dental implants are a great way to restore missing teeth. They offer a permanent, natural-looking tooth replacement with numerous advantages over other restorative treatments. Achieving these results requires careful planning and takes a bit more time. If you need tooth restoration, be sure to ask us whether dental implants might be right for you.
If you would like more information about a wedding-day smile makeover, don't hesitate to contact us or schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”