Dr Sadlon's Dental Blog
Posts for: March, 2012
Scientists don't know much about sleep even though it has been extensively studied. We do know that several hours of deep, restful sleep per night are essential for a healthy life.
Many people remain tired and unrefreshed, even after a full night's sleep. About a third of them are affected by sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD). Dentists can play a significant role in helping patients overcome these disorders, which range from frequent snoring to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). If you think you may have such a disorder, read on.
Under normal conditions, your upper airway is open, allowing air to flow from your nose, through your throat, and into your lungs. If you suffer from SRBD, you experience frequent reductions in the flow of air to your lungs during sleep. You may not be aware of it, but sometimes your breathing may even stop for brief periods. These reductions happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block 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 stages of sleep your body needs.
The resulting reduced oxygen flow to your heart and to your brain can cause serious damage. You will also be tired during the day and experience a lack of energy, even if you sleep for seven or eight hours per night. This constant drowsiness puts you at greater risk for accidents.
Because dentists generally see their patients at six-month or other regular intervals, we are in a good position to screen and refer patients with suspected SRBD to physicians for diagnosis and treatment. Dentists can also treat SRBD in a number of ways.
- One of these is Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), in which a device that looks something like an orthodontic retainer holds your lower jaw in a forward position relative to your upper jaw, preventing your tongue and soft tissue from collapsing into your airway.
- Another consists of breathing equipment called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP is a mask connected to a machine that pushes air into your lungs.
- Other treatments include oral surgery or orthodontia. The goal of these techniques is to increase the volume of air passing through your upper airway by pushing your tongue forward.
Medical insurance usually covers the cost of much of these treatments.
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 article “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry.”
Dental professionals agree that effective removal of plaque, the film of bacteria (also called a biofilm) that gathers on everyone's teeth, is the key to good dental health. Daily brushing and flossing are the usual recommendation for plaque removal. It is important to ask us about effective brushing and flossing. At your next appointment, ask us for a demonstration.
Effective brushing removes plaque from the easily accessed surfaces of the teeth. To remove plaque from between the teeth, you must floss.
Some people find it awkward to hold the floss with their fingers as they move it around their teeth. One technique for flossing, suggested by a dentist in Dear Doctor magazine, may make it easier than more traditional methods, although it does take a little practice.
This method requires tearing off a 10 to 12 inch length of floss and tying it to form a circle big enough for your fingers, but not your thumbs, to fit within it. The circle should be knotted with a double knot.
To Clean Teeth and Gums
Keep the floss taut at all times, with about and inch or less between your thumb and index fingers for your upper teeth, or index fingers only for your lower teeth. Curve the floss around each tooth and gently move it up and down until you hear a squeaky clean sound. Extend the downward movement of the floss to just below the surface of the gum, without being too harsh and causing injury. As you move from tooth to tooth, move around the floss circle so that each tooth gets a clean section of floss.
Place all your fingers in the ring, with the floss over your left thumb and right index finger to floss your upper left teeth, and over your right thumb and left index finger to do the other side.
Use both index fingers to floss all your lower teeth.
You may only need to floss once a day before or after brushing to keep your gums health and ward off periodontal (gum) disease. Your dentist will guide you as to how often you may need to floss your teeth. Try this technique and see how it works for you.
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.”
Considering that over 90 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath and everyone else has dealt with some form of it at one time or another, we want to address some common causes and cures so you are prepared if it happens to you.
What are the most common causes of bad breath?
Halitosis or bad breath most often occurs when you have poor oral hygiene and/or routinely consume odorous foods and drinks. In fact, 90% percent of mouth odors come from the food you eat or bacteria thatÃ¢Â€Â™s already there, according to the American Dental Association. Other causes for halitosis include:
- Excessive bacterial growth in the mouth and especially on the tongue
- Known and characteristically odor producing foods and drinks such as onions, garlic, coffee, tobacco and alcohol products
- Diabetes and diseases of the liver and kidneys
- A poorly hydrated body (and mouth) from not drinking enough water everyday
What should I do if I feel (or people tell me) I have chronic bad breath?
Contact us to schedule an appointment for a proper diagnosis and plan of action for returning your mouth to optimal health.
What are some tips I can do to prevent occasional bad breath?
In most cases, bad breath is totally preventable when you follow the tips below:
- Brush your teeth in the morning and at bedtime using a fluoride toothpaste and a proper (and gentle) brushing technique.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day.
- Clean your tongue after brushing your teeth with either a scraping tool you can purchase at a drug or discount store or by gently brushing it with your toothbrush.
- Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water during the day.
- Be prepared by having some mouth cleaning tools (floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste or some sugar free gum) handy to freshen your mouth after consuming bad smelling foods, drinks or using tobacco or alcohol.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to increase saliva production in your mouth and help remove food particles that can lodge between teeth.
- Maintain regular dental check-ups.
Want to learn more?
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a sub-specialty of dentistry devoted to the study of growth and development of the teeth and jaws and treatment of improper bites (malocclusions).
What causes improper bites?
Malocclusions result from irregularities in the positioning of teeth, disproportionate jaw relationships, or both.
Why have orthodontic treatment?
Orthodontic treatment is carried out primarily to improve the alignment and function of your teeth and bite. It also results in improved oral health, easier maintenance, a better smile, and enhanced self-confidence and esteem.
What is the first step?
Schedule an appointment with our office for an orthodontic evaluation of your teeth and jaws and learn what options are best for you.
What do we need in order to plan your orthodontic treatment?
- Molds (impressions) of your teeth to study your bite (study models).
- “Articulated models” placing your study models in a machine that replicates jaw movement.
- Specialized x-rays showing your teeth and how your jaws align.
- Photographs of your smile and position of your teeth.
- Computer imaging.
What are braces?
Orthodontic appliances, commonly known as braces, are small brackets that are placed on teeth, through which thin flexible wires are threaded. They are the parts that move the teeth.
How do they work?
The wires tend to straighten out to their undistorted forms moving the teeth with them. Since the tissues that attach the bone to the teeth are living, they are constantly changing and remodeling themselves. Harnessing these natural forces allows the movement of teeth. Light controlled forces acting through the wires cause new bone to be formed as the teeth move into new improved positions.
What are current options for orthodontic appliances?
- Fixed appliances, traditionally known as braces, include brackets bonded to the teeth. These may be either metal or clear brackets, which are less visible but more susceptible to breakage.
- Removable appliances, or clear aligners. These consist of a series of computer-generated clear plastic custom fitted trays that progressively move the teeth into better alignment.
Orthodontic treatment is an ingenious scientific discovery that has allowed the dental profession to precisely move teeth for better appearance as well as improved function. It harnesses the body's natural processes by which tissues normally remodel themselves to maintain a steady state, allowing your dental team to move your teeth into improved position for a lifetime of dental health and a great smile.