Posts for: October, 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.”
Many youngsters look forward to finding a surprise under their pillow after a visit from the “tooth fairy.” This fable may comfort children who wonder why their first teeth come out. Parents need to know that losing baby teeth, also called primary or deciduous teeth, is completely normal, but at the right time and the right “space.”
A child's first set of teeth must be lost to create room for the adult or permanent teeth that have been forming beneath them. The buds of the permanent teeth grow within a child's jawbone just under the baby teeth. The tops, or crowns, grow first, followed by the roots. Then as the roots develop, the permanent teeth push the baby teeth above them up through the gum tissues. As this happens, the roots of the baby teeth are resorbed, or melted away.
With their roots gone, eventually the baby teeth become so loose that they can be easily removed or fall out on their own, making room for the adult teeth to appear. Sometimes, when a baby tooth is so loose, it can be wiggled out. It leaves a little bleeding gum tissue that heals easily. This is also normal.
Besides making sure the tooth fairy comes, parents need to be sure that their children are evaluated to determine whether baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence so they will act as guides for the adult teeth. If teeth are lost prematurely because of decay or trauma, it is important that space is maintained for the adult teeth when they come in.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss whether your child's baby teeth are being lost in the right sequence and the adult teeth are coming in correctly. To read more about losing baby teeth, see the article “Losing a Baby Tooth: Understanding an important process in your child's development.”
Having someone tell you that you have bad breath can be humiliating, but it can also be a sign that you need to see your dentist. Bad breath (or halitosis) can be a sign of an underlying dental or health problem, so before you run out and stock up on breath mints, make an appointment with our office. Using breath fresheners will only disguise the problem and not treat the root cause.
It's important to remember that if you have bad breath, you're not alone — it's the third most common reason people seek a dental consult. We use a systematic approach to determine the cause of your halitosis and offer a solution.
Causes: Ninety percent of mouth odors come from mouth itself — either from the food you eat or bacteria that may be present. Most unpleasant odors originate from proteins trapped in the mouth that are processed by oral bacteria. When left on the tongue, these bacteria can cause an unpleasant smell. Dry mouth, sinus problems, diet and poor oral hygiene can also cause bad breath. In rare cases, a medical condition may be the cause.
Treatment: The best solution will depend on determining the real cause of your halitosis. If bad breath emanates from the mouth, it most commonly is caused by gum disease or even tooth decay, which need to be treated to correct the problem. If halitosis is of systemic (general body) origin, a more detailed examination might be needed from a physician. But the solution may also be as simple as demonstrating how to effectively remove bacterial plaque from your teeth, or offer instruction on proper tongue cleaning. If the cause is gum disease, we may suggest a deep cleaning and possible antibiotic therapy.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding bad breath. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More Than Just Embarrassing.”
Thinking or knowing you have an impacted wisdom tooth can be alarming news for some people. Unfortunately, one of the main reasons for this feeling is due to the mythology surrounding wisdom teeth...and especially impacted wisdom teeth. While an impacted wisdom tooth can cause intense pain, some people are quite shocked to learn that they even have impacted wisdom teeth, as it is causing no pain at all.
By definition, an impacted wisdom tooth is a third (and last) molar that gets jammed against an adjacent tooth or other important structures such as gum, bone nerves, blood vessels. And having an impacted wisdom tooth does have its consequences — even if you are unaware you have one. The most common issue is gum (periodontal) disease. This is the main reason why it is so important to have a problematic wisdom tooth removed early when you are young and before periodontal disease has started. If left untreated, you risk damaging and/or losing the impacted tooth and adjacent teeth.
The key to managing wisdom teeth is to monitor them closely through thorough routine examinations and x-rays between the ages of 17 and 25, the time when wisdom teeth typically appear. This is so vital because it allows us to predict the way your wisdom teeth will erupt (become visible) or come into proper position with useful biting function. We can use these visits and x-rays to monitor development so that we are best equipped to determine if or when wisdom teeth need to be treated or removed.
It is also important to contact us as soon as you think you may have an impacted wisdom tooth that is causing pain, swelling or even infection. We can put your mind at rest with the facts of what needs to be done after we've completed our exam.
If you feel that you or a family member has an impacted wisdom tooth, contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions. Or you can learn more now about the symptoms and treatment options of impacted wisdom teeth by continuing to read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wisdom Teeth.”