Posts for: December, 2014
Your snoring isn’t just an annoyance to other members of your household — it could indicate a serious health issue. Fortunately, there are treatments, some of which your dentist might be able to provide.
Snoring is the result of soft tissue structures in the back of the throat, including the tonsils, the uvula, the tongue or fat deposits, collapsing on each either and obstructing the flow of air into your lungs. The obstructions produce a vibration that is the source of the snoring.
These obstructions could lead to a serious condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). As the name implies, the obstruction causes a complete cessation of airflow for several seconds. As oxygen levels drop, the body responds by waking for one to three seconds (known as “micro-arousals”) to restore airflow. These disruptions can occur several times a night, as much as fifty times an hour. The depletion of oxygen and resulting low quality of sleep can contribute to high blood pressure, a higher risk of heart attack or stroke, and the possibility of accidents caused by lower alertness during the day.
You can help reduce the effect of OSA by losing weight and exercising. You may also be a candidate for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy, which utilizes a device that delivers pressurized air into the airway while you sleep.
Depending on the exact cause and extent of your OSA, you might also benefit from treatments provided by your dentist. We can develop a custom-fitted oral appliance, similar to an orthodontic retainer or sports mouthguard, which you wear while you sleep. These devices work by repositioning the lower jaw forward, thereby maintaining an open airway by also moving the soft tissue of the tongue forward. For more advanced conditions, certain surgical procedures that realign the jaw or remove excess tissue, the tonsils and adenoids, or parts of the uvula or soft palate could be considered.
To know your best treatment course, you should schedule a complete oral examination to determine the exact cause of the obstruction, and possibly a polysomnogram, an overnight study performed in a sleep lab. And as your dentist, we might be able to provide the key for a better night’s sleep and a healthier tomorrow.
If you would like more information on how we can address your problems with sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.”
Can having a great smile help land you a high-level business position, a TV show, and a bride? Maybe — at least if you go by the example of Bill Rancic.
The 42-year-old Chicago native is well known as the first winner of NBC-TV's The Apprentice, a reality show where contestants vied for a job with Donald Trump's organization. Shortly after his selection as Trump's newest hire, Rancic met his future wife, Giuliana, when she interviewed him for E! News. Flash forward a few years, and the couple is now hosting their own reality TV show on Style network.
So how much has Bill's winning smile helped?
“I think a great smile says a lot about a person — especially in our professions,” Bill recently said in an interview with Dear Doctor magazine. He also mentioned that having a few cosmetic dental treatments helped him close the deal.
As a child, Bill wore braces to correct an overbite. For both kids and adults, orthodontic treatment is often the first step toward getting the smile of your dreams. The practice of orthodontics has changed dramatically in the past 20 years and there are now a number of choices available in lieu of traditional metal braces.
Not Your Father's Braces
For those who need to maintain a “professional” image, tooth-colored braces offer a less noticeable way to straighten your teeth. Lingual braces are another option that's suitable in some situations. These are truly invisible: bonded on the tongue side of the teeth, they can't be seen from the front.
Or, you may be able to forego braces altogether and use a series of clear plastic aligners to gradually bring your teeth into alignment. Not only are these difficult to notice, but they can be completely removed for short periods of time — at important board meetings, for example.
Red-Carpet Tooth Whitening
More recently, Rancic had tooth whitening treatments. Depending on the degree of lightening needed, these can range from custom-fitted bleaching trays that you wear at home under the supervision of a dentist, to in-office whitening treatments that work in far less time. Both can be effective in lightening your teeth by six shades or more.
But if you need the ultimate in whitening, veneers may be the best option. These are fingernail-thin coatings, made of pearly-white porcelain or composite material, that are placed directly on the tooth surfaces. Realistic and durable, they can provide a “Hollywood white” smile that's ready for the red carpet.
Did Bill's cosmetic dental work really improve his life? We can't say for sure — but as his wife Giuliana recently told Dear Doctor, “First impressions are very important, and having a beautiful smile will help anyone make a great impact on others.” So perhaps it worked on her!
If you would like more information on how cosmetic dental treatments can improve your smile, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “The Magic of Orthodontics” and “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”
Enamel — that tough, outermost tooth layer — protects your teeth from all sorts of hazards, from bacterial attack to temperature extremes. But although the hardest substance in the human body, enamel has a mortal enemy — acid. High acid levels can cause the minerals in enamel to dissolve, a process called de-mineralization. And although saliva can neutralize these levels in approximately 45-60 minutes and restore some of the enamel’s lost minerals, a constant acidic environment can overwhelm this natural mechanism.
That’s why you should be careful with the amount and frequency of acidic foods and drinks like citrus fruits or coffee. You should be especially concerned about your intake of sodas, energy drinks or sports drinks. The latter in particular are designed to replace fluids and nutrients during intense exercise or sports events, but are often consumed as a regular beverage. And all these drinks mentioned are often sipped on throughout the day, resulting in a constant wash of acid in your mouth that can interrupt the protective response of saliva.
There’s one other source for high mouth acidity that comes not from outside the body but from within. GERD — Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease — is a condition in which digestive acid refluxes (flows back) into the esophagus. While chronic acid reflux can damage the lining of the esophagus and lead to ulcers or even cancer, it may also pose a danger to teeth if the acid regularly rises into the mouth. Individuals encountering this will know it by the awful, acrid taste of vomit in their mouth.
To reduce the chances of high mouth acid due to food intake, limit the consumption of acidic foods and beverages to meal times and sports drink consumption to strenuous exercise or sporting events. Better yet, consider the greatest hydrator of all, water — with a neutral pH of 7.
If you’re experiencing chronic heartburn or other GERD symptoms, make an appointment to see your primary care doctor or a gastroenterologist as soon as possible. Many treatments are effective and will not only improve your general health but may also help preserve your tooth enamel.
If you would like more information on the effect of acid in the mouth and how to reduce it, 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 “Dentistry & Oral Health for Children” and “GERD — Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease.”