Posts for: June, 2014
Do you snore? You can admit it. Most everyone does, from time to time. But if snoring becomes a frequent and disturbing feature of your nighttime routine, it may be more than just an annoyance. Did you know that excessive snoring — when accompanied by irritability and depression, daytime sleepiness and confusion, and/or several other physical and mood problems — is one of the common symptoms of a sleep-related breathing disorder (SRBD)?
SRBDs are potentially serious conditions, with consequences that can range from poor workplace performance to possible cardiovascular and brain damage. One of the most significant of these maladies is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, a condition in which the tongue and surrounding soft tissues fall back into the throat and obstruct air flow. This reduces oxygen levels in the blood, causing the body to wake suddenly — and in severe cases, it can happen up to 50 times an hour, without a person consciously realizing it.
Needless to say, that doesn't make for a good night's sleep. But even if it turns out your snoring problem isn't severe OSA, it can still prevent you (and your partner) from feeling refreshed in the morning. Did you know that we may be able to recommend an oral appliance that has been proven to alleviate problem snoring in many cases? This custom-made device, worn while you're sleeping, helps maintain an open airway in the throat and reduce breathing problems.
If you have this condition, it's critical that you get professional advice. Dentists who have received special training in sleep problems can evaluate you, provide medical referrals when needed, and help determine the type of appliance that may work best for you. Since sleep disorders can be problematic, a thorough evaluation and follow-up monitoring is essential.
Several treatments for SRBDs are available. But oral appliance therapy, when it's recommended, offers some distinct advantages. The small appliances are comfortable, easy to wear, and very portable — unlike more complex medical devices such as CPAP machines. They're a non-invasive and reversible treatment that should be considered before undertaking a more intensive treatment, like surgery. Could an oral appliance benefit you? Why not ask us if we can help you get a good night's sleep.
If you would like more information about oral appliance therapy for sleep problems, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry” and “Sleep Apnea FAQs.”
Young children are like sponges, soaking up patterns of behavior they will later apply in many circumstances throughout life. In this learning process, they often look to family members for guidance. Some good habits, like saying “please” and “thank you,” can be taught verbally. Others are best learned by example.
Developing good habits early will benefit your children for a lifetime — especially where their health is concerned. Fortunately, it isn't hard to instill good oral hygiene behavior in a young child; for example, most all children are successfully taught to brush their teeth at an early age. What follows are some tips that might not be as obvious, but will help your children build healthy routines for maintaining optimum oral hygiene.
1) Teach your children how to check the cleanliness of their own teeth.
How? By running their tongue over the tooth surfaces! If the teeth feel nice and smooth, they're likely to be clean, too. Remember to give kids a soft brush, and tell them to use gentle strokes in brushing.
2) Avoid transferring your own oral bacteria to your children.
Children aren't born with decay-producing bacteria — they get them from others! That's why sharing baby's spoon or licking a pacifier clean aren't really good ideas. (Neither is pre-chewing a baby's food, despite what some birds and celebrities do. Trust us on this.)
3) Set an example of healthy eating habits for your children.
Follow common-sense guidelines (like those in www.choosemyplate.gov) for maintaining a balanced diet, eating plenty of vegetables and whole grains, drinking lots of water and getting moderate exercise.
4) Limit sugary treats to mealtimes, not snack times — if you allow them at all.
Oral bacteria utilize sugar for energy and when they metabolize it, they produce harmful acids. These acids attack the teeth and cause decay. The more sugar, the higher potential for stronger acids. Saliva helps neutralize these acids — but not if sugar is constantly present in the mouth. Try to limit sugary treats to mealtimes, and serve a healthier snack between meals.
5) Encourage your children to stop sucking thumbs and pacifiers by age 3.
Thumb sucking is a normal, comforting habit that may begin in the womb. Most kids stop on their own between ages 2 and 4. But long-term sucking on fingers or a pacifier can lead to tooth and jaw-development problems. We can help you find ways to gently encourage children to stop when it's time.
If you would like more information about instilling good oral hygiene habits in children, 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 “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
While most people can expect to have a temporary case of bad breath after eating spiced foods like garlic, smoking, drinking coffee or wine, odor that persists and becomes chronic is not something to take lightly. We can help diagnose the underlying cause of your bad breath, making both you and the people around you much happier!
Chronic bad breath, also known as “halitosis,” affects about 25% of Americans to some extent. Treating the condition effectively requires a thorough oral examination to uncover the source of the odor. Although some forms of bad breath can be caused by medical conditions like diabetes, lung infections, even kidney failure and cancer, between 85% and 90% of cases originate in the mouth. There are more than 600 types of bacteria found in the average mouth and, given the right (or, should we say, wrong) oral environment, dozens of these bacteria can produce foul odors including a “rotten egg” smell from the production of volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs).
Some of the oral causes of bad breath include:
- Naturally occurring bacteria found on the back of the tongue that thrive on food deposits, dead skin cells and post nasal drip (Yuck!);
- Dry mouth, after sleeping, especially when an individual breathes through his or her mouth;
- Unclean dentures;
- Decaying or abscessed teeth;
- Diseased gums; and
- Infected tonsils.
Once the exact origin of the odor has been determined, we can tell you what form of treatment you'll need to successfully banish the bad breath for good. If your problem is merely the result of poor oral hygiene you can play a large role in turning your situation around. In any case, treatments for mouth-related halitosis can include:
- A careful, at-home plaque control routine using dental floss and a special toothbrush designed to clean between teeth — nobody really knows how to properly clean without professional instruction;
- In-office and at-home tongue cleaning using a tongue scraper or brush;
- Instruction on how to properly clean your dentures;
- To treat underlying gum disease, periodontal therapy in the form of a deep cleaning, also known as scaling or root planing; and
- Extraction of wisdom teeth that exhibit debris-trapping gum tissue traps.
So if you are ready to toss your breath mints away and pursue a more permanent solution to rectify your mouth odor, call our office today to schedule an appointment. For more information about the causes of bad breath, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bad Breath: More Than Just Embarrassing.”