Sleep Apnea

Did you know millions of people suffer from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? It is estimated that at least 75% of the population suffer from these problems. Obstructive sleep apnea not only causes fatigue and severe daytime drowsiness, but many other problems such as poor memory, clouded intellect, personality changes, irritability, decreased sex drive, impotence, morning headaches and many health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea contributes to cardiovascular disease, as well as conditions such as hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and heart disease.
Many studies show that those with OSA have a 15% higher rate for health problems as well as a 15% higher mortality rate. Those with OSA are three times more likely to be in a car accident.
Snoring and Obstructive sleep apnea not only affects health and quality of life, but also severely affects a spouse or significant other’s life. Many studies show that spouses slept an additional 62 minutes and their quality of life increased significantly after their partner was treated.
What causes snoring and OSA? During normal sleep we breathe air in through our mouth and nose into our airway. If the muscles of the tongue and palate fall back into the airway, they can constrict the airway or completely close it off. When constricted the air causes the muscles to vibrate, thus causing snoring. When the airway is completely closed off, this causes an apnea event to occur (stop breathing) which causes your brain to awake you to start breathing again. Thus someone’s quality of sleep is greatly affected by these continuous awakenings or arousals throughout the night.
The first and most effective treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine. Unfortunately many people cannot tolerate wearing their CPAP and end up doing nothing to help their condition. Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to CPAP. An oral appliance is a small plastic device that fits over the teeth, just like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. The appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft tissue of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Oral appliances work by slightly advancing the lower jaw which in turn moves the base of the tongue forward and opens the airway to allow improved breathing and reduced snoring and apneas during sleep.

History Bites

Dating back to the Neolithic Period, humans once believed the stabbing pain of a toothache was caused by a “tooth worm” that either appeared spontaneously or bored its way into the tooth. If the tooth pain was severe, it meant the worm was wriggling; if the aching stopped, the worm was resting.

Cultures across the world held stubbornly to this myth. In fact, folklore of the tooth worm persisted from at least 5000 BC to the beginning of the 18th Century. Here are two of our favorite prescribed remedies for the infamous tooth worm:

Ancient Greece

Perhaps foreshadowing future greatness, Greeks of the Archaic Period (8th to 6th centuries BC) made a fairly astute association but missed the connection. They used donkey milk as a mouthwash to strengthen the gums and teeth. However, the ancient Greeks then took a step in the wrong direction and applied a frog to the cheek or head on the side of the toothache to absorb the pain. Ultimately taking a turn for the worse, they would also spit into the frog’s mouth, hoping to transfer the pain to the unfortunate amphibian.

The Middle Ages

A millennium later, ironically, people of the Middle Ages actually used honey to coat an infected tooth. Believing the tooth worm shared their sweet cravings, people smeared aching teeth with honey and waited all night in vain, tweezers in hand, ready to snatch the tooth worm. And, apparently, those with a more pungent disposition applied a raw onion to the sore side of their face. Any way you slice it, successful courtship in the Middle Ages must have been a massive achievement!

21st Century Dentistry

Fortunately, modern dentistry made colossal strides since the Middle Ages. And preventing tooth decay is now easier and more convenient than ever. Equipped with the latest technologies and treatment plans, you can rest assured you won’t find yourself with a frog on your face . . . unless that’s your thing.

Call our office today to make an appointment before the dreaded tooth worm attacks and you find yourself rummaging through a swamp in search of wishful relief.

Snoring Sounds An Alarm

Quality sleep is necessary for optimal daytime functioning. Insufficient or poor sleep quality has been linked to diabetes, hypertension, driving accidents, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and even premature death.

Research shows that approximately 87 million Americans snore and over 40 million of those are chronic suffers of sleep disorders. However, approximately only 10% of sleep disorders are diagnosed. Fortunately, dentists are now being trained to recognize signs of risk for sleep disorders and how to treat such disorders.

Snoring is a red flag as it could be an early sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In fact, an alarming 40% of snorers have been shown to have OSA. And, while snoring and sleep apnea can stem from a variety of causes, the results are always disruptive for the sufferer and nearly as disturbing for the apnea patient’s family members.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine now recommends oral appliances as a primary or first line of treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. The guidelines state that patients should always be offered the choice of an oral appliance if they have mild to moderate OSA.

Our treatments include the latest in FDA-approved oral appliance therapy (OAT), also known as mandibular advancement devices (MAD), to keep the airway unobstructed during sleep. We are highly trained in fitting and maintaining a wide variety of oral devices to reposition the mandible, retain the tongue below the airway and provide positive airway space to limit apnea episodes and their related loss of sleep.

Results of this type of therapy have been encouraging, and many patients report fewer sleep interruptions, more restful nights and greatly diminished daytime fatigue as well as improved health. In addition, family members report improved sleep when their bed partners are less likely to awaken suddenly or snore.

It may interest you to know that many health insurance plans do reimburse for OAT and its related services and therapies. Our office will be happy to work with patients to assist in any coverage benefits that may apply to their course of treatment. We will work closely with you and your physician to provide the best treatment option.

Call us today to make an appointment. You’ll find yourself sleeping fitfully in no time.

Oral Cancer Bad and Good News

Unfortunately, the incidence of oral cancers is rising quickly. While cancers of the mouth used to be seen mostly in people with high risk factors (smoking, snuff use, alcohol use, family history of cancer, aging), the biggest rise has been in people with NO apparent risk factors. One out of four people who get oral cancer fall into the “no risk” group. In addition, oral cancers are very deadly, and horribly disfiguring, with only a 50% survival rate. EARLY DETECTION IS CRITICAL! 

More than 34,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year, compared with 9,700 cases of cervical cancer per year. However, unlike cervical cancer, until recently there was no early detection test for oral cancers. The good news is that now that has changed! We now have  Identafi early screening test to assist in early detection.
We’re proud and excited to be one of the few offices in the state to have invested in the latest and best cancer screening technology available, the Identafi screening device. This amazing equipment allows us to “see” down to the inner cell layers for any cancerous or pre-cancerous cell changes, vastly improving our ability for early detection. Best of all, it is absolutely painless.
Patients with no risk factors need to have this inexpensive test done once per year, and those at high risk every six months.

A Beautiful Smile Is Precious And Priceless

Did you know that the shape, shade, length and spacing of your teeth could significantly affect your smile? And our smiles can greatly affect our self-esteem and confidence?

Common conditions that impact your smile negatively include:
• Broken, cracked or worn teeth
• Discolored teeth
• Missing teeth
• Crooked teeth
• Decayed teeth
• Gaps between teeth
• “Gummy smiles”
The good news is that, thanks to modern technology and improved materials, these physical issues can be dramatically changed to create natural, long-lasting and beautiful smiles.
Each patient, along with his/her unique circumstances, must be evaluated individually. Factors such as occlusion [bite], oral habits, available space, health of the gum tissue, severity of the problem and patient expectations must be taken into consideration during the makeover planning process.
Depending on the situation, there are a variety of treatment options to achieve excellent esthetic outcomes. For whiter natural teeth, in-office or at-home bleaching [whitening] techniques are available. Repairing teeth or closing spaces may be accomplished with tooth-colored composite resin bonding, porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns.
These procedures vary in time and cost along with differences in longevity and appearance. If you’re not satisfied with your smile, or you want to learn if you’re a good candidate for any of these remarkable techniques, call our office today for a consultation.

Child’s First Visit To The Dentist

We would like to see your child as soon as the first tooth erupts (around six months of age). The most important goals of this first visit are to introduce your child to the office surroundings and to develop a trust in the dentist and our staff. We view this visit as an icebreaker. If your child is too frightened, uncomfortable or uncooperative, we may have to re-schedule several short visits. You will be charged a reasonable fee for the time. Please do not try to explain the first visit yourself. Do not use phrases like “Be brave!” or “Don’t be afraid”. Don’t offer them a bribe with special treats to get them to the office. Rather be positive and reassuring that the visit will be fun and one in which to look forward.

The appointment should be 15-30 minutes and may include necessary x-rays, a gentle, comprehensive examination of the teeth, gums, jaws, bite and oral tissues. This is both to observe any problems and to establish a baseline so we can monitor your child’s growth and development. Depending on your child’s age and cooperation, we may also clean and polish their teeth and apply a topical fluoride. Please bring to this first appointment any of your child’s medical records. We will try to discuss and answer any questions you may have at that time. Our objective is to be gentle and patient so your child develops a positive attitude towards the dental office and their own oral health. Our long-term goal is prevention and minimizing and dental problems for him/her as they mature.

What is a Mouthguard?

A mouthguard is a flexible appliance that is worn in athletic and recreational activities to protect teeth from trauma. The dental profession unanimously supports the use of mouthguards in a variety of sports activities.

Why should I wear a mouthguard?

A mouthguard can prevent serious injuries such as broken teeth, jaw fractures, cerebral hemorrhage and neck injuries by helping to avoid situations where the lower jaw gets jammed into the upper jaw. Mouthguards are effective in moving soft tissue in the oral cavity away from the teeth, preventing laceration and bruising of the lips and cheeks, especially for those who wear orthodontic appliances. They may also reduce the severity and incidence of concussions.

In what sports should I wear a mouthguard?

Anytime there is a strong chance for contact with other participants or hard surfaces, it is advisable to wear a mouthguard. Players who participate in basketball, softball, football, wrestling, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, in-line skating and martial arts, as well as recreational sports such as skateboarding and bicycling, should wear mouthguards while competing.

Why don’t kids wear mouthguards?

Parents are sometimes uninformed about the level of contact and potential for serious dental injuries involved with sports in which the child participates. Some, though not all, schools reinforce the health advantage of mouthguards for their contact sports. Cost may be another consideration, although mouthguards come in a variety of price ranges.

What are the different types of mouthguards?

Stock mouthguard: The lowest cost option is a ready-made, stock item, which offers the least protection because the fit adjustment is limited. It may interfere with speech and breathing because this mouthguard requires that the jaw be closed to hold it in place. A stock mouthguard is not considered acceptable as a facial protective device.

Mouth-formed mouthguard: There are two types of mouth-formed mouthguards. The first is a shell-liner mouthguard that is made with an acrylic material that is poured into an outer shell, where it forms a lining. When placed in an athlete’s mouth, the protector’s lining material molds to the teeth and is allowed to set. Another type is a thermoplastic, or “boil-and-bite,” mouthguard. This mouthguard is softened in hot water and then placed in the mouth and shaped around the teeth by using finger, tongue and sometimes biting pressure.

Custom-made mouthguard: The best choice is a mouthguard custom-made by your dentist. It offers the best protection, fit and comfort level because it is made from a cast to fit your teeth.

How should I care for a mouthguard?

  • Clean your mouthguard by washing it with soap and cool (not hot) water.
  • Before storing, soak your mouthguard in mouthwash.
  • Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use. Make sure the box has several holes so the mouthguard will dry.
  • Heat is bad for a mouthguard, so don’t leave it in direct sunlight or in a closed automobile.
  • Don’t bend your mouthguard when storing.
  • Don’t handle or wear someone else’s mouthguard.
  • Call your dentist if there are any problems.

Root Canals: Planting A Lasting Image

For a severely infected tooth, there are often only two treatment options: root canal therapy or tooth removal. In most cases, a root canal is the preferable choice, because it’s the only way to save a tooth. Extractions are the treatment of last resort.

A root canal consists of the dentist making a small hole in the tooth and then removing the tiny nerves and blood vessels within the root(s). The roots are then shaped, disinfected and filled with an inert material.

While root canals are the most feared of all dental procedures – largely due to lingering stories of outdated treatment methods, which paint the wrong picture – today this procedure can be performed with minimal discomfort. Furthermore, the success rate is quite high; 90% of patients experience no further complications after the procedure.

In the rare instances where a root canal fails, there are still options available. In many cases, the root canal can be performed again. If this isn’t possible, a procedure called an apicoectomy can be performed. An apicoectomy involves the removal of the root’s tip and then placing a filling over the severed root tip. If these measures fail, the tooth may have to be removed.

However, please remember that modern root canal therapy is both safe and overwhelmingly effective. Plus new techniques continue to build upon the already high success rate.

Call our Caliber Dental office today if you experience severe tooth pain. We will examine your tooth and advise on the most appropriate course of treatment.

Making Dental Visits Easy for Kids

With your help, dental visits can be a positive – even fun – experience for your kids. Our staff will spend a lot of time with your kids to help them feel comfortable and understand what they can expect. You can help us make their next visit a successful one by working with us to accomplish this goal!

Here’s what we suggest:

  • Use only positive words when answering your kids’ questions. Soft, easy, fun and play are good words to use.
  • Avoid using words like pain, hurt, needle and shot. These words make kids (and many adults) scared and anxious.
  • After treatment is completed, you can help continue the positive experience by praising your child and referring to the fun time they just had.
  • DON’T ask negative questions like: Did it hurt? Were you scared? Did you get a shot? These comments could make your child think that there was a reason to be afraid even though they were cooperative and had a good time. It might also make them afraid of future visits.

If your child receives any kind of anesthesia, assure them that their “tickly” or “sleepy” tongue will go away in no time. Most kids don’t mind the numbness, and some even think it’s fun – that’s a good thing.

Puberty Causes Swollen Gums

Puberty is a fact of life where a child’s body matures and becomes capable of reproduction. It is during this time that hair sprouts up in unusual places, voices drop, girls start menstruating and smiles can become plagued with swollen gums that are more sensitive to dental plaque and at greater risk for dental problems.

Puberty is fueled by hormonal signals to the brain and the release of those compounds is essential to the maturation process. However, while those hormones are imbalanced, growing girls and boys are more prone to oral issues including infections, gingivitis and mouth sores. Fortunately a good dental hygiene regimen complete with daily brushing, flossing and regular trips to the dentist will act as a form of preventative dentistry and minimize any oral health risks associated with the natural evolution of life.