teeth

Snoring: Can you do Anything about it?

Snoring is a widespread problem, affecting 30-45% of the population. When you take into account those that are disturbed by it, spouses and children, that number will double. It can have social consequences, disrupting marriages and roommate relationships. Snoring can also have medical consequences, preventing “a good night’s sleep” so individuals wake up fatigued, or more seriously, as a byproduct of obstructive sleep apnea, wherein the snorer momentarily stops breathing during sleep. To objectively identify the problem, an overnight sleep study [polysomnogram] needs to be administered by a medical doctor. The sound of snoring results from the uvula [tissue hanging from roof of soft palate] and the back of the soft palate vibrating. It is caused by a narrowing of the air passages in the throat due to a variety of factors – long uvula or soft palate, large tonsils, excess fat deposits, blocked nasal passages from cold or allergies and/or the relaxation [collapse] of the musculature of the throat and mouth during sleep. Presently, there are several methods that are reasonably predictable and will offer snorers relief. The most common utilizes a device called CPAP [continuous positive air pressure]. A stream of air is pushed through a tube connected to a mask that covers the nose. The continuous air pressure forces the airway to stay open during sleep. There are a large variety of dental appliances, similar to a mouthguard or orthodontic retainer, which are worn while sleeping. Some reposition the lower jaw [mandible] forward while others retain the tongue in a forward position. Essentially, they maintain an open, unobstructed airway in the throat. These appliances may be contraindicated in bruxers [people who grind their teeth]. Why suffer any longer? Any of these treatments can reduce or stop snoring. Call our office for more information.

Smoking And Your Mouth

It would be paradoxical to use the word “smoking” and the phrase “good oral health” in the same sentence. They just don’t go together. Not only does smoking leave brown stains and sticky tar deposits on your teeth or dentures, but it contributes to halitosis [bad breath]. It’s not uncommon to see red inflammation on the palate [roof of the mouth] from the high temperatures generated by cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor in periodontal [gum] disease. As shown by 20 years of research, smokers are 2-3 times more likely to develop periodontitis [bone loss]. Tooth loss is much more prevalent than in non-smokers. Studies have shown a higher rate of dental implant failures for those who smoke. Smoking leaves little room for error when it comes to oral cancer. There are 9,000 deaths a year in the U.S. from oral cancer and tobacco use accounts for 75% of them. Even second-hand smoke poses danger, especially for children. Smoke breathed in by children can affect the development and eruption of their permanent teeth. This process usually begins between ages 3-6 years old. The good news is that “kicking the habit” greatly reduces the risk of developing oral cancer. After 10 years of cessation, the risk is similar to a non-smoker. There are a number of ways to stop without experiencing extreme withdrawal symptoms including the nicotine patch, nicotine gum and nicotine spray or inhaler.

The Instant Makeover

More and more these days, instant sorts of makeovers are shown on television shows and in the news. It seems that once a person makes the commitment to proceed, they want to get moving quickly. Our practice has noticed that too, and we are doing many more “makeovers” where we finish the entire treatment in a short period of time.

It seems like many people just hit a point where they have “had it” with their smile or their appearance, and decide it’s time to look better. The next steps are important, because how happy a person is with the results, depends on how the treatment is approached and accomplished.

Here is what we do when someone presents with some true esthetic concerns and is ready to do something about them:

 First of all, we interview the patient to determine their true desires, needs and wants. Everything starts with getting a good understanding of what the patient wants and expects.

 We have to do a complete exam to understand the underlying health of the teeth, gum and bone, and how the bite, or occlusion, is working.

 We take photographs, and impressions of the teeth for what we call study models. Sometimes we ask the dental lab to create the desired appearance in an ideal wax smile. It is a fun process.

Once we know where we want to be at the finish, the process of getting there is usually just a couple of long and relaxed appointments.

In the First Visit the teeth are prepared and impressions are taken; the patient leaves with plastic temporary restorations that are an actual preview of the desired end point. These provisional restorations allow us to personalize shape, size and color so that before the final porcelain restorations, we know that the patient is going to love their smile. This works really well, relieving much of the anxiety of someone not knowing how they will look.

The patient generally receives the final restorations in the Second visit, where we take off the temporary crowns/veneers and try in the permanent ones. If they are fitting and looking like we want, these restorations are permanently bonded to the teeth. Subsequent visits are made as necessary for any follow up or adjustments.