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How Dentist Provided Oral Appliances Can Help with Snoring and Sleep Apnea

How Dentist Provided Oral Appliances Can Help with Snoring and Sleep Apnea

  • Posted: Mar 05, 2015
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Snoring is an exceptionally common problem for people of all ages and genders. Though not usually harmful, snoring can disrupt sleeping and cause tension in relationships. Snoring is also one of the symptoms of sleep apnea, a severe condition that is hard to identify. Dentists have the opportunity to successfully treat both snorers and mild sleep apnea sufferers in a variety of ways, with the most effective being with oral appliances.

Muscles relax during sleep and this includes those inside your mouth (tongue, tonsils, soft palate, walls), which will vibrate during breathing. Relaxed oral muscles can partially block the airway and force air to travel through a smaller passageway. The narrower the passageway, the more vibration of the muscles and the louder snoring becomes. Not a serious problem on its own, snoring can however cause issues for people living with the culprit. Snoring is a warning sign of a more serious condition; a significant amount of people who snore also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which the soft muscles of the throat block the airway completely. The brain usually recognises that the airway is disrupted and will wake the sleeper up in order to re-open the passageway. Sufferers of sleep apnea usually experience daytime fatigue due to interrupted sleep alongside other potential symptoms such as headaches, mood swings and memory problems. People with sleep apnea are at risk for high blood pressure and stroke. If you snore loudly and frequently, experience extreme fatigue and stop breathing or gasp in your sleep, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Dentists have a great opportunity to help and treat people with snoring and mild sleep apnea with the use of oral appliances. These appliances fit into two basic categories: mandibular advancing devices (MAD) and tongue-retaining devices (TRD). Each type of device uses difference methods to help open the airway and allow the patient to breathe easier. Both types of appliance have been proven to work effectively and help treat snorers and sleep apnea sufferers, though do not cure the condition.

Mandibular advancing devices fit over upper and lower teeth and push the lower jaw forward to improve airflow while tongue-retaining devices are custom-made applicants that hold the tongue forward during sleep using suction. MAD appliances are currently the most widely used and have the appearance of a sports mouth guard. The presence of at least several healthy teeth are required for use of a MAD device, with TRD appliances are considered for suitable for patients with few or no teeth and/or a large tongue. Use of a TRD can cause tongue irritation over long-term use.

There are no guarantees that an appliance will successfully work for every patient, and there are various side effects including dry mouth, teeth discomfort and tissue irritation. Some tooth movement is also possible. Oral appliances must be provided by a dentist or orthodontist for the best fit possible. Therapy using oral appliances can take several weeks or several months. Patients are usually encouraged to take other steps to ease their snoring and sleep apnea alongside using the oral appliance. Suggestions for patients may include improving overall health and weight, reducing alcohol consumption before bed and avoiding sleeping on their back.

Dentists have a vital role to play in treatment of snoring and sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy is remarkably effective in assisting sufferers, with the treatment helping to reduce frequency and loudness of snoring and therefore improve sleep patterns. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition but dentists can work alongside sleep specialists to enhance the quality of life of sufferers.

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Overcoming Dental Anxiety and Phobia

Overcoming Dental Anxiety and Phobia

  • Posted: Mar 05, 2015
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For one reason or another, fear of going to the dentist is extremely common around the world. Almost anyone can be affected by dental anxiety and it is characterized by a general unease about visiting a dentist. A more serious condition is dental phobia, a condition that causes intense, unreasonably fear of visiting a dentist. A person with dental phobia will do everything possible to avoid going and only visit when forced by extreme pain. It is important to treat both dental anxiety and phobia as these conditions can contribute to the neglect of teeth, which can in turn threaten both oral and overall health.

The difference between experiencing dental anxiety and phobia is not a fine science. Most people can live with mild anxiety about dental exams and visiting the dentist. Dental phobia is an intense, unreasonable fear or dread that can prevent people from receiving professional dental care for years, even decades. Feeling tense before an appointment is relatively common, but physical terror or sickness while waiting are signs of a more serious condition. People with phobia may cry at the thought of a dental exam, find it difficult to breathe during the appointment and/or have difficulty sleeping the night before.

There is not one clear reason why people experience dental phobia and anxiety. Fear of pain is a major contribution for many people, caused by a previous dental experience that was particularly unpleasant. Older people who experienced painful procedures as children often report this reason. Dental technology has improved greatly in recent years, and now many treatments are much less painful or completely pain-free. Loss of control is another common theme of dental anxiety; it can be difficult to see or understand what is going on at the dentist and this leads some people to feel helpless. The closeness of a dentist or hygienist can also contribute to unease and discomfort. Fear of needles and anesthesia is common in hospitals and this can overlap at the dentist surgery too.

Regular dental appointments are an important part of maintaining good oral, and overall, health. Dental phobia is therefore a risk factor for gum disease and early tooth loss. Poor oral health has been linked to conditions such as heart disease, which can be life threatening. On the cosmetic side of things, discolored or damaged teeth can severely affect a person’s self esteem and confidence. Visiting the dentist can improve the condition and appearance of teeth.

The first step to overcoming dental anxiety and phobia is to acknowledge the problem and talk about your fears. If a dentist is aware of your terror surrounding dental examinations, he or she will be able to work with you to make appointment easier and more comfortable. Patients with extreme phobia may need to be referred to a mental health practitioner. If lack of control is a major contributor to your fear, you could ask your dentist to explain everything they are doing during the exam or treatment and stop when you make a signal such as raising your hand.

Many modern dental surgeries use a range of distraction techniques (television, music, artwork) to ease their patients, while others specialize in using technology to lessen pain. It may be necessary to change dentists until you find one to suit your needs. If you have not had a dental exam recently, you may be surprised at how much equipment and technology has changed for the better. There have been many recent innovations with the purpose of reducing dental anxiety, such as the computer-controlled anesthetic delivery device known as ‘the Wand.’

A good tip is to visit the dental practice before your first appointment so you know what to expect on the day. Booking an appointment in the morning helps reduce time dwelling and thinking about the exam. Remember that your first appointment is likely to be limited to a dental check-up, with no needles or serious procedures. Consider bringing a friend or family member if you feel company may help you feel more comfortable.

Like other mental disorders, dental phobia can be treated. Sharing your fears and anxiety with your dentist and the dental practice staff will help them treat you in a more successful way. Clarification and understanding of procedures can help with anxiety. If you haven’t visited the dentist in a long time, you may be pleasantly surprised how much has changed.  Dental exams are important to maintain good oral health; it is critical not to let dental anxiety risk your overall well-being.

More information visit Art & Science Dental

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What Restorative Dentistry Can Do For You

What Restorative Dentistry Can Do For You

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2015
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Restorative dentistry involves managing the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease in teeth and their supporting structures. The aim is, as the name implies, to restore teeth to a functional and aesthetic state after damage and decay. The goal is usually to preserve existing teeth as much as possible. The type of restoration depends on a variety of factors, including the extent and nature of the damage. If you have chipped, fractured or decayed teeth, you may be considering one of the following restorative procedures.

Fillings

The most common dental restoration is the filling. Most often used to treat teeth affected by plaque, the decayed part of the tooth will be removed and a gold, silver amalgam, or composite resin will be used to fill the remaining hole. Not only limited to decay, fillings can also be used to repair cracked and broken teeth. Amalgam is the traditional material used to treat cavities, but composite resin is becoming popular due to its natural tooth color. The material also bonds better to the tooth and requires less surrounding space to be removed to fit.

Inlay and onlay restorations

For teeth that are too damaged for a regular filling, inlay and onlay restorations are an option. These are indirect restorations, meaning that they are created outside of the mouth, usually with dental impressions of the prepared tooth. An inlay repairs between cusps (raised point on surface) of a tooth while an onlay is usually larger and covers one or more teeth including the cusp area. Like fillings, these types of restoration can be made from a variety of materials such as porcelain or composite resin. Inlays and onlays are a treatment option more conservative than a crown but usually stronger and longer lasting than a filling.

Crowns

When there is not sufficient tooth structure to support a filling or regular inlay/onlay restorations, a crown is usually the next step for treatment. A dental crown acts as a ‘cap,’ fully encasing the visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line. This helps restore the tooth’s functionality, shape, size, appearance and strength. A crown can also be used to cover a dental implant, hold a bridge in place and/or protect a weak tooth from breaking.

Bridges

To replace missing teeth, the two most popular restorative options are bridges, implants and dentures. Bridges replace missing teeth by using the surrounding teeth as support for a false tooth (or teeth). The false tooth material is made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these and is usually cemented permanently in place. Bridges help relieve stress on remaining natural teeth and restore proper function. Crowns on the neighboring teeth help to anchor the bridge in place. Replacing missing teeth in this way can improve smile as well as bite, providing better aesthetics, comfort and functionality.

Implants

Dental implants are a more modern option to replace missing teeth and involve replacing a tooth root with a small metal post. The post is then fitted with a replacement tooth, designed to compliment or match remaining teeth. The metal implant provides a strong foundation for the fake tooth since it is attached directly to the jawbone and is often considered a more natural option than dentures. Not everyone is a candidate for implants however; a strong jawbone is needed in addition to healthy gums.

Dentures

A removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissue, dentures are made of acrylic resin sometimes combined with metal attachments. When all teeth are missing, complete dentures are used. When some teeth remain, partial dentures are an option, retained by metal clasps attached to the surrounding teeth. Dental implants and bridges are commonly chosen over dentures as they provide the closest experience to having natural teeth. As previously mentioned however, not all patients are eligible for these treatments.

There are now plenty of options for people with damaged or missing teeth due to decay or injury. Restorative dentistry can significantly change the functionality and appearance of teeth, impacting positively on many aspects of a person’s life. If you have fractured or missing teeth, do not hesitate to contact your dentist to consider your options.

for more information visit clear dental

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