My Blog

Posts for: October, 2012

By Upper Montclair Dental Associates
October 22, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: snoring   sleep apnea  
HowYourDentistCanHelpYouGetaBetterNightsSleep

Scientists don't know much about sleep even though it has been extensively studied. We do know that several hours of deep, restful sleep per night are essential for a healthy life.

Many people remain tired and unrefreshed, even after a full night's sleep. About a third of them are affected by sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD). Dentists can play a significant role in helping patients overcome these disorders, which range from frequent snoring to severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). If you think you may have such a disorder, read on.

Under normal conditions, your upper airway is open, allowing air to flow from your nose, through your throat, and into your lungs. If you suffer from SRBD, you experience frequent reductions in the flow of air to your lungs during sleep. You may not be aware of it, but sometimes your breathing may even stop for brief periods. These reductions happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block your upper airway or windpipe. You may briefly awaken as many as 50 times per night because of these breathing lapses. These brief awakenings, called micro-arousals, keep you from reaching the deep stages of sleep your body needs.

The resulting reduced oxygen flow to your heart and to your brain can cause serious damage. You will also be tired during the day and experience a lack of energy, even if you sleep for seven or eight hours per night. This constant drowsiness puts you at greater risk for accidents.

Because dentists generally see their patients at six-month or other regular intervals, we are in a good position to screen and refer patients with suspected SRBD to physicians for diagnosis and treatment. Dentists can also treat SRBD in a number of ways.

  • One of these is Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT), in which a device that looks something like an orthodontic retainer holds your lower jaw in a forward position relative to your upper jaw, preventing your tongue and soft tissue from collapsing into your airway.
  • Another consists of breathing equipment called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). The CPAP is a mask connected to a machine that pushes air into your lungs.
  • Other treatments include oral surgery or orthodontia. The goal of these techniques is to increase the volume of air passing through your upper airway by pushing your tongue forward.

Medical insurance usually covers the cost of much of these treatments.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sleep disorders and their treatments. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry.”


By Upper Montclair Dental Associates
October 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral piercings  
OralPiercingsmdashTongueampLipBoltsTrendyButDangerous

Tongue and other piercings are a current fad or trend, but can often lead to unforeseen problems.

Piercing the tongue and installing a metal ornament called a tongue bolt commonly leads to chipped teeth, sensitivity, and pain. More frequently, it can cause problems with the gums, such as recession, inflammation, infection, bone loss, and even nerve damage.

In one case reported by the American Medical Association, a teenager suffered 20 to 30 daily electrical shocks in many areas of her face after having her tongue pierced and installing a tongue bolt. A neurologist found that the bolt irritated the nerves to her tongue, causing the symptoms. After the bolt was removed, the shocks and symptoms ceased and her tongue healed.

Having the bolts placed may be painful. The tongue is rich in nerves and blood vessels and a lot of bleeding can occur, which can be difficult to stop. Think about how painful it is when you bite your tongue or lip accidentally. And tongue and lip bolts are not generally placed by health professionals or under sterile conditions.

If you are considering getting an oral piercing, make an appointment with us to discuss all the possible ramifications before you make the decision to go ahead. If you already have an oral piercing, be sure to come in for frequent checkups.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral piercings. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article on “Body Piercings and Teeth: The dangers of tongue and lip piercing.”


By Upper Montclair Dental Associates
October 11, 2012
Category: Oral Health
FrequentlyAskedQuestionsAboutHeartandGumDiseases

Recent research has revealed that there is a link between cardiovascular (“cardio” – heart; “vascular” – blood vessel) disease (CVD) and periodontal (gum) disease. The link is Inflammation. This is why it is important to learn more about this important relationship so that you can take proactive steps to improving your health and life.

What causes periodontal disease?
Simply put, irregular and ineffective brushing and flossing are the root causes of periodontal disease. Over time and when bacterial biofilms (dental plaque) are left unchecked, they lead to the emergence of a small set of highly pathogenic (“patho” – disease; “genic” – causing) organisms that are consistently associated with periodontitis (“peri” – gum; “odont” – tooth; “itis” – inflammation) or gum disease.

Is periodontal disease common or am I one of the few who have it?
It is a quite common disease, with mild to moderate forms of it impacting 30 to 50% of US adults. More severe cases affect 5 to 15%. One of the reasons these numbers are so high is because periodontal disease is a silent, painless disease that often occurs without any symptoms.

So how does my gum disease link to potential heart disease?
Inflammation is a characteristic of chronic disease. People with moderate to severe periodontitis have increased levels of systemic (general body) inflammation. If left untreated, the same bacterial strains that are commonly found in periodontal pockets surrounding diseased teeth have been found in blood vessel plaques of people with CVD.

This all sounds bad...is there any good news?
Yes! Research has revealed that if periodontal disease is treated, inflammation and infection can be reduced. This also reduces the risk for heart attacks and strokes, both of which are common results of CVD. All it may take is a thorough exam for gum disease and thorough dental cleaning. During your exam, we can also make sure you are brushing and flossing properly so that you are effectively removing bacterial biofilm. But if you have severe periodontal disease, you may need deeper cleanings and more advanced treatment to save your teeth and your heart.

To learn more on this subject, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Link Between Heart & Gum Diseases.” You can also contact us today with any questions or to schedule an appointment.


By Upper Montclair Dental Associates
October 03, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
TestingyourKnowledgeDentalImplants

Dental implants are a fascinating treatment option that can be life changing when used properly. They have also experienced tremendous scientific advancements and press over the years making them highly desirable by people of all walks of life. See how much you really know about dental implants by taking our quick and easy true/false self test.

  1. Dental implants can produce lifelike results that are indistinguishable from natural surrounding teeth.
    True or False
  2. Many dental professionals consider dental implants as a “third set of teeth,” as they can last a lifetime when properly maintained.
    True or False
  3. A dental implant is a safe option that is suitable for all patients regardless of age.
    True or False
  4. When properly placed and maintained, dental implants have a 90% success rate.
    True or False
  5. If you do not have enough bone to support a successful dental implant, there is not much that can be done.
    True or False
  6. When teeth are missing, the face tends to have a sunken-in appearance called, “posterior bite collapse.”
    True or False
  7. One of the positives of dental implants is that they do not affect adjacent teeth.
    True or False
  8. Dental implants typically cost significantly more than other options, such as a bridge, over the course of a lifetime.
    True or False
  9. Dental implants are always more desirable than bridgework or other treatment options for missing teeth.
    True or False
  10. Dental implants can lead to improved health due to better nutrition and proper digestion.
    True or False
Answers:
  1. True. Dental implants can appear as beautiful, natural teeth.
  2. True. When properly maintained, implants provide the same function as natural teeth roots.
  3. False. Dental implants are not suitable for replacing primary teeth or permanent teeth in young children or teenagers. They are best used when facial and jaw development is complete.
  4. False. They have a 95% success rate.
  5. False. If you do not have enough bone for a dental implant, you may be a candidate for a bone graft — a process in which we “grow” the bone we need for the implant.
  6. True. This condition is often totally reversible once teeth have been restored through implants or bridgework.
  7. True. Unlike bridgework, dental implants do not affect surrounding teeth.
  8. False. They are less expensive in the long run.
  9. False. Sometimes a bridge is better than an implant.
  10. True. Once teeth are restored, chewing and digesting food is easier; thus health improves.

To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants, Your Third Set of Teeth.” Or, you can contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions.