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Posts for tag: oral health

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
January 23, 2015
Category: Oral Health
CanAnythingBeDoneAboutMySnoring

Sleeping disorders impact people in different ways. For some people, they may feel they do not have a problem — except for the fact that their sleeping partner complains about their snoring. For others, they may know they have a snoring issue because they constantly wake themselves up gasping for air. This is a dangerous condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea OSA (“a” – without; “pnea” – breath). If any of these scenarios sound like your experience, then you may have OSA or another type of Sleep Related Breathing Disorder (SRBD). However, before jumping to conclusions, you need to obtain a thorough examination from a primary-care physician who is trained in sleep medicine in conjunction with our office. We have received training in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. But the good news is that sleep apnea is a treatable condition.

As for your question, yes, there are many things we can do to treat your snoring after the cause of your problem is properly established. One helpful approach is through the use of a specially designed oral appliance that we custom make and fit to your mouth. It is easy to use during sleep. Once in place, it will keep your lower jaw in a forward position so that your tongue is held forward to stop blocking your upper airway (i.e. the back of your throat and area causing your snoring and hindering your breathing while you sleep). Another option is to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. This specialized machine requires you to sleep with a mask that covers your mouth and/or nose. While you sleep, it delivers continuous pressure to your windpipe so that your tongue is forced away from your airway.

If your snoring is keeping you or your loved ones awake, we are a good place to start. Contact us today to discuss your questions about snoring or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about snoring and sleep disorders when you continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
September 29, 2014
Category: Oral Health
CanOralAppliancesHelpYouGetAGoodNightsSleep

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.”

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
September 02, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   dental health  
DentalHealthDoYouMaketheGrade

When it comes to our overall health, many of us think we’re pretty well-informed. But a recent survey quiz given by the American Dental Association (ADA) revealed something surprising: When it comes to dental health, most people could use plenty of “brushing up.” In fact, the average score on the true/false test was a barely passing D! Among the questions most people answered incorrectly were:

  • How often should you brush your teeth? (91 percent got it wrong)
  • At what age should you take your child to the dentist for the first time? (75 percent wrong)
  • How often should you replace your toothbrush? (65 percent wrong)
  • Can cavity-causing germs be passed from person to person? (59 percent wrong), and
  • Does sugar cause cavities?

We’ll come back to the last question in a moment — but first, let’s recap some basic dental health information.

While you might think it’s best to brush after every meal, the ADA recommends brushing just twice a day. That’s because excessive brushing can erode tooth enamel (especially if it has already been softened by acidic food or drinks), and can also expose and irritate the root of the tooth. But when you do brush, you should keep at it for at least two minutes each time!

Bring your child in to the dental office within six months after the first tooth appears — but no later than his or her first birthday! The age-one dental visit starts your child off right with proper preventive care and screenings, and sets the stage for a lifetime of good oral health.

Most people think it’s OK to change your toothbrush twice a year — but the ADA recommends that you get a new one every three months; that’s because stiff, frayed bristles just don’t clean your teeth and gums as well as they should. Likewise, most people don’t realize that the bacteria that cause cavities can be passed from one person’s mouth to another — by putting a child’s pacifier in your mouth or sharing a toothbrush, for example.

And speaking of cavities: Technically, they aren’t caused by sugar, as 81 percent of people thought. Tooth decay occurs when certain types of oral bacteria release an acidic byproduct that attacks the tooth enamel and creates small holes (cavities). This occurs after the bacteria have metabolized sugar in your diet. So while sugar doesn’t directly cause cavities, it does lead to tooth decay by feeding harmful bacteria. How about partial credit for that one?

If you have additional questions about your dental health, please call our office to schedule a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
August 15, 2014
Category: Oral Health
HatsOfftoEtherandEvenBetterAnesthetics

The next time you’re visiting Boston, why not make time for a stroll in the city’s renowned public garden? It’s got a little something for everyone: acres of greenhouses and formal plantings, a picturesque pond where you can go for a paddle in swan-shaped boats, and the first (and perhaps the only) statue dedicated to an anesthetic gas.

Yes, the Ether Monument (also called “The Good Samaritan”) is a vaguely Moorish-looking sculpture that commemorates the first use of anesthetic in a medical procedure. This ground-breaking event took place at nearby Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846. But if it seems that perhaps the park designers were feeling a bit light-headed when they commissioned this statue* then just think of what it would have been like to have a tooth drilled without it!

Today, of course, ether is no longer used for anesthesia; that’s because medical science has developed far better ways to make sure you don’t feel pain when you’re having a procedure. However, we do still use a gas for people who need a little more help relaxing during dental treatment. It’s called nitrous oxide, but sometimes goes by the nickname “laughing gas.”

This sweet-smelling gas, mixed with oxygen, is often administered in a process called inhalation conscious sedation. It doesn’t put you to sleep — you can still follow directions and respond to verbal cues — but it makes you very comfortable, and may even induce a slightly euphoric feeling, which wears off quickly when the gas is stopped. That’s what makes it ideal for some dental procedures: It’s quite effective for people who might otherwise have a great deal of dental anxiety, yet it’s quick, easy and safe to administer — and you can usually drive yourself home afterward.

Sometimes, however, you may need even more relaxation — for example, if you’re having multiple wisdom teeth extracted. In this case, it may be best to use intravenous (IV) conscious sedation. Here, the precise amount of medication you need is delivered directly into your bloodstream via a tiny needle. As with nitrous oxide, you’ll remain conscious the whole time, but you won’t feel any pain — and afterward, you probably won’t remember a thing.

Sedation dentistry has come a long way since the days of ether… but making sure you don’t feel pain or anxiety remains a critical part of what we do. Before a procedure, we’ll talk to you about what type of anesthesia is best — and if you have any questions or concerns, we’ll work with you to make sure you have the best experience possible. If you would like more information about sedation dentistry or relieving dental anxiety, call our office for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Oral Sedation Dentistry” and “Sedation Dentistry For Kids.”

By JW Haltom DDS, Inc. Family Dentistry
May 06, 2014
Category: Oral Health
WhatYouCandotoHelpYourChildDevelopaDentalCheckupHabit

Next to brushing and flossing, a regular dental checkup is the single most important thing you can do for a healthy mouth. It’s also one of the best lifetime habits you can instill in your child, a task that’s a lot easier if your child sees visiting the dentist as a normal, even enjoyable part of life. Here are some things you can do to help make that happen.

First, if you’re not in the habit of taking your child for regular dental checkups, the sooner you start the better. We recommend you schedule your child’s first checkup around their first birthday. This will help your child become better accustomed to visiting the dentist, and get both of you on the right track with proper hygiene techniques. And by identifying and treating dental problems early, you may be able to avoid more stress-prone treatments in the future.

Who you see is just as important as making the visit. It’s important to find a practice that strives to create a comfortable, home-like atmosphere for their patients, especially children. Pediatric dentists (and many general dentists) are trained in child behavior and understand the importance of relating to a child first (pleasant chatting and upbeat explanations of what they’re going to do) to put them at ease before beginning examination or treatment.

Perhaps the most important factor in getting your child accustomed to dental care is you — your attitude toward not only visiting the dentist, but caring for your own teeth. Children tend to follow the lead of their parents: if you have developed healthy habits regarding oral hygiene and a nutritious, “tooth-friendly” diet, your children are more likely to follow suit. As for dental visits, if you’re calm and pleasant in the dentist’s office, your child will then see there’s nothing for them to be nervous about.

Going to the dentist at any age shouldn’t be an ordeal. Following these steps will go a long way in making dental visits something your child looks forward to.

If you would like more information on dental treatment for 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 “Taking the Stress Out of Dentistry for Kids.”