Posts for: February, 2013
Getting enough sleep is necessary for good health. We all know how energetic we feel when we are sleeping well at night. Yet, many of us do not feel rested, even after seven or eight hours of sleep. Let's answer some common questions about snoring and sleep apnea, problems that are often called sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD).
What is the purpose of sleep?
Scientists know we need sleep, at a particularly deep level, to be rested, but they are not sure why we need sleep. Sleep may have evolved as a way to conserve energy in the body, to conserve food supplies, or to reduce our risk during darkness. Sleep appears to give the brain a chance to store and organize its information and the body a chance to recuperate. Sleep studies have shown that in order to get the full benefits of sleep we need to sleep long and deeply enough to enter into a series of sleep cycles including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep.
What kinds of problems get in the way of the type of sleep we need?
There are eight main categories of sleep disorders, but the ones affecting the largest numbers of people are insomnia, SRBD, and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. SRBDs include snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is a serious health problem.
How do I know if I have OSA or another SRBD?
Often, your bed-partner will tell you that you snore. Chronic loud snoring is an indicator of OSA. To make a diagnosis your physician must take a thorough sleep and medical history. The diagnosis may then be confirmed by a study in a sleep lab.
What causes sleep apnea or OSA?
Snoring and OSA happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block airflow through 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 stage of sleep your body needs.
What are the treatments for sleep apnea?
Treatments include CPAP therapy, in which patients wear a mask while sleeping. The mask pushes air through the airway, keeping it open. In Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) patients wear a device that moves the lower jaw forward, allowing more room for air to move down the airway. Oral surgical procedures and orthodontic approaches also have the goal of moving the tongue away from the throat. These are all treatments that can be carried out by a dentist who has training and experience in treatment of sleep disorders.
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 articles “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry” and “Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions.”
Christie Brinkley's world-famous smile has graced the covers of countless magazines for over 30 years. In fact, in her own words from an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the supermodel said, “I think my smile was really my passport to success in the modeling industry.” And while most of her smile's appeal comes naturally, Christie does give it a boost with good oral hygiene, regular dental checkups and tooth whitening. As Christie says, “When it comes to teeth, keep it as natural as possible. Do not go overboard on whitening. You want your teeth to compliment your faceÃ¢Â€Â¦your friends should not be required to wear sunglasses when you smile!”
Aside from some potential minor side effects such as tooth sensitivity, whitening teeth through bleaching is a relatively inexpensive way to brighten your smile conservatively and successfully. There are three common methods, as described below:
- An external or vital approach where “vital” (living) teeth are bleached through direct contact to the tooth's surface.
- An internal or non-vital approach where the tooth is whitened from the inside during a root canal treatment.
- A combination approach in which both internal and external bleaching techniques are used.
But what causes teeth to become discolored?
Tooth discoloration can be caused by a traumatic blow to your teeth resulting in nerve tissue (pulp) death. However, there can be many other causes: consuming or using products that stain the teeth such as coffee, tea, cola, tobacco products and red wine, to name just a few. Aging is another factor, as it results in changes in the mineral structure of the tooth as the enamel, the outermost layer, loses its beautiful and youthful translucency. Other causes include exposure to high levels of fluoride; tetracycline, an antibiotic, administered during childhood; inherited developmental disorders and jaundice in childhood; and tooth decay.
The good news is that we routinely brighten smiles through tooth whitening. To learn more about brightening your smile, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.” Or if you are ready to have your teeth professionally whitened, contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss your whitening treatment options. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Christie Brinkley, continue reading “The Secret Behind Christie Brinkley's Supermodel Smile.”
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.”