Posts for: October, 2011
We pride ourselves on using the latest, scientifically proven technologies so that we can obtain and maintain optimal oral health for our patients. The word “laser” is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation” and, within the world of dentistry, lasers are used for a variety of procedures and therapies. Simply put, this means that light from a particular crystalline source is stimulated electronically and by the use of mirrors to high energy levels, which can penetrate living tissue. Specific lasers with different light emitting capabilities can be used in dentistry — some on hard tissues and others for soft tissues like gum and oral mucous (skin) membranes within the mouth. Uses include diagnosing cavities, others for removing diseased gum tissues, for example. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery. For example, using a laser, allows preparation of smaller cavities for fillings by vaporizing away tooth decay often without any anesthesia (numbing of the teeth) or a drill.
Snoring and other sleeping disorders impact between 50 and 70 million Americans each year. However, did you know that our office can help when it comes to diagnosing and treating sleeping disorders? For this reason, we have put together this list to highlight how we can have a positive impact on your snoring.
- Many people are surprised to learn that physician training is lacking and very slowly evolving in the area of sleep related breathing disorders. Therefore, there is limited public and medical awareness. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has acknowledged that properly trained dentists are the first line of therapy for treating mild to moderate sleep apnea effectively.
- Because we see our patients on a more regular basis than many primary-care physicians, we dentists are in a unique position to identify and/or detect a SRBD. However, for us to accomplish this, you must share the facts about your sleeping habits and issues related to breathing. In other words, do not be embarrassed to let us know that your spouse, sleeping partner or family complain to you about your snoring!
- When it comes to treating complications associated with Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) used in managing Sleep Related Breathing Disorders (SRBD), dentists are the primary professionals who are specifically trained to create, fit, adjust, monitor and treat any complications associated with a mouthpiece (oral appliance).
- Did you know that dentists help identify the approximately 90% of misdiagnosed cases of patients suffering from a SRBD? Well, it is true. We play a critical role in diagnosing and treating these patients.
- Another reason why it is much easier for us to diagnose and treat these problems is because the core of our training is centered upon the oral cavity, mouth and parts of the upper airway — the very areas where your snoring and SRBDs occur.
If you suffer from snoring or any other Sleep Related Breathing Disorder, it is imperative that you seek and obtain treatment. Ignoring these problems can lead to issues such as: an irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other forms of heart disease as well as strokes and impotence. 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.”
When it comes to patient comfort, one of the most important developments of the 21st century has been sedation dentistry, which enables you to relax in both mind and body allowing you to focus on feeling peaceful rather than anxious. And the prescription medications we use are some of the safest on the “therapeutic index” (the scale pharmacists and health professionals use to measure the safety of medications.) However, it is critical that we are aware of any medications you are already taking and your medical health and history, so let us know all about you so that we can avoid adverse (negative) reactions. Please note that we will take a full history to gain this information prior to any treatment or sedation — our utmost concern is your safety. During this time, it is vital that you are honest and feel comfortable sharing your responses to our questions. It's also our way of getting to know you and the first stage in relieving your anxiety. We will need to know all about:
- All medical conditions for which you are currently being treated.
- All prescription medications you are taking.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, remedies, or vitamins and/or supplements you are taking. This even includes aspirin, St. John's Wort, and Kava Kava. (Why? If taken daily for good heart health, aspirin thins your blood and thus may interfere with blood coagulation. And St. John's Wort and Kava Kava may be beneficial in helping relieve depression, but they can negatively impact how oral sedation medications work.)
- Foods and drinks you consume, such as alcohol and even grapefruit (juice or the fruit), can negatively impact how your body responds to both your treatment and sedation medications.
- And lastly, we need to know if you are a tobacco user — especially if you are a smoker. In addition to increasing your risks for oral and other cancers, tobacco can negatively influence the effectiveness of sedation medications.
It used to be that when it came to treating tooth decay (cavities), your primary option was to have the tooth decay removed and filled with a metal amalgam (silver-colored filling). This treatment sometimes requires a special shape cut called an “undercut” to be drilled into the tooth to hold it in. Unfortunately, it can also involve removal of some healthy tooth structure. Silver amalgam fillings still have limited applications and are still used in back teeth where they don't show in the smile. This is because they are strong and resist biting well; however, over time they can fatigue and fracture.
Older restorative concepts were based upon the development of strong and stiff materials such as gold, which tends to be unyielding and therefore contributed to failures of the remaining tooth substance around restorations (e.g., decay or cracking). Newer concepts tend to get away from the “stronger and stiffer is better” concept and have moved towards safety principles using materials that involve mimicking the properties of natural tooth structure. In fact, it is now clearly established that a new “biomimetic approach” (“bio” – life; “mimetic” – mimicking) to dentistry is possible through the use of tooth-like materials such as composite resins and porcelains. And unlike metal alloys, these newer materials bond directly to the remaining enamel and dentin of which the teeth themselves are made, which both stabilize and strengthen teeth.
These techniques are also suitable for children's teeth and can incorporate fluoride to reduce further decay. But perhaps best of all, using these materials and more modern technologies can restore proper tooth function and normal wear while producing results that appear indistinguishable from natural teeth.
To learn more, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.” You can also contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your specific questions about replacing your metal fillings with tooth-colored ones.
While lasers have been effective (and safe) tools for healthcare professionals in the medical field for years, did you know that they are fast becoming a vital tool in the field of dentistry for diagnosing dental disease? Lasers, named from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation,” are beams of light that are of a single color and wavelength. They also have the unique ability to help dental professionals detect disease in much earlier stages than they have ever before.
Diagnostic lasers are very effective in diagnosing pit and fissure decay — the tiny grooves of the biting surfaces that cannot be seen by visual inspection or reached by a traditional dental tool. They are able to accomplish this by producing a glowing effect known as fluorescence, which is produced by the optical properties of early tooth decay. This enables us to treat tooth decay in its earliest stages as well as monitor teeth from visit to visit.
Another area where lasers have proven valuable is in the detection and localization of dental calculus (tartar) beneath the gums. Calculus is hardened or calcified bacterial plaque that attaches to the teeth. Using lasers, we can find and remove this calculus during periodontal (gum) therapy. Lasers are also helpful in detecting dysplastic (“dys” – altered; “plasia” – growth) or precancerous tissue as well as cancerous tissues. And should we find any of these conditions, lasers are extremely useful in removing tissue close to the margins or edges of where diseased tissue meets healthy tissue. But best of all, lasers are minimally invasive and can result in less tissue removal, less bleeding, and less discomfort for patients after surgery.