Mall of Georgia Dentistry's Blog

"Making you smile from the inside out"

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea – how your dentist can help April 18, 2014

Filed under: Dental health — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 10:24 am

You may not think of a sleeping disorder as something that would involve your dentist.  But it certainly can.  One of the most diagnosed conditions we see today is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don’t remember it, and many feel like they are getting a good night’s sleep, when in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.

And we all know how prevalent snoring is.  Snoring doesn’t necessarily mean you have OSA (that’s diagnosed via a sleep study), but it may be an indicator.  OSA can be very dangerous to your health because depending on its severity, as it lowers the oxygen saturation in your body in addition to interrupting your sleep.

To give you an idea of the size of the problem, let’s look at a few statistics.

Snoring and Sleep Apnea 

• More than 40% of adults over 40 snore

• 87 million Americans snore

• 45 million snore every night

• 9% of men and 4% of women have OSA

• 4% of men have OSA symptoms

• 2% of women have OSA symptoms

Prevalence of OSA in the USA 

• OSA – 20 million
• Compare with:
• Asthma – 10 M
• Diabetes – 16 M
• More common in males than females
• Progressively worsens with age
• Progressively worsens with increasing weight

Then there are the risk factors that may heighten the risk of developing OSA:

Medical Sleep Apnea Risk Factors 

• Obesity
• Increasing Age
• Male Gender
• Anatomic Abnormalities of Upper Airway
• Family History
• Alcohol or Sedative Usage
• Smoking
• Hypertension

As you age, your chances of developing OSA increase if one or more of these risk factors are present.

The symptoms of OSA are pretty well defined:

Daytime Symptoms: 

• Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS)
• Non-restorative sleep
• Poor memory, clouded intellect
• Poor concentration and performance
• Fatigue
• Morning headache
• Decreased sex drive, impotence
• Depression, irritability
• Gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD)
• Personality changes

Nighttime Symptoms: 

• Snoring: intermittent with pauses
• Snorting, gasping
• Awakening with gasping or choking
• Apnea, pauses in breathing
• Frequent awakening
• Fragmented awakening
• Sweating
• Fragmented, non-refreshing, light sleep
• Thrashing in bed
• Insomnia
• BRUXISM

The last symptom, bruxism or teeth grinding, is something we can help you with immediately by fitting you with a night guard.  And we have devices that can help you stop snoring.  However, if your are experiencing many of these symptoms we would recommend you consult your doctor and possibly undergo a sleep study to ensure you don’t have sleep apnea.

We’ll review some of the remedies and treatments for OSA in the coming weeks.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us.

 

Mall of Georgia Dentistry

 

Plaque Control April 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 2:52 pm

Most of you have a good idea of what plaque is- a film of grime formed by the bacteria that inhabit the mouth. Plaque is also full of the acids these bacteria secrete in response to sugar and carbohydrates that are eaten, and this acid contributes to tooth decay and periodontal disease. So controlling and removing plaque is very important! The removal of plaque is the foundation of a healthy home hygiene routine… the familiar activities of brushing and flossing!

Brushing: The toothbrush is one part of your arsenal in your daily two-part attack on plaque. Use a soft-bristled brush. Plaque is soft and effectively removed by soft bristles, which are much gentler on the gums than medium or hard brushes. Focus on the gum line all along the inside and outside of all your teeth, hold the brush at a 45-degree angle and use short circular motions, for two minutes, and repeat twice per day.

Flossing: Flossing is the other half of your plaque-busting routine. The toothbrush cannot get in between teeth and they become a hideout where all those bacteria settle down and make themselves at home in your mouth. Flossing scrapes them away and evicts them. Floss gently all the way up and down each tooth’s inner surface. Curve the floss into “c” shape around the tooth to ensure you are getting the entire surface. Wind the floss between each tooth so as to use fresh clean floss on each tooth. Or you can use dental picks or floss picks. Floss at least once per day.

Other ideas to help minimize plaque:

Take it easy on the sweets. Sugar and simple carbohydrates feed bacteria and help them multiply, so these foods create more plaque. Drinking sugary beverages all day, for example, provides constant fuel for the bacteria. Try to avoid fueling the bacteria all day long, have sweets and treats with meals or in a single sitting instead of grazing or snacking.

Brush your tongue as well, since it too can accumulate plaque, or use a tongue scraper.

If plaque is not removed frequently, it begins to harden (within 24-48 hours) and then it becomes tartar. Tartar is more difficult to remove and must be scraped off somewhat forcefully- this is what a dental hygienist does in the scaling part of a typical hygiene visit (scale and polish). Bacteria thrive in tartar and can harm the tooth enamel and surrounding gums and eventually even the bones that hold in your teeth, resulting tooth loss!

Remember- your home hygiene routine is essential to keeping plaque under control- it’s simple and takes just a few minutes a day! Follow this up with your regular cleanings and check-ups and you’ll have the upper hand on plaque. At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we do what we can for our patients to help them have the healthiest teeth possible, but we can’t come to your house to brush them twice a day and floss them for you! Embrace the power you have over plaque, give it your best attack every day, and kick it out of your mouth!

 

Flossing Out of The Box (or the bathroom, rather) March 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 11:51 am

If you floss (and surely you do… RIGHT?!), chances are that you do it standing over your bathroom sink in front of the mirror. There seems to be an unspoken rule that one must floss where they brush and the bathroom sink is the traditional location for performing this activity. But if you DON’T floss, perhaps making an unconventional time and place to add this health-supporting activity to your daily routine is right for you. Consider the following ideas:

Floss in the shower – Many people like to brush in the shower, why not floss in the shower? Clean between those teeth while you’re already cleaning everything else anyway.

Floss on your lunch break – Keeping floss in your desk, and making a restroom pit stop after lunch to use it, might be an easier way to integrate flossing into your routine if you find yourself rushed in the mornings and tired and reluctant at night.

Floss in front of the TV – Watch television daily? Just like many people use their hands and mouths to snack in front of the screen, you can use your hands and mouth to floss while you watch. It won’t feel like a chore at all since your main attention will be focused on the tube (just make sure you pay enough attention to your flossing to do it properly).

Floss in the car- If you regularly sit and sit in traffic in a mostly stand-still daily commute, you can make that time useful by doing something good for yourself and flossing your pearly teeth. Keep floss in your car! If it doesn’t sound ulta-hygienic to you, just keep some tissues and wipes, a trash receptacle, and hand sanitizer in the car too.  

Flossing in the bathroom is an obvious, practical idea, and flossing before you brush is great because you can clean away any mico bits that are left behind from flossing, while the toothpaste can get in-between your teeth more easily with any plaque freshly out of the way.   But if- despite all your good intentions- you just can’t seem to get yourself into that habit, try giving one of these other daily flossing opportunities a try and see if it sticks!

Remember that flossing should be performed at least once a day, make sure you curve the floss into a “c” shape, and go all the way up and down both sides of each tooth. What is important is that you DO floss, and it matters much less when and where you floss than it does how you floss. Floss well, floss properly, floss any time and place that works for you, and reap the benefits in your oral health and beyond.

Hope these ideas from Mall of Georgia Dentistry help you keep your smile in fantastic shape! Happy flossing!

 

Braces aren’t just for children March 21, 2014

Filed under: Dental health — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 1:57 pm
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Many adults today wear braces for various reasons such as shifting teeth which may have drifted into poor alignment, straightening a smile a bit or simply enabling better oral health, like brushing or flossing.  They may also be worn for more serious problems such as bite problems that cause jaw pain.

Here’s the good news.  Advances in technology have made braces easier to wear and in many cases, all but invisible.  For instance:

  • Ceramic braces made of a clear material that’s much less obvious than traditional metal braces.
  • Brackets attached to the back of teeth holding wires that pull them into a new position.
  • Customized plastic aligners that fit like tooth guards over teeth, gently moving your bite into a new position.

Depending on what your problem might be, many of these may be options.  The point, of course, is if you’re an adult braces may be a viable option for you and solve one of the problems we’ve listed above.  If you think that might be the case and would like your questions answered, don’t hesitate to give us a call.

Mall of Georgia Dentistry

 

Preventing Thinning Enamel March 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 12:30 pm

Thinning enamel can be caused in various ways. Here a few things that cause or contribute to it and some tips to help avoid them:

  • Acid erosion- enamel is a very hard substance, but acid weakens the chemical bonds that hold the mineral molecules together. Among the sources of acid erosion are soft drinks and fruit drinks, which contain such substances as phosphoric acid and citric acid. Such acids directly threaten your teeth, but drinking through a straw can help minimize the exposure by bypassing your teeth rather than dousing them. Any drink with a low Ph is acidic and can have the effect of weakening the enamel. Sugary and starchy foods also result in exposure of the teeth to acid because the sugars and starches are converted into acid by the bacteria that live in our mouths. Proper and diligent brushing and flossing are important to help keep these bacteria in check.
  • Brushing with abrasives- abrasives literally scrape enamel off of your teeth, like sandpaper. Many so-called “whitening” toothpastes contain abrasives that constantly remove tiny layers of enamel over time and can result in thinning. Your toothbrush itself can harm your teeth if you are brushing too hard and/or using bristles that are not soft enough. Many people make the mistake of thinking that brushing well means using force and really scrubbing, but a soft brush used gently at a 45-degree angle for 2 minutes is sufficient to remove plaque and reduce bacteria populations.

Of the many potential causes of thinning enamel, these above are the most common. Other common factors include GERD or acid reflux, medications that cause dry mouth, and bruxism. Once the enamel has worn away it cannot be reversed, but if you avoid the contributing factors above you can help prevent it from progressing, and using a remineralizing toothpaste can also help protect and preserve the enamel that you have left.  At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we have a few different products available that might benefit you if thinning enamel is a concern of yours.

They say “knowledge is power”… if you are aware of some of these common causes of thinning enamel, you can be empowered with the steps to take for avoiding them.  Healthy teeth make for a lifetime of confident smiles, and caring for your enamel is essential to great dental health. 

 

Tooth decay has been found to be an infectious disease March 7, 2014

Filed under: Dental health — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 10:53 am
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Did you know that new research has found that tooth decay, dental caries, is an infectious disease?

Here’s a summary of the University of Lousiville study on the subject:

Dental caries, commonly known as tooth decay, is the single most common chronic childhood disease. In fact, it is an infectious disease, new research demonstrates. Mothers with cavities can transmit caries-producing oral bacteria to their babies when they clean pacifiers by sticking them in their own mouths or by sharing spoons. Parents should make their own oral health care a priority in order to help their children stay healthy.

Note the bold print.  The problem, of course, is if a mother (or father or any other relation) that has that bacteria present in their mouth share an eating implement, etc. with a baby, those bacteria can be transmitted to the baby and begin attacking the baby’s teeth.

So it is advisable to ensure that whatever goes in baby’s mouth hasn’t been in another family members mouth first, just in case.  It is also advisable to make sure older children know not to share eating implements or anything else with the baby.  And, of course, you have to monitor the baby to ensure he or she doesn’t grab something it shouldn’t grab and put it in its mouth.

While parents may not be carrying those oral bacteria, this is still good common sense advice designed to ensure your baby can avoid those type of bacteria that cause tooth decay.

Mall of Georgia Dentistry

 

Tooth Fairy Trends February 27, 2014

Filed under: Dentistry,Uncategorized — Mall of Georgia Dentistry @ 2:32 pm
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The Tooth Fairy tradition is done a little differently from one culture to another and even from one household to the next. The most basic version of a visit from the Tooth Fairy is for a child to leave their lost tooth under their pillow at night and find a little money in its place in the morning.  But the Tooth Fairy doesn’t always just stop there!  Here are some of the fun and creative things that everyone’s favorite tooth-loving fairy has been known to do lately:

  • Fairy Dust – Like many fairies, the Tooth Fairy has been known to scatter a sprinkling of sparkling magic dust that often gets left behind wherever she (or he? …the Tooth Fairy is pretty mysterious!) has been.  Sometimes the money that the Tooth Fairy has been carrying around has accumulated lots and lots of this dust and become quite sparkly!
  • Issuing Receipts – Just as most purchases in the realm of humans involve a written record of the transaction, the Tooth Fairy sometimes likes to leave behind a record of how much money was left along with the date and child’s name, as well as other details such as how many teeth or which tooth was purchased from the child.  
  • Paying More for a Healthy Tooth–  It seems the Tooth Fairy often likes to pay more for a natural, sound tooth than for a  decayed or restored tooth.  It only makes sense that the Tooth Fairy would value a healthy tooth over a tooth that has a cavity or filling… after all, if a cavity or filling is present then that means part of the tooth is missing and the Tooth Fairy is receiving less actual tooth! This could also be an incentive for your child to put forth their best effort at brushing! 
  • Tiny Letters and Notes – Sometimes the Tooth Fairy has some words of encouragement or praise to offer to a child, especially if she (he?) is happy to find that the new tooth she (or he?) will be adding to her (or his?) collection was sound and well-cared-for.  A letter or note in her (his?) own tiny handwriting best serves this purpose.
  • Trinkets and Toys- Sometimes the Tooth Fairy prefers to deal in trade rather than cash and will occasionally favor little gifts over money, leaving such things as a little toy car for a boy, or leaving a girl a cute accessory. A fun kid’s toothbrush or tooth-shaped trinket is also a common gift left in exchange for a lost tooth.  

Tomorrow, February 28th, rounds up National Children’s Dental Health Month and is also “National Tooth Fairy Day” (actually, it is one of two “National Tooth Fairy Day”-s, the other being in August). Since the Tooth Fairy’s love of teeth rivals that of any dentist, the tradition can provide a neat way for children to learn to care for and value their baby teeth and an opportunity for teaching the importance and value of the ones they get to keep.  Hopefully you enjoyed learning a little more about Tooth Fairy customs and behavior, and you may find that the Tooth Fairy starts practicing some of these trends in your home soon if she (or he?) doesn’t already! Mall of Georgia Dentistry loves to keep those smiles healthy, and these are all great ways that the Tooth Fairy can help to keep a child’s smile at its best while creating new smiles along the way! 

 

 
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