Sleep Apnea

     A Dentists Role in Sleep Apnea

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A Dentists Role in Sleep Apnea


A good night’s sleep has the power to restore the body and enliven the mind. For the 18 million Americans who experience symptoms of sleep apnea, a good night’s sleep also has the power to save their lives. Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious, life-threatening disorder that is characterized as a series of episodes in which a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or longer during sleep, according to an article in the March 2009 issue of AGD Impact, the Academy of General Detnistry’s (AGD) monthly newsmagazine.

So, how would someone know if he or she had sleep apnea? Snoring is a major indicator, but not all symptoms are so obvious—and audible. A dentist can detect the less evident symptoms of sleep apnea through a candid conversation with a patient, in conjunction with an exam, about the patient’s recent pains or discomforts. A dentist may suspect a patient suffers from sleep apnea if the patient complains about lethargy, morning headaches, or dry mouth (typically caused by open mouth breathing during sleep).

“Dentists are often the first professional to become aware of a potential problem since they are usually in contact with their patients more frequently than are physicians,” says J. Michael Owen, DDS, FAGD, Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) spokesperson. Dentists will send patients with symptoms of sleep apnea to a sleep medicine specialist who will assess the patient’s conditions. If a patient is diagnosed with the disorder, he or she may return to the dentist to receive treatment.

Treatment options for sleep apnea vary depending on the severity of the disorder. An individual with mild sleep apnea may need to make behavioral changes such as altering the sleeping position, losing weight, or quitting smoking, as well as wearing a dental appliance during sleep. A dental appliance for sleep apnea, which looks similar to an athletic mouthguard, repositions the jaw and tongue to improve airflow.

“Like any appliance they do require some adjustment and a commitment on the part of the patient, but they are typically as easy to wear as most retainers or other removable dental appliances,” says Dr. Owen. Treatment for severe cases of sleep apnea requires more aggressive management, which may include the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) system—a device that delivers air through a small mask and applies constant pressure to keep the air way open—or surgery.

Most dentists have undergone special training for the treatment of sleep apnea and are very skilled in its management using behavioral modification and dental appliances, but a confirmed diagnosis from a sleep medicine specialist is required before any treatment can be administered. Because sleep apnea can be a silent condition, it can go undiagnosed for many years. It is important to keep an open and honest dialog with health care professionals to ensure that conditions such as sleep apnea can be identified and properly treated.

People with sleep apnea usually do not remember waking up during the night. Indications of the problem may include:

*       Morning headaches

*       Excessive daytime sleepiness

*       Irritability and impaired mental or emotional functioning

*       Excessive snoring, choking, or gasping during sleep

*       Insomnia

*       Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat

Reviewed: January 2012



 A bad hop results in stitches to the shortstop’s lip; the power forward takes an errant elbow, and loses a front tooth; the setter attempts a block, but takes the volleyball to the jaw instead. The common thread here is that many people do not consider these to be true “contact sports,” yet participation can frequently lead to injuries to the mouth and teeth that many normally associate with other sports, such as football, lacrosse or hockey. As a result, in addition to what you are used to seeing on the football and lacrosse fields and the hockey rinks, many athletes who play baseball, basketball, volleyball and other such sports have started utilizing mouthguards for comfort and protection.

 At DeForte Dentistry, we can fit any mouth with the necessary protective guard that will be both comfortable and functional. The mouthguard will give the athletes (AND their families!) the peace of mind that comes with knowing the chances of injury and/or damage have been decreased. From the youngest budding athletes to players at the high school, college AND professional levels, Dr. Carolyn DeForte will custom-fit ANY mouth with the necessary tool to inspire confidence and safety.

Don’t delay, call for an immediate appointment! Coaches and schools are encouraged to inquire regarding team discounts!

Cavity-Free Smile

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — For the past 40 years there’s been a decrease in the amount of tooth decay in children … that is until now. New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control say the trend is reversing. But there are things you can do to keep your teeth healthy and bright.

By the time children reach second grade, half will have at least one cavity. Tooth decay in kids has increased by 28 percent in the past eight years. Drinking a mixture of unsweetened cranberry juice and water can cut down on cavities. The juice contains a chemical that stops cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth. Just remember: when buying cranberry juice, read the label to make sure there is no added sugar.

Kids aren’t the only ones that need to pay more attention to their dental health. Studies show gum disease increases your risk of heart disease. Chewing gum is an easy way to keep those pearly whites sparking! It keeps teeth clean by promoting saliva production.

“Saliva is the great protector against cavities,” Israel Kleinberg, D.D.S., Ph.D., an oral biologist at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y., told Ivanhoe.

The enzymes in saliva fight bacteria and neutralize acids that eat at your teeth. A healthier mouth for a brighter smile.

Certain foods can also help keep your teeth clean. Foods like cheese, peanut butter, nuts, eggs, olives and dill pickles neutralize acids in the mouth that wear down tooth enamel.

Sports and Energy Drinks Responsible for Irreversible Damage to Teeth

ScienceDaily (May 1, 2012) — A recent study published in the May/June 2012 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, found that an alarming increase in the consumption of sports and energy drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth — specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks erode tooth enamel, the glossy outer layer of the tooth.

“Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than soda,” says Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH, lead author of the study. “Most of these patients are shocked to learn that these drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid.”

Researchers examined the acidity levels in 13 sports drinks and nine energy drinks. They found that the acidity levels can vary between brands of beverages and flavors of the same brand. To test the effect of the acidity levels, the researchers immersed samples of human tooth enamel in each beverage for 15 minutes, followed by immersion in artificial saliva for two hours. This cycle was repeated four times a day for five days, and the samples were stored in fresh artificial saliva at all other times.

“This type of testing simulates the same exposure that a large proportion of American teens and young adults are subjecting their teeth to on a regular basis when they drink one of these beverages every few hours,” says Dr. Jain.

The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports or energy drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. In fact, the authors found that energy drinks caused twice as much damage to teeth as sports drinks.

With a reported 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it is important to educate parents and young adults about the downside of these drinks. Damage caused to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more likely to decay.

“Teens regularly come into my office with these types of symptoms, but they don’t know why,” says AGD spokesperson Jennifer Bone, DDS, MAGD. “We review their diet and snacking habits and then we discuss their consumption of these beverages. They don’t realize that something as seemingly harmless as a sports or energy drink can do a lot of damage to their teeth.”

Dr. Bone recommends that her patients minimize their intake of sports and energy drinks. She also advises them to chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of the drinks. “Both tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal,” she says.

Also, patients should wait at least an hour to brush their teeth after consuming sports and energy drinks. Otherwise, says Dr. Bone, they will be spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.

Smile Healthy Program

The American Dental Association (ADA) is synonymous with healthy smiles, oral health and overall health. More than 50 years ago, the ADA launched its Seal of Acceptance program, which has become the gold standard for evaluating effective oral health care products such as toothbrushes, toothpaste mouthwashes.

The ADA now has launched a new oral health initiative, the ADA Smile Healthy program. To help consumers make smart oral health choices when shopping for food and beverages, the Smile Healthy program will award its logo to products that promote good oral health. That logo on products such as fluoridated bottled water and various foods and beverages tells the consumer the product has met rigorous performance and testing standards and is recognized by the ADA as a smart oral health choice.

All revenue from this program will go to the ADA Foundation to support causes such as access to care for the underserved, dental education, research and public education on oral health issues.

The ADA Smile Healthy program will be open to products that provide smart choices for maintaining oral health, other than those products directly used in dental hygiene or used in treatment of dental disease. These products are covered by the ADA Seal of Acceptance program.

Products that are good oral health choices can be found at a glance when shopping. Just look for the distinctive smile when making your selections. You can be confident the ADA has taken the guesswork out of picking products that aren’t harmful to your oral health.

How You Can Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Kids can take charge of their teeth by taking these steps:

Brush at least twice a day — after breakfast and before bedtime. If you can, brush after lunch or after sweet snacks. Brushing properly breaks down plaque.

Brush all of your teeth, not just the front ones. Spend some time on the teeth along the sides and in the back. Have your dentist show you the best way to brush to get your teeth clean without damaging your gums.

Take your time while brushing. Spend at least 2 or 3 minutes each time you brush. If you have trouble keeping track of the time, use a timer or play a recording of a song you like to help pass the time.

Be sure your toothbrush has soft bristles (the package will tell you if they’re soft). Ask your parent to help you get a new toothbrush every 3 months. Some toothbrushes come with bristles that change color when it’s time to change them.

Ask your dentist if an antibacterial mouth rinse is right for you.

Learn how to floss your teeth, which is a very important way to keep them healthy. It feels weird the first few times you do it, but pretty soon you’ll be a pro. Slip the dental floss between each tooth and along the gum line gently once a day. The floss gets rid of food that’s hidden where your toothbrush can’t get it, no matter how well you brush.

You can also brush your tongue to help keep your breath fresh!

It’s also important to visit the dentist twice a year. Besides checking for signs of cavities or gum disease, the dentist will help keep your teeth extra clean and can help you learn the best way to brush and floss.

It’s not just brushing and flossing that keep your teeth healthy — you also need to be careful about what you eat and drink. Remember, the plaque on your teeth is just waiting for that sugar to arrive. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and drink water instead of soda. And don’t forget to smile!

Taking care of your teeth

When you get your picture taken, everyone says, “Say cheese! Smile!” So you do — you open your mouth and show your teeth. When you see the picture, you see a happy person looking back at you. The healthier those teeth are, the happier you look. Why is that?

It’s because your teeth are important in many ways. If you take care of them, they’ll help take care of you. Strong, healthy teeth help you chew the right foods to help you grow. They help you speak clearly. And yes, they help you look your best.
Why Healthy Teeth Are Important

How does taking care of your teeth help with all those things? Taking care of your teeth helps prevent plaque (say: plak), which is a clear film of bacteria (say: bak-teer-ee-uh) that sticks to your teeth.

After you eat, bacteria go crazy over the sugar on your teeth, like ants at a picnic. The bacteria break it down into acids that eat away tooth enamel, causing holes called cavities. Plaque also causes gingivitis (say: jin-juh-vi-tis), which is gum disease that can make your gums red, swollen, and sore. Your gums are those soft pink tissues in your mouth that hold your teeth in place.

If you don’t take care of your teeth, cavities and unhealthy gums will make your mouth very, very sore. Eating meals will be difficult. And you won’t feel like smiling so much.

Before Toothpaste Was Invented

We’re lucky that we know so much now about taking care of our teeth. Long ago, as people got older, their teeth would rot away and be very painful. To get rid of a toothache, they had their teeth pulled out. Finally people learned that cleaning their teeth was important, but they didn’t have toothpaste right away. While you’re swishing that minty-fresh paste around your mouth, think about what people used long ago to clean teeth:

ground-up chalk or charcoal
lemon juice
ashes (you know, the stuff that’s left over after a fire)
tobacco and honey mixed together


It was only about 100 years ago that someone finally created a minty cream to clean teeth. Not long after that, the toothpaste tube was invented, so people could squeeze the paste right onto the toothbrush! Tooth brushing became popular during World War II. The U.S. Army gave brushes and toothpaste to all soldiers, and they learned to brush twice a day. Back then, toothpaste tubes were made of metal; today they’re made of soft plastic and are much easier to squeeze!

Today there are plenty of toothpaste choices: lots of colors and flavors to choose from, and some are made just for kids. People with great-looking teeth advertise toothpaste on TV commercials and in magazines. When you’re choosing a toothpaste, make sure it contains fluoride. Fluoride makes your teeth strong and protects them from cavities.

When you brush, you don’t need a lot of toothpaste: just squeeze out a bit the size of a pea. It’s not a good idea to swallow the toothpaste, either, so be sure to rinse and spit after brushing.