Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Did you know that it is estimated that at least 75% of the population suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? It not only causes fatigue and severe daytime drowsiness, but many other problems such as poor memory, clouded intellect, personality changes, irritability, decreased sex drive, impotence, morning headaches and many health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea contributes to cardiovascular disease, as well as conditions such as hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and heart disease.

What causes snoring and OSA? During normal sleep we breathe air in through our mouth and nose into our airway. If the muscles of the tongue and palate fall back into the airway, they can constrict the airway or completely close it off. When constricted the air causes the muscles to vibrate, thus causing snoring. When the airway is completely closed off, this causes an apnic event to occur (stop breathing) which causes your brain to wake you to start breathing again. Thus someone’s quality of sleep is greatly affected by these continuous awakenings or arousals throughout the night.

The first and most effective treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine. Unfortunately many people cannot tolerate wearing their CPAP and end up doing nothing to help their condition. Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to CPAP. An oral appliance is a small plastic device that fits over the teeth, just like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. The appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft tissue of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Oral appliances work by slightly advancing the lower jaw which in turn moves the base of the tongue forward and opens the airway to allow improved breathing and reduced snoring and apneas during sleep.

If you are being affected by sleep apnea, we can help!

Make an Appointment Today

Call (253) 845-9507 or make an appointment online!

Why So Sensitive? 5 Reasons Why Your Teeth Hurt

Do your teeth hurt when you drink or eat something hot or cold? Most people think this is normal, but that’s not always the case. When your teeth hurt, they’re trying to tell you something: See your dentist.

More often than not, tooth sensitivity is a sign of a dental problem like tooth decay or gum disease. But there are other reasons why your teeth may be hurting:

  • You might have a cracked or broken tooth
  • One of your fillings could be broken or rotten
  • You might be grinding your teeth while you sleep
  • You could be brushing your teeth too hard
  • There might be dental plaque buildup on your tooth roots

Don’t make the mistake of ignoring sensitive teeth or trying to self-treat. If your sensitivity lasts longer than a couple of days or keeps recurring over a couple of weeks, make an appointment to see your dentist. The longer you wait, the worse it can get and the more expensive treatment will be. A quick exam can often reveal exactly what’s going on and get you back to living pain-free.


Make an Appointment Today

You can make an appointment online!

Nightguard VS TMJ Appliance

posted in: TMJ | 0

A TMJ Appliance is an orthopedic repositioning appliance that is fabricated based on an evaluation, imaging and in our office, computer analysis.

This device functions to:

  • Realign the mandible and maintain proper posture of the condyle within the mandibular fossa which is determined by the muscles, the way the teeth come together, and the TM joint itself.
  • Re-establish joint space by decompression of retro-discal tissue, that often causes pain and inflammation.
  • Establish and maintain proper condyle-disc relationship that eliminates the anterior disc displacement causing the movement of the condyle into the posterior-superior position. Without establishing this proper relationship, there can be limitations in opening and closing, and sometimes even “lock-jaw.”
  • Stabilize the bite to decrease the adverse effects on the teeth and supporting structures caused by joint pathology, clenching and grinding. Continued trauma to the teeth due to TMJ dysfunction/clenching/grinding can lead to tooth pain, tooth fracture, abfraction lesions and even bone loss.

How is this different from a nightguard:

A nightguard is a universal piece of plastic about 2-3mm thick that prevents the teeth from rubbing together.  It is fabricated from a mere impression of one’s teeth.

In treating TMJ Disorders, we use Computed Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to detect hard and soft tissue anomalies and destruction. These diagnostic images allow for evaluation of joint position, posterior-superior joint spacing, cervical displacement and alterations. We use a computer-based system for three-dimensional jaw tracking, surface electromyography and recording of joint sounds while the muscles are in their most physiologically relaxed state.

A nightguard simply creates some space between the teeth. An orthotic functions to eliminate pain, clicking, popping and condylar impingement holding your jaw in a specific position based on the three dimensions (yaw, pitch, roll or up/down, right/left, side to side).

swimming pool

Can swimming regularly in a chlorinated pool damage your teeth?

Surprisingly, it can!

The trick is understanding how and why it can happen, and what you can do to minimize or eliminate the damage.

And, that’s where we come in! Let’s learn how this healthy form of exercise can contribute to staining, and even eroding, your tooth enamel – yikes!

What’s in the water that’s bad for teeth?

No one wants to swim in algae and bacteria, so chlorine is added to the pool to manage that situation. This is a good thing. But in order to keep things in check, pH has to be monitored.

If you’re familiar with the concept of how acidic beverages can erode tooth enamel, the same principal applies to pool water – a pool with too low a pH means the water is technically acidic, which can erode tooth enamel.

And, if you have kids putting in more than six hours a week in a pool with a pH that isn’t being monitored properly, that sort of damage can happen fast.

This is of particular concern in pools that are “gas chlorinated.” One study showed severe sensitivity and enamel loss in a man swimming in a high pH pool in just 27 days!

Aside from enamel loss, which is only a concern in improperly monitored pools, tooth discoloration is a much more common ailment. Here, the offender is how chlorine interacts with proteins in our saliva. In a nutshell this chemical reaction results in what’s known as “swimmers calculus.”

The only way to keep these threats at bay is to keep a pool maintained properly with regular testing. Again, staining is a preventative pursuit you can plan with your dentist.

Swimming should always be a fun and engaging activity, good for body and soul. So, do it right, and have fun!

Ready to make an appointment? Call us at (253) 845‑9507 or use our online form!

Share this article


Wonder why your dentist always wants to take X-rays?

The mouth is one of the dirtiest areas of the body and changes can take place fast (well under the time frame for your six month check-up).

What your dentist is looking for:

  • changes in the bone around and between the teeth.
  • cavities between teeth and under existing restorations
  • pathology in the bones of the jaw
  • widening of the ligaments around the teeth
  • apical changes to the root of the tooth
  • examine the area before treatment to minimize complications by having a full view of the teeth and bone.

Regular Monitoring of these areas with radiographs can assist in early detection of infection, trauma, periodontal disease or even cancer. Because changes can occur so rapidly, it is important to use radiographic examination as a diagnostic tool in conjunction with a clinical evaluation. Being proactive helps to catch developing issues before they become big problems.

Let Northwest Dental Medicine Oral Care team handle your X-rays and other preventative procedures. Northwest Dental Medicine, where your best interest is our only interest.

Make an Appointment

Should you get a water pik?

Flossing - Key to dental health

The most effective product in the world is rendered useless if it never makes it out of the box. The same is true with flossing. It works. But only 2-15% of the population flosses regularly. Perhaps considering a product you’d actually use might do the trick? Have you thought about an oral irrigator?

In 1962, a Colorado dentist Geald Moyer developed a concept that would help his elderly patients increase the effectiveness of their dental hygiene. Idea in hand, he teamed up with a hydraulic engineer by the name of John Mattingly, and together, they developed the world’s first oral irrigator. It later became known as WaterPik.

Today, there are oral irrigators of all shapes, sizes, and brands on the market. Each designed with an eye toward helping you keep your mouth as healthy as it can be. But how can you be sure you really need one? Here are some questions that may help you decide.

Water Flosser

Is your floss getting dusty?

We all know you intend to do well. But if you haven’t used it since the few days after your last hygiene appointment, you’re really not helping yourself very much.

Do you have a lot of space between your teeth?

Food, bacteria and plaque all love a great place to hide, and the spaces between your teeth provide plenty of comfort. If your dentist ever recommended you use an interproximal brush to get between your teeth, a water pik may be a benefit.

Is your mouth occupied by dental prosthetics?

Bridges, braces, partials, even implants … if your mouth is home to one or more of these dental devices, you can benefit from an oral irrigator.

Will you use it?

This, of course, is the million-dollar question. Believe it or not, adoption rates for oral irrigators are pretty high. They tend not to sit on the countertop and collect dust. Anecdotally, using these devices seems to be less cumbersome for most people than flossing – it’s somewhat … fun. So, if you like the idea of massaging your gums each night before bed, don’t like flossing lectures, and have a true desire to avoid dentures, implants and gum disease later in life, you’ll probably find an oral irrigator to be quite useful.

Facts About Premedication for Dental Procedures

Why dentists prescribe antibiotics (premedication) for dental procedures?

Antibiotics are prescribed alongside dental procedures to prevent bacteremia — a condition in which bacteria enter the bloodstream and spread infection to different parts of the body.

Who requires premedication?

After a thorough and complete medical history, your dentist will determine if you require premedication.

You might need to premedicate if:

  • You have certain heart conditions, such as a heart valve replacement, a history of infective endocarditis, a heart transplant that developed valvulopathy, any unrepaired congenital cyanotic heart defect, or any corrected heart defects with residual defects
  • You are immunocompromised by an autoimmune disorder or cancer
  • In the past, premedication was recommended for heart murmur, mitral valve prolapse, and artificial joint replacements, but current guidelines exclude these conditions (2015 ADA Clinic Practice Guidelines).

How does premedication work?

Typically, your dentist will write you a prescription. You will pick it up from your pharmacy and take it 30 minutes prior to your appointment. If you have trouble taking pills orally, your dentist may administer antibiotics while you’re in the chair (via intramuscular injection or intravenously).

Note: it is extremely important to take your antibiotics exactly as they are prescribed. This helps prevent drug-resistant bacteria from developing.

What happens if you forget to premedicate?

Let your dentist know if you have forgotten to premedicate. In most instances, you may still take your antibiotics within two hours of the procedure.

Are there any potential side effects of premedication?

Yes. Any medication has the potential to produce side effects. These could include nausea, upset stomach, allergic reactions, and others. However, there are also risks to not premedicating, including bacteremia and sepsis. This is why you have been prescribed premedication.

Dental Health & Your Diet

Sugar is the main cause of dental decay when there is bacteria present. More important than the amount of sugar you take is the frequency of it.

Probably the worst thing you can do to your teeth is to hold a soda and have a sip every few minutes during a long period of time; the same is true for snacking. It is recommended that if you want to have a snack or a soda or juice it is better to have it after food, as dessert or have it in one sitting. Eating or drinking something sweet during a long period of time creates a constant supply of sugar for bacteria that cause tooth decay!

Arizona Dental Medicine healthy teeth

It is important to know all the sources of sugar. It is not just everything that is sweet but anything that can turn to sugar like pieces of bread. Cutting down your sugar intake is good for cavity prevention as well as general health.

When you have to have sugar! The best way to prevent cavities is to prevent the sugar from staying next to your teeth. Brushing after eating sugar, rinsing your mouth with Fluoride mouth wash or chewing sugarless gum can help. But nothing has the effect of avoiding sugar!

Is there any kind of food that prevents tooth decay? Well, not really. Some people believed that chewing foods like apple and carrots may have some plaque removal effect, but they still contain some sugar so any advantage of them is not clear.

Another group of food that causes significant damage to teeth structure is acidic foods. Things like lime, lemon and grapefruit, if in frequent contact with teeth, can cause serious irreversible damage (erosion) to your teeth.

Back to Patient Education

Electric versus Manual Brush

There have been multiple studies comparing the effectiveness of manual brushes as opposed to electric brushes.electric1

Although not all electric brushes are the same, these studies conclude that in general electric brushes are more efficient in controlling plaque than manual brushes. Theoretically, you can do a very good brushing with a regular hand brush, but the movements of an electric brush make the task easier and more effective.

Also, some electric brushes (Sonicare) produce sonic vibrations that are difficult to mimic with a hand brush! Other electric brushes like Oral-B and Rotadent have small heads that help you access hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. This aspect is more important when you are talking about someone with orthodontic braces or a history of gum disease.

Back to Patient Education


Bad Breath

There are a few different causes for bad breath. It ranges from stomach problems to diets and teeth problems. Most of the causes can be found in the mouth, they are:young woman checking her breath with her hand

  1. Tongue (when bacteria grows in between the papilla)
  2. Teeth cavities (especially when food particles get stuck in them)
  3. Gum diseases
  4. Extraction sites during healing
  5. Dentures when not cleaned properly
  6. Alcohol and tobacco

If you or someone you know is concerned about bad breath, the first step is a dental check up. Your dentist will be able to confirm or rule out teeth or mouth as the source of bad breath.

When the reason is found, treatment will be explained by your dentist. If the source of the bad breath is your mouth there is little chance that mouth washes or mints can treat the problem. They usually mask the problem for a
short period of time. They can even sometimes make the situation worse (mouthwashes that contain alcohol cause dry mouth and that usually makes the bad breath worse).

These are a few other, non-dental reasons that cause bad breath:

  1. Sore throat
  2. Tonsillitis
  3. Some foods
  4. Infection of air passages.

Following a good oral hygiene routine and getting regular check ups with your dentist are best ways of preventing bad breath.

If you are looking for a great Northwest Dentist, give us a call today!

Back to Patient Education
1 2 3 4 5