How Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Oral Health

Snoring man and young woman. Couple sleeping in bed.

Many patients are surprised to hear that a dental professional can see the early signs of sleep apnea sooner than a medical doctor. A large percentage of the ten-million people suffering from sleep apnea first learn that they have symptoms of the disorder from their dentist.

Our dentist is a highly trained sleep apnea dentist in San Francisco who has spent many years helping patients who are robbed of their sleep and oral health by the disorder. A well-trained dentist such as our dentist is able to spot even subtle signs of dental damage that comes from sleep apnea.

Here are the most common dental problems caused by sleep apnea.

• Dry Mouth- While dry mouth seems like an uncomfortable inconvenience than a serious issue, it often leads to other, more severe dental problems. Dry mouth occurs along with sleep apnea because patients with the disorder are typically mouth breathers while they are sleeping. When there is not enough saliva present in your mouth, bacteria grow and multiply, unchecked. Excessive bacteria are a cause of many dental problems including gum disease.

• Teeth Grinding- Formally known as bruxism, repeated grinding of your teeth while you are asleep is symptomatic of sleep apnea and can wreak havoc on your oral health. Sleep apnea patients often experience bruxism because it is the brain’s way of attempting to wake the patient so that they breathe normally. We see patients with sleep apnea experience cracked teeth, tooth enamel that is worn away, waking up with headaches, stiff necks, and jaw pain because of bruxism.

• Temporomandibular Joint Disorder- This painful ailment is often a result of ongoing sleep apnea. The joint experiences excessive wear because of the long-term teeth grinding associated with sleep apnea. After exposure to extreme pressure from bruxism over a period of time, a patient’s temporomandibular joint suffers from inflammation and dislocation. The pain is severe and successful treatment takes time.

If you believe that you experience sleep apnea, talk with our dentist for helpful suggestions along with a thorough examination.

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How Sleep Apnea Can Affect Your Oral Health

How Dental Sedation Can Help Patients

We know some of our patients have an intense fear of dentists, some have near phobic reactions and try to avoid the dentist entirely. Unfortunately, skipping regular dental visits puts oral health at risk.

Our Huntington Beach dentist wants all of our patients to have good dental experiences. Several positive encounters can ease your fears; this is why we offer optional dental sedation. This is a safe way to help make our patients’ visit as pleasant as possible. Our staff will gladly help you to understand dental sedation and answer any questions.

We use two types of sedation in our office; these are inhaled sedation and conscious sedation.

INHALED SEDATION-
Typically called nitrous oxide or laughing gas, this is the gentlest and least disruptive kind of dental sedation available. Our dentist dispenses the colorless and odorless gas via a small mask that covers your nose. Your dentist will regulate how much gas you get as well and your level of sedation.
Benefits of an inhaled sedation treatment include:
• Quick results
• Easy to adjust
• No unpleasant effects

CONSCIOUS SEDATION-
Another kind of sedation we offer is called conscious sedation. You are very relaxed and may doze during your dental visit. It is common for patients to have no recollection of your procedure. Oral anti-anxiety medications help you to become calm and relaxed before your treatment.

These medications will take an hour or so before you feel their effects. Often, we will give you a prescription for the drug, and instruct you to take one tablet before coming to our office. Please remember that driving after taking any sedative is dangerous and you should have someone drive you to and from your appointment.

Some benefits of conscious sedation are:
• No side effects
• Physically and psychologically relaxing
• Relieves pain

If you are someone who has an overwhelming sense of anxiety or fear when thinking about dental appointments, please contact our office so that our staff can help you plan your dental sedation and help ease your concerns.

How Dental Sedation Can Help Patients

How Does CAD/CAM Technology Work?

Young business woman smiling

CAD/CAM stands for “computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing.” CAD/CAM technology has been used in the automotive, aerospace, industrial and building industries, and it has even been used to design and create prosthetics. It was introduced in dental laboratories in the 1980s, but the use of dental CAD/CAM has become more widespread as the technology has improved. Our dentist can use CAD/CAM technology to create porcelain crowns and other restorations in the office while patients wait. This eliminates the often long wait between preparation and restoration that is required by conventional crowns.

The CAD/CAM Process

Our dentist begins by examining the damaged tooth to ensure that a crown is the best treatment option. Next, he will use an anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding tissues. Once the area is numb, the decayed tissue will be removed and the tooth will be shaped. At this point in the process, an impression needs to be made. With traditional restorations, an impression is made with a rubbery material that patients had to hold in place for a period. With CAD/CAM, an optical impression is used. A handheld scanner takes a digital image of the tooth and transfers it to a computer, where it can be used to create a digital 3D model. The entire process takes just a few minutes.

Once the CEREC software creates the virtual model, our dentist will use special software to design a restoration to fit the prepared tooth. Once the design is complete, a single click will send the data to the milling unit. The milling unit crafts the new restoration using a block of cement matched to the patient’s tooth. Just 10 to 20 minutes later, the crown is ready to be bonded to the prepared tooth.

The Benefits

Because the entire process is completed in our office, it is less time-consuming, and patients can have their new restorations in a single appointment. There is no need for temporaries or lengthy waits while the dental lab creates the crown. Our dentist can bond the CAD/CAM crown into place as soon as it is milled and has been checked for size and fit. In just one appointment, patients can have their damaged teeth restored.

Contact us today to find out more or to schedule an appointment with our San Francisco dentist.

How Does CAD/CAM Technology Work?

How to Ensure Teenagers Use Invisalign Correctly

Aligners Focus - 6

So many of our orthodontics patients are teenagers who are delighted that the Invisalign Teen system can correct their smiles without painful wires and a mouthful of metal.

Two decades ago the Invisalign alignment tray system gave adult patients the option to correct smile imperfections using thin and transparent trays which fit on top of teeth and gently push the teeth into their proper position. Instead of a year and a half or longer, patients could shed their Invisalign trays after 12-18 months.

The concept of the Invisalign system is straightforward, however, the success depends on how well a patient complies with the Invisalign directives. These include wearing the alignment trays for 20-22 hours every day. Taking the aligners out before eating or drinking and cleaning the aligners thoroughly before putting the tray on the teeth.

This dental regimen is one reason, which for many years Invisalign was an orthodontic option just for adults. Another reason the system was only for adults is that the alignment trays could not adapt to growing mouths and erupting molars.

The company created Invisalign Teen as a way to answer the requests for an Invisalign system suitable for teenagers. The system conquers the most significant obstacles to Invisalign for younger patients, growth, and compliance.

The most significant design differences between the traditional Invisalign system and Invisalign Teen is that the teen system can adjust to meet the challenges of erupting molars and growing jaws. Invisalign Teen has a tab that is designed to allow room for jaw growth and the eruption of molars.

Because lack of compliance makes the Invisalign system ineffective, creators of Invisalign Teen added a small compliance indicator as a part of the alignment trays. If your teen is wearing the aligner as directed, a blue dot on the tray will gradually fade. Parents who notice the slowly vanishing dot, know their teen is wearing their aligners correctly and do not need to be concerned about alignment trays which stay in the case and not on the teeth.

If you would like to learn more about ways to know if your teen is complying with their Invisalign directions, feel free to contact our office we are happy to help.

How to Ensure Teenagers Use Invisalign Correctly

Recovering After Root Canal

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In some cases, our patients dislike particular treatments much more than others. While this is normal, as we all have likes and dislikes, the one remedy which is nearly universally feared and disliked is the root canal. We even have patients who have never experienced a root canal tell us that they do not like the therapy.

Unfortunately, modern root canals still carry the stigma and fearsome reputation of root canals of years past. While some aspects are still the same; we have advances which vastly improve the procedure as well as your recovery. The primary cause of excessive pain often associated with a root canal is the inability to adequately numb the area of a patient’s mouth which needed treatment. The numbing was difficult because in most cases the nerves and blood vessels surrounding the tooth were decaying or dead. By improving the precision with anesthetics, our root canal dentist in Huntington Beach can deliver proper pain relief where it is needed. This makes the entire process much more comfortable for our patients.

After your root canal is over, there are some things you can do to make your recovery better such as:

• Plan to rest after your root canal. If it is at all possible, schedule your root canal for a time when you are able to clear your schedule for at least a day, although a few days is even better.

• Stock your pantry with soft, easy to eat foods that require little preparation. Yogurt, eggs, mashed potatoes, pudding, and macaroni and cheese are a few examples of these. You can make your own list of favorites, but be sure to avoid hard, chewy, or sticky foods after a root canal.

• Use an ice pack to help relieve pain and swelling from the area near your root canal.

• Take your pain medication as directed. Many dentists hear that their patient had terrible pain, but then later find out that the patient did not take their medication as prescribed.

As you can see, it is possible to recover from a root canal. If you would like to hear more tips about root canal recovery, please contact our office, and we would happily get information for you.

Recovering After Root Canal

Is TMJ Treatable?

side profile sick female having ear pain touching painful head

Our office sees numerous patients who struggle with temporomandibular joint pain. Many have suffered for years and hold little hope that our dentists can help treat this disorder. We would like to offer encouragement to those who endure that pain; temporomandibular joint pain is treatable.

Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located on either side of your head, just below each ear, and connects your jawbone to your skull. To work, the TMJ merges a hinge motion with gliding movements. This action allows you to open and close your jaws. There are many reasons patients experience temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) some are genetically predisposed to problems, others suffer because of arthritis in the joint, and some people develop problems after an accident involving the face. Occasionally, our TMJ dentist sees patients with no apparent cause for their pain.

There is hope for patients who have TMJ disorder. Our dental office in Huntington Beach offers helpful treatments to relieve pain and swelling. There are three treatment categories: medications, non-drug therapies, and surgical (or other) procedures.

MEDICATIONS:
Often, our TMJ patients get little or no relief from over the counter pain relievers. This is when our dentist prescribes stronger medications such as prescription strength non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Occasionally, our dentist prescribes muscle relaxing medications. These are generally for short-term use.

NON-DRUG THERAPIES:
These treatments often include a regimen which alternates moist heat and ice as well as jaw exercises to strengthen the muscles. Sometimes, patients benefit from mouth guards which they wear at night. The belief is that these prevent teeth grinding and jaw clenching during sleep.

SURGICAL OR OTHER PROCEDURES:
Surgical intervention is the last course of action for our TMJ patients. Prior to open-joint surgery, our dentist will use other options such as corticosteroid injections. Additionally, our dentist may use arthrocentesis, a treatment where a small needle injects fluid into the joint clearing away debris. Arthroscopic surgery and open-joint surgery are used to correct structural problems with the temporomandibular joint.

If you struggle with TMJ disorder, do not despair, contact our office to learn specific ways we can help you.

Is TMJ Treatable?

Steps in Getting a Dental Implant

Our office sees numerous patients who want to know more about dental implants. Implants are easily one of the most important dental advancements of our time. From a health standpoint as well as from an aesthetic one, implants improve our patients lives every day.

Often patients ask what steps occur while getting a dental implant. Here is a summary of the events necessary for a dental implant.

The initial steps in your dental implant begin with an examination and a consultation with our dental implant dentist in Torrance. After clearing you for surgery from a medical standpoint as well as assuring you are in good dental health, our dentist will work with you to create a care plan and an approximate timeline for the procedure. Occasionally, patients are unaware that dental implants require months before they are complete and having a timeline to follow is helpful.

The first part of your implant involves the placing of a small titanium screw in the empty socket of your jaw. The screw will function as if it were a root for a tooth. After a period of time, a process called osseointegration takes place. This term means that your body accepts the tiny screw and it fuses with the jaw. This process and the healing of the implant site, take between three and six months. During this time our dentist in Torrance will conduct periodic checks to be sure you are healing well.
Once osseointegration is complete, and the area around your implant heals, you will receive the final two pieces of your implant. Our dentist will place an abutment on the screw to work as a foundation for the visible implant. The implant fits on top of the screw and the abutment, and together they form your complete dental implant.

Going forward, you should care for the implant just as you would care for one of your natural teeth. Regular brushing at least twice a day and flossing along with timely dental checkups will all help you to keep your implant and your natural teeth healthy and beautiful.

Steps in Getting a Dental Implant