THE TRUTH ABOUT SOME COMMON DENTAL MYTHS

The profession of dentistry has experienced an amazing evolution over its lifetime. References to tooth decay can be found in various ancient texts. At one time, a local barber would provide haircuts and pull troublesome teeth in the same shop. Dentistry evolved from these humble beginnings to what we know today: a structured medical discipline where patients benefit from evidenced-based care. Oddly enough, though, several oral health myths and misconceptions have failed to fade away....

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MAINTAIN YOUR ORAL HEALTH

On the list of common reasons people avoid the dentist, cost is usually near the top. It is a fact — some dental treatments are expensive. However, you have some control in working to avoid pricey dental procedures. Two of the best ways to avoid needing expensive dental treatments are to visit a dentist regularly for an exam and cleaning and following proper dental hygiene advice every day.

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COMMON SLEEP DISORDER WREAKS HAVOC ON THE BODY

The National Sleep Foundation estimates over 18 million adults in the United States, or about one in every 15 people, suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts breathing, resulting in disruptive sleep. Individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea will experience a repetitive (partial or complete) airway collapse throughout their sleep, which prevents air from reaching the lungs.

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SNORING AND SLEEP APNEA: HOW AN ORAL APPLIANCE MAY HELP WITH YOUR SLEEP PROBLEM

muscles relax during sleep, it may not only lead to the tissue vibration that produces snoring, but also to the partial or complete closing of the airway, preventing air from reaching the lungs. As a result, the snoring can be followed by a pause in breathing that may sound like the person is gasping or choking. Intermittent collapse of the airway that occurs during sleep is known as obstructive sleep apnea. It is estimated that about half of loud snorers may also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.


Sleep apnea can cause daytime drowsiness, which can lead to a number of issues such as trouble concentrating and memory problems, mood changes such as irritability or depression and increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. Moreover, there is a higher risk of cardiovascular problems such as hypertension and stroke.


Consult with your doctor if, in addition to frequent snoring, you experience some of the following symptoms: excessive daytime tiredness, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability and unrefreshing sleep. Your doctor or sleep physician will ask you and your bed partner more specific questions about your symptoms and may order a sleep study to investigate any potential sleep breathing disorder.   



Different conservative treatment options are available for managing snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. The first line of treatment will always include lifestyle modifications that can help mitigate some of the symptoms or even resolve the problem completely. These include weight loss in the case of obesity; avoidance of alcohol, muscle relaxants or other sedatives at bedtime; and smoking cessation to reduce the inflammation of the airway that cigarettes cause. In patients whose symptoms are related to sleep position, different positional therapies can be tried, including the use of specialized pillows or even self-adjusting mattresses.


When lifestyle modifications are not enough to manage sleep symptoms, other conservative treatment options are available. The first line of treatment has traditionally been the use of positive airway pressure, also known as PAP therapy, which may include C-PAP, Bi-PAP or Auto- PAP machines.


For patients who cannot tolerate PAP therapy, an alternative treatment is a dental device (oral appliance) custom made by a dentist experienced in treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. These custom dental devices fit over the teeth and help bring the lower jaw forward, opening the space between the back of the tongue and throat and thus preventing the collapse of the airway. These devices also help protect the teeth from other harmful habits, such as bruxism or teeth clenching or grinding.


Patients tend to prefer the devices in almost 95 percent of cases, in contrast to PAP therapy, because they are easier to tolerate, present minimum side effects and are more convenient while travelling.


Consult with your doctor and specialized dentist to discuss if you are a good candidate for using an oral appliance to manage snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.    

DR. ISABEL MORENO HAY


Dr. Isabel Moreno Hay is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry and the program director and interim Division Chief of Orofacial Pain located in the Kentucky Clinic. She is board certified by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and by the American Academy of Orofacial Pain. Dr. Moreno Hay’s practice includes the dental management of sleep-related breathing disorders and management of orofacial pain at the Orofacial Pain Clinic. More information about UK Dentistry is available at   www.ukhealthcare.uky.edu/dentistry.

Snoring is a very common condition that affects roughly 90 million adults in the United States. While more prevalent among men, women also snore, and although snoring affects individuals of all ages, it tends to become more common as we get older.


Snoring is caused by the vibration of tissues in the throat when the muscles relax while an individual is asleep. This vibration during breathing can cause a loud noise that varies in intensity. It may occur occasionally or regularly. The loudest snoring recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records was equivalent to heavy traffic, a noise level that will definitively affect the sleep quality of anyone sharing the room with that snorer.


In addition to aging, other potential contributing factors for snoring are weight gain and anatomical factors such as a deviated septum or enlarged tonsils. Inflammation of the nose and throat due to allergies or infections can also play an important role. Other factors include alcohol use or taking muscle relaxers before bedtime. Lastly, the position in which a person sleeps can matter. Some people may snore more loudly or only snore while sleeping on their backs compared to sleeping on their side.


Snoring Versus Obstructive Sleep Apnea

It is important to always take in consideration that for some people, snoring may be a sign of a more serious condition. When the throat