Posts for: April, 2015
We all know how much better we feel after a good night’s sleep: refreshed, energized and ready to handle — even excel at — our day-to-day responsibilities. Yet millions of people, young and old, are robbed of a good night’s rest by sleep-related breathing disorders such as sleep apnea, in which the soft tissues in the back of the throat block the airway during sleep. This temporarily disrupts airflow, causing numerous “micro-arousals” (sleep interruptions) that we may not even be aware of. A lack of sleep can make us drowsy, irritable and unfocused. In children, these typical symptoms of sleep apnea can lead to mistaken diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The relationship between sleep apnea and behavioral problems has been highlighted in several recent scientific journal articles, including a major study published several years ago in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The lead author, Dr. Karen Bonuck, said at the time: “We found that children with sleep-disordered breathing were from 40 to 100 percent more likely to develop neurobehavioral problems by age 7, compared with children without breathing problems. The biggest increase was in hyperactivity, but we saw significant increases across [other] behavioral measures.” Therefore, an accurate diagnosis of a child’s behavioral problems — leading to the right treatment — is crucial. While sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a physician, treatment for the condition is often provided by a dentist.
What can be done for children suffering from sleep apnea? The most common treatment is surgical removal of the tonsils or adenoids. This treatment can sometimes be performed by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, a dentist who has received several years of post-graduate surgical training. There are several other procedures oral surgeons can perform to open the airway, depending on what anatomical structures are blocking it.
Sometimes a child with sleep apnea can benefit from a procedure to expand the palate (roof of the mouth) to enlarge the airway. This is not a surgical treatment but rather an orthodontic one. An orthodontist (a dentist who specializes in moving teeth) will fit the child with a palatal expander, a butterfly-shaped device that gradually separates the two bones that form the upper jaw and roof of the mouth. This is often done to prevent crowding of teeth and other bite problems, but has been shown in some cases to improve airflow.
There is another dental approach used to treat adults and older children, whose jaw growth is complete. It’s called oral appliance therapy, and it involves wearing a custom-made device during sleep that resembles a sports mouthguard or orthodontic retainer. An oral appliance can maintain an opened, unobstructed, upper airway during sleep in various ways, including: repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula; stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue; increasing the muscle tone of the tongue.
If your child has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can help you find the best treatment approach. For more information, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry” and “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.”
As a Pro Football Hall of Famer and first runner up on the hit television show Dancing with the Stars, Jerry Rice has a face and smile that truly has star quality. However, that was not always the case. During an interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the retired NFL pro discussed his good fortune to have had just a few minor dental injuries throughout his football career. He went on to say that his cosmetic dentist repaired several of his chipped teeth with full crowns. Rice now maintains his beautiful smile with routine cleanings and occasional tooth bleaching.
If you have chipped, broken or missing teeth, or are considering a smile makeover, we want to know exactly what you want to change about your smile, as the old adage is true: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This is one reason why we feel that listening is one of the most important skills we can use during your private, smile-makeover consultation. We want to use this time to ensure we see what you see as attractive and vice versa so that together we can design a realistic, achievable blueprint for your dream smile.
For this reason, we have put together some questions you should ask yourself prior to your appointment:
- What do you like and dislike about the color, size, shape and spacing of your teeth?
- Do you like how much of your teeth show when you smile and when your lips are relaxed?
- Are you happy with the amount of gum tissue that shows when you smile?
- Do you prefer a “Hollywood smile” with perfectly aligned, bright white teeth, or do you prefer a more natural looking smile with slight color, shape and shade variations?
To learn more about obtaining the smile you want, continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Great Expectations — Perceptions In Smile Design.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss your cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatment goals. And if you want to read the entire feature article on Jerry Rice, continue reading “Jerry Rice — An Unbelievable Rise To NFL Stardom.”