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Posts for: January, 2017

Sleep Apnea


Sleep Apnea in FairfaxA good night's rest is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle, but not everyone finds it easy to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Sleep disorders have unfortunately been on the rise in the last few decades, leading many to search for ways to finally get some rewarding shut eye. While insomnia and restless leg syndrome are common sleep disorders which affect millions, sleep apnea is another that doesn't typically get as much attention. This sleep disorder is diagnosed as the repeated stopping and starting of breathing while asleep, the most prevalent symptom of it is snoring and it is usually treated using a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device, but your dentist might actually have a better solution. Yes. That is correct. Your dentist may just be able to help you deal away with sleep apnea once and for all. Here's how:


Recommended Lifestyle Changes

Most dentists are trained to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and provide recommendations that can help their patients sleep better and wake up feeling rejuvenated. For example, your dentist will likely recommend you change your sleeping position, lose a little weight and/or quit smoking in order to see if these small changes help.

Customized Dental Appliances

If you are still suffering from sleep apnea, your dentist will probably then suggest having a customized dental appliance made. These dental pieces look like an athletic mouthguard but they re-position your jaw and tongue in order to improve airflow as you catch some zzz's.

Sleep apnea is easily treatable as long as you have the right people on your side. If you are experiencing any of the early signs of sleep apnea, including headaches, stiffness, dry mouth and snoring, it's best to inform your dentist on your next visit to see what he or she recommends.

If you have a question about Sleep Apnea in Fairfax Virginia, give our Fairfax Dentist a call and our friendly staff will guide you through some possible dental solutions.  Let us get you on the road to good health in our Fairfax dental office.  We also have dental offices in South Riding, VA.  Contact us today!

By Pender Dental Care
January 21, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Ever since childhood, when her career as a model and actress took off, Brooke Shields has enjoyed worldwide recognition — through advertisements for designer jeans, appearances on The Muppet Show, and starring roles in big-screen films. But not long ago, that familiar face was spotted in an unusual place: wearing a nasal anesthesia mask at the dentist's office. In fact, Shields posted the photo to her own Instagram account, with the caption “More dental surgery! I grind my teeth!” And judging by the number of comments the post received, she's far from alone.

In fact, researchers estimate that around one in ten adults have dental issues that stem from teeth grinding, which is also called bruxism. (Many children also grind their teeth, but it rarely causes serious problems, and is often outgrown.) About half of the people who are teeth grinders report problems like persistent headaches, jaw tenderness and sore teeth. Bruxism may also result in excessive tooth wear, and may damage dental work like crowns and bridges; in severe cases, loosened or fractured teeth have been reported. Sometimes these problems arise in an emergency situation.  Check out our new video about dental emergencies and give us a call if you have a dental emergency in Fairfax, or South Riding, VA.

Researchers have been studying teeth grinding for many years; their findings seem to indicate that it has no single cause. However, there are a number of factors that play a significant role in this condition. One is the anatomy of the jaw itself, and the effect of worn or misaligned teeth on the bite. Another factor relates to changes in brain activity that occur during the sleep cycle. In fact, nocturnal (nighttime) bruxism is now classified as a sleep-related movement disorder. Still other factors, such as the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, and a high level of stress or anxiety, can make an individual more likely to experience bruxism.

What can be done for people whose teeth grinding is causing problems? Since this condition may have many causes, a number of different treatments are available. Successful management of bruxism often begins by striving to eliminate the factors that may cause problems — for example, making lifestyle changes to improve your health, creating a soothing nighttime environment, and trying stress-reduction techniques; these may include anything from warm baths and soft music at bedtime, to meditation and mindfulness exercises.

Several dental treatments are also available, including a custom-made occlusal guard (night guard) that can keep your teeth from being damaged by grinding. In some cases, a bite adjustment may also be recommended: In this procedure, a small amount of enamel is removed from a tooth to change the way it contacts the opposite tooth, thereby lessening the biting force on it. More invasive techniques (such as surgery) are rarely needed.

A little tooth grinding once in a while can be a normal response to stress; in fact, becoming aware of the condition is often the first step to controlling it. But if you begin to notice issues that could stem from bruxism — or if the loud grinding sounds cause problems for your sleeping partner — it may be time to contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more about bruxism in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Stress and Tooth Habits.”

By Pender Dental Care
January 06, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gummy smile  

What makes a beautiful smile? The teeth, of course: bright, evenly shaped and precisely aligned with each other. But your teeth can be as perfect as can be and your smile will still appear unattractive.

The reason? Your gums show more than they should when you smile.

What's considered a gummy smile is largely a matter of perception that can vary from person to person. As a rule of thumb, though, we consider a smile “gummy” if four millimeters (mm) or more of the gums show.

Fortunately, we can minimize the gums' prominence and make your smile more attractive. But what methods we use will depend on why your gums stand out. And it's not always because of the gums themselves.

It could be your teeth didn't erupt normally during dental development. Mature crown (the visible part of the tooth) length is normally about 10 mm with a width about 75-85% of that. But an abnormal eruption could result in teeth that appear too short, which can make the gums stand out more. We can correct this with a surgical procedure called crown lengthening in which we remove excess gum tissue and, if necessary, reshape the underlying bone to expose more of the tooth crown.

Another potential cause is how far your upper lip rises when you smile. Normally the lip rises only enough to reveal about 4 mm of teeth. In some cases, though, it may rise too high and show more of the gums. We can modify lip movement in a number of ways, including Botox injections to temporarily paralyze the lip. A more permanent solution is a lip stabilization procedure. It sounds bad, but it's a fairly simple procedure to surgically reposition the muscle attachments to restrict movement.

Your gummy smile may also result from an upper jaw too long for your facial structure. We can correct this with orthognathic (“ortho” – straighten, “gnathos” – jaw) surgery. During the procedure the surgeon permanently positions the jaw further up in the skull; this will reduce the amount of teeth and gums displayed when you smile.

Discovering the true cause of your gummy smile will determine how we treat it. After a complete oral examination, we can then discuss your options to transform your smile into a more attractive one.

If you would like more information on treating gummy smiles and other cosmetic problems, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gummy Smiles.”