Posts for: August, 2011

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
August 28, 2011
Category: Oral Health

When involved in high impact sports or vigorous activities, it is important to protect your mouth and teeth. This statement is backed by the fact that there are over 600,000 sports-related dental injuries treated in emergency rooms across the US each year according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In addition to absorbing and distributing the forces that impact the mouth, teeth, face and jaws an athlete receives while participating in sports such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey (ice and field), skateboarding and wrestling, the American Dental Association (ADA), also recommends the use of custom mouthguards for other activities such as acrobatics, bicycling, handball, racquetball, skiing, and even weightlifting.

These facts make two things clear: (1) it is vital that you obtain a professionally made mouthguard that you wear during these types of activities and (2) that you also understand how this mouthguard protects you. Below are just a few ways.

  1. Lacerations. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard covers the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue from lacerations that can occur from a blow or sudden jolt.
  2. Mouth Impact. Just as a mouthguard protects against soft tissue lacerations, it can also help prevent injuries to the jaws and teeth. This includes but is not limited to chipped teeth, fractured teeth, broken teeth and teeth that are partially or fully knocked out of their natural position.
  3. TMJ (jaw joint) Trauma. Wearing a properly fitted mouthguard can reduce the potential for jaw displacement and joint fractures by cushioning the jaws against damage from an impact.
  4. Direct Jaw Impact. Anytime a person receives a direct impact to his/her jaw, having a mouthguard in place may help prevent more serious injuries to teeth and jaws. This is especially important for anyone diagnosed with TMJ.
  5. Jaw Fracture. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard both absorbs and distributes impact forces so that jaws are protected. And it is this reduction in force that can help prevent the jaws from fractures.
  6. Under Chin Impact. Receiving a blow under the chin can obviously damage teeth; however, it can also cause damage to the jaws as well as inflame or cause TMJ issues.

You can learn more about mouthguards by continuing to read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment.


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
August 21, 2011
Category: Oral Health

Nightly snoring can be a sign of a dangerous condition called sleep apnea (from “a” meaning without and “pnea” meaning breath). When someone snores the soft tissues in the back of the throat collapse onto themselves and obstruct the airway, causing the vibration known as snoring.

If the obstruction becomes serious, it is called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. In such cases the flow of air may be stopped for brief periods, causing the person to wake for a second or two with a loud gasp as he attempts to catch his breath. This can cause heart and blood pressure problems, related to low oxygen levels in the blood. The obstruction and mini-awakening cycle can occur as many as 50 times an hour. A person with this condition awakens tired and faces the risk of accidents at work or while driving due to fatigue.

Studies show that sleep apnea patients are much more likely to suffer from heart attack, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, brain damage and strokes.

What can be done to treat OSA?
Snoring, apnea, and OSA occur more frequently in people who are overweight. So start with losing weight and exercising.

At our office, we can design oral appliances to wear while sleeping that will keep your airway open while you sleep. These appliances, which look like sports mouth guards, work by repositioning the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and uvula (soft tissues in the back of the throat); stabilizing the lower jaw and tongue; and increasing the muscle tone of the tongue.

Another approach is to use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) bedside machine. These machines send pressurized air through a tube connected to a mask covering the nose and sometimes the mouth. The pressurized air opens the airway so that breathing is not interrupted.

Much less frequently, jaw surgeries may be recommended to remove excess tissues in the throat. These would be done by specially trained oral surgeons or ear, nose and throat specialists.

Diagnosis and treatment of OSA is best accomplished by joint consultation with your physician and our office. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss snoring and OSA. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry” and “Snoring and Sleep Apnea.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
August 14, 2011
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: oral health   root canal  

Test yourself on your knowledge of this dental procedure.

  1. A root canal is
    1. A canal shaped structure in the root of your tooth
    2. A blood vessel carrying blood from your gum to your tooth
    3. An instrument used by your dentist in performing dental surgery
  2. Which of these are symptoms of root canal infection?
    1. Sharp, acute and intense pain, which is difficult to pinpoint
    2. Sharp pain when biting down on your tooth or on food
    3. Lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods
    4. Dull ache and pressure
    5. Tenderness (accompanied by swelling) in the nearby gums
    6. All the above
  3. If you don't feel any pain you do not have a root canal infection.
    1. True
    2. False
  4. Root canal treatment is a very painful experience.
    1. True
    2. False
  5. Root canal treatment is called endodontic therapy. What does this word mean?
    1. Bringing the end of your problems
    2. Inside your tooth
    3. Fighting gum disease
  6. You need root canal treatment if
    1. The inside or pulp of your tooth becomes inflamed or infected
    2. Your tooth needs to be gently moved in order to correct your bite
    3. Acid erosion is damaging your tooth
  7. During root canal treatment the canals in your teeth are cleaned out and sealed off.
    1. True
    2. False
  8. Who is qualified to perform root canal treatment?
    1. General dentists
    2. Endodontists
    3. Both of the above
Answers
  1. a. A root canal is a canal shaped space within the root of a tooth that holds the tooth's pulp — which contains the tooth's nerves and blood vessels.
  2. f. — all of the above
  3. False. It is possible to have an infection that has stopped hurting but is still present and causing damage.
  4. False. Root canal treatment doesn't cause pain, it relieves it.
  5. b. The word comes from roots meaning “inside” and “tooth.”
  6. a.
  7. True. A small opening is made in the chewing surface of your tooth to gain access to the pulp. Dead and dying tissue is removed and the pulp is cleaned and disinfected. The canals are shaped and then sealed with filling materials to prevent future infection.
  8. c. All general dentists have received training in endodontic treatment and can perform most endodontic procedures. They often refer people needing complicated root canal treatment to endodontists, who have had specialized training in endodontic diagnosis and treatment.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about root canal treatment. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Common Concerns about Root Canal Treatment.”

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
August 07, 2011
Category: Oral Health

If you fear a visit to the dentist, you are not alone. Studies have shown that up to 75% of people surveyed have some fear of dental visits, and 10 to 15% fear the dentist so much that they avoid any dental treatment. This can have serious repercussions, leading to toothaches, infections, and loss of teeth. Poor oral health can even negatively affect your general state of health.

Here's the good news. Even people who are the most afraid of the dentist can learn to reduce their fear and feel calm and safe during a dental visit.

Dental fears develop when people have bad dental experiences. For many, the problem is a sense of loss of control. Sometimes, fears are based on stories people have heard or even movies they have seen.

The feeling of being afraid reinforces your fear. If you experience the rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, tensed muscles, and other symptoms of fear while in the dentist chair, you are likely to remember these unpleasant feelings afterward and become even more fearful. In order to reverse this process, you need to begin to associate dental visits with good experiences and a sense of control. Here's how we can help you do this:

  • Know that you are not alone and we are here to help you.
  • Talk to us about your fears. We are sure to listen and not be judgmental. If you don't talk about it, you can't get over it.
  • We will start by doing things that cause only mild or no anxiety. We want each visit to be a good experience, so you are able to leave our office with a feeling that it was okay, and you can do it again.
  • Our goal is for you to overcome your fear. We will make this a priority and that priority is as important as “fixing your teeth.” We will be happy to talk about the time and fees associated with your treatment so that you can overcome your fear and gain a sense of control of the situation.
  • It took a while for your fears to develop, so you should realize that it will also take a while to get over them. We will spend as much time as you need to get over your fears and will not rush you into doing anything for which you are not ready.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about any fears you may have. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Overcoming Dental Fear & Anxiety.”




Gina Piccioni, D.M.D. and John G. Hartmann, D.D.S.

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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