Posts for: March, 2012

By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
March 27, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea   snoring  
FiveFAQsAboutSnoringandSleepApnea

Getting enough sleep is necessary for good health. We all know how energetic we feel when we are sleeping well at night. Yet, many of us do not feel rested, even after seven or eight hours of sleep. Let's answer some common questions about snoring and sleep apnea, problems that are often called sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD).

What is the purpose of sleep?
Scientists know we need sleep, at a particularly deep level, to be rested, but they are not sure why we need sleep. Sleep may have evolved as a way to conserve energy in the body, to conserve food supplies, or to reduce our risk during darkness. Sleep appears to give the brain a chance to store and organize its information and the body a chance to recuperate. Sleep studies have shown that in order to get the full benefits of sleep we need to sleep long and deeply enough to enter into a series of sleep cycles including Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep.

What kinds of problems get in the way of the type of sleep we need?
There are eight main categories of sleep disorders, but the ones affecting the largest numbers of people are insomnia, SRBD, and Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders. SRBDs include snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is a serious health problem.

How do I know if I have OSA or another SRBD?
Often, your bed-partner will tell you that you snore. Chronic loud snoring is an indicator of OSA. To make a diagnosis your physician must take a thorough sleep and medical history. The diagnosis may then be confirmed by a study in a sleep lab.

What causes sleep apnea or OSA?
Snoring and OSA happen when your tongue and other soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse backwards and block airflow through your upper airway or windpipe. You may briefly awaken as many as 50 times per night because of these breathing lapses. These brief awakenings, called micro-arousals, keep you from reaching the deep stage of sleep your body needs.

What are the treatments for sleep apnea?
Treatments include CPAP therapy, in which patients wear a mask while sleeping. The mask pushes air through the airway, keeping it open. In Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) patients wear a device that moves the lower jaw forward, allowing more room for air to move down the airway. Oral surgical procedures and orthodontic approaches also have the goal of moving the tongue away from the throat. These are all treatments that can be carried out by a dentist who has training and experience in treatment of sleep disorders.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about sleep disorders and their treatments. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Sleep Disorders and Dentistry” and “Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions.”


FourQuestionsAboutTreatingTraumaticInjuriestoTeeth

As the Boy Scouts say, it's best to be prepared. You may never have a traumatic injury to your teeth. But what if you do? Here are four questions and answers about such injuries and their treatment that may be helpful some day.

What are traumatic injuries?
We are talking about physical damage caused by a fall, an accident, or a blow to the face. The word trauma comes from the Greek root meaning “wound.”

A traumatic injury can also cause broken, cracked, or split teeth, or a fracture to the root of the tooth. A tooth may be dislodged from its proper position, pushed sideways, out of or deeper into its socket. It may even be completely knocked out of your mouth.

What should you do if your tooth is knocked out?
With proper treatment, the tooth can be restored to its original place. You must handle the tooth gently and seek professional help as soon as possible. Rinse the tooth in cold water if it is dirty, but do not use any cleaning agent. Avoid touching the root. While hurrying to your dentist, keep the tooth from drying out by keeping it in a container of milk or of your saliva, or by holding it in your mouth between gum and cheek. It is vital to keep the tooth's living tissues moist until it can be professionally assessed and replanted in its socket. If a tooth has been dislodged but not knocked out, it must be repositioned in its socket and may be stabilized with a splint.

Who can treat a tooth that is damaged by a traumatic injury?
A general dentist, an oral surgeon or an endodontist is trained to treat such injuries. An endodontist is trained to treat the root canal(s) inside a tooth. The word comes from “endo” the Greek word for “inside,” and “odont,” the word for “tooth.” After a tooth is replaced in its socket and stabilized, root canal treatment is often needed.

What is root canal treatment?
A tooth is composed mostly of dentin, a living tissue. The top part or crown is covered by hard mineralized enamel. The soft tissue inside the tooth, the pulp, contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues. It extends from the crown to the tip of the roots. Treatment of dental pulp injuries is called root canal or endodontic treatment and is usually needed to treat teeth that have been dislodged or fractured.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about injuries to teeth and related nerve damage. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Trauma & Nerve Damage to Teeth.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
March 11, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dentures  
GettingtheBestPossibleResultswithFullDentures

Even with all the medical know-how we possess at the dawn of the 21st century, complete tooth loss is still a big problem. In this country, more than a quarter of all adults between ages 65 and 74 have lost all of their teeth. For these individuals, removable full dentures are often still used as an affordable and effective way to replace missing teeth.

Success with dentures originates from a collaboration among dentist, laboratory technician, and, of course, the denture-wearer. Creating false teeth that look natural is as much an art as it is a science. We take a number of steps to make sure you will get the best results. These include:

  • Positioning the teeth. Using facial landmarks and photographs of how you used to look before your teeth were lost helps us determine where to place each tooth and how the upper and lower teeth should line up in relation to each other. For example, we will consider what size the teeth should be; how close to the lip they should be; and how much space should exist between the upper and lower teeth when they are at rest.
  • Simulating natural gums. If you are someone with a “high lip dynamic” (a lot of gum shows when you smile), it is particularly important to simulate real gum tissue in a set of full dentures. Fortunately, there are many colors and textures available to create a realistic effect. Again, photographs can be helpful in achieving this.
  • Balancing the bite. We must make sure that your upper and lower dentures come together in a way that facilitates normal biting, chewing, and speech.

As a denture wearer, you will need to visit our office regularly to make sure the gum tissue and bone upon which your dentures rest stay healthy. It's common to see a gradual loss of bone in people who wear dentures at a rate that varies from person to person. This bone loss can affect the fit of your dentures and lead to other health problems, which we can address if we are monitoring you on an ongoing basis.

If you have any questions about dentures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Removable Full Dentures.”


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
March 03, 2012
Category: Oral Health
ImportantWarningSignsOfGumDisease

Periodontal or gum disease is an often silent disease that can cause significant damage to the health of your teeth and body. The reason it is so often classified as a silent disease is because it is chronic or longstanding and often without any symptoms or pain that most people associate with a disease until it may be too late.

If you think you may have gum disease, here is what to look for:

  • Bleeding gums — probably one of the most common and overlooked early warning signs that most people ignore is thinking that the bleeding is being caused by brushing their teeth too hard. The truth is that you would have to brush extremely hard to cause healthy gum tissues to bleed.
  • Bad breath — something everyone has experienced; however, it can also be a warning sign of periodontal disease. This is especially true for people who hate or refuse to floss their teeth, thereby trapping literally billions of bacteria where they love to collect in the protected areas between the teeth.
  • Redness, swelling, and/or receding gums — all signs of gum disease often accompanied by sensitivity of the gum tissues around the teeth.
  • Chronic inflammation — long-standing gum inflammation is a sign that your gum tissues are not healing properly. Periodontal disease exhibits periods with bursts of activity followed by periods where the body tries to recover.
  • Loose and/or moving teeth — that seem to be drifting into a new position, are visible signs that you are highly likely to have periodontal disease.
  • Abscess formation — late stage gum disease is characterized by painful, swollen, red pockets of pus, which denotes an acute localized periodontal infection.

If you have any of these signs, you need to make an appointment for a thorough evaluation. Otherwise, you could end up losing your teeth to the second most common disease known to man after tooth decay. To learn more about gum disease, continue reading, “Warning Signs of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.” Or, contact us today to schedule an appointment.


By Dr. Hartmann D.D.S
March 01, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants   crowns  
DentalImplantsTheBestSolutionForMissingTeeth

If you have missing teeth, dental implants are the state-of-the-art tooth replacement system. They act as substitutes for natural tooth roots, stabilizing the bone with which they fuse and become integrated with. This protects the remaining bone and prevents its further loss, the natural occurrence after the natural teeth are lost. Done correctly, implants can offer a long-term solution to the problem of missing teeth.

Key factors assuring dental implant success are having an experienced dental team consisting of:

  1. A surgeon (periodontist or oral surgeon, or dentist trained in surgical techniques to place the implants)
  2. A dental technician who will design the crowns (tooth portion of the implant)
  3. A restorative dentist to place the crowns

The whole team is necessary to plan the process as well as carry out their individual roles. They will ensure that there is enough bone and that it is in the right place prior to treatment to allow for proper implant position, and that the implant/s are correctly placed, which is necessary to allow for natural aesthetics and proper function.

Replacing missing teeth is imperative to maintaining normal oral health and function. Dental implants will help support the entire structure of the face. If back teeth are lost, the vertical height of the lower face and mouth can begin to collapse, negatively impacting biting function and causing creasing and cracking of the lips and facial skin, resulting in a prematurely aged look.

Implants differ from bridgework in several ways, making them the most favorable option for tooth replacement in many cases. For starters, they do not affect adjacent teeth, nor do they decay like teeth, and they are less susceptible to gum disease. In the long-term, implants are a more cost-effective solution based on the fact that once they are placed, their life expectancy is longer than bridgework.

If you have missing teeth that have negatively affected your appearance, self-confidence, and ability to chew, call us today to talk about the possibility of replacing them with dental implants. To learn more about the use and capabilities of dental implants, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants: Evaluating Your Options For Replacing Missing Teeth.”




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

River Forest, IL Dentist

River Forest Dental Studio

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