Monthly Archives: October 2020

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is one of the most commonly diagnosed sleep disorders, affecting an average of 20 million Americans. The actual number is probably even higher, as many cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed. People who suffer from this disorder experience poor quality sleep, which can negatively affect overall health. Sleep apnea can lead to cardiovascular disease, poor cognitive function, and other health issues. 

Man Sleeping with Sleep Apnea Machine

What causes sleep apnea? And what exactly is it? Learn the answers to these questions and more. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing while sleeping. It can happen for a few seconds at a time, or sometimes longer periods of time. The lack of oxygen eventually wakes the person enough that they start breathing again. Often the person goes right back to sleep without realizing what has happened. Other times it can be difficult to fall back asleep afterwards. These periods where breathing stops can happen anywhere from 5 to 30 times in an hour. 

Causes of Sleep Apnea

So, what causes sleep apnea to occur? There are two different causes, which define the two main types of sleep apnea. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This occurs when the muscles in the throat relax and block the airway. The uvula (the flap of tissue that closes your nasal passages when you swallow), the walls of the throat, and the tonsils all collapse when they are not being supported by the throat muscles. The airway narrows or becomes blocked completely, causing snoring, snorting, and lapses in the regular breathing pattern. When your brain realizes that you can’t breathe, you naturally wake up enough to change positions and start breathing again. This pattern can repeat itself all night, preventing you from ever reaching a deep, restful sleep cycle. 

Central Sleep Apnea. This type is much less common, but it still occurs. In some cases, the brain itself fails to send the message to the muscles that are responsible for your breathing. When this happens, you stop breathing for a period of time and may wake up gasping for air. It can be difficult to fall back asleep afterwards, resulting in a lack of sleep or poor quality sleep. 

Some people have a combination of these two types of sleep apnea, which is even less common. 

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

There are a handful of factors that increase your chances of developing sleep apnea, such as:

  • Being Overweight. If you’re overweight, there can be fat deposits around your neck and upper airway that may cause obstructive sleep apnea. 
  • Smoking. Inflammation of the airways and excess fluid can result from smoking, which can cause sleep apnea. 
  • Drinking Alcohol. Alcohol can cause the throat muscles to relax, which increases the chances of sleep apnea. This is why some people snore when they drink. 
  • Medical Conditions. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal disorders, asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions can all increase your chances of developing sleep apnea. 
  • Body Structure. Sometimes the natural structure and size of your body can increase your chances of having sleep apnea. If you have a naturally narrow airway, a thick neck, or blocked nasal passages, it can cause you to have trouble breathing while sleeping. 
  • Age. The older you are, the greater your chances of developing sleep apnea. 
  • Heredity. If your parents and grandparents suffer from sleep apnea, the chances are higher that you will too. 
  • Gender. Sleep apnea is more common in men than in women, although it can occur in either gender. 
 

Treatment for Sleep Apnea  

There are few different remedies for sleep apnea. Of course, the best option is to treat the problem at the source, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. However, if those options don’t work or if you need immediate treatment, there are other options. 

  • CPAP. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine comprises a mask you wear over your mouth and nose that will deliver consistent air pressure to keep your airway open. Some find that wearing a mask to sleep is cumbersome and uncomfortable, but you will most likely get used to it over time. The benefits of CPAP use are definitely worth it. 
  • Oral Appliances. Sometimes all that is required to stop sleep apnea is to wear an oral appliance, such as a snoring mouth guard. This type of appliance is worn in the mouth to reposition the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open while you sleep. Some people find it more comfortable and easier to use than a CPAP machine.
  • Oxygen. For those who suffer from central sleep apnea, meaning the cause of the breathing issues is in the brain and not the airway, supplemental oxygen can help. Wearing an oxygen mask or a nasal cannula at night can deliver extra oxygen to lessen the effects of lapses in breathing. 
 

Looking for Sleep Apnea Relief? Savannah Dental Solutions Can Help

Now that you know what causes sleep apnea, you can look into options for treatment. If you suffer from poor quality sleep because of sleep apnea, start with a snoring mouth guard. With sleep apnea treatment, a mouthpiece is a much simpler option than a CPAP machine. Your sleep apnea may be able to be cured more easily and affordably through an oral appliance custom made by the experts at Savannah Dental Solutions. 

Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you get better quality sleep for better quality of life. 

How Long Do Dental Implants Last?

Are you considering getting one or more dental implants? As far as replacement teeth are concerned, dental implants are the gold standard. When placed correctly with the proper preparation and precision, dental implants can last for a lifetime. 

3d Rendering of Dental Implant

If you’re wondering whether a dental implant is worth the cost, keep in mind that you are making what is most likely a lifelong investment in your oral health. Other tooth replacement options do not have as long of a life expectancy and lack some other benefits of implants. 

The Average Life Expectancy of Dental Implants

How long do dental implants last? On average, dental implants can last anywhere from 15 to 30 years. This means that if you are at or above the average age for dental implants (52), there is a good chance, you will have that implant for the rest of your life. 

The reason dental implants last so long is that, when properly placed, they are extremely secure. An implant consists of a biocompatible titanium post that is implanted in the jawbone with a crown attached to the top. The implant root bonds with the jawbone to form a solid hold that looks and functions as closely as possible to a natural tooth. 

Factors That Affect How Long a Dental Implant Lasts

How long your implant lasts within that range depends on a few factors, such as:

  • Bone Density. A dental implant requires sufficient bone density or thickness to be securely placed. If a tooth has been missing or loose for a while, the jaw bone that once held it in place starts to weaken and will eventually dissolve. An implant that is placed in a weak or thin bone will likely fail and either come loose or cause other problems. 

  • During a dental implant evaluation, X-Rays images are taken of the jaw to determine if the bone is strong enough to support an implant. If not, a bone graft can sometimes be done to strengthen the bone. In a bone graft procedure a piece of bone, either from another bone on the patient’s body, an artificial bone, or a lab-treated animal bone, is surgically placed over the existing jaw bone to thicken it and encourage regeneration of the existing bone. 
  • Oral Hygiene. After a dental implant is placed, it is important to maintain adequate oral hygiene. With a dental implant you can brush and floss your teeth the same as you would your natural teeth, and doing so is extremely important. If you develop gum disease or the teeth on either side of the implant start to decay, it can cause the implant to come loose or become infected. 
  • Accuracy of Placement. It is extremely important for your dental implant to be placed accurately. Therefore, it is important to choose a dentist with plenty of experience with dental implant procedures. You should also ask your dentist what technology they used to ensure your dental implant will be placed at the right depth and angle. This can make all the difference in how long your dental implant will last. 
 

Additional Benefits of Dental Implants Over Other Tooth Replacement Options

Their longevity is just one of the many benefits of dental implants as a tooth replacement option. When compared with a bridge, a dental implant is better in every way. The only advantage a bridge has over a dental implant is that it costs less. 

A bridge requires the healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth to be ground down and fitted with crowns that suspend the artificial tooth between them. This puts strain on the healthy teeth that can eventually lead to damage. 

A bridge also sits above the gum line, which means the bone underneath will still weaken and dissolve. A dental implant, however, keeps the jaw bone strong and viable, allowing it to last longer. 

Dental Implants From Savannah Dental Solutions Last for the Long Haul 

How long do dental implants last? When you have the procedure done at Savannah Dental Solutions, you can expect it to last for the prominent part of the average range of 15-30 years and probably longer. We apply our knowledge and experience to place your dental implant accurately so it will most likely stay solidly in place for the rest of your life. 

Call (912) 354-1366 today to schedule a consultation or contact us. We look forward to providing you with the gold standard in tooth replacement technology.

What is the Best Treatment for TMJ?

TMJ, is commonly known as severe jaw pain. TMJ stands for the Temporomandibular Joint, which is the place where the jaw attaches to the skull. It works somewhat like a hinge that allows your jaw to move up and down. 

Woman eating yogurt with fruits for breakfast

When you experience pain or limited range of motion in this joint, the condition is referred to as TMD, which stands for Temporomandibular Disorder. The good news is the TMJ/TMD is curable. What is the best treatment for TMJ? There are a range of different treatments that can help relieve pain and increase range of motion in the jaw. 

Treatments You Can Try at Home

When you experience pain in your jaw, the first step is to try some home remedies to see if you can relieve the pain without a dentist’s intervention. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Apply ice. Applying ice to any type of injury can help to relieve pain, reduce swelling, and accelerate healing. Ice can help the jaw in the same way. Apply ice to one or both of your jaw joints a few times a day. 
  • Eat soft foods. Jaw pain can be exacerbated by a lot of chewing or biting on hard or chewy foods. Eat soft foods that will allow your jaw to rest and avoid chewing gum. 
  • Relax your jaw. This can be easier said than done. If you hold tension in your jaw when you feel stress, it can make TMJ/TMD worse. Try to make a concentrated effort to relax your jaw periodically during the day. You can try holding a pen or pencil gently across your mouth with your lips tucked in around your teeth. It causes a natural relaxation of the jaw as long as you don’t bite down. 
  • Take a pain reliever. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with the pain. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers can also reduce any inflammation in the jaw joint that could be causing the pain. 

Sometimes these methods will help jaw pain go away on its own. But if not, it would be best to call your dentist. 

Treatments Your Dentist May Recommend

When your pain persists after attempting to relieve it at home, you may need some professional intervention. What is the best treatment for TMJ according to a dentist? A dentist may recommend any of the following:

  • Mouth guard/oral splint. Wearing a mouth guard, like the type worn to prevent teeth grinding, can help to relieve TMJ/TMD pain. A buffer between the teeth absorbs some of the impact of teeth grinding or jaw clenching, taking the pressure off the joint and allowing it to heal. 
  • Physical therapy. When you think of physical therapy, you probably think of treatment for a knee or shoulder injury. But the jaw is a joint, similar to the other joints in your body. It can respond to physical therapy in much the same way, getting stronger and improving range of motion.
  • Injections. Pain can be relieved through injections of medication into the joint. There are a variety of medications that may be injected from pain relievers to corticosteroids. 
  • Surgery. In some cases, severe TMJ/TMD can require surgical procedures to correct. Surgery can be done to reconstruct the joint or release a locked jaw. 

Surgical procedures would be the last resort if no other type of treatment has been effective at relieving pain or restoring range of motion in the jaw. In most cases, jaw surgery is minimally invasive and considered to be a minor procedure. 

Experiencing TMJ Symptoms? Contact Savannah Dental Solutions 

If you are experiencing pain in your jaw or limited range of motion, Savannah Dental Solutions can help. TMJ/TMD can be painful, but it is treatable. The best treatment for TMJ is not necessarily the same for everyone. Based on your symptoms and your personal experience with jaw pain, we will find the treatment option for you and put a stop to your pain at the source. 

Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule an appointment at Savannah Dental Solutions. We look forward to helping you find the best way to relieve your TMJ symptoms. 

How to Choose the Best Pediatric Dentist for Your Child

Are you looking for a children’s dentist in Savannah, GA? When it comes to your child, you want to find the best pediatric dentist in the area. So how do you find them? What do you look for? 

Female Dentist Showing Young Patient How to Brush Teeth

There are certain qualities that set some pediatric dentists apart from the rest. Pediatric dentistry is different. Children need specific things from a dentist that may not apply to adults. Here’s what to look for when it comes to selecting a pediatric dentist. 

Sensitivity to Children’s Feelings

Children often need a special touch, a higher level of understanding and compassion. They may be little, but they have big emotions. Anxiety or fear of going to the dentist is perfectly normal and a lot of kids experience it. Their first experience at the dentist or at a new dental office can set the tone for the way they will feel about going to the dentist for the rest of their life. And the importance of lifelong dental care is crucial to a person’s oral health as well as their overall health. Choose wisely. 

Experience Working with Children

Choose a pediatric dental practice that has been in business for a while. Plenty of experience is necessary when it comes to children. All kids are different and won’t necessarily act the same way regarding the dentist, but an experienced dentist and support staff will know what techniques have worked in the past to help kids feel comfortable. A dentist who has experience working with children will also know the best ways to help young patients learn proper dental hygiene to keep their teeth clean and healthy between dental visits. 

Qualifications

Before you choose a dentist, take the time to look at their qualifications. Of course they should have a degree from a reputable dental school and be licensed in the state where they are practicing. In order to practice pediatric dentistry, a dentist must also complete a certification with the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. Make sure any dentist you consider has all of the necessary qualifications. 

In-Network with Your Insurance

If you have dental insurance for your kids there are certain dental practices that are considered to be in-network with your insurance provider. In-network means that the dental practice and the insurance company have an agreement when it comes to the cost of care and coverage. You will end up paying less out of pocket if you choose a dentist who is in-network with your insurance. Some dental practices may accept your insurance without being in-network. This means your insurance will still cover some of the cost of your dental care, but possibly not as much. Going out of network is possible, but may require some research to compare the cost. 

Savannah Dental Solutions Provides Care for the Whole Family

Another quality to look for in a dentist is convenience. Some pediatric dentists only serve children and others only serve adults. But Savannah Dental Solutions provides care for all ages so that families can get their dental care at one convenient location. Appointments can be made together to save trips. Parents can also set a positive example for their kids when it comes to dental cleanings and proper oral hygiene. 

At Savannah Dental Solutions, we treat children the compassion and understanding they deserve so that they develop a positive view of the dentist. We have years of experience working with children and know how to help them feel comfortable. Our dentists and staff are highly qualified and our practice works with a long list of insurance providers to make your care affordable. 

If you’re looking for the best pediatric dentist in Savannah, call (912) 354-1366 or contact us to schedule an appointment. We look forward to providing your family with excellent dental care and helping your kids get the right start to a lifetime of dental health.