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All Posts in Category: Technology

Getting Started with Invisalign

I’m sure you’ve heard about Invisalign. It’s another treatment method to traditional braces to straighten teeth at home and on your own time. Invisalign treatment consists of multiple, clear trays that apply pressure to specific teeth, or areas on those teeth, to gently guide each tooth into the desired position. The trays are designed to wear in stages and are numbered in order of the treatment phases. Invisalign treatment typically lasts between 6-18 months, depending on how consistently the trays are worn and the amount of correction required. The actual Invisalign process is pretty straight forward, but how and where do you begin? Let’s take a closer look.

At Pike Lake Dental Center, we offer free Invisalign consultations. Yes, I said FREE. You’ll find no pressure or sales pitch from our staff. We simply want to help you find out if Invisalign is a treatment option for you. If we discover Invisalign is not the best option, we are happy to refer you to one of our fantastic local orthodontists for traditional orthodontic care. If Invisalign is an option, we are happy to help you begin your journey to straighter, more beautiful teeth.

The free Invisalign consultation consists of two parts here at Pike Lake Dental Center:

The initial consultation visit lasts about 40 minutes. We start by discussing your teeth and goals for treatment. We take a few digital photos of your face and teeth. We also take digital impressions of both your upper and lower teeth with our new iTero scanner. No gooey, sticky impression material required! The iTero software compiles many images together and creates a virtual image with exact measurements of your mouth and how your teeth bite together. These files are sent electronically to Invisalign. Once the information is received by the Invisalign team, your treatment plan is created within 48 hours.

At this point, we are also able to gather information from you to send into your dental insurance company to preauthorize the Invisalign treatment. Some insurance companies provide adult orthodontic coverage.

The second appointment with our office lasts about a half an hour. Ideally, we’d like to see you back for this appointment within a week of your initial consultation. At this appointment, we sit down with you and discuss your customized Invisalign treatment plan. You are able to see everything Invisalign has created for your unique, customized treatment. This even includes a 3D image of each phase of your treatment for each arch of your mouth, plus a view of your bite and how it will change during the course of treatment. It’s an amazing moment when a patient is able to view the images of their teeth post-treatment on the computer screen before treatment has even begun. This digital file can be shared with you via email so you are able to show images of your transformation with friends and family.

We also discuss fees with you at this appointment. Invisalign treatment fees varies drastically depending on the different levels of treatment needed for each patient. It’s a worthy investment to attain the winning smile you deserve.

If you’ve been thinking about Invisalign treatment, now is the time to contact our office for your free consultation. We are excited to help you achieve your very best smile here at Pike Lake Dental Center.

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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3D Scans: The Future of Dentistry

Our office recently tested out a new 3D camera/scanner. We had a lunch and learn meeting with the scanner’s salesman where we learned about the benefits and potential of the machine. We were able to test it out on each other and get a good feel for the product. It wasn’t a difficult decision to purchase the equipment. The scanner just arrived a few weeks ago and we’ve already been putting it to good use!

How will this scanner help us help you?

By digitally scanning our patients, we are able to create a baseline from which we will be able to monitor many different concerns. For instance, we will be able to monitor the entire structure of a patient’s mouth. If a person grinds their teeth, we can monitor and track the wear on the teeth to fractions of millimeters. The software will even highlight the differences between each scan a patient has with our office. If a patient suffers from periodontal issues, we will be able to track the pockets and receding gum tissue. When a patient sees regression on the results of their at-home periodontal care, it will be a lot easier to guide them toward the appropriate care and areas that require more attention. When there is progress with their at-home perio care, we will be able to celebrate their accomplishments with them – in vivid color! Visual aids are always helpful with patient care and treatment understanding.

This scanner also helps us continue to eliminate the gooey impression material for most procedures. We can take digital impressions to send to dental labs for splints, crowns, bridges, surgical guides, Invisalign and more. We can also send those same scans to our own CEREC and 3D printer to create crowns, bridges, splints, implants, surgical guides, study models, and more. I feel the possibilities are endless!

The actual time it takes to retrieve the full mouth scan is minimal – only about two minutes. In that short time, we gain so much valuable information. The process is simple – we move this wand over your teeth while the scanner takes thousands of photos and binds them together to form one, big image. It is taking precise measurements and acquiring exact data about your teeth, much more accurate than the old, gooey impressions could.

Have you ever taken a visual tour of your entire mouth? It’s pretty amazing to see new views your teeth and in color! We can even stop and take individual photos of teeth, which we could send to insurance companies or use as before and after photos. Again, the possibilities are endless!

A digital scan, kept on file, can be reused for multiple purposes. Perhaps we scanned you in May for a baseline scan. In August you find you need a splint to help cure nighttime clenching. We can use the same scan. In October, you break a tooth and need a crown. Yes, we can use the same scan.

So, will this service cost you more?

Nope! This is simply another tool we will use to better diagnose, track and aid in our patients’ treatment. We demand the best for our patients. If we can make your time at our office more efficient, comfortable or more economical, we will do it. If we can help you understand your diagnosis or treatment better, we will do it. Providing you with the best dental care available is at the core of every one of our decisions. Insist on the best! You are worth it!

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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A Traditional Sleep Study for Sleep Apnea – Is There Another Option?

If you suspect you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, you’ve probably also given some thought to a traditional sleep study to be officially diagnosed. Going to a sleep study clinic for an overnight, with all those wires attached to you, doesn’t probably sound like a very fun night out. What if there was another option for an accurate sleep study? What if you could have a sleep study taken while sleeping in your own bed, with just this little machine attached to your chest, wrist and first finger? Sounds appealing, right?

A few months ago, Stacey, a RDH here at our office, suggested this device to Dr. Matt. She had a friend in another state whose dental office was using this device for sleep studies on their patients. She did some more research into the company and convinced Dr. Matt the WatchPAT deserved consideration. We were able to test it out on one patient prior to purchasing the kit. We decided to test it on the husband of one of our assistants. Guess what? He has sleep apnea. His reviews of the test itself were positive. We were convinced it was a piece of technology we wanted to offer our patients. Let me tell you a little about the WatchPAT.

The WatchPAT is a small device that is able to monitor a patient’s sleep and confirm whether or not he or she suffers from sleep apnea. To gain this diagnosis, the WatchPAT monitors sleep time, snoring, restless sleep, each stage of sleep (REM, deep and light), sleep position, and the oxygen in the blood. It’s pretty complex for as little as it is!

The test process is simple. A patient settles into bed for the night, applies the Snoring/Body Position Sensor on their chest, straps the WatchPat onto their non-dominant wrist, places the uPAT sleeve over their ring finger and turns on the device. It’s that simple! The necessary data is collected while you sleep. The next morning the patient packs the pieces back into the carrying case and returns it back to our office. We upload the collected data to a sleep study doctor. The results are returned to us within a day usually.

The best part: You can do this sleep study right in your own home, in the comfort of your own bed! We believe it’s a more accurate study because your sleep is more natural in your own comfortable surroundings.

The cost of the sleep study is less than the cost of an overnight in an average hotel. Would that fee be worth it to receive answers to health questions?

We aren’t saying this sleep study is right for everyone. It doesn’t always prove each patient we’ve tested has sleep apnea. It’s just another option we are excited to offer our patients.

So how do we decide which patients to test? Sometimes a patient or their spouse suspects they have sleep apnea, as in our first test patient. There are also some clues that we notice either during an exam or while talking with a patient that tip us off to possible sleep apnea sufferers. Most often, the patients we screen are more mild cases of sleep apnea that we suspect we can treat with a TAP3 oral device, made through our dental office. For another blog post on sleep apnea and the TAP3 devices we make for our patients, click on this link.

Oftentimes, patients are surprised by the sleep study results. Even more often, they are surprised by the severity of their results. We have seen patients who have been misdiagnosed by others, or they haven’t felt the symptoms they present are severe enough to warrant sharing them with their healthcare professionals.

After a confirmed diagnosis, we are there to help guide a patient through the next phases of treatment and healing. We also recommend patients to follow up with their physicians and share the WatchPAT results with them. The more thorough care our patients receive from both our office and their physicians, the better the success rate is.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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PLDC + CEREC = LOVE

We’ve been talking a lot about our CEREC lately both in the office and on Facebook. CEREC is an acronym for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics or CEramic REConstruction. This two part system has revolutionized crowns and bridges in our office. Just this week, we had a technician out to perform some routine service our milling unit. He told us we had over 49,000 minutes on this machine. In 11 years, that’s a lot of run time!

So what does a CEREC mean for you as a patient?

The biggest advantage of the CEREC is the time savings. We can make a crown or bridge in one appointment, compared to a lab-created crown that requires two visits at least two weeks apart. One ninety minute appointment is all it takes from start to finish to own a strong and beautiful crown. You only come to our office once for the crown – that means one visit, one day with time off work, not two. The time savings for us includes confirming one appointment, cleaning one room and not recementing crowns between temporary and final crown visits. It may not sound like a whole lot of time savings for us, but it is.

No more gooey impressions! Before, we would take impressions with the gooey impression material two times during a crown or bridge prep and send them off to the dental lab to create the crown or bridge for us. Now, impressions are made digitally with this machine, the CEREC acquisition unit. Not only can we take digital impressions for crowns and bridges with this machine – we can take impressions for dental implants, Invisalign treatment plans, night guards or splints, surgical guides, and even whitening kits. Digital impressions are so much easier and much more precise than the old style gooey impressions. Plus, we keep the scanned file in the patient’s digital chart, so we are able to refer back to it if it’s ever needed.

Another cool bonus about the CEREC is you, as a patient, can watch your new crown being made from start to finish. The impression and design process is done right in the operatory with you. Once we send the file to the milling unit, you can watch the tooth progress. This isn’t top secret science, we want you to be involved! There aren’t many times a person can say they watched a tooth, especially their own, being created right before their eyes.

With no lab bills, we are able to keep our crown prices lower and much more competitive than we would with rising lab fees. Being able to give our patients quality care with competitive fees is extremely important to us.

We can also keep a close eye on quality control. Sometimes we would get a crown back from the lab and it wouldn’t fit well or it was the wrong shade. In those instances, it usually meant taking impressions again and sending the crown back to the lab. It also usually meant having the patient come back to our office again in another two weeks. Not so anymore. If something is wrong with the crown, we can quickly mill another one. We make sure every crown is made to our extremely high standards. We even use our skills to custom shade the crowns to get the perfect shade for each unique patient.

I’d be lying if I told you we don’t like playing with the technology, too. It gives us great satisfaction to know we have created something strong, beautiful and durable from start to finish right here inside our office. Being able to learn and improve upon all aspects of the crown process from creation to completion, we have honed our skills over the past eleven years and can produce a consistent, high-quality product with extremely high customer satisfaction. We are pretty proud of that fact.

In hindsight, we are extremely happy we invested in our CEREC many years ago. We have made some updates with software and cameras over the years and have taken care of it with routine maintenance and service. We have loved this machine and our patients love it too. With this machine, we are utilizing the latest and best technology to ensure our patients are receiving the best care available. Insist on the best – you’re worth it!

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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Does Our Dental Technology Cost YOU More?

Absolutely not. It actually SAVES you time and money. I know that may be hard to believe, but let me explain…

The technology inside Pike Lake Dental Center has changed over the years. We aren’t the same dental office Dr. Matt purchased back in 1999. We’ve slowly built our practice around technology, making us more efficient with our time and our finances.

Our first big investment after we moved into our new office was upgrading to digital x rays. Moving away from film was a big and necessary leap in updating our technology in 2008. The lead aprons we’d drape across you before taking an x ray are gone. Digital x rays produce much less radiation, are available immediately and are stored more efficiently. Just this one transition has made our office more cost effective and is a better alternative for the environment.

One of our digital x ray units.

No more gooey impressions? They are almost entirely a thing of the past. We began taking digital impressions in 2007. This technology has changed over the years and we’ve upgraded our equipment as needed. Today, with this special camera that takes thousands of photographs per second, we are able to accurately build an impression of a patient’s tooth, or even their full mouth, in minutes. The models are then transferrable to our machine that builds crowns and bridges. The digital files are also shareable with companies like Invisalign for treatment plans.

Digital impressions with our CEREC acquisition unit.

Dr. Matt saw the future in dentistry through dental implants many years ago. He took a multi-week course in New Jersey in 2013 to learn more about dental implants. At that time, this new way of restoring teeth was exciting and different and mostly done by specialists. Not a lot of general dentists were learning about dental implants in 2013. Times are changing and you’ll find many general dentists placing implants today. Years ago, replacing a missing tooth typically meant a bridge. A bridge usually caps the healthy teeth on either side of a missing tooth. Today we can build you a new tooth in the place of your missing tooth while keeping the integrity of the teeth around it. That’s crazy cool!

A dental implant we recently placed.

Single-visit crowns? That’s got to be expensive! Actually, they cost a fraction of the amount lab-crafted crown cost to make, therefore we are able to keep the price of our crowns lower. When we purchased this CEREC machine to make crowns in our office in 2013, we were looking to accomplish a few things: save our patients time, cut down on our lab bills and jump in with the latest technology. This machine has paid for itself (and then some) in lab fees. Plus, it saves both our patients and our staff time by making strong and beautiful crowns in one visit. It’s a win-win!

Our CEREC, busy making a crown.

Going paperless was a scary idea, but we made the jump in 2015. We no longer keep each patient’s chart and x rays in a file folder. A patient’s chart is now accessible from any of our work stations in the office. X rays are easily found, sorted, and stored for each patient. Notes are taken on the computers in the operatories. Treatment plans are entered electronically. Insurances are also billed electronically. All of these advancements has saved us vast amounts of supplies, time and storage space.

My dental chart, prior to our office going paperless.

One of our biggest investments is the 3D scanner we purchased in 2016. Over the years, we slowly upgraded our older panorex machines into this state-of-the-art unit. The images we can capture from this scanner can be as simple as bitewing x rays and as complex as airway scans to determine if a patient may suffer from sleep apnea.

Our 3D scanner.

No more wondering what’s inside that head of yours. We can show you! Here’s one view of Dr. Matt’s 3D scan.

A 3D view of Dr. Matt’s mouth.

Why would you seek care from a doctor who practices dentistry from the 1980s if, for the same fees, you could see a dentist with the latest technology?

Just because dental technology is advanced doesn’t mean it will cost YOU more. It can actually save you time and money.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich.

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Is an Electric Toothbrush Really That Amazing?

I’m sure you’ve seen television commercials and online advertising for electric toothbrushes that promise a superior clean and a fresh-from-the-dentist feeling in your mouth after using them.

Is an electric toothbrush really that amazing? From my personal experience, absolutely!

My husband is a dentist. I am extremely conscious of my teeth and I feel as though I take pretty great care of them. I have used an older model OralB electric toothbrush for years. I keep it on my bathroom counter, charge it faithfully, keep it clean and replace the brush head regularly. I have a routine of brushing my teeth, gums and tongue in a certain order. The routine doesn’t change; it’s simply habit and muscle memory.

When I travel, though, I leave my electric toothbrush at home. When packing for a family vacation for 5 people, every ounce up to that dreaded 50# weight limit matters. I don’t want to sacrifice any more real estate in our suitcases than absolutely necessary, so I opt for a lightweight and easily packable standard issue toothbrush from the dental office. It never fails – by the third day of a week-long trip, my teeth just don’t feel quite as clean. Is it my overly dentally-aware mind playing tricks on me? Possibly.

When I use a regular, manual toothbrush, I find myself scrubbing my teeth harder, with more vigor, than I do with my electric toothbrush. My gums hurt and bleed because I seem to attack them with my toothbrush. Is that really helping me? The answer is no. It’s not the muscle you put into your tooth brushing that gives you the maximum benefit. It is both the time and the motion you put into your toothbrushing that truly gives you the maximum benefit. You can get a fantastic clean with a traditional toothbrush if you take your time and actually focus on each area, brushing gently and consistently for the dentist recommended 2 minutes.

With an electric toothbrush, the back and forth brushing motion is not necessary and not recommended by experts. Instead, I let the toothbrush do the work. I let it pulsate and clean each area and surface of my teeth and tongue, simply guiding the toothbrush bristles to each area I want to clean. There’s no scrubbing. Instead, I keep the pressure consistent throughout my mouth and the result is truly a just-from-the-dentist clean feeling. I equate the difference between a traditional and electric toothbrush to the difference between sweeping and vacuuming the floors. It’s much more work to sweep than it is to simply push the vacuum around, isn’t it? Brushing with an electric toothbrush is very similar.

If you’re in the market for an electric toothbrush, Pike Lake Dental Center does sell an incredible electric toothbrush package. The kit includes the rechargeable electric toothbrush, multiple brush heads, a carrying case, charging port, toothpaste, mouthwash, and more. This toothbrush is so smart it can connect to your smartphone via bluetooth to help ensure you
are brushing for enough time and in the right spots. The toothbrush can even detect if you are pressing too hard or using too much force while brushing your teeth. I’m amazed at how smart this system is! The true praises for this toothbrush will have to be saved for a different blog, though. Stay tuned!

In conclusion, YES, I truly believe electric toothbrushes are amazing. I will not say a person can’t clean their teeth well using a regular, traditional toothbrush. You absolutely can. I can tell you that I personally prefer letting my electric toothbrush do the work of keeping my teeth clean between my biannual visits with my hygienist. A healthy, clean mouth is a wonderful thing!

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

 

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Breaking Down Dental Implants

Have you ever wondered what a dental implant is? Maybe you’ve had a tooth removed and your dentist has offered implants as a replacement option. In this blog post, I will focus on discussing the components that make up an implant restoration.

Let’s start by explaining what makes up a dental implant. Wikipedia defines dental implants this way:

A dental implant… is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the jaw or skull to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, (or) denture.

In most cases, the dental implant therapy involves three components:

First is the implant itself. This is the part that, as Wikipedia says, interfaces with the bone of the patient’s jaw. The dental implants we use today are made of titanium. Through a process called osseointegration, the implant will form an intimate bond with the patient’s bone, which anchors it in place. Most times, the implants’ shapes and sizes are designed to mimic the root of the tooth it is replacing. Implants typically have a tapered, threaded design which allows for accurate and stable placement. Dental implants also have a special coating or treatment on their surfaces that help them integrate with the jaw bone.

The second part of the dental implant therapy is the implant abutment. This is the intermediary part that joins the crown, bridge or denture to the implant. The abutment interfaces with the implant with very precise machined surfaces and is often held in place with a screw through its center. The screw is then tightened to a specific setting using a special torque wrench. The implant abutment serves as the transition piece from the implant through the gum tissue to the final restoration.

The third part is the crown or bridge. This is the part that completes the implant therapy. It resembles the tooth in form and function. It is most times an individual crown or bridge and is held to the implant abutment by cement. Once the cement is cured, the restoration (crown or bridge) is then ready for normal use. Most times these components are fixed, or are anchored, permanently in a patient’s mouth. The crown or bridge will not need to be removed.

Each component of a dental implant also typically carries its own fee, so you may find that the fee breakdown from your dentist will list the fee for each of these parts separately.

Keep checking back to our website and Facebook page, Pike Lake Dental Center, for more on dental implants. In future blogs, we will try to shed more light on the process of placing a dental implant and some of the more frequently asked questions.

Written by Matt Jugovich, D.D.S., Pike Lake Dental Center

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“I’ve got TMJ.” • “We all have TMJ. Let’s talk about Bruxism and Occlusal Guards.”

Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth.
       -Excerpt from the Mayo Clinic website, www.mayoclinic.org

  • Do you wake up in the mornings with dull headaches?
  • Do you consistently have pain in your jaw?
  • Have you ever noticed yourself clenching your teeth when you’re concentrating or stressed?
  • Do you grind your teeth?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you may suffer from bruxism and might benefit from an occlusal guard, sometimes also called a night guard. Have no fear, you are not alone! One study suggests over 3 million people suffer from bruxism in the United States each year.

An occlusal guard is a small, customized, transparent oral device that fits over a person’s lower teeth, which helps prevent them from clenching their jaw muscles and gnashing their teeth, thus relieving the associated tooth and jaw pain.

We all have temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect our jaws to our heads. You are able to feel these joints by placing your fingers on either side of your jaw and opening and closing your mouth a few times. This area on your face is an incredibly complex mix of joints, strong muscles and powerful ligaments. This area is easily irritated and has the potential to cause you a lot of pain. The TMJ is the location of the pain; bruxism is most often the actual diagnosis.

There are many things you can do yourself to help relieve bruxism pain. Reducing stress, staying rested, oral exercises, reducing or eliminating chewing gum, reducing caffeine intake, and applying heat or ice to the joints are just a few options to try. Consulting with your physician about any medications you are on can also be helpful since some medications can contribute to bruxism. If you’ve exhausted these ideas and are still experiencing pain or you need to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to experience relief, an occlusal guard might be a good fit for you.

Typically, the recurring jaw pain is discussed between doctor and patient at a hygiene appointment or during a regular dental visit. Once bruxism is officially diagnosed, it’s a fairly quick and easy process to procure an occlusal guard through our office. We start by taking impressions of your teeth. The impressions are sent to a dental lab and the lab creates a slim, clear occlusal guard that is a perfect fit over your lower teeth. We have you return to our office about a week later to deliver the occlusal guard, make sure it fits you well, make any adjustments and answer any additional questions you may have.

The best part about an occlusal guard: it’s easy to wear! It’s not big and ugly. It’s nearly unnoticeable while worn. Taking care of your occlusal guard is easy too. Simply rinse it with clear water after each use and allow it to air dry (out of reach of pets, of course). Or brush it gently with your toothbrush and a tiny amount of toothpaste when you feel it needs a little more attention, again letting it air dry.

Many dental insurances include coverage for occlusal guards. We are happy to send a preauthorization to your dental insurance company to determine if your insurance will supplement the cost of an occlusal guard. Regardless of dental benefits, an occlusal guard is a wise investment if you suffer from bruxism.

We typically recommend wearing the occlusal guard while you sleep, when it can help reduce the most amount of stress inflicted on the TMJ area, although some patients wear it during the day too. The bruxism pain is usually relieved quickly, most often within a week or two. It’s normal to go through periods of life when you experience more stress than normal or are not sleeping restfully. If you take a hiatus from wearing your occlusal guard and experience the bruxism pain returning, simply begin using the occlusal guard again. We highly recommend wearing an occlusal guard every night to maximize the benefits of the appliance and to experience consistent pain relief.

If you feel you’d benefit from an occlusal guard, please discuss it with us at your next dental appointment. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about both bruxism and occlusal guards. The more you know, the better off you are!

 

– Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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Sleep Apnea: Can An Oral Device Aid In Treatment?

Lisa sporting her Pike Lake Dental jacket while golfing last week.

Last week I was golfing in my women’s league and I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of wonderful new ladies. I was stylishly sporting my Pike Lake Dental jacket (Thanks, Dr. Matt! ☺) and one of the ladies said, “Oh, hey – Pike Lake Dental! You guys make oral appliances for sleep apnea! We both work at the Sleep Center.” I felt very proud to be working in an office that they were familiar with for aiding in the treatment of their patients. We do make some great oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea, and I’ll get to that shortly, but first… What IS sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is serious sleep disorder in which a person will stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. These pauses in breathing can last anywhere from a few

A view down the green.

seconds to over a minute each and can occur a few times per night or, in severe cases, hundreds of times per night!

There are three types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and Complex or Mixed Sleep Apnea, which is a combination of both. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea and the type that we’ll focus on here.

OSA is caused by an obstruction, or blockage, of the airway. When a person with OSA sleeps, particularly on their back, the muscles in their neck and throat relax. The lower jaw also relaxes and the tongue can fall back against the back of the throat, or soft palate, restricting the airway and reducing the amount of oxygen that can reach the lungs. The only way a sleep apnea episode ends is by the person waking up, often times with a loud snore or choking sound when breathing resumes.

What are some symptoms of untreated OSA?

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating

If left untreated, OSA can have some pretty nasty effects – heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and depression, just to name a few.

How is OSA diagnosed?

A physician will likely order a sleep study to be done for a patient exhibiting signs of OSA. The patient typically spends a night in a Sleep Lab or Sleep Center with medical equipment monitoring their sleep patterns.

How is OSA treated?

There are a few options for treatment, depending on the severity of the disorder. Sometimes behavior changes such as losing weight, changing to sleeping on one’s side, and avoiding alcohol and smoking can treat a mild case of OSA. With a severe case of OSA, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is often the best treatment to maintain the patient’s airway.

Now, somewhere in between the previous two, there is the “mild to moderate” case of OSA. Here’s where we, as dental professionals, come in. For this type of OSA, we can make a mandibular advancement splint to keep the airway open during sleep.

Wait… a what??? A mandibular advancement splint.

An example of a Tap3.

The brand name of the one we often use is called a Tap3. Here’s how it works:

Impressions are made of both the upper and lower teeth and a recording of how the teeth bite together is taken, along with a measurement of how far the lower jaw can be moved forward. We then have an appliance fabricated to fit very precisely to the teeth. The appliance is somewhat like a close fitting mouth guard for the upper and lower teeth with an attachment in between to keep the lower jaw in an advanced or protruded position, therefore keeping the airway open. This appliance allows for more freedom in sleeping position than the CPAP machine and is also free of the constant noise.

We often hear patients say how they have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have tried a CPAP machine, but they are just not able to adjust to sleeping with it. Does this sound like you or someone you know? The Tap3 Oral Appliance just might be an alternative option!

– Written and submitted by Lisa Mangan, LDA at Pike Lake Dental

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