Monday, 9 May 2016

The Advantages of Sleep Apnea Oral Appliances

Caused by the obstruction of the airways while asleep, sleepapnea affects countless individuals across the country. While the cause of this condition varies by patient, many are often recommended continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy as a means of treatment.

While considered the gold standard by most physicians, CPAP therapy can be difficult to adjust to, with many patients often choosing non-compliance over a better night’s rest. To help tackle non-compliance, oral appliances have become a popular method of treating mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.

In addition to eliminating the machine component of treatment, there are several unique advantages of sleep apnea oral appliances, including:

Tailored to Your Needs: Every case of sleep apnea is unique. While CPAP is often considered blanket treatment for all forms of sleep apnea, oral appliances are tailored to comprehensively address the cause of each individual’s sleep apnea.

Custom Fit Appliances: Similar to other night guards, sleep apnea devices are created using custom impressions of your dentition, resulting in a comfortable fit and effective treatment. As the appliances are tailored to the patients’ smile, individuals find themselves able to comfortably sleep with the appliance in place, improving treatment compliance.

Easy Travel: For individuals that are constantly traveling, CPAP machines can be difficult to fit into a carry on. As these machines can also be fairly expensive, purchasing multiple machines for different locations is often not a feasible option. Oral appliances are similar in size to orthodontic retainers or bruxism mouth guards, making them easy to slip into a container and travel with.

Silent Care: CPAP machines are notorious for making noise when in use, making it difficult for light sleepers to enjoy a good night’s rest. As oral appliances are silent, many unable to tolerate the noise associated with CPAP find themselves able to enjoy undisrupted sleep with this appliance.

Easy Maintenance: With multiple tubes and masks, cleaning CPAP machines can become a hassle for busy patients. Cleaning sleep apnea devices is a simple, 15 minute soaking process that can be easily integrated into a daily hygiene routine.

In Pleasant Hill, Dr. Kevin T. Dowd and his team work closely with local sleep specialists and other medical professionals to find the right sleep apnea solution for each patient. For more information about using oral appliances as an alternative to CPAP therapy, contact our Pleasant Hill dentist today. 

Monday, 1 February 2016

When to Consider Orthodontic Re-Treatment

Braces are often considered a hallmark of childhood dental care. However, as patients age many begin to notice changes in the alignment of their smile. While there is no single factor that can be blamed for orthodontic relapse, there are patient behaviors as well as developmental changes that can negate orthodontic treatment.

Some of these factors include:

Failure to Follow a Post-Treatment Plan: One of the most common causes of relapse is the failure to maintain follow-up treatment plan recommended by your orthodontist. Wearing a retainer post-treatment is critical to keeping the teeth in their new position as it reinforces the new alignment.

Wisdom Teeth: Since the wisdom teeth are the last to grow, many patients undergo orthodontic treatment before their wisdom teeth have emerged. If these third molars are not able to breach through the gums and become trapped in the jaw, they may develop incorrectly and become impacted. As a result, the neighboring teeth may be pushed out of alignment as the wisdom tooth grow, negating any prior orthodontic or alignment therapy.

Bone Adaptation: Successful orthodontic therapy requires the permanent adjustment of the tooth in relation to its position in the supportive bone. Repositioning the tooth too quickly or failing to allow the bone to reintegrate the tooth in the new position can encourage future relapse.

Failing the Eliminate the Original Cause: If orthodontic misalignment is the result of a poor oral habit such as mouth breathing or thumb sucking, the cause of misalignment must be addressed in order for treatment to be successful.

Development of Negative Habits: As we age, we often develop additional oral habits which can play a significant role in the relapse of an orthodontia-treated smile. The development of bruxism, clenching, or even nail biting as a response to stressful scenarios can cause the bite to become misaligned, leading to the need for eventual re-treatment.

Orthodontic Re-Treatment in Contra Costa County
At the Pleasant Hill practice of Dr. Kevin Dowd, our team is committed to helping patients achieve optimal oral health and aesthetics. For patients that have noticed their teeth reverting to their original position following orthodontic treatment, our Pleasant Hill dentist offer Realine® as a way to regain dental symmetry. For more information about this re-treatment program, contact our practice today to schedule your consultation.


Monday, 18 January 2016

Understanding TMD

While often underestimated, the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, plays a significant role in a number of daily functions. From enabling chewing, swallowing and smiling to even to facilitating breathing, the TMJ is an incredibly important part of your anatomy. As a result, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, known as TMD, can significantly impact an individual’s ability to perform those routine and necessary functions.

What is TMD?
TMD is a fairly broad term used to describe a condition affecting the functionality of the jaw joint. Normally, the mandible (jaw) is able to move via a set of condyles which glide along sockets located on the skull. Between the socket and condyle is a soft tissue disc, which ensures smooth movement. However, when the disc becomes dislodged or worn, this gliding motion can be extremely painful, causing movement limitation and affecting the individual’s ability to effectively speak, chew, swallow, and even make facial expressions.

The Causes of TMD
While there is no specific cause of TMD, there are a number of factors that can increase the likelihood of developing a TMD as well as pre-existing conditions that can lead to TMD. These include:
  • Autoimmune Diseases or Infections
  • Trauma to the area
  • Dental procedures or instances of prolonged mouth opening
  • Arthritis
  • Genetic and environmental factors

Interestingly, studies on the prevalence of the TMD have indicated that these conditions were more common among women in their childbearing years, suggesting that hormones may play a role in the development of the condition.

Treating TMD
When it comes to alleviating the pain caused by TMD, night guards have also been shown to be highly effective and non-invasive. Stabilization splints act as a barrier between the upper and lower dental arches. This allows the jaw to rest in a neutral position, preventing muscle spasms as well as bruxism from occurring.

To determine the best stabilization splint for your case of TMD, in-depth images of the patient’s dentition and jaw are taken to determine the best type of oral appliance for your case of TMD. Advanced impressions are then taken to create the splint. Once the splint has been made, final adjustments are made and patients are free to take their oral appliance home with them. At our Pleasant Hill dental office, we also schedule follow up appointments to ensure proper splint use and function.

Additionally, there are a number of home remedies that patients can use to help minimize pain and inflammation. Some of these self-care practices include avoiding hard, crunchy, or sticky foods, applying ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw motion, practicing stress relief and relaxation techniques, as well as trying gentle stretches to help increase and stabilize jaw movement.

Facing TMD Pain? Contact Dr. Dowd today!

At our Pleasant Hill dental office, family dentist Dr. Dowd offers night guards as a way to alleviate jaw pain caused by TMD. For more information about treating this jaw condition, contact our team today.  

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Endodontics 101

Of all available dental procedures, root canals are often among the least desired and most avoided treatments. However, endodontics are sometimes necessary in order to save an infected tooth from extraction.

How does a Tooth Become Infected?
Infections occur when bacteria enters the inner cavity of the tooth through an exterior crack, chip, or fracture. As bacteria multiply they begin to destroy the tissue within the tooth, known as the dentin, as well as attack the nerve of the tooth. If left untreated the tooth infection can escalate into an abscess, during which the nerve dies and the bacteria spreads to the bone, creating a pocket of dead tissue.

What are the Consequences of an Untreated Infection?
In addition to being incredibly painful, neglecting treatment for a tooth infection or abscess can have serious implications for your overall health. In certain rare cases, the infection that caused the abscess can spread to other parts of the body, putting vital organs at risk of damage.

How Do Root Canals Treat Tooth Infections?
Given the comprehensive nature of the procedure, root canals are the most effective method of treating tooth infections. During the endodontic procedure, a small opening is made in the top of the tooth. Special tools are then used to remove the dead tissue and nerve. The inner cavity and nerve canals are then cleaned, shaped, disinfected, and filled with a sealer material. Patients return at a later date to receive their final restoration.

What Can I Expect During My Root Canal?
If there is one thing that potential endodontic patients should understand, it is that root canal treatment itself is not a particularly uncomfortable procedure. Often, individuals tend to be nervous about the procedure, thinking that it is incredibly unpleasant. In actuality, the side effects of the tooth infection or abscess are often more unpleasant than the procedure. Additionally, patients are fully anesthetized during the root canal treatment, ensuring only minimal discomfort during their procedure.

What Symptoms Should I Look Out For?
In addition to severe toothache, tooth infections can also cause dental sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting, fever, facial swelling near the infected tooth, and a bad taste or smell. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you schedule a visit with your dentist immediately.

Endodontics in Pleasant Hill

While routine cleanings and an effective oral hygiene routine can help minimize risk of developing a tooth infection, a root canal may be needed into order to protect the health and function of a patient’s smile.  At the family-friendly dental office of Dr. Kevin T. Dowd, our team is dedicated to helping patients improve the health of their smiles. Contact Dr. Dowd today to learn more about root canals in Pleasant Hill.