Posts for: November, 2020
Heartburn is a big problem: Each year we Americans spend around $10 billion on antacid products, twice as much as for over-the-counter pain relievers. It's an even bigger problem because many indigestion sufferers actually have acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), a chronic disease that can cause physical harm—including to teeth.
That's why we've joined with other healthcare providers for GERD Awareness Week, November 17-23, to call attention to the causes and consequences of this disease. In addition to the harm it poses to the esophagus (the “tube” leading from the mouth to the stomach through which food passes), GERD could also damage your teeth to the point of losing them.
GERD is usually caused by the weakening of the lower esophageal sphincter, a ringed muscle located at the junction between the esophagus and the stomach. It acts as a “one-way valve” allowing food into the stomach, but not back into the esophagus. If it weakens, powerful stomach acid can come back into the esophagus and possibly even the mouth. The latter scenario poses a danger to teeth's protective layer of enamel.
Although tough and durable, enamel softens after prolonged contact with acid. Oral acid isn't all that unusual—acid levels typically rise right after eating, causing a temporary softening of enamel. Our saliva, however, goes to work to bring down those acid levels and stabilize enamel.
But if stomach acid enters the mouth because of GERD, the increased acidity can overwhelm saliva's ability to neutralize it. This can lead to enamel erosion, tooth decay and ultimately tooth loss. The enamel damage can be so pronounced that dentists are often the first to suspect GERD.
If you're diagnosed with GERD, here's what you can do to protect your teeth.
- Manage your GERD symptoms through medication, avoidance of spicy/acidic foods, alcohol, caffeine or tobacco products, and maintaining an optimum weight;
- Stimulate saliva by drinking more water, using saliva boosters, or (with your doctor's consent) changing from medications that may be restricting saliva flow;
- Speak with your dentist about strengthening your enamel with special toothpastes or mouthrinses containing extra fluoride or amorphous calcium phosphate (ACP).
You should also brush and floss daily to lower your risk of dental disease, but with one caveat: Don't brush your teeth during or immediately after a reflux episode, as you might remove microscopic bits of softened enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water mixed with a half-teaspoon of baking soda (an acid neutralizer) and wait about an hour to brush. The extra time also gives saliva time to further neutralize any remaining acid.
GERD can be unpleasant at best and highly destructive at worst. Don't let it ruin your teeth or your smile.
If you would like more information about GERD and dental health, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “GERD and Oral Health” and “Dry Mouth.”
Root canal treatment offered by your Martinez, GA, dentists, Dr. Alan, and Dr. Eliza Myers of Myers Family Dental, helps you avoid tooth loss and ends your pain. Keeping these things in mind will help you ensure that you're ready for your root canal.
Talk to your dentist about pain control
If you've heard jokes that portray root canal therapy as an extremely painful experience, you're probably understandably concerned about your comfort during the procedure. Fortunately, the jokes simply aren't true.
Your comfort is extremely important to your dentist. Before the procedure begins, you'll receive a local anesthetic that will numb your mouth and prevent you from feeling any pain. If you're feeling a little nervous, your dentist can talk to you about sedation dentistry options that will keep you calm and relaxed during the therapy.
Don't skip a meal
Eat breakfast or lunch before you arrive for your appointment, particularly if you tend to feel lightheaded if you skip meals. Your mouth will remain numb for a few hours after your appointment. If you try to eat too soon, you may bite your lips or cheeks without realizing it.
Don't drink alcohol or smoke before your procedure
Alcohol and tobacco can interfere with the anesthetic and decrease its effectiveness. Smoking may also slow healing, while alcohol use can increase bleeding. It's a good idea to avoid drinking or smoking a few days before your root canal.
Tell your dentist about the medications you're taking
Let your dentist know every type of medication you take, including over-the-counter, natural, and prescription medications. Although you'll probably be able to continue to take your medications, some might increase bleeding. Your dentist will tell you if you should stop taking any drugs before your procedure.
Get plenty of rest
Try to get to bed at a reasonable time the night before your root canal. If you arrive at the Augusta or Martinez dental office rested, you'll be well-prepared for the therapy.
Are you concerned about a toothache or another oral health issue? Drs. Alan and Eliza Myers, your dentists in Augusta and Martinez, GA, can diagnose the source of your pain and offer root canal therapy and other treatments.
Call Myers Family Dental at (706) 738-7742 to schedule an appointment.
A full night's sleep isn't a luxury—we all need it for a healthy mind and body. But 50-70 million people in the U.S. aren't getting enough sleep because of a chronic sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
OSA happens when a sleeper's airway becomes blocked (most commonly by the tongue), cutting off oxygen to the brain. The body rouses from sleep to overcome the blockage. This awakening could last only a few seconds, after which the person immediately goes back to sleep. But it can occur hundreds of times a night and interrupt deeper sleep needed for a good night's rest.
Sleep disorders like OSA are a significant medical problem that could contribute to serious health issues like high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. If you're experiencing fatigue, irritability or your family's complaints of you snoring, you should see a physician for diagnosis and treatment options.
You should also consider another health professional who could be helpful in dealing with OSA—and may even be able to provide a treatment option: your dentist. Here's how.
A dentist could discover your OSA. Because of twice-a-year dental visits, dentists often see patients more frequently than other healthcare providers. A properly trained dentist could pick up on signs and symptoms of sleep disorder, including patients falling asleep and even snoring while in the dentist's chair.
Dentists are familiar with the mouth. Few healthcare providers focus on the oral cavity like dentists. Besides the teeth and gums, dentists also have extensive knowledge of the tonsils, uvula and tongue that often play a role in sleep disorders. As such, a dentist may notice abnormalities during routine exams that might contribute to airway obstruction during sleep.
Dentists provide a treatment option. Many OSA patients use a CPAP mask to maintain an open airway during sleep. But CPAP therapy can be uncomfortable for some. For mild to moderate cases of OSA, dentists can create an oral appliance based on the patient's mouth dimensions that prevents the tongue from sinking back into the throat.
If you believe you may have OSA or a similar sleep disorder, by all means speak with your doctor. But also mention it to your dentist—your dental provider might hold the key to a better night's sleep.
If you would like more information on how we could help with your sleep apnea symptoms, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”
Do you need to replace some of your teeth? Dental implants, a restoration option offered by your Augusta, GA, dentists, Drs. Alan and Eliza Myers of Myers Family Dental may be the perfect solution for you.
The benefits of dental implants
Dental implants are the ideal tooth restoration choice for several reasons. They may be the best option for you if you're concerned about:
- Total Tooth Replacement: Unlike dental implants, other tooth restoration options only replace the crowns, the parts of the teeth you see when you smile. Implants work as a replacement for both the roots and crowns of missing teeth. Titanium posts, commonly called implants, become the roots of your new teeth. They're placed in your jawbone during minor oral surgery in Augusta and soon begin to bond with the surrounding bone. Implants are connected to dental crowns to complete the restoration of your tooth.
- Comfort: Your new tooth will feel just like a natural tooth because it's securely attached to your jawbone. You won't have to worry that your new tooth will slip or slide when you chew and cause painful gum irritation.
- Natural Appearance: Your crowns are created from an impression of your mouth to ensure that your new teeth blend in perfectly with nearby teeth.
- Stronger Jawbone: Your jawbone may begin to shrink if it no longer receives stimulation from tooth roots. Unfortunately, as the bone shrinks, it may not be able to adequately support your teeth or facial muscles. Facial sagging or lost teeth may occur as a result. Dental implants stimulate the bone and prevent shrinking from happening.
- Excellent Biting Power: If you choose a restoration option that doesn't replace missing roots, you may notice that it's hard to chew hard or tough foods. Rooting your implants to your mouth helps you avoid this problem. In fact, you'll be able to easily eat all of your favorite foods after you receive dental implants.
- Longevity: Since dental implants become part of your jawbone, they just may last your entire life. Longevity is an important factor to consider when you compare implants to bridges and dentures. Bridges and dentures may need to be replaced every 10 years, which can be costly.
Restore your smile with dental implants! Call your dentists in Augusta, GA, Drs. Alan and Eliza Myers of Myers Family Dental, at (706) 738-7742 to make your appointment.
Parents love watching their kids grow up, from those early wobbly steps to their first solo car drive. Of course, you can expect a few mishaps along the way, most of which won't leave them worse for wear. But some risks are just too hazardous to ignore—including the potential for dental injuries.
Each year, one in ten children suffers a traumatic dental injury, many of which require extensive treatment. That's why during National Child Safety and Prevention Month in November, we're highlighting areas of risk for pediatric dental injuries, and how you can prevent them.
That risk changes depending on a child's stage of development. Teething infants, for example, relieve gum pressure by gnawing on things. Make sure, then, that you have items for teething made of cloth or soft plastic, and keep harder items that could damage their gums and emerging teeth out of reach.
Toddlers learning to walk encounter numerous injury opportunities, like a fall that lands them face first on a hard surface. You can reduce this risk by moving tables and other hard furniture out of your child's travel paths, covering sharp edges with padding, or simply isolating your child from home areas with hard furniture.
Pay attention also during bath time. Wet porcelain is notoriously slippery even for adults, and possibly more so for a child. A sudden slip in the bathtub could cause a mouth injury, so encourage your child not to stand until it's time to get out.
School-aged children face another set of perils to their mouth from outside play. At this stage, your best preventive measure is teaching them to observe play safety: Make sure they know not to aim balls, frisbees or other play items at others' heads, and to be on the lookout for the same. You'll also want them to be safety-minded playing on swings, monkey bars or other playground equipment.
If your older kids take an interest in sports, particularly the contact variety, you'll want to protect them with an athletic mouthguard (and encourage them to wear it during both practice and regular games). You can purchase a mouthguard at any retail or sporting goods store, but the most protective and comfortable to wear are custom-made by a dentist. Although more expensive, they'll still cost less than treatment for a traumatic dental injury.
The wonderful adventure of childhood does have its risks, and some are more serious than others. By following these prevention tips, you can help your child avoid a dental injury that could rob them of a healthy mouth.
If you would like more information about childhood dental concerns, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dentistry and Oral Health for Children” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”