Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S. - 220 North Washington Ave., Cookeville, TN 38501 (931)526-2613

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Posts for: March, 2012

By Jerald A. Bryant, 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.”


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
March 19, 2012
Category: Oral Health
DiabeticsWatchOutforaHiddenEnemyGumDisease

Periodontal (gum) disease, though it may be invisible to everyone but your dentist, can have a powerful effect on your entire body. Not only is it dangerous to your teeth and jaws, but it can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, cause preterm births in pregnant women, and affect blood sugar control in diabetics.

Diabetics are our subject for today. Symptoms of diabetes include abnormally high levels of glucose (a form of sugar) in the blood, leading to frequent urination, excessive thirst, blurred vision, unexplained weight loss, and loss of energy. The disease can also cause severe complications in various parts of the body.

Normally, glucose, your body's main energy source, is kept under control by a hormone called insulin, which is made by an organ called the pancreas. In type 1 diabetes, a person's pancreas does not produce enough insulin to deal with all the glucose in his or her blood. In type 2 diabetes — a condition related to increased age, physical inactivity, overweight, and heredity — the pancreas may produce enough insulin, but the body is not able to use it effectively. This condition is called insulin resistance.

People with type 1 diabetes need insulin to survive. Type 2 may be treated with exercise, diet, medications, and insulin supplements.

Serious complications of diabetes range from kidney failure, blindness, and nerve damage to infections that do not heal, gangrene and amputation of limbs.

Diabetes and periodontal disease seem to have reciprocal effects on each other. Diabetics are more likely to have periodontal disease than non-diabetics; and those with periodontal disease are likely to face worsening blood sugar control over time.

Periodontal disease (from “peri”, meaning around and “odont”, meaning tooth), is caused by dental plaque — a film of bacteria that settles on your teeth and gums every day. It's what you remove with daily brushing and flossing. Any bacteria that remain cause inflammation, which can lead in the worst cases to loss of bone and eventual loss of teeth.

The close relationship of diabetes and periodontal disease probably results from changes in the function of immune cells responsible for healing. Inflammation is a part of normal wound healing — but chronic or prolonged inflammation can destroy the tissues it was meant to heal. This may be a major factor in the destructive complications of diabetes.

Many of these complications begin in the blood vessels. Like the eyes and the kidneys, gum tissues are rich in blood vessels. Gum tissues are also under constant attack from bacteria. If you are a diabetic, effective plaque control, along with regular professional dental cleaning, can have positive effects not only on periodontal disease, but also on control of your blood glucose level.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about periodontal disease and its connections with diabetes. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diabetes & Periodontal Disease.”


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
March 11, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
Top5AdvantagesofDentalImplants

There's a lot to like about dental implants, today's state-of-the-art tooth-replacement system. We consider them the best choice for replacing missing teeth because implants are:

Healthy
You may not realize this, but when a tooth is missing, the bone underneath it begins to melt away. That's because bone needs constant stimulation to rebuild itself and stay healthy, and it receives this stimulation from teeth. It's a delicate balance that's disrupted by the loss of even one tooth. Because implants are made of biocompatible titanium, they actually fuse to the bone and prevent bone loss.

Strong
The fusion of implant to bone is an extremely solid connection. Not only does it offer a strong replacement for a missing tooth, but it can also offer support to other tooth-replacement methods such as fixed bridges or dentures. By themselves, these other methods would not preserve bone and might even hasten its loss in the case of dentures. But with implants, bone-loss is prevented — as is embarrassing and uncomfortable slippage of dentures.

Aesthetically Pleasing
When you receive your implant, it is left alone for a few months to complete the fusion process described above. Then it is topped with a crown made of a realistic tooth-like material. The result is so convincing as a tooth replacement, only you and your dentist may be able to tell it's not a natural tooth.

Long-Lasting
Dental implants have an amazing success rate — over 97%. And once they fuse to the jawbone, they should never need replacement. In fact, they will likely outlast the crowns to which they are attached, but this is not a problem. Implant crowns are precision components that detach for easy replacement, should the need arise.

Economical
Implants have a higher initial cost than other forms of tooth replacement, but when you consider how long they last, they are very economical. Consider it an investment in your health, appearance and self-confidence.

If you have any questions about dental implants, contact us today to schedule an appointment for an implant consultation.

You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”


By Jerald A. Bryant, D.D.S.
March 03, 2012
Category: Dental Procedures
CountdownToAPerfectWeddingDaySmile

Invitations, dresses, the cake, the photographer: there's so much to think about when planning your wedding. And remember to plan for one more thing, your smile. Your wedding photographs will record the magic of your wedding day forever, so you'll want your smile to look radiant. Bonus: you'll be providing for a lifetime of good oral health.

Start planning as far ahead as possible. We can help you select from the variety of treatments, therapies and procedures that can enhance your smile on that special day. Together, we'll assess your starting point, decide what needs to be changed, and create a plan of action. Remember that the bigger the changes you want to make, the longer they are likely to take.

Plan the indicated amount of time before your wedding for the following:

  • Several months to three years: Orthodontics
    From minor movement using clear aligners to full braces to correct a bad bite, this treatment allows us to accurately and precisely move teeth for better appearance and function. The process can seem like magic.
  • Six months to a year: Dental Implants
    Implants are natural looking, functional stand-alone tooth replacement systems. They take planning and time. An implant consists of a root replacement that permanently joins to the bone and to which a crown is attached.
  • Two to four visits: Periodontal Plastic Surgery
    Consult with us to find out your needs. Today, surgical techniques can alter your gum tissues and their relationship to the teeth, improving the appearance of your smile.
  • Multiple visits over one to four months: Crowns and Bridges
    A crown or “cap” is generally required when a tooth has been ravaged by decay or trauma. A crown can also be used to improve tooth color and shape. Missing teeth can be replaced by bridges, which span the space created by a missing tooth. Bridges do require crowns on the adjacent teeth to which the bridge is attached.
  • At least three months: Veneers
    Porcelain veneers are bonded directly to the enamel to change the shape and color of darkened or unsightly teeth. Usually, a small amount of enamel must be removed to make room for the veneers and for them to work their magic.
  • At least two months ahead of your wedding day: Bonding
    You can replace anything from small chips on your front teeth to broken discolored old fillings with the latest tooth-colored bonding composite resin materials. These procedures, generally done in one visit, provide life-like restorations that become part of the teeth and look very natural.
  • Allow for one or two office appointments: Whitening
    A professional “in office” tooth bleaching procedure is quicker and more predictable than an “at-home” kit, which may brighten your smile by several shades, but requires months.
  • Schedule well ahead of your wedding date: Dental Cleanings
    Remove unwanted stains and freshen your breath, so you look and feel your best on the big day. You may need more than one cleaning, depending on how much stain and tartar there is and how long it has been since your last cleaning.

We can make sure that your wedding day smile makes you look and feel great, not just for those treasured photos, but for years to come. For many of these procedures, results can last a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to prepare for your best wedding smile. For more information read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”