Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Helping treat snoring and sleep apnea at the dentist

            More and more people are becoming aware that they suffer from sleep apnea. While snoring can be an indicator, there are also other symptoms your physician or dentist may worry about. Step one should be to consult with your physician to determine if you need a sleep study. Depending on the findings and the recommendations of your doctor, you may be eligible for an oral appliance to supplement or replace your CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine if you were unable to tolerate using it every night.
            When snoring is the only issue, there are some appliances we offer to reduce or eliminate the snoring. Fabricating a ‘snore guard’ is a non-invasive procedure that requires taking different impressions of the teeth with your jaw in a slightly altered position. This helps us to dictate how the appliance will fit your jaw to limit your snoring. By pulling the lower jaw forward we can help pull the tongue forward, open the airway, and help you and your significant other sleep better.
            If you are in search of an option to supplement or replace your CPAP machine, there are times when an oral appliance can be used. However, I believe it is important to consult with your physician before making an appliance to help with sleep apnea. Each case is different, and there are times when it may be appropriate for us to try an oral appliance. But there are times where it may not be a good idea. But much like the snore guard, we can fabricate the appliance with a series of impressions with the lower jaw in an altered position. Once it has been made, adjustments will typically be necessary to achieve the best possible results. After the corrections have been made, we will recommend another sleep study to verify its effectiveness.
            If you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea and you are looking for a solution, please let us know about your concerns. We can help evaluate your situation and determine if there is an oral appliance may be a good option for you. However, I strongly discourage anyone from using over the counter products because of the potential harm that can be done to your jaw joint if not properly used.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Can a headache mean dental problems?

            Headaches can have a variety of origins: allergies, dehydration, head colds and a host of other reasons. But they can also be related to dental problems. Tooth decay, a bad bite, or night time clenching/grinding can lead to habitual headaches.
            Cavities and dental infections can trigger headaches and pain. Often times the headaches that are associated with dental problems stem from tension. The stress of a toothache can cause muscle strain to build up in the mouth and jaw. The headaches that originate from the teeth and the mouth are typically a duller pain that you can feel on one side, both sides, or all around.
            Another potential culprit of a headache could be a misaligned bite. If the chewing surfaces of the teeth don’t meet together correctly when the jaw shuts, it can place strain on the muscles and joints as they try to compensate. The muscles then have to work even harder and become more easily strained. And since we use our jaw so frequently with chewing, talking, swallowing and yawning, it is difficult to get the rest need to recover.
            It is also possible that pain felt in the teeth or jaw can radiate or refer pain to other parts of your head. It is related to the trigeminal nerve, which controls sensation in the face and other functions like biting and chewing. Pain from one branch of the nerve can cause other branches of the nerve to react. A problem that began in your mouth can eventually lead to pain in your head, behind the eyes, the temples or the forehead.
            We also see examples of headache pain resulting from clenching and grinding the teeth at night. This habit will overwork the jaw muscles and can lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). They can be signaled by popping or clicking of the jaw and can lead to minor headaches and in some cases even result in migraines.
            With so many potential origins of your headaches, it is best to consult with your physician and your dentist to best treat any problems. There are a variety of different treatments to a properly help out with these issues, and they can help tailor the right plan for you.

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

‘Smart’ Mouth Guards may soon be available

            Researchers from the University of Florida have developed a mouth guard that can determine if you’re grinding your teeth at night. It can also let your dentist know how you’re grinding your teeth so we can help treat the problem. There is another version that is currently being developed to help determine if you’re dehydrated or if you have sustained a concussion. These tools could be very helpful for dentists and physicians alike in treating many different issues.
            It is believed that at least 20% of the population suffers from bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth). There could be a variety of causes, but it may result in damaged teeth, headaches, sore jaw, or insomnia. The challenge for dentists is determining the cause of any of these symptoms because there are different origins. Having access to an appliance that could help us know what is happening at night would be a huge advantage. We could more quickly and more effectively treat the issues or symptoms.
            The prototype that has been developed sends the information to a computer or phone via Bluetooth that can be easily accessed by the dentist or doctor. And while the implications in dentistry are obvious for the first version, there may also be some use for athletes. Early detection of concussions or dehydration can keep athletes at every level safer.
            Wearing a mouth guard and sleeping in your own bed is a lot easier than going to a sleep clinic for a full study. With increased ease of use and hopefully increased access with a ‘smart’ mouth guard, dentists may soon be able to know more about your night time clenching or grinding habits. The faster and more accurately we can diagnose these problems, the better and more predictably we can treat the cause without over treatment. We certainly hope this continues to develop and improve so we can put it to use in our office!

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Why is your blood pressure important at the dentist?

            When you become a new patient at our office, we ask about your dental and medical history. Dental history is important so we know what experiences and procedures you have had in the past. Medical history is important because there are number of ways it can impact your dental health and how we go about any treatment that is needed.
            If you need a dental procedure that requires local anesthesia, we need to make sure you are in good health. In most dental anesthetics, small amounts of epinephrine are added to help the numbness last longer. This means fewer injections and less trauma to the area. However, the trace amounts of epinephrine may increase your heart rate and blood pressure. For individuals with already elevated blood pressure, this can be potentially dangerous. That is why we encourage you to maintain regular physicals and why we ask about your medical history. When in doubt, we will consult with your physician before beginning treatment.
            In the past, there have been studies that link heart health and gum disease. While the conclusions are still a little unclear, we know that high blood pressure puts extra stress on your body. We also know that certain medications can cause dry mouth and change the pH of your saliva. This is turn can affect your ability to fight cavities. So if your physician has you taking blood pressure medication, we want to know so we can stay proactive and preventative with your dental care. This could mean extra instructions at home, different tooth pastes or rinses, or even more frequent dental cleanings and exams. Always be sure to let us know about any new medications you are taking.
            We are definitely interested in your dental and overall health. And in order for us to provide the best possible care, we need to make sure we know what is going on with your overall health. We are happy to work together with any of your other doctors to formulate the best possible care for your individual situation.

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Lee T. Brown, DDS