Archive for October, 2018

Understanding the Diagnostic Process for Sleep Apnea

There are dozens of sleep disorders that can affect a person’s health and quality of life. One of the most serious sleep disorders is sleep apnea. It occurs when the airway gets blocked during sleep, causing breathing to stop. The brain detects the lack of oxygen and wakes up the patient to restart breathing. If sleep apnea isn’t properly managed, it can increase the risk of serious complications, including heart attack, stroke, and obesity. The good news is that your dentist can help you manage sleep apnea to reduce the risk of complications.

Detecting the Signs and Symptoms

Some of the signs of sleep apnea can be tricky to detect because the patients themselves might not be aware of them. Instead, it’s often the patient’s sleep partner who suggests that he or she might have sleep apnea. One of the main signs is loud, persistent snoring. The sleep partner may also detect repetitive cessations in breathing, perhaps followed by choking sounds or gasping for air. The symptoms that the patient may notice include the following:

  • Waking up with a headache and dry mouth
  • Feeling excessively sleepy during the day
  • Feeling irritated
  • Having problems paying attention or focusing on work

Undergoing Diagnostic Tests

You can be referred to a sleep center if you have the symptoms of sleep apnea. You’ll need to do an overnight sleep study, which takes place in a hotel-style room at the clinic. You’ll be connected to numerous electrodes that will monitor your heart, lung, and brain activity, and your breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, and physical movements. Then, all you’ll need to do is fall asleep in a comfortable bed wearing your own pajamas. You’ll be monitored by a technician the entire time.

John Carson, DDS offers effective, custom-fitted oral appliances for patients with sleep apnea. If you’ve been diagnosed with this serious disorder, call our dental office in Tucson at (520) 514-7203 to discuss your treatment options.

Technologies that Are Changing the Way You Get Dental Care

Every day, the world around you is growing increasingly high tech, and so is dental care. Many patients prefer to go to a dental office that features sophisticated medical technologies. These innovations offer convenience, comfort, and better oral health.

Improving Patient Comfort During Procedures

A unique device by Isolite Systems has made old-fashioned bite blocks obsolete. It’s a unique mouthpiece that comfortably and gently holds the mouth open. Patients can rest their jaws and relax while having procedures performed. This can be particularly helpful for patients with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, for whom keeping the mouth open for a long period of time can be uncomfortable. This device also creates a well-lit field, allowing the dentist to work more precisely and quickly. Additionally, the Isolite System continuously removes excess saliva and debris, and puts up a barrier to prevent any debris from entering the patient’s throat.

Detecting Tooth Decay

Diagnodent is an FDA-approved and ADA-approved device that helps dentists more accurately identify areas of tooth decay. Diagnodent uses a safe fluorescent laser to expose cavities that may be hidden to the naked eye. It scans each tooth and records its own reflected laser light. More light is reflected back at the device when a tooth contains decay. The dentist determines this by checking the digital readout.

Getting Permanent Crowns Right Away

The old-fashioned way of getting a dental crown is having the impressions made, sending the impressions to a lab, and waiting two to three weeks for the lab to make the crown. This is still a common way of making crowns, but some dental offices have made the switch to CEREC. With CEREC technology, the dentist can make a digital impression and have the new crown milled right in the office. That means you can receive your permanent crown during that same appointment!

The office of John Carson, DDS is proud to feature all of these technologies in our state-of-the-art dental clinic in Tucson. For general, restorative, or cosmetic dentistry services, call our friendly staff at (520) 514-7203.

FAQs About Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and it’s more common than you might think. Many Americans have gingivitis without realizing it, since its symptoms can be subtle. This is one reason why it’s so important to see your dentist at least every six months for a checkup. Your dentist can detect gum disease in its earliest stage, and effectively treat it to prevent it from getting worse.

How will I know if I have gingivitis?

Your dentist will check your gum health at each six-month checkup. But in between appointments, you should schedule an extra visit if you notice these issues:

  • Tender, swollen, or puffy gum tissue
  • Dark red gums
  • Bad breath
  • Receding gum line
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing

How did I get gingivitis?

Most often, gingivitis occurs because plaque is allowed to stay on the teeth and cause the gum tissue to become inflamed. Poor oral hygiene is a major cause of gingivitis, but it can affect you even if you brush twice per day and floss once per day. You might be inadvertently missing some areas with your toothbrush, for instance. Your dental hygienist can help you improve your oral care routine. Other risk factors of gingivitis include:

  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco use
  • Dry mouth
  • Poor nutrition
  • Hormonal changes

How bad can gingivitis get if I don’t treat it?

In its earliest stage, gum disease is easy to reverse. But if it’s left untreated, gum disease can become quite severe and treatment becomes more difficult. Eventually, it’s possible to suffer from decreased density of the jawbone, loosening teeth, and even tooth loss.

How will my dentist treat gingivitis?

Your dentist can treat gingivitis with a procedure called scaling and root planing. This is an intensive cleaning that removes tartar and bacteria from under the gum line and on the surfaces of the tooth. The surfaces are smoothed to support healing and discourage bacteria from accumulating again. To keep gum disease from returning, you’ll need to improve your oral care routine and manage any other applicable risk factors.

Get your gums in great shape with help from John Carson, DDS—an experienced dentist serving the Tucson community. Call (520) 514-7203 to request our next available appointment.

What to Expect During an Oral Cancer Screening

Every patient should receive routine oral cancer screenings. Although oral cancer is most common in tobacco users and former users, it can also be caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). This means that oral cancer could potentially affect anyone. Talk to your dentist about having an oral cancer screening. The sooner oral cancer is detected, the more easily and effectively it can be treated.

Visual Exam

Before asking you to open your mouth, the dentist will examine your face and neck. He or she will look for signs of abnormalities, such as facial asymmetry. While you’re speaking with the dentist, he or she will check whether a corner of your lip appears stiff or droopy. Audible hoarseness of the voice is another red flag, particularly if your throat doesn’t hurt and you don’t have a cold.

Physical Exam

Using gloved hands, your dentist will palpate or feel the area around your mouth, jaw, and lymph nodes in the neck. He or she is checking for any unusual lumps. Then, you’ll be asked to open your mouth. The dentist will use gloved fingers to feel the soft tissues all around the interior of your mouth. While feeling for lumps and areas of thickened tissue, the dentist will also visually inspect all parts of your mouth for unusual sores, lesions, or areas of discoloration. The dentist will use a piece of gauze to gently grasp your tongue and move it from side to side. This allows him or her to carefully check each side and the underside of the tongue for abnormalities. If you experience discomfort at any point during the exam, you should inform your dentist immediately. Oral cancer screenings by themselves don’t cause discomfort, but an oral health problem might.

John Carson, DDS routinely performs thorough oral cancer screenings on his patients. Call our office in Tucson at (520) 514-7203 if you’d like to make an appointment for an exam.