Archive for October 2011

Do you or anyone in your family find it hard to sleep at night? Are you waking up irritable in the morning due to that lack of sleep? Have you ever considered the possibility that the problem may be the way that you breathe?

Specifically, the problem you may be facing is that you are a mouth breather!

For some people, the first task to work past when dealing with mouth breathing is the attitude that it is not a big deal. Breathing through the mouth for a short time period after physical exertion may not be problematic.

However, regular, prolonged mouth breathing is a real problem!

For instance, consistent breathing through the mouth can result in the facial muscles developing in an abnormal way to accommodate the breathing style. This stress on the muscles can cause headaches in the short term, and can even lead to facial deformities over an extended period of time.

People who breathe through the mouth are more likely to have inflamed tonsils. This can cause something of a vicious circle as the more inflamed the tonsils become, the more they close the airway for the mouth breather, possibly resulting in further disruptions to the breathing pattern.

Mouth breathing can also cause inflammation of the gums. This may result in gingivitis or bad breath.

Of course, sleep disorders may be the most serious problem associated with mouth breathing. Proper sleep is vital to allow our body time to heal and repair itself. If mouth breathing is impairing your sleep, your body may not be getting the rejuvenation it requires from a good night’s sleep.

When we are looking at young children, lack of sleep can lead to developmental issues and behavioural problems. The behavioural issues in some such children have been mistaken for ADHD and children have been prescribed unnecessary medication as a result.

Your dentist may be able to spot the signs of mouth breathing. Inflammation of the tonsils or gums may be a sign that you or your child suffer from this problem. A referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist may be necessary to determine if tonsils may have to be removed.

Otherwise, your dentist might be able to solve the problem with an appliance that will encourage more healthy breathing through the nose. The exact remedy you require will vary depending upon the severity of the problem. You can discuss this with your dentist and any other appropriate health care professional.

If you suspect mouth breathing may be a problem for you, discuss it with your dentist. It may be quite simple to correct and the sleep you get as a result will be well worth it. Because a good night’s sleep is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon

Very soon, schools, streets and houses will be filled with ghosts, ghouls and goblins, all trying their best to spook, startle and scare us! It is a scary time of year as all sorts of vampires, zombies and other fiendish characters will be wandering the streets looking to satisfy their thirst for…sugar!

Halloween can bring great fun. But as a parent, the prospect of our children consuming such large quantities of sticky, sweet, sugary candy is quite frightening! After all, when was the last time you heard anything about the positive health benefits of processed sugar!

Getting children to eat healthier is always a challenge. Many schools have been helping by removing chocolate bars, chips or soft drinks from vending machines on their property. But children still have no trouble finding sugary, starchy foods. And we spend Halloween literally giving these foods away!

We know that candies, candy bars and other similar confections have contributed to the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity.

But they are also contributing to the increasing problem of tooth decay amongst young children. In fact, conditions associated with tooth decay are one of the most common causes for children of all ages to miss school! Given that missing too much school can result in lower grades, it is understandable that we approach Halloween with some fear and trepidation!

Still, not everything about Halloween and all that candy should make your hair stand on end! Moderate amounts of treats can usually be overcome by proper cleaning of your little vampire’s fangs!

So encourage your children to brush after eating. Remember, the longer sugary foods are allowed to remain on their teeth, the more damage they can do. Brushing after every meal and snack can often be your best defense. Two minutes per session is the recommended amount of time. And do not forget to floss at least once per day!

So let’s all have a frightfully, scary Halloween. Let your children enjoy some sugar, but do your best to make sure it is a moderate amount.

Because limiting the amount of sugar your kids eat is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

 

For the last couple of years now, we have been dealing with such negative economic news. Many people feel the pinch of this news as they either face layoffs from their jobs or there is a threat of such layoffs persistently hanging overhead. And this can be stressful!

Most of us are aware that stress can affect our hearts and our blood pressure. But many of you may not be aware that stress can also affect your oral health.

The impact of stress on oral health may be indirect. For instance, people under stress are more likely to neglect their hygiene routines or make unhealthy food choices.  Bad eating habits can creep in as we search for “comfort foods”. Unfortunately, comfort foods tend to be high in sugar which is never friendly for our teeth.

When those sugary foods are combined with the tendency of individuals under stress to forgo regular brushing and/or flossing, more sticky food particles can be left on the teeth.  This can attract the bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Individual under stress are also more likely to grind their teeth, particularly while they sleep. This is known as bruxism and it can lead to headaches, earaches, chronic facial pain and even the uneven wearing of the teeth. Many people suffering from bruxism wear night guards while they sleep to help alleviate the symptoms.

Even dry mouth and cankers can result from stress. Cankers tend to be harmless, albeit rather painful. As for dry mouth, the loss of the cleansing effects of saliva can result in bad breath and other more serious oral health issues, such as biofilm, tartar and the gum disease they can produce.

Of course, stress can compromise your immune system. And when immune systems are not working efficiently, gum disease can become a problem. Your body needs to be operating efficiently in order to combat the bacteria that attacks it from all directions, including the mouth. The stronger your immune system, the more ready you are to do battle with the multiple species of bacteria that find the mouth to be a wonderful home!

Just remember that smiling is one of the simplest ways to help alleviate stress. But if poor oral health has left you with a smile you would rather not show off, you are less likely to take advantage of this form of stress relief. So talk to your dentist if you are experiencing any of these conditions due to stress…and let your dentist help you put on a smile that will keep that stress away!

Because alleviating stress is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon