Posts for: October, 2017
Life would be harrowing if we had no ability to feel pain. Although experiencing it is unpleasant, pain's purpose is to alert us to something wrong in our body. Without pain diseases and other problems could worsen to the point of life-threatening.
But pain without a purpose — the nerves simply misfiring — can make life miserable. This can happen with the trigeminal nerves that exit the brain stem and end on each side of the face. Each nerve has three branches that serve the upper, middle and lower parts of the face and jaw.
When they don't work properly, trigeminal nerves can give rise to a disorder known as trigeminal neuralgia. Beginning often as an occasional twinge, they may escalate to several seconds of mild to excruciating pain occurring over weeks, months or even years. An episode may erupt from chewing, speaking or even lightly touching of the face.
We see this condition most often in people over fifty, particularly women. We don't know the exact cause, but there's strong suspicion that the nerve's protective sheath has been damaged, similar to what occurs with multiple sclerosis or other inflammatory conditions. Another possibility is a blood vessel putting pressure on the nerve and disrupting its normal operation. Such an impinged nerve might transmit pain signals at the slightest stimulation and then fail to “switch off” when the stimulation stops.
Although we can't cure trigeminal neuralgia, we can help you manage it and reduce discomfort during episodes. We'll first try conservative, less-invasive techniques, like signal-blocking medications or drugs that reduce abnormal firing.
If these aren't effective, we may then recommend a surgical solution. One such procedure is known as percutaneous treatment in which we insert a thin needle to selectively damage nerve fibers to prevent their firing. If we've determined an artery or vein has compressed the nerve, we might surgically relocate the vessel. These techniques can be quite effective but they do have possible side effects like numbness or hearing loss.
If you've experienced facial pain, don't continue to suffer. Visit us for a complete examination and learn about your options for pain relief. More than likely, there's a way to reduce your pain and improve your quality of life.
If you would like more information on facial pain, 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 “Trigeminal Neuralgia.”
Even though baby teeth are not meant to last forever, they serve some very important functions for the time they are around. Healthy baby teeth allow your child to bite and chew food, articulate sounds correctly during speech, and, of course, to smile! They also help guide the permanent teeth, which will one day replace them, into proper alignment. So it’s important to take good care of them while they’re here. Let’s answer some frequently asked questions about pediatric dentistry.
Can I get my teeth cleaned while I’m pregnant?
Yes — and you should! Both the American Dental Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women keep up with their regular schedule of dental cleanings and exams during pregnancy. Not doing so can allow disease-causing oral bacterial to flourish, which can be a health risk for both the expectant mother and her fetus.
Do infants need their teeth brushed?
Yes, it’s important to start a daily oral hygiene routine as soon as the first baby tooth appears — usually sometime between six and nine months of age. Use a very soft-bristled child-sized toothbrush and just a smear of fluoride toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice). When your child turns 3, increase the amount of fluoride toothpaste to the size of a pea.
When should I take my child in for her first dental appointment?
The answer to this one may surprise you: All children should see a dentist by the age of 1. Early dental visits get children accustomed to having their mouths examined and their teeth cleaned. Establishing this healthy habit early will go a long way toward promoting a lifetime of good oral health.
Should I worry that my child sucks his thumb?
That depends on how old he is. Thumb sucking is a normal, comforting habit for babies and toddlers. Most outgrow it by the time they are 4. But kids who don’t are at increased risk for orthodontic issues later on. If your child seems unable to break the habit, let us know; we can give you more detailed recommendations at your next appointment.
What can I do to prevent my children from getting cavities?
Make sure your children have an effective daily oral hygiene routine that includes brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day and flossing at least once per day. If they are too young to do a good job by themselves, help them complete these important tasks. Keep their sugar consumption as low as possible; pay particular attention to beverages — soda, sports drinks and even 100 % natural fruit juices can all promote tooth decay. We can offer individualized advice on fighting cavities, and even provide fluoride treatments and dental sealants for extra protection against cavities. So don’t forget to bring your child in to the dental office for regular exams and cleanings!
What your dentist in Glen Ridge, New Jersey wants you to know
Sleep dentistry treats snoring and sleep apnea. Typical treatment was wearing a Continuous Positive Air Pressure machine, also known as a CPAP. The CPAP fits over your mouth and nose, providing air flow to you throughout the night. The only problem was many people disliked the poor fit and minimal comfort of the CPAP, so they would discontinue treatment.
Fortunately, sleep dentistry offers another solution to snoring and sleep apnea, and you can get it from your dentist! Dr. Paul Dionne at Glen Ridge Dental Arts has the solution you’ve been waiting for. He proudly serves residents of Glen Ridge, and Montclair, New Jersey and he can help you too!
Most people have experienced snoring, but what is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is the result of soft tissue at the back of your throat relaxing and blocking your airway while you sleep. Your breathing stops for short periods and starts up again, causing disruption in your sleep and lack of oxygen to your vital organs. As you may have guessed, the lack of oxygen can shorten your life and lead to an increased risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Memory impairment
So how do you know if you have sleep apnea? There are some recognizable signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. You may experience:
- Headaches when you wake up
- A sore, dry throat when you wake up
- Suddenly waking up gasping for air or choking
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Difficulty concentrating
So how can sleep dentistry help with sleep apnea? Dr. Dionne offers a state-of-the-art solution called an Oral Mandibular Advancement Appliance. The appliance keeps your airway open during the night by gently moving your lower jaw forward and holding it there while you sleep. The result is a completely unobstructed airway, allowing you to breathe freely and sleep fully throughout the night.
Many people prefer the Oral Mandibular Advancement Appliance over the CPAP because it is more comfortable, more portable, and much easier to maintain.
If you suffer from sleep apnea, don’t worry! Wearing a CPAP isn’t the only solution! It’s time for you to discover Sleep Dentistry and what an Oral Mandibular Advancement Appliance can do for you. It’s time to call Dr. Paul Dionne at Glen Ridge Dental Arts, serving residents of Glen Ridge, and Montclair, New Jersey. Call today!