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Posts for: November, 2020

By Signature Smiles, LLC
November 26, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea   snoring   diabetes  

One in ten Americans has diabetes, a serious condition that may increase the development and severity of other health problems—including gum disease. Because of this latter connection, dental providers join other health professionals during November's National Diabetes Month to call attention to this chronic disease and its effect on health and well-being.

There's another health condition with a diabetes connection that isn't as well known: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It's also of keen interest to dental providers, as dentists are often involved in the discovery and treatment of this common sleep disorder.

OSA is the temporary blockage of the airway during sleep by the tongue or other anatomical structures. The subsequent drop in oxygen awakens the body to remove the obstruction. People with OSA may not realize they have the condition, but their bed partner can often attest to their snoring, snorting and gasping for breath during the night. Such episodes can occur several times per night, depriving the person of sufficient sleep.

Chronic OSA can contribute to the development of other health problems, among them Type 2 diabetes. It can do this first by interfering with the metabolization of glucose (blood sugar). It may also increase the body's resistance to insulin, the primary hormone regulating glucose.

Fortunately, properly managing OSA can lower your risk for diabetes, and that's where dentists may be able to help. For one thing, we dentists are often the first to notice early signs of OSA—sometimes even before our patients do.

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, as many as 80% of the estimated 22 million Americans with OSA may not know they have it. But dentists often identify OSA indicators while examining patients: signs like an enlarged tongue or tonsils, or patients falling asleep in the exam chair. While we can't formally diagnose OSA, we often refer symptomatic patients to a sleep specialist.

Dentists also offer an alternative to the most common OSA therapy, which is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This therapy employs a motorized pump that delivers pressurized air into the throat via face mask to keep the airway open during sleep. Although effective, some people find a CPAP machine noisy and uncomfortable to use.

Alternatively, dentists can provide an oral device that can often help patients with mild to moderate OSA that's worn in the mouth during sleep. Most of the various types of these appliances either reposition the lower jaw with a hinge mechanism to keep the throat open or pull the tongue away from the airway through a suction effect.

Diabetes is one part of a chain reaction that can bring unexpected challenges to your health, including to your teeth and gums. You can slow or even stop its development with proper diet, exercise and good, restful sleep. Dealing with OSA is often part of that equation—and we may be able to help.

If you would like more information about the prevention and treatment of diabetes, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea.”

By Signature Smiles, LLC
November 24, 2020
Category: Cosmetic Dentistry
Tags: veneers  

Dental veneers employ a simple and effective method to correct any tooth issues and transform your smile. They are comprised of wafer-thin sheaths that be bonded to the outer surface of the front teeth to cover stains and flaws and correct gaps and misalignment. They are made of porcelain and are strong and long-lasting. They are also resistant to stains. Dr. Carmela LaFalce is a dentist at Signature Smiles in Toms River, NJ. She specializes in cosmetic dentistry including veneers.

What Type of Issues Can Veneers Correct?
Toms River, NJ dental patients can use porcelain dental veneers to correct the following dental problems:

  • Gaps between the teeth
  • Crooked teeth
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Stained or discolored teeth
  • Teeth with chips or cracks
  • Teeth that are too small or too large
  • Misshapen teeth

If you have teeth that are already worn due to grinding or acid reflux, dental veneers can also be used to strengthen your teeth and restore them to their natural shape and size.

Veneers are Built to Last
Porcelain veneers are very durable and designed to last for 10-15 years, which gives them a longer lifespan than composite fillings. This means that veneers will give you peace of mind knowing that your smile will last for years to come. Just like your natural teeth, the better care your take of veneers, the longer they will last.

Cleaning and Maintenance is Easy
Keeping your veneers in good shape is as simple as caring for your natural teeth. Just remember to brush at least twice daily and to floss at least once each day. You don’t have to change your normal oral hygiene routine.

Getting Veneers is Simple
Have veneers fitted is a quick and easy process. Typically, it takes just a few brief visits to your dentist and about four weeks to complete the whole process from your initial examination and having impressions of your teeth taken, to have your permanent veneers fitted.

If you would like to find out more about how you could benefit from dental veneers, call Dr. LaFalce today at (732) 244-4114 to request an appointment.

By Signature Smiles, LLC
November 16, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: fluoride  

For over half a century now, community water systems have been adding fluoride to drinking water to help reduce the risk of tooth decay. Numerous long-term studies have demonstrated the soundness of this practice, prompting the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to call water fluoridation one of the ten most effective public health measures of the 20th Century.

In the 1960s, after years of study into the teeth-strengthening effects of fluoride, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that drinking water utilities add fluoride at a rate of between 0.7 and 1.20 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm) of water. This recommendation held fast until 2015 when the service changed the recommendation to no more than 0.7 mg/L.

Why the change to guidelines that had been in place for over fifty years? The revision was in response to an increasing occurrence of dental fluorosis. This condition happens when the teeth absorb more fluoride than necessary, leading to discoloration of the surface enamel, creating effects like small white spots or brownish “mottling.”

Dental fluorosis is the only known health condition caused by fluoride. As such, it doesn't damage the tooth itself, and is mainly a cosmetic problem. But it can still be avoided if fluoride intake is kept at moderate levels.

The original recommendation was sound science when first introduced. Since then, though, the prevalence of fluoride in everyday life has grown, with the chemical commonly found in dental care products like toothpastes or mouthrinses, as well as many processed foods and beverages and even infant formula. Our society's overall intake of fluoride has been growing as a result.

The new recommendation came after several years of research to verify water fluoridation levels of 0.7 mg/L would still be effective in the fight against tooth decay while lowering the risk of dental fluorosis. With this adjustment, this important and safe measure for keeping your family's teeth protected against disease is safer than ever.

If you would like more information on how fluoride can help your family fight tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.

By Signature Smiles, LLC
November 10, 2020
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: Filling  

Fillings can correct teeth damaged by decay. Teeth that are infected or damaged are often too weak to perform routine biting and chewing functions without pain or sensitivity. Fillings strengthen and restore those teeth so normal functioning can resume. Dr. Carmela LaFalce, the skilled dentist at Signature Smiles in Toms River, NJ, can correct your problem teeth with dental fillings.

Types of Fillings

Fillings can be made from a variety of materials, including metal, porcelain, and glass. Types of metal fillings include cast gold and silver amalgam. Metal fillings are extremely strong and long-lasting, but they are more noticeable since they do not readily blend in with the teeth. Tooth-colored fillings are a more discreet option, although some types can be a bit brittle and not as strong as metal fillings. Tooth-colored fillings can be made from porcelain, glass ionomer, or a composite blend of plastic and glass.

Signs a Filling is Needed

A dental filling is needed when a tooth develops a cavity, which is a small hole caused by decay. In addition to strengthening and restoring damaged teeth, correcting your tooth with a filing also stops infection and decay from spreading to other areas of the tooth or its root. When infection and decay penetrate to the center of a tooth or the canals of the root, then root canal treatment could be needed.

When a tooth needs a filling, several signs can develop. See the dentist at our office in Toms River if you develop any of the following signs:

  • A persistent toothache
  • A visible hole in the tooth
  • Pain when biting into food
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold items
  • Changes in the color of the tooth
  • Sensitivity to sweets

Correcting your tooth with a filling can strengthen the tooth, restore normal biting and chewing functions, and prevent infection or decay from spreading. Pain and sensitivity should also subside. Dr. LaFalce can determine if your tooth needs a filling. To schedule an appointment with our experienced dentist, call Signature Smiles in Toms River, NJ, at (732) 244-4114.

By Signature Smiles, LLC
November 06, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: dental injuries  

Parents love watching their kids grow up, from those early wobbly steps to their first solo car drive. Of course, you can expect a few mishaps along the way, most of which won't leave them worse for wear. But some risks are just too hazardous to ignore—including the potential for dental injuries.

Each year, one in ten children suffers a traumatic dental injury, many of which require extensive treatment. That's why during National Child Safety and Prevention Month in November, we're highlighting areas of risk for pediatric dental injuries, and how you can prevent them.

That risk changes depending on a child's stage of development. Teething infants, for example, relieve gum pressure by gnawing on things. Make sure, then, that you have items for teething made of cloth or soft plastic, and keep harder items that could damage their gums and emerging teeth out of reach.

Toddlers learning to walk encounter numerous injury opportunities, like a fall that lands them face first on a hard surface. You can reduce this risk by moving tables and other hard furniture out of your child's travel paths, covering sharp edges with padding, or simply isolating your child from home areas with hard furniture.

Pay attention also during bath time. Wet porcelain is notoriously slippery even for adults, and possibly more so for a child. A sudden slip in the bathtub could cause a mouth injury, so encourage your child not to stand until it's time to get out.

School-aged children face another set of perils to their mouth from outside play. At this stage, your best preventive measure is teaching them to observe play safety: Make sure they know not to aim balls, frisbees or other play items at others' heads, and to be on the lookout for the same. You'll also want them to be safety-minded playing on swings, monkey bars or other playground equipment.

If your older kids take an interest in sports, particularly the contact variety, you'll want to protect them with an athletic mouthguard (and encourage them to wear it during both practice and regular games). You can purchase a mouthguard at any retail or sporting goods store, but the most protective and comfortable to wear are custom-made by a dentist. Although more expensive, they'll still cost less than treatment for a traumatic dental injury.

The wonderful adventure of childhood does have its risks, and some are more serious than others. By following these prevention tips, you can help your child avoid a dental injury that could rob them of a healthy mouth.

If you would like more information about childhood dental concerns, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Dentistry and Oral Health for Children” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”

Carmela LaFalce, DMD
Dentist - Toms River
616 Washington St
Toms River, NJ 08753

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