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Peter Samuels

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Snore much? Snoring isn't funny!

Posted by Peter Samuels on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 @ 11:09 AM

 

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Snoring is often one of the first symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea so don’t be surprised if your dentist asks if you snore.  If your dentist or hygienist notices evidence of tooth grinding sleep apnea may be suspected.

 

Snoring and Health Problems

While many see snoring as a mild problem, there is research showing that it could factor into some serious health conditions. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that snoring and associated apnea may be associated with artery damage and atherosclerosis. The study also presents the possibility that snoring and apnea is are factors in ischemic stroke. Snoring and sleep apnea can also cause a range of issues not directly related to one’s health including marital discord and daytime fatigue.

 

Using a Snoring Appliance

The common treatments for snoring and sleep apnea include the use of CPAP and dental appliances. The two major types of snoring appliances are mandibular advancement devices and tongue retaining devices. Mandibular advancement devices fit over the upper and lower dental arches and look similar to the mouth guards used by athletes; they work by pushing the lower jaw forward to keep the airway clear. Tongue retaining devices work by holding the tongue in the right position to keep the airway open. Both types of snoring appliances are especially useful for treating sleep apnea and snoring in patients who sleep on their back or stomach.

 

If you snore excessively, talk to your dentist about getting tested for sleep apnea and treatment options with a custom fitting dental appliance to suit your specific needs. If you already have been diagnosed, but are unable to tolerate CPAP, a dental sleep appliance may be just the ticket.  Often these appliances are covered by medical insurance.

 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of  Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555     GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Sleep Apnea Dentist: Treatment and Management Strategies

Posted by Peter Samuels on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 @ 12:09 PM

 

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While we may not automatically associate dentistry with healthy sleep, sleep apnea dentists have effective treatments for this debilitating disorder. Diagnosing sleep apnea requires a physician, though a qualified dentist can provide effective treatment and strategies that will make a positive impact on sleep apnea.

Identification of Sleep Apnea

  • According to the article A Dentist’s Role in Sleep Apnea, identifiable characteristics of sleep apnea include morning headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability and impaired mental or emotional functioning, excessive snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, insomnia, and waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat.
  • To ascertain if the above mentioned symptoms could be sleep apnea, there is a Google application Sleep Bot that will monitor your sounds and movements as you sleep. While a smart phone application can help identify your sleep behavior, it is still important to discuss your sleep pattern data with a physician or your dentist.

Coping With Sleep Apnea

The Mayo Clinic

  • recommends simple common sense measures to address sleep apnea, including weight loss, improving healthy sleep, regular moderate exercise, and limited or no alcohol use.
  • While sleeping pills and tranquilizers can break patterns of insomnia, they also aggravate sleep apnea and ought to be used with discretion.
  • Smoking exacerbates sleep apnea, so if you suffer from this dangerous sleep disorder, consider quitting. Giving up smoking will have a positive impact on sleep apnea management.
  • During the daytime hours, notice if you are tightening your jaw and clenching your teeth together. When you notice this strain in your mouth and jaw, take a moment to relax your neck and shoulder and drop your jaw. You can even gently stretch your jaw, in a yawning position, for further relief. When you lay down to sleep, make sure you are not clenching your teeth and once again drop and relax your jaw while breathing. Relaxing your jaw, in this manner, will also keep your upper and lower teeth separate, therefore you are less likely to grind your teeth.
  • Side sleeping is the best position to avoid loss of breath during the night. If you can only fall asleep on your back, consider a wedge type pillow to elevate your head slightly.
  • If sleep apnea is serious, your dentist may be able to fashion a dental device for sleep apnea. “A dental appliance for sleep apnea, which looks similar to an athletic mouth guard, repositions the jaw and tongue to improve airflow.”

For further questions about sleep apnea, feel free to contact us.

Topics: gettysburg sleep apnea

Root Canal: 4 Common Myths

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 @ 06:09 AM

 

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When it comes to dreaded treatments at the dental office, most fearful patients rank root canals at the top of their list. Much of the fear associated with root canal therapy, however, is likely due to misconceptions. Let's consider some of the most persistent myths regarding root canal therapy:

I'll definitely know if I need a root canal. Most patients mistakenly assume that if they're not in severe pain, they certainly don't need root canal therapy. It's true that tooth pain sometimes indicates the need for a root canal, but that's not always the case. In fact, some patients who need a root canal have no pain at all because the nerve in the affected tooth has died. Yet the tooth still needs treatment, as a dead tooth in the mouth can lead to infection.

Root canals are painful. In the minds of fearful patients, root canal therapy and pain go hand in hand. In fact, it's often the fear of pain that results in anxious patients avoiding dental treatment for years at a time. Indeed, root canal therapy likely was painful in the past, before modern dental treatments were commonplace. Modern dentistry has come a long way and most patients report that root canal therapy is not painful at all. It’s more like just getting a filling.

Root canal treatment isn't a long-term fix. Some patients avoid root canal therapy, reasoning that it's just a temporary fix that will need to be addressed again down the road. However, dentists consider root canal treatment a long-term restorative solution. Of course, no dental restoration lasts forever, but if  the patient practices good oral hygiene, the benefits of root canal therapy can save a tooth for many years.

Extraction is a better choice. If the tooth is severely damaged anyway, isn't extraction a better option than restoration?  Yes, sometimes extraction of a tooth and replacement with a dental implant is an alternative.  Every situation is different and the options should be discussed with your dentist.  Extraction of a tooth without replacement can result in bone loss and shifting of the bite.  Even with the advent of alternatives such as dental implants, root canal treatment to save a tooth is still often the best alternative.

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of  Maryland School of Dentistry.

GettysburgFamilyDentist.com      717-334-0555

Topics: Root Canal Treatment

What's up with my Gums?

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 @ 10:07 AM

 

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Periodontal disease or periodontitis is a condition involving the infection of the gums. It can destroy the soft tissue attachments around teeth and, ultimately, cause the supporting bone to melt away. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, and may place you at increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

What are the symptoms of periodontitis?

Periodontitis can make itself known by swollen, tender, bleeding, reddish or purplish gums. Gums infected with the disease can seem to recede, causing the teeth to seem more prominent than normal. Spaces can also appear between the teeth. In some some cases changes in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together can occur. Pus may ooze between the teeth and gum. People with periodontitis can also have a bad taste in their mouths and bad breath.

What causes periodontitis?

Periodontitis is caused when plaque (the sticky film of bacteria) is left on teeth for too long. The plaque, in due course, gets between the teeth and gums and hardens in the form of tartar. Everyone has some plaque, but plaque can build up quickly from sugary foods and drinks.  At this point, the mildest form of the disease, caused gingivitis, begins to irritate and inflame the part of the gum that is around the base of the teeth. If left unchecked, gingivitis becomes full-bore periodontitis as more plaque, tartar, and bacteria forms in pockets between the gum and teeth. At this point, the soft tissue and bone begin to be destroyed, resulting in possible loss of teeth.

How does one prevent periodontitis?

It seems like a cliché imparted in every dentist’s office on the planet, but regular brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent any kind of disease of the teeth and gums. Plaque constantly builds up, so it constantly needs to be brushed and flossed away.

Why are people who have periodontitis more at risk for heart disease and strokes?

Researchers have noted that periodontitis makes one more prone to heart disease and strokes. The theory is that the same bacteria that destroys the gums and underlying bones can travel through the bloodstream and attach themselves on the plaque in blood vessels. This, in turn, causes inflammation and the creation of clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. Also, people with periodontitis may have compromised immune systems that can also lead to cardiovascular disease.

How is periodontitis treated?

Your dentist will perform the diagnosis based evaluation of pockets between the gums and the teeth and bone level on x-rays. If it is determined you have periodontitis, you may be referred to a periodontist (gum specialist) or if the disease has not progressed too far, you may be treated conservatively.

Scaling and root planing will be used to remove plaque and tartar from beneath the gums. You may be prescribed a course of antibiotics.

If your periodontitis is advanced, a number of surgical procedures are available to reduce the pockets where bacteria have grown and to restore, to some extent, the soft tissue and bone that have been destroyed by the disease.

Whatever your dentist recommends, you will be advised to begin a rigorous regimen of tooth brushing and flossing, preferably after every meal. Periodontal disease often cannot be cured, but, just like high blood pressure, it can usually be controlled through excellent home care and professional periodontal cleanings three or four times a year.

 

Peter J. Samuels is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555   GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Topics: Periodontal Disease

Dental Implants.  What the big deal?

Posted by Peter Samuels on Wed, Jul 6, 2016 @ 13:07 PM

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Over the years. there have been many advancements in preventative dentistry. Unfortunately, despite best efforts, there are still those who suffer from missing or broken teeth. There are solutions that include fixed bridges held in by natural teeth, removable dentures, and dental implants. Each of these options has their pros and cons, however, dental implants have certain advantages the others lack. 

Let's start with talking about how dental implants work. Implants can include a stand-alone tooth replacement, a fixed bridge to replace several teeth, or removable dentures held solidly in place with implants. The actual implant is a titanium fixture that replaces the root of a tooth. An abutment then connects a dental prosthetic, like a crown or a denture, to the implant. While the implant is permanent, the prosthetic is fixed or removable depending on the circumstances.

The benefits of implants include:

  • It can last longer than other solutions. With proper care, implants can last a lifetime.
  • Unlike removable dentures that sit on top of gums or crowns and bridges held in by natural teeth, implants bond to the jawbone and prevent the bone from melting away.
  • Implants do not require damaging natural teeth. Unlike fixed bridgework, adjacent teeth are not used to support implants.
  • Dental implants have the same look and feel as natural teeth, allowing you to comfortably eat your favorite foods.
  • Since stand-alone implants work just like your normal teeth, you can brush and floss like normal, helping to keep the remaining teeth healthy.
  • You can’t get cavities in a dental implant!

While dental implants seem to have just become popular recently, they have existed for more than 40 years. The procedure is now one of the gold standards for tooth replacement. All surgical procedures have some measure of risk, but the benefits of dental implants usually are far greater than the potential risks and are usually a better option than other solutions. 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

GettysburgFamilyDentist.com   717-334-0555

Topics: dental implants Gettysburg

How do I know I'm going to an up-to-date dentist?

Posted by Peter Samuels on Mon, Jun 6, 2016 @ 12:06 PM

 

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Sometimes there is a bit of a time travel shock for people who haven’t been to a modern dental office for awhile.  Just like all areas of medicine, technology has changed exponentially.  Here are a few things to look for.

Digital X-Rays

Digital X-rays are one of the latest and safest X-ray techniques used in the industry today. It uses a flat sensor or pad rather than X-ray film, which enables the dentist to immediately send the image into a computer where it can be printed, stored or viewed. This enables the dentist to catch small changes in the teeth sooner and to implement more effective treatment plans while using much less exposure than conventional X-rays.

Gum Treatments and Cavity Detection with Lasers

Periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss. It has also been associated with other serious diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Modern dentists are much more proactive about treating gum problems in the earliest stage possible.  They look for signs of new or recurring infection at every cleaning appointment and are able to quickly act to turn things around with conservative, non surgical treatments. Laser technology helps detect cavities in the pits of teeth invisible to the eye.  We can catch decay earlier and remove it conservatively.

Sterile, Wrapped Dental Instruments

The up to date dental professional understands and utilizes the latest methods for the cleaning and sterilization of re-usable dental instruments. He or she uses wrapped systems that allow the sterilization agent to penetrate the instruments, and maintain their sterility after the process. Every instrument in a modern office is sterilized in an autoclave!

Low Noise Dental Handpieces

Gone are the days of the shrill, high pitched sound of the dental drill that so many dental patients feared.  Modern handpieces are low-noise to gently remove dental decay.

Digital Dental Work

Crowns, bridges, veneers, onlays have become high tech.  The tooth can often be scanned with a wand, sent digitally to a hi tech dental lab, and processed into beautiful, life-like, accurate restorations that are bonded in place.  Sometimes, using CAD CAM technology, crowns can even be made by a robot like machine right in the dental office.

Anesthestic

Athough people still refer to it as “Novacaine” that anesthetic actually has not been used for years.  Modern dentist have a variety of fast acting anesthetics to choose from.  They work much quicker, provide more numbness, and often wear off much more quickly than in the past.  Sedation dentistry is often available and has become safe and affordable.

Insurance

Insurance used to be complicated and time consuming. Computerized offices are able to file claims electronically, cutting down on the complicated paperwork patients used to have to go through.  Claims are processed immediately to maximize benefits. 

Overall, seeing today’s modern dentist with the latest equipment and techniques can transform one's visit into an easy and comfortable, dental health care experience.

 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555 GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Wisdom Teeth 101

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, May 10, 2016 @ 11:05 AM

 

 

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While few people likely look forward to having their wisdom teeth removed, it's become a rite of passage of sorts for people in their late teens and early twenties. Still, there are a lot of misconceptions about what exactly wisdom teeth are, who needs to have them removed, and why they need to be removed. Let's attempt to clear up some of the confusion below.

What are wisdom teeth?

Although their name sounds somewhat mysterious, wisdom teeth are actually the third set of molars. Their name derives from the fact that they come in so late-- typically in the late teenage years or even in the early twenties. Thus, people are thought to be "wiser" by the time this third-- and final-- set of molars arrive.

Is removal really necessary?

Wisdom teeth removal is not always necessary. In fact, these third molars can be beneficial if they're healthy and properly aligned. However, removal is quite common due to a variety of factors, including:

  • Misalignment. Unfortunately, wisdom teeth frequently come in at odd angles, damaging nearby teeth and potentially even damaging nerves.
  • Impacted teeth. Wisdom teeth are also commonly impacted, or embedded in the gums or jawbone. Impacted teeth can damage adjacent healthy teeth and can grow cysts.  Impacted teeth that are partially exposed through the gum often become infected and painful.
  • Limited space. Although a couple of extra teeth may seem like no big deal, some people simply don't have room in their mouths for wisdom teeth.

What's the removal procedure like?

Your oral surgeon will usually remove impacted wisdom teeth under general anesthesia so that you don't experience any pain. How complex the surgery is depends on how many wisdom teeth you need to have removed and whether or not they're impacted. When wisdom teeth are impacted, an incision must be made into the gums in order to reach the teeth. When the teeth have already erupted-- either partially or fully-- removal is sometimes relatively simple.

What if I Wait Till I’m Older?

If third molars should be removed, then generally the younger you are the easier it is.  Complications with healing go up significantly with age.

What can I expect during recovery?

During the recovery period, you should expect some swelling, which can minimized with the use of ice packs. You should also take any medication prescribed to you by your oral surgeon as directed. While your mouth recovers, stick to soft foods and make sure to stay hydrated. Stay away from hard or crunchy foods and avoid smoking during recovery.

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555  GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Wisdom Teeth

Gettysburg Dentist and Dental Emergencies

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, May 3, 2016 @ 10:05 AM

 

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Dental emergencies are urgent dental concerns that need to be taken care of immediately. Waiting a few weeks-- or even a few days-- can mean the difference between saving a tooth and losing a tooth. But what exactly is considered a dental emergency? Let's consider four examples below:

Missing filling. Sometimes, fillings-- and particularly old fillings-- fall out and need to be replaced. Most of the time they fall out for a reason.  Decay has occurred and the filling has failed.  When this happens, it's a good idea to contact your dental office immediately and let them know you lost a filling. Your dentist will usually be able to get you in right away to at least put something temporary on the tooth to prevent further damage and bacteria infiltration.

Lost crown. Occasionally, dental crowns can fall out. If possible, save the dislodged crown and bring it with you to your dentist's office. Often the old crown can be easily re-cemented.  But don’t wait too long!  Even a few days without the crown in place can mean the old crown no longer fitting properly. 

Dislodged tooth. If your tooth becomes dislodged-- either partially or completely-- contact your dental office and tell them you need to be seen immediately. If the tooth is replaced within an hour of becoming dislodged, it has the best chance of surviving.

Chipped tooth. It's not uncommon to chip or break a tooth; this frequently happens due to sports-related injuries or even chewing on hard candy. If possible, save all of the pieces of the damaged tooth and contact your dentist immediately.  The sooner a dentist can at least place something temporary on the broken tooth the better.   In the meantime, if the tooth chipped to trauma, try to minimize swelling by using an ice pack on the face immediately outside of the affected area.

Dental Infections. Swelling of the jaw or face due to a dental infection should never be taken lightly.  If left untreated it could potentially land you in the hospital.  If you cannot be seen immediately by a dentist it may be wise to go to an emergency room for evaluation.

 

Peter J. Samuels, DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555        GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Ask Your Gettysburg Dentist about Abscessed Teeth

Posted by Peter Samuels on Sun, Apr 24, 2016 @ 15:04 PM

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There are a number of causes of toothache, including decay, injury, sinus problems, and even clenching or grinding. An abscessed tooth-- which is an infection that occurs in the pulp of the tooth and can then spread to the bone and tissues surrounding the tooth root, can be a serious dental emergency that needs prompt treatment.

Symptoms

Could you possibly have an abscessed tooth? Only your dentist can tell you for sure, but consider the following symptoms:

  • Tooth pain If you have persistent, severe pain that wakes you up at night an abscessed tooth might be the cause.
  • Fever. An abscessed tooth is an infection, so the body may respond with a fever.
  • Swollen gums. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of gum discomfort. An abscessed tooth, however, can also cause swollen, red, and tender gums. Sometimes, an open, draining sore on the gums will also be present.
  • Foul-smelling breath. While there are many causes of halitosis, persistent, foul-smelling breath can be indicative of an abscessed tooth. Likewise, a bitter taste in the mouth should prompt further investigation.
  • No Symptoms. Surprisingly, many abscessed teeth do not hurt at all.  Pain from an abscessed tooth is caused by pressure building up in the bone. If the infection finds a place to drain or dissipate, there may be no pain.  Signs of an abscess can show up on a routine dental x-ray, usually as a dark shadow above the root tip.

Prevention

The main culprit behind an abscessed tooth is severe tooth decay. Your best line of defense against developing an abscessed tooth is good oral hygiene, including:

  • Regular brushing. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, and more often if you've been indulging in sugary snacks or carb-loaded food.
  • Flossing. Brushing alone is not enough. Flossing is an important part of good oral hygiene; floss can reach the areas between the teeth where food particles and bacterial plaque get trapped.
  • Preventive care. Visiting your dentist for check-ups, professional cleanings and fluoride treatments is a vital part of maintaining a healthy smile. It’s the only way to catch cavities when they are small before the decay gets close to the pulp and can cause a dental abscess. 

 

Peter J. Samuels is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

717-334-0555   GettysburgFamilyDentist.com

Topics: Dentist Gettysburg, Absessed tooth

Gettysburg Dentist Debunks Dental Myths

Posted by Peter Samuels on Tue, Apr 5, 2016 @ 17:04 PM

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Millions of Americans have fear, stress, or anxiety associated with going to the dentist. In extreme cases, the fear is so profound that it's classified as dental phobia. Often, this fear is intensified by a belief in several common dental myths. Let's examine some of the most prevalent myths concerning dental care and the truth behind the misconceptions:

If I don't eat sugar, I won't get cavities. Cutting sugar from your diet isn't necessarily a bad idea, but it's also not a surefire guarantee that you'll live a cavity-free life. That's because cavities are caused by acid that's produced by harmful bacteria in the mouth. Any type of carb you eat provides fuel for the acid-producing bacteria. This doesn't mean that you have to live a carb-free life, either; it simply means that you should attempt to eat a balanced diet and make an effort to brush your teeth after a carb-filled meal. 

If I brush my teeth, I don't need to floss.  Many people believe that, as long as they're brushing their teeth twice a day, they're in the clear. That is simply not the case. Flossing is not an optional part of your oral hygiene routine; it's an essential part. Floss can reach between the teeth where the toothbrush misses, releasing food particles and bacterial plaque that could lead to decay.

I'll know if I have a cavity because it will hurt. Sometimes, people avoid the dentist for years, reasoning that they can't possibly have a cavity because their teeth don't hurt. While cavities can be painful, pain typically occurs after the cavity has grown and progressed. Thus, you can have a small cavity with no pain at all. That's why it's essential to visit the dentist every 6 months; small cavities can be caught and treated with conservative bonding before they become bigger concerns.

Peter J. Samuels DDS is a local Gettysburg dentist and a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

GettysburgFamilyDentist.com                   717-334-0555

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