All posts by kpecoraro

10 Myths About Sleep

Adults sometimes like to “brag” about how little sleep they get when working on a project or “pulling an all-nighter”. Instead of congratulating them, it might be best to double check their work. Research by Robbins and her colleagues combed through 8,000 websites to discover what we thought we knew about healthy sleep habits and then presented those beliefs to a hand-picked team of sleep medicine experts. They determined which were myths and then ranked them by degree of falsehood and importance to health.

We sleep about 1/3rd of our lives and science still can’t find a “reason” why we do. It’s such a fascinating cascade of chemistry, feedback loops and brain activity that still baffles science. There are still mysteries that our Creator uses to prove this stuff couldn’t just ‘evolve’ in my opinion. Sleep is one of those mysteries.

Look through these 10 false myths and see which ones you might want to change in your routine…

1. Adults need five or fewer hours of sleep.

“If you wanted to have the ability to function at your best during the day, resist illness better, be mentally strong, how many hours do you have to sleep?” This was the question asked by the senior study investigator Girardin Jean-Louis, a professor in the Department of Population Health and sleep research. The articles suggest 7-10 hours is optimal. There is a lot of research showing that less than 5 hours of sleep per night – over time – increases our risks for stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, and fatal car accidents or work accidents.

Other symptoms that can develop with chronic sleep deprivation (that don’t always reverse with adding back sleep) include; high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, weight gain, a lack of libido, mood swings, paranoia, depression and a higher risk of diabetes, stroke, dementia and some cancers.

2. It’s healthy to be able to fall asleep ‘anywhere, anytime’.

Falling asleep as soon as the car/train/airplane starts moving is not a sign of a well-rested person, sleep experts say. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

“Falling asleep instantly anywhere, anytime, is a sign that you are not getting enough sleep and you’re falling into ‘micro sleeps’ or ‘mini-sleep episodes’. It suggests your body is so exhausted that whenever it has a moment, it’s going to start to repay its sleep debt.”

You feel sleepy because of a buildup of a chemical called adenosine in the brain, which happens throughout the day. Sleeping soundly reduces that chemical (in some of the sleep stages that are disturbed in Sleep Apnea) so that when you wake up, the levels are at their lowest, and you feel refreshed. The longer you stay up at night, the less sleep you get and adenosine levels rise, creating what’s called a sleep debt.

Want to check your level of sleepiness? Take the Epworth Sleepiness Scale and if you’re worried, check in with a sleep doctor who can do more extensive testing in a sleep lab.

3. Your brain and body can adapt to less sleep.

People also believed that the brain and body could adapt and learn to function optimally with less sleep. That too is a myth, experts say. That’s because your body cycles through four distinct phases of sleep to fully restore itself.

Stage one is a light sleep and you are awakened easily. Your brain begins to send signals to disengage you from awaking in stage two, where you will spend most of your total sleep time. Stages three and four contain the deepest, most restorative sleep and the dreamy state of REM, or rapid eye movement sleep. Sleep Apnea and other medical conditions can prevent you from getting into REM (dream sleep) sleep.

“During REM, the brain is highly reactive,” Robbins said. “It almost looks like your brain is awake if we hook you up to two more electrodes and were able to monitor your brain waves.”

REM can occur any time during the sleep cycle, but on average, it starts about 90 minutes after you’ve fallen asleep. REM is when your body and brain are busy storing memories, regulating mood and learning. It’s also when you dream. Your muscles are temporarily paralyzed during REM sleep except for the heart, diaphragm, mouth, and ears, so you can’t act out your dreams and can be awoken if danger approaches.

Some people have night terrors – a sudden awaking where you feel “paralyzed” and unable to speak or move for a moment; this sudden waking from REM sleep is the reason. It takes a second or so for the brain to secrete the chemicals that “re-connect” the brain to the spinal cord and get signals to the motor muscles of the body.  

With normal sleep, you’ll go through several REM cycles, which take up about 25% of your total sleeping time. Typically the “last dream” of the night will be what’s remembered.

Stage 3 sleep, or “deep sleep”, our brain waves slow into what is called delta waves or slow-wave sleep. It’s the time when human growth hormone is released and memories are further processed. “The deeper stages of sleep are really important for generation of neurons, repairing muscle and restoring the immune system,” the author states.

4. Snoring, although annoying, is mostly harmless.

In your dreams, maybe. In fact, “loud, raucous snores interrupted by pauses in breathing” is a marker for sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, increases risk for heart attacks, atrial fibrillation, asthma, high blood pressure, glaucoma, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and cognitive and behavior disorders.

Using a CPAP machine or a Dental Sleep Appliance

“Sleep apnea doesn’t allow restful stages of sleep for the skeletal system or brain. Patients may sleep many hours but don’t get the proper sleep stages needed for restoration of the brain and body.

You wake up over and over; then they are fighting sleep all day long because they’re so exhausted. We believe it affects about 30% – 40% of the population, and around 10% are diagnosed.”

Children can have sleep apnea from allergies, enlarged tonsils or adenoids or imbalanced jaw growth that is a side effect of mouth breathing. If a child snores even one night per week, is hard to get them asleep or very hard to wake them in the morning, that is possibly a sign of sleep apnea. In children, it will affect the brain development and growth of the face, bite, and TMJ.

5. Drinking alcohol before bed helps you fall asleep.

Do you think a nightcap before bed will help you fall asleep and stay asleep? Dream on.

Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but that’s where the benefits end, the author states. Instead, it traps you in the lighter stages of sleep and “dramatically reduces the quality of your rest at night.” Metabolism of the alcohol continues to pull you out of rapid eye movement and the deeper stages of sleep where you get the feeling of a “good night’s sleep”.

6. Not sleeping? Stay in bed with eyes closed and try and try.

You have to admit, it makes sense: How can you fall asleep if you’re not in bed trying? Yet sleep experts say that continuing to count sheep for more than 15 minutes isn’t the smartest move.

Grinding and Clinching Teeth at night

“If we stay in bed, we’ll start to associate the bed with insomnia,” Robbins said. She equates it to “going to the gym and standing on a treadmill and not doing anything.”

In reality, Robbins said, it takes a healthy sleeper about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re tossing and turning much longer than that, you should get out of bed, change the environment and do something mindless: “Keep the lights low and fold socks,” she suggested.

Some people also believe that it’s just as refreshing to your body to lie in bed with eyes closed but not sleeping. Nope. That’s another pipe dream, experts say.

7. It doesn’t matter what time of day you sleep.

Sleep experts say that’s another myth that can negatively affect your health.

“We recommend that people have a regular sleep schedule because it controls what we call the biological clock, or circadian rhythm, of the body,” Jean-Louis said. “That controls all the hormones of the body, body temperature, eating and digestion, and sleep-wake cycles.”

When your inner clock and the outside world are out of phase, you can feel disoriented, mentally foggy and sleepy at times when you need to be functioning at optimal levels. Just think of what happens when you travel across time zones or when daylight savings time kicks in.

Studies of shift workers, who work unusual hours and live out of sync with their normal biological rhythm, show that they are at increased risk for heart disease, ulcers, depression, obesity and certain cancers, as well as a higher rate of workplace accidents and injuries due to a slower reaction rate and poor decision-making.

8. Watching TV in bed helps you relax.

Come on, we all do it — or we check our laptop or smartphone before we power down for the night. Not so.

“These devices emit bright blue light, and that blue light signals the pineal gland that it’s time to become alive and alert in the morning, because it is the nearly morning “color of light”. ”

According to the National Sleep Foundation, blue light affects the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone, more than any other wavelength of light. Watching TV or using an electronic device within two hours of bedtime means it will take you longer to fall asleep, you’ll have less dream state or REM sleep, and even if you do sleep eight or more hours, you’ll wake feeling groggy.

If you or your children can’t make that two-hour cutoff because of homework or late-night work demands, experts suggest dimming the brightness of the screen or installing an app that can warm the screen to the sunset colors. Red and yellow have higher wavelengths and don’t affect melatonin.

9. Hitting snooze is great! No need to get up right away.

Raise your hand if you hit the snooze button. Why not, right?

“Resist the temptation to snooze, because unfortunately, your body will go back to sleep — a very light, low-quality sleep,” says the author.

As you near the end of your sleep, your body is probably nearing the end of its last REM cycle. Hit that snooze button, and the brain falls right back into a new REM cycle. Now, when the alarm goes off a few minutes later, you’ll be in the middle, not the end, of that cycle, and you’ll wake up groggy and stay that way longer.

10. Remembering your dreams is a sign of good sleep.

“That’s a myth, because all of us do experience dreams four to five times a night, IF we are sleeping properly and going thought the full range of “sleep stages”” Jean-Louis said. “And we don’t remember because we’ve not woken up and disrupted our sleep.”

study out of France showed that people who frequently remember their dreams have higher brain activity in the information-processing hub of the brains. They also woke twice as often during the night and were more sensitive to sounds when sleeping and awake. This heightened “awakens” could be suggestive of obstructive sleep apnea or a Sleep Disorder typical of middle aged women called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome. The airway becomes hyper-sensitive to narrowing in deeper sleep and will trigger a subtle awaking throughout the night, often associated with clenching/grinding of your teeth. This repeated TMJ loading is frequently one of the triggers for TMJ disorders.

“Now, I will tell you if you have a dream with a strong emotional context, it may come back to you at say, two o’clock in the afternoon, when you have some downtime to relax,” Jean-Louis said. “Sometimes, something would trigger that. But if it is a weird little mundane dream, most of us who sleep well don’t remember those.”


The research team found more myths that we tend to accept as fact, Jean-Louis said, such as “more sleep is always better” (no, you really can sleep too much and harm your health), “taking a nap in the afternoon can fix insomnia” (actually, if you sleep long enough to enter a REM or deep sleep cycle, it can mess up your body clock even more), and “it’s better to have a warm than cool bedroom” (no, you sleep better in cooler temps).

Which means that we could all use a bit of education about good sleep hygiene, a set of habits to form that will set you up for a lifetime of healthy sleep. The National Sleep Foundation has tips, as does our website at WWW. TMJSLEEPSOLUTIONS.COM.

10 Myths About Sleep, By Sandee LaMotte, CNN, Updated 2:06 PM ET, Wed April 17, 2019.

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Why might I need a sleep study and how do I get one?

A sleep study would be indicated by consistent snoring, feeling unrested after a night’s sleep (frequently), clenching or grinding of the teeth (indicates a high probability of a sleep breathing disorder), or repeated waking throughout the night. Any treatment a Dentist might provide to diagnose or treat a sleep breathing problem, needs the patient’s physician to manage the process by written permission to the dentist.

If someone witnesses or hears you “stop breathing” or gasping, snorting, jerking awake, it’s almost certain that you have Sleep Apnea. There are several ways to evaluate if you have, or the severity of, a sleep-breathing disorder.

PSG: Polysomnogram:

A very sophisticated evaluation of your entire physiologic and neurologic system during sleep. This is important in cases where patients may have several health conditions that might be related to or affected by Sleep Apnea. It’s the best diagnostic test.

Home Sleep Test:

A much simpler evaluation of basic parameters of Sleep Apnea in healthier patients. It can measure heart rate, breathing pauses, oxygen saturation, some can assess basic brain waves too. These are often used to evaluate the effectiveness of Dental Sleep Appliances after the initial Sleep Evaluation was done.

Pulse Oximetry:

Basically, a medical-grade “Fit Bit” with better accuracy. Not often used and doesn’t pick up much data.

If you mention snoring or fatigue to your Physician, they may not suggest having a sleep study. A dentist trained in TMJ or Dental Sleep Medicine can identify oral and other facial features, historical information and 3D imaging evaluations that would strongly suggest the need for a sleep study.

A sleep study must be ordered by a Physician because of the wide-ranging medical problems that Sleep Apnea can directly cause or contribute to such as:

  1. Hypertension
  2. A-Fib
  3. Heart Attack Risk Factor
  4. Stroke
  5. Frequent Urination Overnight
  6. Clenching/Grinding of Teeth
  7. TMJ Damage from Clenching/Grinding
  8. Neck Pain or Stiffness
  9. Nighttime Headaches/Migraines
  10. Feeling of Fatigue Despite Sleeping 7-8 Hours

A simple “pulse oximetry” test, or information from your “Fit Bit”, may miss critical information that could identify some of these risks based on your medical history and exam by your physician. Most of these conditions are out of the scope, licensure, and experience of Dentist’s to evaluate.

Over my years, we have seen patients who had heart conditions, blood pressure spikes (stroke risk) during sleep that weren’t picked up in their normal medical visits.

For a dentist to provide a Sleep Study, we must contact the Physician and get a written order to dispense a home unit or pulse ox. Dentist’s aren’t legally permitted to diagnose or test for, fabricate a “Snoring” or “Sleep Apnea” appliance without a written prescription from the patient’s Physician or Sleep Physician, which we always obtain.

Snoring IS a form of sleep disorder and must be approached as such.

In our practice, we have different sleep study devices that can be used to assess for the presence of a sleep breathing disorder or assess the success of a Dental Sleep Appliance in treating Sleep Apnea, snoring or other sleep-breathing problems involving oral appliances.

I always notify the patient’s Physician and discuss my findings that would suggest evaluation of a sleep breathing condition. The Physician makes the decision on the type of study that is done.

We work with many physicians and can provide fast, easy, home screenings with physicians written RX of patients we see to for TMJ or facial pain conditions, if indicated.

Contact us today for more information.

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Bruxism: The Clench and Grind

I’ve written in the past on this topic, which is controversial in the literature for both adults and children. With parafunctions such as bruxism, there isn’t any way to engage in research based study because no two subjects have the same characteristics, bite or other factors considered to be pre-disposing to bruxism.

In children and adults, there are known relationships between sleep disordered breathing/TMJ damage and clenching or bruxing; however, there is no way to have a “double blind” study to come to a definitive reason “why do people clench or brux their teeth”.

Contracting the jaw muscles, whether by clenching or bruxing is known to “open the airway” in sleep apnea and often subsides when the apnea is treated. Likewise, a damaged/misaligned TMJ can contribute to grinding/clenching.

Over my 30 years of treating TMJ and Sleep apnea, I have seen the majority of patients who had initial complaints of bruxing/clenching and who were properly treated with orthopedic orthotics had a lessening or complete resolution of the bruxing.  Many of my colleagues who exclusively treat TMJ also see this response.

Dental nightguards sometimes lessen clenching or grinding, but more often exacerbate it. A dental nightguard has a different design and mechanical force on the TMJ than an orthopedic TMJ appliance. If you find you are clenching or grinding harder with your dental nightguard that would strongly suggest an underlying sleep breathing problem or TMJ damage that is being exacerbated.

If your current appliance is causing more problems with clenching/grinding, consider having a TMJ specialist evaluate the jaw joints, airway, and the design of your dental appliance to assess if it might be contributing to increased joint pressure or airway constriction, which could be part of the problem.

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Using earplugs to decrease gagging during dental impressions?

Many people have a heightened gag reflex due to many different reasons, making dental treatment difficult. For those “easy gaggers” and others, the thought of having Dental Impressions of the teeth is stressful because it can stimulate the gag reflex. This reflex is called Arnolds Reflex, named after Freidrich Arnold, an anatomy physician in Germany in the 1800’s.

The reflex arises from the auricular branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve and the vagus nerve which are part of a larger group of nerves that giving sensation and motor control to the throat muscles, among other functions.

In researching this reflex, it’s said that in man and animals a cough can only be induced by stimulation of a structure innervated by the vagus nerve or one of its branches. The auricular branch of the vagus nerve (Arnold’s nerve) gives sensation to the ear canal mainly the front, lower part. Some people with this heightened reflex may stimulate a “throat tickle or cough” when cleaning the ear canal.

Arnolds reflex is said to be present in about 1/3rd of a small sample and is nearly 4 times more common in women than men. In most areas of our skin, stimulation of the cutaneous nerves (such as with clothing, jewelry, watches) rapidly declines so that we aren’t irritated all day by it. The ear canal isn’t, so the sensory signal maintains its strength as a protective reflex as long as the stimulus is present.

In some people with a sensitive gag reflex, gentle stimulation of the ear canal (forward lower part) can be used to block the gag reflex during impression taking. This article suggests use of soft earplugs during impression taking. I have also had success with patients placing their pinky fingers in their ears (pads forward) during impressions. The added stimulus through Arnolds nerve (branch) can decrease the gag reflex in some patients during dental impression. It’s not a “guarantee” due to the complex nature of the neurology, but it’s an easy technique to try!

Forsch Komplementmed. 2014;21(2):94-8. doi: 10.1159/000362140. Epub 2014 Mar 28.

An earplug technique to reduce the gag reflex during dental procedures.

Cakmak YO1Ozdogmus OGünay YGürbüzer BTezulaş EKaspar ECHacıoglu H.

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Licorice instead of flossing?

As we learn more about the benefits of “nature’s medicines” that other cultures use successfully for some conditions, it makes sense to give a few a serious look due to the lack of side effects that most prescription drugs have.

It’s widely reported that oral diseases such as decay, gum disease, abscessed teeth, etc. are a significant source of morbidity across the world. Having disease free, comfortable teeth is important to proper eating. Especially in cultures that need to chew less refined food sources that we are accustomed to.

Licorice has many healing properties directly and from the metabolites of licorice that also shows beneficial secondary compounds. Licorice has properties that are well known to be antiviral, glucocorticoids (natural, powerful steroid compounds that have anti-inflammatory effects in the body- natural glucocorticoids work more effectively than laboratory-made ones), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, etc.

Liquorice has been labelled Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has been considered safe for human consumption provided it is consumed in small amounts and by individuals who are not sensitive to glycyrrhizin.  Overuse of liquorice can lead to hypokalemia (low potassium), hypertension, rhabdomyolysis (inflammatory muscle breakdown), muscle paralysis, respiratory impairment, hypertensive emergencies, hyperparathyroidism, among other conditions. These side effects are likely reported with excessive, unmonitored use of licorice. Most prescription medications have longer “side effect” profiles than beneficial effects when I actually read the labels!

Touyz et al. recommended that 250-500 mg of liquorice can be safely consumed up to three times a day for medicinal purposes. The licorice compound has both an anti-inflammatory effect in the mouth and the gum tissue by “inhibiting” the periodontal-disease bacteria from “sticking” to the teeth as effectively. Licorice also has an inhibitory effect on gum-disease-related bone loss.

Some over-counter “cold sore” topical medications contain licorice compounds that help shorten the duration of cold sores.

There are also many studies that are looking at the anti-oral cancer effect of licorice compounds, and show some promise.

So, have some black licorice every day (moderation) and know that it might be helpful to our general health as well as providing a “treat” to the taste buds! At this point it looks like brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist are still the best prevention for periodontal and dental disease…

(excerpts from article. Disclaimer; I recommend you consult with your physician before taking any significant licorice on a regular basis.)Following excerpt from article: Sigurjonsdottir et al. reported that consumption of doses as low as 50 gm/d for a period of 2 weeks can cause a rise in blood pressure [20]. According to the World Health Organization 100 mg/d of liquorice can be safely consumed without any ill effects, however the Dutch Nutrition Information Bureau limits the use of liquorice to 200 mg/d. In a study conducted by Sontai et al., 50% of the 14 study subjects consuming 100e200 mg/d of liquorice had to be prematurely withdrawn from the study due to hypokalemia or edema [21]. Studies have reported that liquorice metabolites can interfere with the pharmacological actions of conventional drugs)

  1. Ayurveda Integr Med. Oct 2018, Oct 31: Sidhu, et al.
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Why can’t I get to sleep?

In an article from the American Sleep Association they recommend some of the basics to start with such as avoiding caffeine for several hours before bedtime. They report that brainwave patterns during can continue to show effects of a double espresso coffee 16 hours after it was consumed! In the same study, the measurable level of caffeine spit showed the caffeine to be gone.

Caffeine is reported to be the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world. It’s followed by tea, pop, and energy drinks.

If you are having problems with insomnia, try to stop all caffeine by lunch-time for a couple weeks and see if your insomnia improves. Caffeine can also act by arousing you out of deeper sleep which may be noticed as you not feeling rested despite having slept for 7 or more hours without consciously waking up.

Besides caffeine, sleep breathing disorders (snoring, sleep apnea, Upper Airway Resistance) also affect sleep quality and depth. It can also leave you feeling unrested in the morning on a consistent basis. UARS is especially prevalent in pre-menopause and menopause. Hormones are protective against airway collapse and as they decrease, sleep breathing disorders tend to show up.

Typically sleep apnea is reported by bedpartners as loud snoring, pauses in breathing – sometimes with a gasp, jerks while sleeping, lack of dreaming, among other signs and symptoms. Women with UARS rarely snore or aren’t aware of waking throughout the night; they just feel unrested.

Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib, an abnormal heart rhythm) is associated with sleep apnea due to the interruptions in oxygen that irritate the heart muscle/blood flow. Drug resistant hypertension (high blood pressure) is also associated with sleep breathing disorders, especially in a single drug is ineffective at controlling your hypertension.

There is no identifiable reason or genetic link for sleep that can be found. Our bodies decay daily and our creator made a complex biochemical self-reboot mechanism to refresh our brains, bodies, and every system needed for being awake in every creature. It’s fascinating to learn about the small details of what sleep does and, the differences between men and women in some aspects of sleep.

If you’re having trouble with sleep, ask your physician about a sleep study, or see a sleep specialist. Dentists such as myself who are credentialed in Dental Sleep medicine work closely with physicians to get people screened and treated for their sleep disorders. Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) is an effective and easy option for the treatment of Sleep Apnea at any level of severity as well as some other sleep breathing disorders for those who don’t want to use CPAP.

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Can A Panorex Dental X-ray Detect TMJ Problems?

Yes and no.

TMJ problems such as slipped discs (clicking or popping noises) or complete disc dislocation (can’t open your mouth very far) doesn’t always show up on radiographs until the condition has been going on for a few weeks, months or even years.

Clicking, popping or locking of a jaw joint happens when the cartilage disc or cushion has been torn off the bone. The noise is the cartilage disc getting pushed around in the joint.

Knees and spinal discs can make noise and still be in place. The noises in other joints are typically caused by compression of air that is in the cartilage in other body joints. The TMJ is the only joint with a disc that is fibrocartilage, unlike the rest of the body. It shouldn’t and doesn’t click or pop in normal movements. Any consistent noises in your TMJ indicate significant, permanent damage.

When the disc is out of place, the bones in the TMJ may rub together. Over time this causes arthritis, changes in the joint position (that cause your bite to feel uneven). The muscles around the jaw and neck also tighten, as a protective reflex. The reflex adds more pressure to the damaged TMJ and accelerates the arthritic damage.

TMJ’s can have varying degrees of arthritic damage that may not be seen on standard dental panoramic radiographs. [1] Experienced TMJ specialists can detect TMJ problems on standard panoramic imaging however, cone beam imaging is considered “standard of care” for TMJ diagnosis and treatment, sometimes in conjunction with MRI (if surgery is being considered).

Clinical measurement of TMJ mobility, palpation of the joints both lateral and posterior can provide a high degree of accuracy for disc displacement but not arthritic changes or misalignment.

Virtually all non-traumatic TMJ pathology stems from an unequal growth of the upper and lower jaws, typically influenced to the negative by enlarged tonsils, adenoids, short lingual frenum, and the associated Myofunctional problems that develop because of all of these factors.

Medical doctors aren’t familiar with the subtle signs of altered growth, pre-clinical TMJ compression, etc., and rarely recommend screening by a TMJ specialist until obvious symptoms or signs are present.

If your jaw joints make noise, don’t move well or lock, or if you feel a shift in your bite, you likely have a TMJ problem developing. It may take time to become obvious, but the damage is progressive and never “fixes itself”.

Early intervention offers the best opportunity for a more stable rehabilitation.

[1] Diagnostic accuracy of panoramic radiography & MRI… AGD General Dentistry, July/Aug 2018. Kaimal, et al.

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Can gum disease be contributing factor in Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

Increasing research is saying “YES”.

Some of the aggressive Spirochetes that are found in patients “infected gums” are also found in the central nervous systems (Brain) of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

These spirochetes can “hide” from your immune system once inside the brain and may not show up as an infection or cause a fever or other common symptoms.

The viruses are loosely associated with Lyme disease, which most people have heard of.  It can remain undetected by normal blood tests because it, too “hides” behind the blood-brain barrier, as do other spirochetes.

If your Dentist or dental Hygienist advises you that you have a “gum infection” or “Periodontal Disease” I would advise that you take it very seriously. The consequences of untreated periodontal disease we are learning include heart disease, tooth loss, and more recent research is showing a strong correlation to many disorders in the Dementia realm. And that isn’t anything to ignore.

Periodontal disease (gum disease) is one of the most widespread diseases in the world, and the US. It’s also almost 100% treatable by YOU, the patient.  Most people are just too lazy to take the time to brush properly AND floss twice daily…..when you consider Dementia/Alzheimer’s as a potential disease from not flossing…it might provide a little more encouragement to follow the Dental team’s advice.


JOURNAL OF NEUROINFLAMMATION, Alzheimer’s disease – a neurospirochetosis. Analysis of the evidence following Koch’s and Hill’s criteria, Judith Miklossy.  2011, 8:90

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Accutane, Bruxing and TMJ

Recently, a patient presented with “clicking” that has progressed to having a locked left jaw in the morning.  They can “unlock” it easily at this point. The clicking symptoms started when they were taking Accutane for acne and the clicking seemed to resolve when Accutane was discontinued.

Did Accutane have anything to do with this?

Yes and no.  Accutane side effect profile shows that very few people who take Accutane “brux” or “grind their teeth” after 6 months of taking it (.4% of sample of 30,000 who reported it).  Bruxing seems to subside for a few months and then re-appears after another 6 months of use, but at much lower rates.  Bruxing significantly increases the pressure in the TMJ and if there is an underlying misalignment or subtle problem, it could “push it over the edge” to become symptomatic. It would have anyway…the increased pressure just hastened it’s onset.

Women report bruxing almost 3X as often as males.

The #1 reason that TMJ problems develop (regardless of bruxing) is due to the jaw joints (condyles) being “out of center in the sockets”.  This is a growth/imbalance between the upper and lower jaws that can only be seen with a 3d radiograph.  Up to 90 % of people have some “misalignment” of their TMJ, but not all develop signs (clicking, locking, limited opening or sideways movement, bite change) or symptoms (jaw pain, headaches, clenching or grinding teeth).

Many factors trigger the TMJ symptoms to appear and, once they start they don’t “go away” on their own, despite what you read and are told…the symptoms just change.

If your TMJ starts clicking, if your bite changes or feels uneven, your ability to open changes, etc…You have a TMJ problem.

It won’t “go away” on its own. The symptoms do change as the damage progresses, depending on what structures are being affected.  The sooner you can be evaluated by a credentialed dentist the better outcome you will have.  Adjusting the bite, “Equilibrating the Teeth” or using an NTI appliance or anterior bite appliance to “get the jaw in the right place” may temporarily decrease symptoms but will accelerate the orthopedic damage in your jaw.  They are the wrong devices for any type of TMJ condition and should only be used a week or so.

FDA Reports, Who have Bruxism with Accutane.

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How It’s All Linked: The Facts

Let’s face it; what we all want is to spend quality time with those we love. We value health and happiness, experiencing life’s adventures, and snuggling in warm and cozy on a winter’s day. But the truth is most families experience health issues, questions arise and the unknown keeps us from living our lives the way we want to.

Following are answers to common questions about links between sleep, TMJ, oral breakdown and other serious health concerns.

Sleep apnea is responsible for a wide variety of medical problems, which may seem confusing to dentists and patients alike. It is far more common in children that thought to be, especially in the US where tonsil’s and adenoids aren’t removed when enlarged in children. This is partly due to insurance constraints and very low reimbursement to providers for the small, but possible risk of severe post- surgical infection/complication.

Enlarged adenoid and/or tonsils affect facial growth and increase the likelihood of future TMJ problems as well as adult sleep apnea.

About 6 million adults are diagnosed with obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and the estimate is that 23.5 million adults remain undiagnosed or treated. This places a large burden on the healthcare system because untreated OSA is shown to be a factor in developing TMJ problems, Diabetes, Heart attacks, Strokes, High blood Pressure, and Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease).

It’s reported that Sleep Apnea has been found to have been present in 60%-80% of post cerebral vascular [1] events.  Irregular heartbeats are also seen in untreated Sleep Apnea patients and can be the source of a nighttime heart attack.

Untreated sleep apnea can also contribute to attention deficits in all ages groups, memory problems, multi-tasking, among other executive functions.

Symptoms of sleep apnea vary by gender and age. Toddlers and grade school children often have difficulty falling asleep and waking in the morning. They are often restless sleepers, moving around the bed, kicking the wall, etc. Younger children with sleep breathing disorders often resist going to bed, sometimes causing a stressful nighttime routine.

Men typically present with snoring, pauses in breathing while asleep (reported by others), and clenching/grinding the teeth.

Women more often complain of difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This will worsen with hormonal changes in mid-life. The perimenopausal years significantly increases the onset of sleep apnea in women due to the airway “protective” effect of hormones. Hormone replacement can lessen the severity of sleep breathing problems, but can’t eliminate it.

Nighttime Reflux or GERD has a strong association with Sleep Apnea. Each time the airway closes, the attempt to breathe causes acid to push into the esophagus, causing irritation and also eroding the enamel, which Dentists can recognize. Clenching and bruxing is associated with sleep apnea (as mentioned earlier). Both cause the neck muscles to tense and represent a rapid way for the brain to “stiffen or open” a closed airway from sleep apnea.

For more information or an evaluation with an expert, please schedule an appointment.

[1] J Stroke Cerebrovas Dis., 2017;26,1745

General reference also from Cristina Casa-Levine, RDH, edD, Decisions in dentistry, Nov. 2018

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