Posts for: March, 2019
Shingles is a painful viral infection that could potentially recur in sufferers for years. It causes painful skin rashes, general nerve pain, fever and fatigue. In extreme cases, it can cause blindness if the eyes become infected. And because it’s highly contagious, it could affect your dental treatment.
Formally known as herpes zoster, shingles is a recurrent form of chicken pox. If you contracted chicken pox in childhood, the shingles virus could lay dormant for several years. In fact, most people who contract shingles are over 50.
Because it acutely affects the nerves around the skin, the disease’s most common symptom is a belted or striped rash pattern that often appears on one side of the body and frequently on the head, neck or face. While the severity of symptoms may vary among patients, shingles can be a significant health threat to certain people, especially pregnant women, cancer patients or individuals with compromised immune systems.
In its early stages, the shingles virus can easily pass from person to person, either by direct contact with the rash or by airborne secretions that others can inhale. Because it’s highly contagious, even a routine teeth cleaning could potentially spread the virus to dental staff or other patients. Because of the significant health threat it potentially poses to some people, your dental provider may decline to treat you if you’re showing symptoms of the disease.
To stay ahead of this, let your dentist know you’re experiencing a shingles episode if you have an upcoming dental appointment, in which case you may need to reschedule. In the meantime, you should seek medical attention from your physician who may prescribe antiviral medication. Starting it within 3 days of a shingles outbreak can significantly reduce your pain and discomfort as well as its contagiousness.
And if you’re over sixty or at risk for shingles, consider getting the shingles vaccine. This readily available vaccine has proven effective in preventing the disease and could help you avoid the pain and disruption this viral infection can bring to your life.
The month of March brings the first day of spring, when nature seems to wake up after a restful winter slumber. It also brings Sleep Awareness Week, which leads us to ask: How's your sleep? For around one of every three people, the answer seems to be: Not so good! In fact, it's estimated that some 50-70 million people in the U.S. alone have sleep problems, including sleep-related breathing disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
People who suffer from this condition seem to sleep fitfully and snore loudly—and they may actually wake up dozens of times every night without even knowing it. These "micro-arousals" make it impossible to get restful sleep, which can lead to fatigue, trouble concentrating, and behavioral issues. Children with sleep disorders like OSA are sometimes diagnosed with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorders because the symptoms are very similar.
If you suspect that you (or someone you care about) may have a serious sleep disorder, it's a good idea to get an examination from a medical professional who specializes in this area. If the diagnosis is OSA, there are a number of treatments that can be effective—one of which is an oral appliance that's available from the dental office.
Dentists are quite familiar with the anatomical structure of the mouth, which is sometimes the root cause of OSA. In many individuals, the soft tissue structures in the back of the oral cavity (including the tonsils, tongue and soft palate) can shift position when muscles relax during sleep and block the flow of air through the windpipe. The lack of sufficient air may cause a person to awaken briefly, gasp for breath, and then relax their muscles—over and over again, all night long.
After a complete exam, we can have an appliance custom-made for you that has proven successful in managing mild to moderate cases of OSA. Shaped a little like a retainer, it is worn in your mouth at night and taken out in the daytime. The appliance helps maintain an open airway by re-positioning the jaw and/or keeping the tongue out of the way.
Oral appliance therapy is one of the most conservative options available for treating OSA: It requires no major equipment or irreversible medical procedures. However, there are a number of other options, including machines that supply pressurized air through a face mask and even oral surgery. It's important to consult with a specialist in sleep disorders when you're facing this issue. If the diagnosis is OSA or a similar sleep problem, remember that help may be available here at the dental office.
If you have questions about sleep-related breathing disorders, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Oral Appliances For Sleep Apnea” and “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”
Sealants can protect your child’s teeth from the bacteria that cause tooth decay. In fact, children with dental sealants on their teeth are less likely to develop cavities than children who do not have sealants. At Murphy Dental Group, Dr. John Murphy and Dr. Patrick Murphy are your Milton, MA, family dentists for children’s dental sealants.
What Sealants Do
Sealants create a protective surface over teeth that helps keep cavity-causing bacteria from settling into the pits and grooves naturally found on your teeth. Brushing can sometimes miss bacteria that are trapped in these tiny crevices, so they are left to linger. Lingering bacteria can eventually lead to tooth decay and cavities. Sealants are typically applied to the chewing surfaces of the molars in the back of the mouth as these teeth tend to have a lot of pits and grooves.
Application of Sealants
The application of dental sealants is a simple process. The teeth are first cleaned to remove bacteria, tartar, plaque, and other debris. It is important to thoroughly clean the teeth to prevent anything from getting trapped under the sealant. Once the teeth are clean, the sealant material is brushed directly on the chewing surfaces of teeth. The sealant is then dried with a special light that helps the material harden. Hardened sealants can last for several years before eventually wearing away.
While sealants can help prevent tooth decay, daily brushing and flossing are still important. Brushing or flossing will not harm sealants. Additionally, your child should brush with a toothpaste containing fluoride twice daily and continue visiting their Milton, MA, family dentist Dr. Murphy regularly for dental checkups and cleanings. Maintaining good oral hygiene and dental habits will help promote better oral health in your child.
Dental sealants provide an additional measure of protection against tooth decay and can reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities. To learn more about what sealants can do for your child, schedule an appointment with your Milton, MA, family dentists Dr. John Murphy and Dr. Patrick Murphy, by calling Murphy Dental Group at (617) 696-3900.