Holistic denstistry can help with sleep apnea

Can Holistic Dentistry Cure Sleep Apnea?

What’s one thing that can ruin your relationship and your health at the same time? The not-so-silent mood-ruiner, sleep apnea (surprise! It’s not bad reality TV). Around 22 million Americans are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea, which is a serious condition that can significantly impact your quality of life. The good news is there are many ways you can treat it naturally, while regaining your wellbeing and allowing your loved one to get the rest they deserve after a long day at work. Read on to learn more.

Worried about sleep apnea? Contact us to find a solution.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing halts during sleep because the tongue or throat muscles are blocking the airways. It usually skates away by being labeled as loud snoring or trouble sleeping. This is because sometimes unknowingly, a person will wake up due to the panic response that the brain triggers from the lack of oxygen. The health implications caused by sleep apnea can be very serious, leading to long-term issues.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The symptoms of sleep apnea could very easily slip on by, masked as either a bad night’s sleep or as a general feeling of being unwell or slightly under the weather. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 symptoms to look out for so you can combat early signs of sleep apnea:

  1. Daytime sleepiness
  2. Snoring
  3. Suddenly waking up by gasping or choking
  4. Dry mouth or throat
  5. Headaches in the morning
  6. Lack of focus/forgetfulness during the day
  7. Depression, irritability, or mood swings
  8. High blood pressure
  9. Insomnia
  10. Night-time sweating

Why is sleep apnea so serious?

Sleep apnea is more than just snoring or hitting the snooze button a few extra times in the morning. This is something that has real long-term effects if not addressed. These are some of the high-risk dangers to look out for:

Heart disease: Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure but 140% and the risk of stroke by 60%, according to the Comprehensive Sleep Care Center.

High blood pressure: When the airways are blocked due to sleep apnea, stress hormones are released which leads to an increase in blood pressure. Over a long course of time, this can make high blood pressure a risk factor. 

Stroke: People who suffer from sleep apnea have a higher chance of having a stroke due to common high blood pressure. Strokes are also much more difficult to recover from sleep apnea.

Cognitive impairment: Sleep apnea causes a lack of oxygen that can impair the brain and cause many issues such as memory, learning, functionality, dementia, and delayed attention, over time.

How can you cure sleep apnea naturally?

Finding help for sleep apnea from the right doctor is always a good solution. Depending on your lifestyle and situation, you could also benefit from natural solutions to sleep apnea. Here are some of the ways you can naturally combat sleep apnea.

See a holistic dentist: A holistic dentist will provide a range of treatment options that may be able to help you catch the extra sleep you need. Keep reading, because we’ll dive into this in a moment.

Manage your weight: Having extra weight around your neck can be a big factor in sleep apnea symptoms, especially snoring. Even losing 10% of body weight could effectively help sleep apnea symptoms.

Exercise regularly: Being active regularly can help strengthen your heart, energy levels, and sleep. Yoga has also been known to help because it increases oxygen levels.

Alter your sleep position: In more than half of all sleep apnea cases, the condition arises because of sleeping position, according to a 2006 hospital study. Sleeping on your back or with your head propped up can be especially helpful because it opens the airways. 

Use a humidifier: A humidifier adds more moisture to the air, which can help congested airways and make breathing easier. 

Use oral appliances: A CPAP machine is a mask you use when you sleep that increases air pressure in your throat so the airways can’t close and suffocate you. A sleep apnea mouthguard has a strap that pushes the lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping your airway open. Both options lead to a better night’s sleep which can reduce many of the harmful symptoms.

Why you should see a holistic dentist first

Seeing an integrative or holistic dentist for sleep apnea can make all the difference for you. Unlike regular dentists who only focus on oral health, Integrative dentistry looks at the big picture. They are founded on the belief that oral health and the health of your entire body are tied together.

When you see a dentist who practices holistic dentistry for sleep apnea, they will look for the causes of sleep apnea, not just the obvious symptoms. Their focus is much more on how your sleep apnea is affecting the health of your entire body, not just your loss of sleep. They target root problems that may go unnoticed such as poor jaw or tongue alignment, mental stimulation, or breathing problems.

Seeing a holistic dentist like Dr. Mandanas can help you assess your sleep apnea and find solutions that would best first your lifestyle, naturally. If you (or your loved one) are suffering from sleep apnea, there is still hope to get a good night’s sleep. We will work with you to find a solution.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today!

Link between oral health and gut health

Your Diet Can Have a Big Impact on Your Teeth

Our bodies are amazing, in that when we are well, every part works together in perfect harmony. This is the foundation of holistic dentistry, because it’s about much more than just fixing your teeth. It takes the view that your mouth, as the gateway by which food enters your body, can have an impact on things like gut health and mental health as well as your oral health.

Diet is really important, because good nutrition gives our bodies the fuel it needs to operate at its best. In a perfect world, our mouths and bodies should be at a neutral pH, but it’s very common for modern diets (which typically include a lot of sugar) to cause a bacterial imbalance of the mouth microbiome. In addition to causing things like weight gain, and mood swings that come with sugar-induced highs and lows, it can also cause erosion of the teeth.

Want to learn more about protecting your teeth through nutrition? Schedule an appointment!

Link between oral health and gut health

The gut microbiome can influence things like mood, weight, and your general sense of health and wellbeing. The oral microbiome is very closely linked, because every time you swallow, you’re sending thousands of good bacteria from your mouth to your digestive system.

These bacteria are essential to your oral health, because they can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. However, they’re also really important when it comes to gut health, because good bacteria in your mouth can stop bad bacteria from making its way to your stomach. This can prevent things like inflammation and even some diseases! The same works in reverse – bad bacteria in your mouth can trigger an immune response when it reaches your gut, which can cause things like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and endocarditis.

Good oral hygiene, which includes regular brushing and flossing, goes a long way to removing bad bacteria. However, the best way to protect the link between your oral health and your gut health is with a good diet. This means keeping sugar to a minimum, eating whole foods, ensuring you have plenty of dietary fiber, and chewing properly every time you have a meal.

Oral health can also affect mental health

The most obvious way that oral health can affect mental health is through pain. Things like tooth erosion, cavities, and periodontitis can be extremely uncomfortable if left untreated, and studies show that this can lead to things like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

A comprehensive health survey of more than 10,000 people aged 20-75 living in the United States found that poor dental health increased the likelihood that a person would experience depression. Researchers found the more dental conditions a person had, the more severe their symptoms.

Just like gut health, the link between oral health and mental health is a two-way street. There is evidence to suggest that people who experience mental illness often suffer poor oral health – for example, if people experience dental anxiety, they may stop seeing their dentist regularly, which means the next time they visit they may have to get considerably more work done.

Again, diet can play a big part here. Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, says: “A very large body of evidence now exists that suggests diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health… A healthy diet is protective and an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression and anxiety.”

Future research into oral health links

The link between oral health, gut health, and mental health is already clear, and we know diet is key. However, there are still many things scientists don’t know, which makes this an exciting area.

For example, poor dental health is a known source of inflammation, but the link between dental health, inflammation, and mental health has not been researched extensively. More research is also required to explain exactly why multiple dental conditions increase the severity of depression.

The best way to optimize your oral health, and the impact it has on your gut health and mental health is to schedule an appointment with a holistic dentist. They look at all these issues together, instead of in isolation, and will be able to advise you about the best way forward. They will talk to you about essential hygiene, such as brushing and flossing, as well as advising you the ways your diet can improve your oral health, gut health, and mental health.

Ready to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas? Call our team!

Integrative dentistry

Integrative Dentistry is About So Much More Than Teeth

A dentist is a type of doctor who specializes in oral health, which extends to much more than just teeth and gums. The American Dental Association notes dentists also look after things like the muscles of the head and neck, the jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, and the nervous system. Their role includes diagnosing oral disease, administering anesthetics, performing surgical procedures, screening for oral cancers, and much more. It’s all designed to promote good oral health and long-term wellbeing.

Integrative dentists take it a step further, and considers the way oral health impacts the health of the whole body. This practice has a lot of different names: integrative dentistry, holistic dentistry, and biological dentistry are just a few. It’s based on the idea that the health of the mouth and the health of the body are intrinsically linked – for example, oral health has a significant impact on functions eating, drinking, breathing, and sleeping. Oral health can also affect things like movement and mental health.

Want to learn more? Contact us today.

Two ways integrative dentistry is practiced

Integrative dentists have all the same qualifications and training as regular dentists. In fact, most integrative dentists started as regular dentists and moved into a new direction when they started looking for better ways to practice dentistry, and become safer and more effective providers.

There are two main ways integrative dentistry is practiced.

The first is through the idea of the “mouth-body connection,” which is the understanding that the mouth and the body do not operate independently of each other. This means that rather than simply diving in and treating dental conditions, integrative dentists will ask their patients about other factors that may impact their health. This could include sleep, diet, exercise, and stress, for example. This helps the integrative dentists get a better picture of what’s going on in a person’s life to help create an individualized plan that will optimize their overall health and wellbeing.

The second way integrative dentistry is practiced is through the use of integrative methods. This takes all the great parts of conventional dentistry and blends them with alternative methods that are designed to deliver the best results possible. This will vary from dentist to dentist, depending on their own personal research and experience, as well as their interests. This could include things like low-dose x-rays and mercury-free fillings. The idea is to use safer, more natural materials, as much as possible.

Learn more about minimally-invasive options.

Conditions integrative dentistry can treat

Integrative dentists treat all the same things as regular dentists. This includes regular dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dentures, dental implants, orthodontics, and all the normal things you’d expect. They can conduct clinical and radiographic examinations for hidden dental problems, inspect the mouth for cavities and any wear and tear, treat gingivitis and periodontal diseases, provide professional teeth cleaning, and treat dental emergencies such as broken teeth and severe toothaches.

However, they can do much more. Here at Mandanas Dental, for example, Dr. Mandanas has a special interest in sleep breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea, which stems from her research into craniofacial anatomy and development. This means she can help if you’re snoring excessively at night, sleeping restlessly, or waking up tired.

Sleep apnea can cause a range of serious health issues, from chronic exhaustion to heart strain, diabetes, metabolic issues, liver problems, and even death. It’s commonly treated with CPAP machines, but it doesn’t have to be. As an integrative dentist, Dr. Mandanas uses non-invasive treatments that consider all the relevant health factors at play to work naturally with the body to find a solution rather than working against it. For example, she can help patients with things like alignment of the jaw, tongue positioning, mouth breathing, which can all affect sleep quality.

Read more about integrative sleep apnea treatments.

Integrative dentistry is a step toward whole-body health

Integrative dentistry is a great option for people who want to optimize their wellbeing. The goal is to help each patient live their healthiest, fullest life. Integrative dentists offer inviting, patient-focused environments, and deliver personalized dental care tailored to your health goals.

Ready to get started? Schedule an appointment today.

How You Can Give Your Child a "Healthy Start" at the Dentist

How You Can Give Your Child a “Healthy Start” at the Dentist

As a parent, you are always looking for ways to set your child up for success. Modern parents are focusing more and more on the health and wellbeing of their children in addition to academic readiness and social and emotional competency. At the same time, the field of dentistry has grown to understand that early dental treatments in children can prevent future complications for adults. Ortho-Tain Healthy Start is one of those treatments! Dentists use Ortho-Tain, a comfortable, rubber retainer, to correct developmental deficiencies in children, giving them a “healthy start” and protecting them from a variety of dental-related adult and childhood issues! Learn more.

Ortho-Tain: A Gentle, Preventative Treatment

Ortho-Tain Healthy Start is a comfortable, rubber dental device that is free from braces, wires, and worries! It is used when common, developmental, anatomical jaw structure deficiencies are identified in children. The deficiencies treated by Ortho-Tain frequently lead to sleep apnea in adults. In many cases, sleep apnea is already present in the child and Ortho-Tain can provide relief! Ortho-Tain catches sleep apnea at a young age and prevents it by gently adjusting the teeth and the jaw while children are still growing. Many patients who use Ortho-Tain as a child avoid sleep and behavior issues, braces as teens, and sleep apnea complications as adults, including the uncomfortable CPAP machine, and in advanced cases, surgery!

What Dentists Look for in Young Patients

Dentists look for a few different developmental deficiencies in children before they decide to use Ortho-Tain for treatment. The first is poor alignment of the lower jaw, called retrognathia. Retrognathia occurs when the chin and the lower jaw are pulled back rather than lined-up with the lips and the nose, pushing the tissue in the throat back to block the airway, which can cause sleep apnea. Another deficiency is a poor alignment of the upper jaw or a collapsed arch, which can cause mouth breathing and swelling of the lymphatic tissue in the throat, a cause of sleep apnea. Each of these deficiencies can be gently treated with Ortho-Tain!

3 Benefits of Ortho-Tain Healthy Start for Kids

When dentists correct developmental deficiencies in children using Ortho-Tain Healthy Start, they are treating the root cause of a wide variety of childhood and adult maladies!

  1. Elimination of Sleep and Behavior Issues – Because Ortho-Tain corrects poor jaw structure that can cause sleep apnea, it can also correct the sleep and behavioral issues exhibited in children who struggle with nighttime breathing! Children who have sleep apnea sleep poorly and can become hyperactive during the day as a result. Ortho-Tain works against this for more rested and behaved kiddos!
  2. No Braces in the Teenage Years – Children who use Ortho-Tain are correcting teeth and jaw misalignments before their teenage years, avoiding costly, uncomfortable, and undesirable braces in high school!
  3. Avoiding Sleep Apnea, CPAP, and Surgery as Adults – When Ortho-Tain catches developmental issues early on, they are not allowed to worsen and become complications for adults. Parents can set their child up for success and protect them from sleep apnea in the future by deciding to use Ortho-Tain now!

If you think your child may suffer from a common, developmental deficiency and you would like to give them a “healthy start,” give Dr. Mandanas a call! She would love to talk with you about your options. Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who looks at the whole picture when treating her patients and focuses on the root cause of the problem in her care. Learn more about what she is doing to bring more integrative dental treatments like Ortho-Tain Healthy Start to Anchorage!

Sleep Apnea in Teens: What It Is, Effects & Treatments

Sleep Apnea in Teens: What It Is, Effects & Treatments

Teens need their beauty sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need between 8-10 hours of sleep each night in order to function their very best! That’s why anything that has the potential to affect our teens’ sleep should be taken seriously, sleep apnea included. Although sleep apnea can indeed affect adolescents, it frequently goes overlooked, blaming bad teenage habits in its place. Read on to learn more about what sleep apnea looks like in the teenage years and what your teenager can do to find healing and some more Zzz’s!

What is Sleep Apnea in Teens?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can be defined as interruptions to breathing that occur during sleep, caused by tissues creating a  blockage in the airways. Sleep apnea ranges from mild to severe. Risk factors for severe sleep apnea include high Body Mass Index (BMI), tonsil and adenoid size, family history of apnea, and it can be more prevalent in males. Often, teens who have sleep apnea were kids who had sleep apnea that went unnoticed. If your teen has severe sleep apnea, you may think they are getting too much sleep when in reality, they are getting lots of interrupted, poor quality sleep instead! This poor quality sleep causes sleep deprivation, creating a sleep deficit.

What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea in Teens?

The sleep deficit created by sleep apnea can cause a teen to experience the following negative effects:

  • Behavior changes such as moodiness, lashing out, irritability, or depression. Although these behaviors can be expected of the adolescent years, they can accompany other effects indicating sleep apnea.
  • A negative change in academic performance as the exhausted teen struggles to concentrate on schoolwork, hurting their ability to learn.
  • Weight gain due to sleep interruptions affecting the hormones that control appetite, creating unhealthy eating habits such as cravings for energy-rich foods like sugar and caffeine. Weight gain can worsen the effects of sleep apnea.
  • Loud snoring for 3 or more nights a week, mouth breathing, teeth grinding or clenching, gasping or choking, and/or witnessed pauses in breathing during sleep. Teens may snore on occasion, but chronic snoring can be an effect of sleep apnea.
  • Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, including unusual sleep events such as sleepwalking, nightmares, night terrors, and other indicators of restless sleep.
  • Sweating at night or bedwetting.
  • Daytime sleepiness or frequent naps.
  • Morning headaches.
  • Hyperactivity and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Risk for injury and accident due to drowsiness. This is especially when many of our teens have just learned to drive!
  • Issues with growth and development.

If your teen’s sleep apnea is severe, they can suffer the following health complications:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Heart Disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure

What Treatments Are Available to Teens Who Suffer from Sleep Apnea?

A good starting place for a teen who may suffer from sleep apnea is a sleep study to confirm if they are experiencing the condition. As an integrative dentist, we recommend the least invasive form of treatment as the next step of a diagnosis is confirmed. Myofunctional therapy is an exercise of the tongue and the lips that tones the airway and promotes nasal breathing. It has little risk of side effects and can be a great way to treat sleep apnea in teens. Myofunctional therapy must be repeated for 45 minutes each day to reinforce the adjustments being made to the airway, but it is a safe and valuable treatment.

Depending on the reason for your teen’s sleep apnea, they may need more than myofunctional therapy. If weight is an issue, we may recommend eating healthy and exercising. If there is an issue with their lower jaw and tongue causing the blockage, your teen may need an oral appliance to shift the jaw and the tongue forward.

Many dentists recommend Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines to teens, but many teens struggle with the awkwardness of these machines and/or are too embarrassed to use them. Read more about the pros and cons of CPAP machines in our blog. If you decide to use a CPAP machine with your teen, make sure you receive a mask that doesn’t apply too much pressure to their noese or upper teeth as this can prohibit growth. Surgery is also an option for some forms of sleep apnea, but we like to consider surgery as a last-ditch option at Mandanas dental.

If you have a sleepy teen and you are worried about sleep apnea, please reach out! We would love to discuss treatment options with you and help your teen get back to a healthy sleep schedule as naturally as possible! Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who always pursues this least invasive options first for the health of her patients.

What Is Biocompatible Dentistry? Philosophy and Practice

What Is Biocompatible Dentistry? Philosophy and Practice

As functional medicine becomes increasingly popular, you have probably heard the term “biocompatible” thrown around referring to holistic practices, including many dental offices. Biocompatible dentistry is another term for holistic dentistry, it just bears a different emphasis. Both are concerned with the nature of the body and the practice of dentistry, they just have different starting places. The terms can almost be flipped on each other. Take a look at our definitions of the two words to see what we mean:

Holistic dentistry views the body as a whole and is therefore concerned about how the chemicals used in the mouth affect the rest of the body.

Biocompatible dentistry is concerned about how the chemicals in the mouth affect the rest of the body because it views the body as a whole.

It really doesn’t matter which direction you take in your approach to functional medicine, both arrive at the same conclusion. But for the sake of focusing on biocompatible dentistry as a distinct term from holistic dentistry, we are going to use this article to talk about biocompatible materials. Biocompatible materials are materials that do not cause any adverse effects on a patient’s biology when they are used in the mouth. The opposite, toxic materials, can present significant health consequences to their users.

Today we are going to talk about biocompatible dentistry–dentistry that uses biocompatible materials–from both philosophical and practical standpoints.

Biocompatible Dentistry as a Philosophy

As a philosophy, biocompatible dentistry recognizes the connection between the mouth and the body. It views the body as a whole and believes that what happens in the mouth affects the body and vice-versa. Because of this, biocompatible dentists use a proactive approach to dental health that focuses on addressing the underlying causes of dental disease rather than the symptoms. They would rather proactively promote health and wellness through nutrition and dental hygiene instead of reactively dealing with the negative consequences of eating poorly and not taking care of your teeth. For more information on this topic, read The Mouth-Body Connection: Links Between Oral Hygiene and Whole Body Health.

Biocompatible Dentistry as a Practice

In practice, biocompatible dentists are conservative about what materials they put in their patients’ mouths. They like to avoid invasive procedures such as surgery when less-invasive, natural means are available. The following is a list of chemicals and practices that biocompatible dentists typically have a strong stance on.

Mercury Amalgam Fillings – Most traditional dentists use silver, amalgam fillings on their patients. Unfortunately, these fillings contain 50% mercury, a toxic heavy metal that can cause damage to the central nervous system as well as the immune system. Traditional dentists believe the effects of the mercury in amalgam to be benign, but biocompatible dentists believe “mercury is mercury” and even small amounts can build up in the biological systems of their patients and cause problems. If their patients already have mercury amalgam fillings, biocompatible dentists often recommend they get these removed. To learn more on this topic, read 5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced.

Fluoride – Many biocompatible dentists do not prescribe fluoride to their patients because they believe there is already enough fluoride in our water systems, warning against fluorosis, a condition caused by the intake of toxic levels of fluoride.

Root Canals – Many biocompatible dentists do not perform root canals for a number of reasons. #1 They believe root canals force harmful bacteria into the blood, bacteria that can affect diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. #2 They believe the chemicals used to sterilize root canals can cause long-term negative health consequences in their patients. #3 They believe root canal therapy is ineffective. It is not effective unless the canal has been completely sterilized, and this has been proven to be impossible.

Bisphenol A (BPA) – Bisphenol A is a compound found in many plastics, and it is also in some composite alternatives to mercury amalgam fillings. For this reason, many biocompatible dentists are careful about even the alternatives they use to mercury amalgam.

X-Rays – Biocompatible dentists often use digital x-ray equipment to expose patient to less radiation than traditional x-rays.

Biocompatibility Tests – Some biocompatible dentists use biocompatibility tests to ensure their patients won’t have any systemic reactions to the materials they use. On the contrary, a lot of traditional dentists do not explain materials options to their patients or give them a choice among the materials they will use.

When it comes to holistic dentistry and biocompatible dentistry, it’s “six of one, half dozen of the other.” They are the same in philosophy and practice, they just emphasize different aspects of the same fundamental beliefs and actions. If you are interested in working with a dentist who views the body as a whole and strives to use biocompatible materials, talk to Dr. Owen Mandanas! Dr. Mandanas has been providing dentistry to the Anchorage area for over 17 years and would love to chat with you about her work in biocompatible dentistry. Schedule an appointment today!

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Amalgam Fillings Replaced

If you are more than a few decades old, it is likely that your fillings are made of mercury amalgam. For a long time, amalgam fillings were one of the only options for dentists to use. Since that time, there have been advances in dental materials and techniques leading to composite fillings, which are today preferred by many for their tooth-like appearance and material properties. With a lifespan of 10-15 years, amalgam fillings need to be replaced eventually. Learn more about the reasons why you might want to get your amalgam fillings replaced with their composite alternative.

1. Your Amalgam Fillings Show Wear or Decay

If your amalgam fillings are coming loose, it is likely that bacteria can get in around them to your teeth. If you are experiencing looseness, it is important that you get your amalgam fillings replaced as soon as possible, especially if you can see visible decay. If this decay is allowed to continue, the bacteria may get down to the roots of your teeth and you may need a root canal rather than a filling. Teeth sensitivity is a good indicator that this is occurring. It is especially important that you visit your dentist if you are experiencing sensitivity.

2. You Have Had Issues With Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are not bonded to your teeth, they are packed in to fill the empty space. Because of this, amalgam fillings do not actually add any additional strength to the tooth structure itself, and they can act like a wedge. When the pressure of chewing is applied to your teeth, any amalgam fillings you have can cause your teeth to chip, crack, or break. In addition, because amalgam fillings are made of metal, they expand and contract when you eat hot and cold food respectively. These movements can cause teeth to fracture or the filling to loosen, creating gaps for bacteria to get in. On the contrary, composite fillings bond to teeth, strengthing them by distributing the chewing force over the teeth and providing extra resistance to the tooth structure itself. If you have experienced any of the above-mentioned issues with your amalgam fillings, it might be a good idea to get them replaced. Be sure to discuss your experiences and your options with your dentist.

3. You Are Concerned About the Mercury in Amalgam Fillings

Some patients are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings due to allergy, sensitivity, or potential health risks. Amalgam fillings are 50% liquid, elemental mercury and 50% a mixture of silver, tin, and copper powder to form an alloy. This alloy acts like a putty that the dentist mixes on the spot then manipulates to fill the holes in your teeth. The alloy hardens quickly. Once hard, amalgam fillings release low levels of mercury in the form of vapors over their lifetime. The levels of mercury vapors released by amalgam fillings are not high enough to pose a risk to your health. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have marked amalgam fillings safe for use in dental practice. That said, studies have shown changes in the health complaints of patients who have had their amalgam fillings removed, though the exact reasons for these results have yet to be determined. If you are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings, discuss your concerns with your dentist.

4. You Prefer the Aesthetics of Composite Fillings

Amalgam fillings are silver-colored and can be seen whenever you smile or laugh. Composite fillings have been specially designed to be tooth-colored and practically invisible to onlookers. If you do not like the appearance of your amalgam fillings, getting them replaced for composite fillings may be right for you, just be sure to discuss your situation with your dentist.

5. You Are Comfortable With Frequent Replacements

Whereas amalgam fillings last 10-15 years, composite fillings only last 5-10, requiring more frequent replacements. Amalgam is much stronger than composite and it is also much cheaper than composite to replace. If you are comfortable with more frequent replacements for the aesthetics or peace of mind of composite fillings, discuss replacing your amalgam fillings with your dentist. Be aware that composite fillings can only be used for small to medium restorations because they are not as strong as amalgam fillings.

In conclusion, it is of the utmost importance that you get your amalgam fillings replaced if they are coming loose or if decay is occurring around them. Another strong reason to get amalgam fillings replaced is if you have had issues with them in the past. All other reasons are based on your preferences, if you are concerned about the mercury in amalgam fillings or if you prefer the aesthetics of composite. If you would like to get your amalgam fillings replaced for any of the reasons listed above, schedule an appointment to discuss your options with Dr. Owen Mandanas! Dr. Owen Mandanas is trained in the safe removal of mercury amalgam and would be happy to speak with you.

What Is Integrative Dentistry?

What Is Integrative Dentistry?

The phrase, “integrative dentistry” is being thrown around a lot these days, creating confusion. The fact that there are many different terms used to describe this practice does not help! You may have seen or heard some of the following floating around among local and national dentists:

  • Integrative Dentistry
  • Holistic Dentistry
  • Alternative Dentistry
  • Biological Dentistry
  • Unconventional Dentistry
  • Biocompatible Dentistry
  • Mercury-Safe Dentistry

And the list goes on and on… Integrative dentistry is a philosophy of dentistry that many conventional dentists have begun to use in their practice. We have broken that philosophy down into 3-4 primary categories. Read on to learn more about what “integrative dentistry” really means!

Two Kinds of “Integrative”

1. Integrated Body Systems

Integrative dentists believe in something called the “mouth-body connection,” asserting that what happens in the mouth affects the rest of the body; that the two are not independent of each other. They understand that oral health impacts the health of the entire body because the teeth, gums, and the mouth are highly integrated with the other body systems. To integrative dentists, the body, including the mouth, is a whole or holistic system. Consider the gut. The mouth is the entryway to the gut, and the gut affects the health of everything else. If the mouth able to take in nutritious foods and is not suffering from infection, the gut will be healthy as well, and thereby, the body!

2. Integrated Methods

To Integrative dentists, integrated body systems require integrated methods. Conventional dental treatment alone will not take care of systemic issues. Integrative dentists combine conventional treatment methods with alternative, holistic methods because they believe a blended approach will achieve better results. Before, dental care was segregated from medical care. Now, integrative dentists understand that separating the two does not make sense if the body is a whole, and they consider the wellness of the entire patient in their treatment.

What this looks like in practice is a great deal of research and listening. Integrative dentists are constantly looking into the latest research and the most advanced methods to incorporate in their practice. At the appointment, integrative dentists look at the dental and medical history of their patient, listening to their lifestyle, perspective, and choices in order to make the most informed decision for their dental care.

Preventative

Integrative dentists would rather maintain health and prevent disease rather than “get it fixed” after the fact. They do this by performing treatments that have positive long-term effects and by providing advice in areas like nutrition and lifestyle. Their goal is to overcome the root of the problem rather than the symptom in order to prevent future issues.

Minimally Invasive

Because integrative dentists understand the “mouth-body connection,” they try to use as minimally invasive treatments as possible in order to protect the health of the body as well as the mouth. One of the biggest ways they do this is by using safer, more natural materials in their work, such as:

  • BPA and mercury-free fillings
  • Ceramic or porcelain crowns
  • Low dose x-rays

Integrative dentists are also trained in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Innovation in technology is providing integrative dentists with less invasive treatments every day!

Integrative dentists have a philosophy of dentistry that centers on the “mouth-body connection,” viewing the body as a whole rather than as distinct systems. That philosophy has led them to integrate conventional dentistry methods with holistic methods in order to better treat the whole patient. These methods are preventative and minimally invasive to keep the mouth and body as healthy as possible! If you would like to benefit from the best practices of integrative dentistry, learn more about your local, integrative dentist, Dr. Owen Mandanas!

Do Dental Sleep Apnea Devices Really Work?

Do Dental Sleep Apnea Devices Really Work?

Your dentist recently asked you about your sleeping habits; whether you were having trouble sleeping, if your partner complained about snoring, etc. You answered “yes” to all of her questions, and she mentioned Sleep Apnea as a potential culprit, suggesting some dental treatments that could help you overcome it. You were taken aback. Is Sleep Apnea something that a dental professional can treat? The answer to this question is also “yes.”

Common complaints about clunky and uncomfortable CPAP machines have driven many to pursue more natural alternatives to Sleep Apnea treatment, especially those provided by the dental field. Learn more about dental Sleep Apnea devices and how they are helping sufferers of mild to moderate symptoms!

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) impacts an estimated 22 million Americans each year. It occurs when the muscles and tissue in the throat and mouth relax during sleep, causing the airways to narrow to the point of blocking (obstructing) the flow of air. Snoring is a result of partial obstruction; when breathing is fully obstructed, the oxygen level of the blood drops, and the central nervous system kicks in to alert the lungs to take a deep breath. When this happens, the individual suffering from Sleep Apnea will wake up choking and gasping for air. These episodes typically occur multiple times per hour over the course of a night’s sleep, leaving the individual exhausted the next day. Learn more about the causes and effects in our blogs, What is Sleep Apnea? and Can Sleep Apnea Affect My Health?

What are Dental Sleep Apnea Devices and Do They Work?

When people think of treatment for Sleep Apnea, they typically think of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. These machines keep airways open at night by delivering continuous air to the individual suffering from Sleep Apnea via a tube connected to a mask. Unfortunately, these machines are uncomfortable to many people. Approximately 40% of people who are given CPAP machines to treat their Sleep Apnea quit using them. The most common complaints include:

  • The mask is uncomfortable, and can irritate the skin
  • The tube gets in the way during sleep, sometimes to the point of knocking the mask off
  • The machine is too loud, agitating the user and/or their partner
  • The pressurized air is too much to tolerate
  • The system dries-out nasal passages

These issues with the CPAP machine and the desire to pursue more natural treatment methods have driven many sufferers of Sleep Apnea to look for alternatives. Dental Sleep Apnea devices are one of the most popular alternatives, especially considering they can be covered by Medicare and other forms of insurance, unlike other options.

One of the most common devices is the Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD). It is most comparable to an athletic mouth guard. Instead of pushing air through the airways, it works by gently moving the lower jaw (pushing it down and forward) to open them. These devices are preferred for their natural simplicity, ease of transportation, and silence. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicated that devices like MAD work for people with mild to moderate Sleep Apnea, but not for people with moderate to severe, who should still be using CPAP machines. Here’s what determines mild to moderate to severe Sleep Apnea:

  • Mild – 5-14 episodes of breathing interruptions per hour at night
  • Moderate – 15-30 episodes of breathing interruptions per hour at night
  • Severe – 30 or more episodes of breathing interruptions per hour at night

In conclusion, dental Sleep Apnea devices like MAD will work for people who experience about 10-20 interruptions per hour during the course of a night’s sleep. They are the best option for sufferers of Sleep Apnea who find CPAP machines unnatural, uncomfortable or cannot stick to their CPAP routine. If you would like to learn more about this natural alternative to CPAP, sleep apnea dentist Dr. Owen Mandanas would be happy to speak with you about your options for a healthier, happier night’s sleep!

Why Should I Make the Switch to a Holistic Dentist?

Why Should I Make the Switch to a Holistic Dentist?

Holistic dentistry is on the rise, sparking questions in the minds of many:

“Is my current dentist effective? Should I make the switch to a holistic dentist?”

“I am told that holistic dentists take a more natural approach to dentistry, but is that reason enough to make the switch?”

“Traditional dentists have been doing things their way for years, how could we have missed the importance of holistic dentistry?”

We hope to provide answers to these questions and more below. Read on to find out why we think you should make the switch to a holistic dentist!

They Consider the “Mouth-Body Connection”

Holistic dentists understand that the mouth does not exist in a silo, and that the procedures they perform on your teeth will have lasting effects on the rest of your body as well. They also understand that what goes on in your body, whether positive or negative, will have serious effects on your mouth. This is sometimes called the “Mouth-Body Connection.” Because of their understanding of the mouth-body connection, holistic dentists take time to sit down with their patients and gather as much information about their health as possible–Not just their dental health, but their diet, their lifestyle, and their mental and emotional health as well. They take all of this into consideration to determine the best approach for your dental health and overall well-being.

Holistic Dentists Use Safer Materials

Holistic dentists avoid dental appliances, cleaning materials, and dental hygiene products that use toxic chemicals. Examples of these include mercury amalgam fillings, sealants containing BPA, and fluoride.

Mercury is toxic, and holistic dentists believe that any amount that leaks into the body, no matter how small, puts the body at risk. Mercury fillings are often preferred by traditional dentists because they last longer. Although this is true, mercury fillings are known to last longer because they are stronger than our teeth, which places significant pressure on the tooth filled. This pressure can destroy the original tooth, something all dentists should seek to avoid. Holistic dentists use fillings that match the material of the tooth filled more closely in order to protect it.

BPA, also known as Bisphenol A, is a chemical found in many plastic materials, and it is often used in dental sealants. The problem with BPA is that it mimics estrogen, which can be dangerous for the hormonal balance of the body. As such, holistic dentists avoid materials containing BPA.

Fluoride is a chemical many traditional dentists prescribe to strengthen teeth. It is harmless and even helpful when needed, but just like with any chemical compound, too much fluoride can be toxic for the body. Fluorosis is a harmful condition caused by too much fluoride intake. Holistic dentists recognize that fluoride is already present in many community water systems and only prescribe it when necessary.

In order to help their patients avoid harmful chemicals, holistic dentists also encourage their patients to use natural dental hygiene products, such as natural toothpaste.

They Practice Integrative Medicine

Integrative Medicine is an approach that combines traditional dentistry with other therapies in dental practice for a fuller approach to care. A big focus for holistic dentists is the nature of the relationships between the structure of the teeth, the jaw, the head, and the neck. Learn more about one of these therapies, called tongue positioning.

Holistic Dentists Pursue Natural Remedies

Holistic dentists seek to avoid invasive procedures as much as possible, opting instead for natural, preventative remedies to common dental issues. They use x-rays sparingly and often do not offer root canals, crowns, and many other procedures typical of a traditional practice. This does not mean that they do not use many traditional methods when needed. Holistic dentists stress the importance of nutrition as the first defense against dental woes. For issues that require treatment, they often offer natural remedies.

They Made the Switch First

It is a little-known fact that many holistic dentists turned their practice around after working in traditional dentistry for many years. They made the switch because they witnessed the mouth-body connection through the experiences of their patients. In order to provide the best possible care for their patients, these holistic dentists researched their experiences and came to the conclusion that holistic dentistry will best meet their patients’ needs.

Holistic dentists pursue an approach that uses natural, preventative measures first and takes the whole body into consideration when practicing dental care. We hope we provided answers to any questions you may have about holistic dentistry. If you have more, please reach out to your local holistic dentists, Dr. Owen Mandanas! Dr. Mandanas would be happy to talk with you more about the benefits of making the switch from traditional to holistic dentistry.