How to Encourage Dental Health in a Child with ADHD

How to Encourage Dental Health in a Child with ADHD

It’s 9:00 p.m., time for your child’s bedtime routine. You politely ask your child to please go to the bathroom and brush their teeth.

Fifteen minutes later, they are running around the living room with a stuffed toy. You ask them if they have brushed their teeth. They have not. You send them in again.

Another fifteen minutes go by. Same scenario. You send them back into the bathroom with a little more firmness in your voice.

After ten minutes, you can tell that nothing is happening. You walk into the bathroom with your child and help them brush their teeth.

Sound familiar?

If you are the parent of a child with ADHD, you may be struggling to help your child stay on top of their dental health.

Today we are going to talk about how ADHD affects dental health in children, what parents can do about it, and how some dentists are trained to help parents of children with ADHD have a successful visit to the dentist.

How Does ADHD Affect a Child’s Dental Health?

Inattention and hyperactivity do more than make your child’s bedtime brushing routine difficult.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Children who have ADHD are more likely to grind their teeth during both night and day.

Poor Eating Habits

Because carbs and sugars can help children with ADHD maintain their attention, they tend to be more of a staple in these children’s lives, increasing risk for cavities.

Poor Oral Hygiene

As mentioned, children with ADHD struggle to focus on the tasks required for oral hygiene (brushing, flossing, etc.). According to one study, 48% of children with ADHD brushed their teeth every night, compared to 82% of a control group.

According to one study, 48% of children with ADHD brushed their teeth every night, compared to 82% of a control group.

Dental Caries (Cavities)

Poor eating habits and oral hygiene lead to increased risk for cavities in children with ADHD. One study indicated that children with ADHD were twelve times more likely to have decay, missing, or filled teeth.

One study indicated that children with ADHD were twelve times more likely to have decay, missing, or filled teeth.

Biting and Chewing

Children with ADHD have a higher chance of nail-biting, lip biting, and biting or chewing on objects like pens and pencils.

Risk of Oral Trauma

Children with ADHD also have a higher risk for traumatic oral injuries due to hyperactivity, running, climbing, and falling.

What Can the Parents of a Child with ADHD Do to Encourage Dental Health?

There are many things that parents can do to help their child with ADHD maintain dental health, both at home and at the dentist:

  • Use stimulating tools like mechanical toothbrushes and timers to keep the child interested in brushing their teeth.
  • Talk to the child about visiting the dentist, gently explaining to them what is going to happen. Picture books can be helpful for this.
  • Maybe give the child a tour of the dentist office prior to their visit.
  • Make sure the child is on his or her normal medications before taking them to the dentist.
  • Tell the dentist what they can do to have a successful visit with the child.

What Do Trained Dentists Do to Encourage Dental Health in a Child with ADHD?

Many children who have ADHD struggle at the dentist because they are tired, can’t pay attention, or can’t hold still in the chair. Some dentists are trained in helping children with ADHD have a successful visit. They:

  • Tell the child what to expect of the visit as well as what can be expected of them.
  • Let the child know when they are getting closer to starting a new procedure, providing advanced notice.
  • Use the “Tell-Show-Do” technique when introducing new procedures.
  • Provide short, clear instructions, one at a time.
  • “Contract” the child to behaviors, asking them to promise, “When we get to this step, will you do this?”
  • Reward positive behaviors and the successful completion of tasks with verbal positive reinforcement or toys.
  • Provide the child with plenty of short breaks.

Encouraging dental health in a child with ADHD doesn’t have to be challenging. Dr. Owen Mandanas enjoys helping parents and children with ADHD make a successful visit to the dentist. If you would like to learn more about what Dr. Mandanas can do to create a positive environment at the dentist for your child with ADHD, please reach out!

What Does Sleep Apnea Do to My Body?

What Does Sleep Apnea Do to My Body?

Have sleep apnea?

Here’s how the story goes, from your body’s perspective:

You fall asleep. Your body relaxes all your muscles, including those in your throat.

Uh oh. When your throat muscles relaxed, the tissues in your throat blocked your airway. Your body responds by waking you up, hoping to breathe.

Not only were you momentarily deprived of oxygen when your airway was blocked, decreasing the levels of oxygen in your blood, but your awakening has plunged you out of any deep sleep you were experiencing.

This awakening creates stress that causes your body to increase hormone production.

These episodes occurring at multiple points over the course of the night, by the time you wake up, your body and its systems are exhausted.

Sleep apnea can have severe long-term consequences to your health. Today, we are going to talk about what some of those may be.

Let’s first focus on the results of the sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea. Did you know that people with sleep apnea are five times more likely to get involved in car accidents? Sleep deprivation can cause:

  • Severe Fatigue
  • Mental Confusion
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Memory Loss
  • Headaches
  • Moodiness, Irritability, and Depression
  • Car Accidents

Now let’s talk about what stress and deprivation of oxygen can do to your body.

  • High Blood Pressure – The stress created by waking up due to oxygen deprivation increases blood pressure.
  • Atrial Fibrillation – Abnormal heartbeat such as atrial fibrillation, a fast, fluttery heart, is linked to sleep apnea.
  • Stroke – Increased levels of stroke is also linked to sleep apnea.
  • Heart Disease – People who have sleep apnea are more likely to have heart attacks, which may be attributed to high blood pressure, the stress of waking up, and oxygen deprivation.

Sleep apnea can also cause the following blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight-related issues.

  • Type 2 Diabetes – Sleep apnea strongly correlates with Type 2 Diabetes, with 80% or more of people who have Type 2 also struggling with sleep apnea. Although obesity could be the root cause of both diseases, lack of sleep can make it hard for the body to process insulin correctly. Sleep apnea increases your risk for developing insulin resistance which leads to Type 2.
  • Abnormal Cholesterol Levels – People who struggle with sleep apnea are more likely to have high levels of bad cholesterol, LDL, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Weight Gain – Sleep apnea also correlates with weight gain. When the body releases additional hormones as a result of the stress caused by waking up, it releases a specific hormone called ghrelin, which makes you crave carbs and sugar. Additionally, when you’re exhausted from sleep apnea, your body struggles to convert food into energy rather than simply storing it as fat.
  • Metabolic Syndrome – Metabolic syndrome involves high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and weight gain. It is also linked to higher risk of heart disease. In general, metabolic syndrome is correlated with sleep apnea.

Finally, the following health issues are related to sleep apnea:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) – If someone already has COPD, sleep apnea can worsen their symptoms.
  • Liver Problems – Sleep apnea is correlated with higher than normal levels of liver enzymes and even fatty liver disease.
  • Complications with Medications and Surgery – People who struggle with sleep apnea can have issues with certain medication, specifically general anesthesia. Some have complications after major surgery because of their breathing problems, especially when they have been sedated or they were lying on their back.
  • Adult Asthma – It has been reported that people who receive treatment for sleep apnea have fewer asthma attacks.
  • Weakened Immune System – Lack of sleep weakens the immune system, something caused by sleep apnea.
  • Acid Reflux – People also report fewer cases of acid reflux after being treated for sleep apnea and vice versa.

Although sleep apnea is a sad story for your body, it can still end with a “happily ever after!” There are treatments available for people who struggle with sleep apnea, specifically mandibular advancement devices, which are far more comfortable than CPAP. Dr. Owen Mandanas would be happy to discuss your options with you. Reach out today!

You Can Have Sleep Apnea and Not Know It - Here Are the Signs

You Can Have Sleep Apnea and Not Know It – Here Are the Signs

It is estimated that 80% of people who have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed. That’s a shocking statistic when you consider how detrimental sleep apnea can be to one’s quality of life!

As an integrative dentist, I (Dr. Mandanas) have a few ways to identify patients who are more likely to have sleep apnea than others. I cannot provide diagnoses, but by looking at facial structures, I can tell you if it might be a good idea for you to ask your doctor about sleep apnea. I also have some alternative treatment methods for patients who suffer from diagnosed sleep apnea but cannot tolerate CPAP!

Early Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea

If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you have already done some research into the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. Snoring, choking at night, and chronic exhaustion during the day are all important symptoms that should not be ignored, but the root cause of sleep apnea is actually in the anatomy of the jaw and tongue.

1. Retrognathia (Poor Jaw Alignment)

Retrognathia is a developmental deficiency affecting the lower jaw where it is set back further than it should be. In a properly aligned jaw, a ruler can be set against the chin, lips, and nose such that all three of these facial features touch the ruler in an almost perfect line with each other. Here is an example of a properly aligned jaw (after) versus a retrognathic jaw (before):

Source: Deskgram

When the lower jaw is set back, the tongue and other mouth tissues are pushed backwards in the throat, creating the airway blockage that causes sleep apnea.

2. High Tongue Placement

You might think that a tongue is a tongue, and that all tongues operate pretty much the same way. That is not entirely true! Different people have different anatomical structure of the face, making some tongues set higher and lower in the mouth than others. People who have high tongues tend to have more trouble with sleep apnea. When we sleep, the muscles in our mouth relax and our tongue collapses into the back of our throat. In a mouth with a high tongue, it is more likely this will cause airway blockage.

3. Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing can be a bad habit that you were never able to kick or it can be the cause of a developmental deficiency such misalignment of the upper jaw or a collapsed arch. Either way, if someone is a mouth breather, it is likely that they also suffer from sleep apnea.

The tonsils in the back of the throat are filters designed to catch bacteria and fight it off. Your tonsils can usually handle the amount of bacteria you throw at them on a given day, that is, unless your mouth is open 24/7. Mouth breathing can cause swelling of the tonsils that block the airways.

4. Tongue Positioning

The tongue is a powerful muscle. Ever wondered why the top of you mouth fits your tongue just right? You might think you were born that way, but the reality is, your tongue has been hard at work over the course of your life applying slow but steady pressure to shape your mouth for a perfect fit.

Some people do not have as much luck, and their tongue does not fit in the top of their mouth. This is called a collapsed arch, and it is caused by not positioning one’s tongue in the right place in the mouth. The tongue is supposed to rest on the top palate just behind the front teeth. Improper tongue positioning can cause collapsed arches and mouth breathing, both of which can cause sleep apnea.

If you are experiencing any of these signs–especially combined with other symptoms of sleep apnea–you are probably wondering what can be done! At Mandanas Dental, we provide an alternative treatment to the CPAP machine called a mandibular advancement device (MAD). The device is comfortable and easy to use. Learn more about our sleep apnea services!

Finally, An Alternative to the CPAP Machine for Sleep Apnea

Finally, an Alternative to the CPAP Machine for Sleep Apnea

The CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine has long existed as the “go-to” treatment plan for patients suffering from sleep apnea. It only makes sense–a great way to prevent the airways from collapsing in the back of the mouth is to force air through them. Unfortunately, many people are “CPAP rejects,” struggling to adjust to the “side-effects” of the machine, such as discomfort, dry mouth, and inability to sleep.

Several years ago, our practice discovered the mandibular advancement device (MAD) as an alternative treatment to sleep apnea. These devices are not only more comfortable, but they avoid some of the common “side-effects” of the CPAP machine altogether! Learn more about MAD and if it may be right for you.

Problems with the CPAP Machine

Below are some of the common complaints reported by patients struggling with their CPAP machine:

  • Discomfort – A lot of people find the CPAP mask, worn over the course of the night, to be very uncomfortable. Although the masks come in a variety of styles and sizes, it can be impossible to find a “perfect fit” when you are not used to wearing something on your face while you sleep. Some people describe their CPAP mask as “claustrophobic.” The forced air distributed by the CPAP machine can also be difficult for some people to tolerate.
  • Dry Mouth and Nose – Because the CPAP machine forces air through your airways while you sleep, your mouth and nasal passages can dry out, causing irritation.
  • Skin Irritation – Depending on the style of CPAP mask you have chosen, the mask rests against parts of your nose, mouth, forehead, and chin. As you move around in your sleep, rubbing on these pressure points can cause irritation.
  • Trouble Falling and Staying Asleep – This can be caused by a variety of things. Mask discomfort, forced air intolerance, and skin irritation can all contribute to challenges with sleeping while using a CPAP machine. The CPAP machine also makes a lot of noise–especially older models–which can prove challenging for some people.
  • Difficulty Keeping the Mask On – People who toss and turn in their sleep find it difficult to keep their CPAP mask on over the course of the night.

An Effective Alternative to the CPAP Machine

The mandibular advancement device (MAD) is more comfortable than the CPAP machine, does not force air, and does not require users to stay on their back while they sleep–you can roll around in a MAD device without knocking it out!

Mandibular advancement devices (MAD) are worn in the mouth and work by progressing the patient’s jaw forward, with minor adjustments over time. This prevents the lower jaw and tongue from slipping back in the mouth to block the airways. These devices are custom-made and can be very comfortable! At Mandanas Dental, we use Panthera and SomnoDent brands of devices if you would like to learn more.

If you are interested in mandibular advancement for the treatment of your sleep apnea, give Dr. Mandanas a call! Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who cares about the impact of sleep apnea treatment on the rest of the body. She would love to hear your concerns about the CPAP machine and help you return to comfortable, healthy nights of sleep!

What Is the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique? Get SMART About Your Fillings

What Is the Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique? Get SMART About Your Fillings

In a previous article, we discussed five reasons why you should get your mercury amalgam fillings removed. We mentioned that our own Dr. Mandanas is trained in the safe removal of mercury amalgam. But what does that mean?

The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique or “SMART” was developed by the International Academy of Oral Medicine & Toxicology (IAOMT) as a set of scientific research-backed safety recommendations and protective measures for the removal of mercury amalgam silver fillings. It was built on traditional practices of safe removal combined with new conventions as scientific research continues to make new discoveries regarding mercury amalgam fillings. The technique protects both people and the environment from the harmful impact of mercury vapors and amalgam particulate. It is presented as a set of recommendations and not requirements, so it is up to the discretion of licensed practitioners to determine how they will use SMART in their practice. For this reason, it is important for you, the patient to be educated in SMART so that you can be an advocate for your own safety and the safety of those around you!

The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART)

The Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique is fully outlined by the IAOMT but it can be summarized into ten steps. Be sure to view the IAOMT’s detailed outline for a complete understanding of the SMART process. Generally speaking, SMART involves the following requirements:

  1. In order to prevent mercury amalgam from getting into the liquid waste of the dental office and releasing into the environment, the dentist should install an amalgam separator in their wastewater system.
  2. The room where the mercury amalgam removal procedure occurs should have proper air filtration systems in place and any windows should be opened to remove the mercury vapor and amalgam particles released by the procedure.
  3. Before the procedure, the patient should be given a mixture of charcoal (or a similar absorbent material) and water to rinse and swallow unless she declines or if she has a medical reason now to take it.
  4. The patient, dentist, and dental personnel involved in the procedure should all be wearing protective gowns and covers to protect them from mercury amalgam particulate.
    • The dentist and dental personnel should also be wearing non-latex nitrile gloves, face shields, hair/head coverings, and a proper mask.
    • The patient should also be wearing a nasal mask, a non-latex nitrile dental dam, and a saliva ejector beneath the dental dam.
  5. An oral aerosol vacuum should be used within two to four inches of the patient’s mouth.
  6. Significant amounts of water and an evacuation device should be used to reduce heat and capture mercury discharges.
  7. The mercury amalgam should be removed in as large of pieces as possible.
  8. After the procedure, the patient’s mouth should be thoroughly flushed with water and rinsed a second time with the charcoal mixture.
  9. The dentist and the dental personnel should comply with all federal, state, and local regulations for the proper cleaning and disposal of all mercury-affected clothes, covers, equipment, and surfaces.
  10. Protective equipment should continue to be used during the maintenance of the suction system.

If you are interested in getting your mercury amalgam fillings safely removed, get in touch with Dr. Mandanas! As mentioned previously, Dr. Mandanas is fully trained in the SMART process and she will be an advocate with you for your safety. Dr. Mandanas is an integrative dentist who views the body as a whole and cares about the effects of dental materials, including mercury amalgam, on the rest of the body.

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!