Apr 11 2016

Struggling to stay awake during the day?

If so, you could be suffering from sleep apnea, a common chronic condition that causes short breaks in breathing whilst one is sleeping. Such a phenomenon prevents one from getting the deep sleep we all require, which can cause serious accidents during the day and could contribute to Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, heart attack, stroke, obesity, diabetes and more.

So, what is sleep apnea exactly?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing or enters shallow breathing while he/she is sleeping. The pauses can last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute and can occur up to hundreds of times per night. The interference with normal breathing and sleeping rhythms causes the person suffering from sleep apnea to spend more time in light sleep rather than in deep sleep, which prevents him/her from getting the restorative sleep we need to be sharp and energetic during the day.

How do I know if I have it?
Unfortunately, the condition is untraceable by blood tests and is often undiagnosed during routine doctor visits, since it is most easily identified during sleep. Thus, a person suffering from sleep apnea may only first find out about his/her condition from someone who sleeps nearby. You can also record yourself sleeping to look for indicators – if snoring is interrupted by pauses and then gasping for air or choking, you might be suffering from sleep apnea.

Major symptoms include:

  • Choking, gasping, or snorting during sleep
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Waking up in the middle of the night feeling short of breath
  • Daytime fatigue regardless of time spent in bed
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Insomnia or nighttime awakenings
  • Difficulty with memory, attention, and/or focus
  • Uncharacteristic irritability
  • Morning headaches

 

What causes sleep apnea?
In Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the most common type of sleep apnea, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, causing shallow breathing or pauses in breathing. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes, narrowing or closing the airway. You are more likely to suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea if you are (or have):

  • Overweight
  • Male
  • Related to someone who has sleep apnea
  • Over the age of 50
  • Black, Hispanic, or a Pacific Islander,
  • A smoker
  • High blood pressure
  • A thick neck (neck circumference greater than 15.75 in or 40 cm)

Other physical attributes that put you at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea include:

  • Deviated Septum
  • Receding chin
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids (most common cause of sleep apnea in children)

Allergies or other medical conditions that cause nasal congestion can also contribute to sleep apnea.

Central Sleep Apnea, which is much less common, occurs if the brain fails to transmit the necessary signals to the muscles that regulate breathing. (People with this type of sleep apnea rarely snore).

Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.

The good news is that Sleep Apnea, once diagnosed, is relatively easy to treat. Please talk to us about any sleep issues you may be experiencing. We also highly recommend that you discuss any sleeping problems with your medical provider during your next Physical or check-up. Between your providers, you will be in good hands and on your way to better sleep and optimized health.

To keep you informed, we will continue to post information about sleep apnea, its effects, and the  options currently available to treat it. Please subscribe to our blog to receive ongoing installments as we continue to cover Sleep Apnea and Your Health.

Mar 07 2016

natural sweetener

The word “sugar” conjures up thoughts of delicious desserts, sweet concoctions….. and calories and cavities! In our practice, we educate our patients to go easy on the sugar, brush between meals, and watch your intake of sticky, sweet foods.

But, with all the artificial sweeteners on the market (and many natural choices to replace pure sugar) there are ways to feed your sweet tooth without causing decay and/or weight gain. We break down some of the alternatives for you.

Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are marketed in a variety of different ways, often referred to as “diet” or “sugar-free”. So it only makes sense that one may think they are OK to consume.

Artificial sweeteners are just that, synthetic sugar substitutes, manufactured, in some cases, from naturally occurring substances, like herbs or even sugar. Artificial sweeteners are also very intense; you use less of them to get a sweet-tasting result.

artificial sweeteners are deadly

Common brand names are:

Nutra-sweet and Equal – aspartame

SugarTwin and Sweet N Low – saccharin

Splenda  – sucralose

These three artificial sweeteners contain low or zero calories and can assist in weight loss, if used properly. If one has diabetes, they are also an excellent alternative. However, they are made of chemicals and are common in highly processed foods, which also contain large amounts of sodium to preserve the food. Read the labels carefully before consumption and be aware that “artificial” does not equal healthy.

It’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration has to approve any artificial sweetener before it is available for consumers.

Sugar Alcohols and “Novel” Sweeteners are also common in many foods. Two of the most popular ones are:

Xylitol, which is classified as an artificial sweetener, but often combined with sugar alcohol. Look on the labels of many kinds of chocolate, chewing gum, and prepared desserts. Sugar alcohol is listed as an ingredient, but does not contain alcohol, so the name is a bit misleading.

Stevia, is known as a Novel Sweetener because it is plant based and not derived from chemicals. It is also extremely sweet and only a fraction of the amount of Stevia is needed to sweeten your food compared to pure sugar.

Sugar alcohols and Stevia are considered beneficial for weight loss, but are still carbohydrates, so watch your intake. If you are a diabetic, consult your physician before consuming either alternative to sugar because they can elevate blood sugar.

Finally, natural sweeteners, which are not always chemically produced or altered (but beware, some of them are!) may be your best alternative to adding some sweetness to your food – just read the labels carefully.

natural sweeteners

Common natural sweeteners are:

Agave Nectar, Molasses, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Honey, Maple Syrup, and Date Sugar.

Unlike the other artificial sweeteners, that do not promote tooth decay, natural sweeteners can and even though many consider them a healthier alternative to sugar, we recommend that you still maintain good oral habits and brush your teeth twice a day.

The bottom line to using artificial sweeteners; you can still gain weight if they are combined with other ingredients that have a high caloric count.

Diabetics need to consult their doctor and be aware of their blood sugar, which can elevate, when consuming natural sweeteners and other artificial substances.

Many artificial sweeteners have an after taste that some find unpleasant and it has been reported by The Mayo Clinic that bloating and excessive gas can be a side effect of consuming food containing sugar alcohols.

Our office recommends trying to stick to natural food that is considered “clean” and not overly processed, like a piece of fruit and lots of green, leafy vegetables.

Taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing will prevent cavities, even if you splurge every now and then and eat that delicious donut or coffee cake.

It’s best to be informed – ask us or your physician if you are not sure if artificial sweeteners are a good alternative for you.

 

Feb 08 2016

The entire month of February is American Heart Month. You may be wondering why that should matter to a dental practice. After all, we are charged with taking good care of your oral health, not your cardiovascular health. But, wait! Did you know there is a direct connection between a healthy heart and excellent dental hygiene? Yes, it is true and we care about your entire well being, we just happen to specialize in dentistry. Our concern for our patients goes way beyond your teeth and gums. Oral health holds clues to your overall health!

American Heart Month

RISK FACTORS FOR HEART DISEASE INCLUDE:

Gum disease – gingivitis (the early stages of gum disease) and periodontal disease (advanced).

Tobacco Use

Poor Nutrition

Diabetes

WARNING SIGNS OF GUM DISEASE:

Loose teeth, or teeth that are separating from each other.

Red gums.

Swollen gums that bleed when you brush or floss.

Bad breath or a constant sour taste in your mouth.

Gums that appear to be pulling away from your teeth.

WHAT’S THE CONNECTION BETWEEN YOUR MOUTH AND YOUR HEART?:

Excessive plaque in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and increase your risk of blood clots in or near your heart.

In some cases inflammation caused by gum disease may also trigger clot formation.

Clots decrease the normal blood flow to your heart, which can cause an elevation in blood pressure and an increased risk of a heart attack.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Tell us if you have had a history of heart disease.

Inform us of any medications you take on a regular basis for blood pressure or heart-related issues.

Be sure you come in regularly for your cleanings!

In between visits, floss daily, and, of course, brush after eating.

If you notice even a subtle change in the color of your gums or if you bleed when brushing your teeth, call us right away – don’t wait!

Remember, your mouth is the gateway to your body. It is our highest priority to be sure you maintain excellent overall health. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the office if you have concerns about heart disease or sudden changes related to your teeth and gums.

We want you to be Heart Healthy!

 

 

 

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26560 Agoura Road, Suite 102
Calabasas, CA 91302
(818) 880-4023
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