Educating other professionals: tongue-tied infants

Life Smiles is pleased to be hosting a viewing of the new documentary “Untying Breastfeeding.” The film was created by Effath Yasmin IBCLC, CST, who has a vision of helping as many dyads as possible. The film is heart touching and educational at the same time.

The viewing is open to those who work with infants and/or new moms. Examples include: midwives, lactation consultants, doulas, pediatricians, psychiatrists, La Leche League volunteers and many others.

Happy Anniversary to Life Smiles!

 It was 8 years ago in April that Dr. Krista Geisler opened the doors to Life Smiles Family Dentistry.  With the help of a lot of really great team mates, the general dentistry practice has grown tremendously.  As all businesses grow through different phases, we are having fun expanding and deepening our knowledge and services.

As the practice both grew in numbers of people we are able to see daily, weekly and monthly, we have added space and team members to accommodate the growth.  It will be interesting to see what direction Dr. Geisler will lead the practice as she is choosing to do more laser dentistry and also airway-focused dentistry.  One thing is for sure, positive things are on the horizon.

Snoring in babies and children

To be honest, this from the journal, Sleep Medicine should be very scary for parents of snoring babies.  Reduced cognitive skills in infants who snore, really?  Many come to me with concerns of a tongue tie, and after discussion, I learn their baby snores.  Because they don't know better, some parents have told me it is "cute."   I would tell them it is absolutely a huge problem.  Snoring means not enough oxygen is getting to their brains!  Children don't grow out of their airway problems, they get worse.  Always, children who don't breathe well during the day and night are not healthy.  Many people come to me concerned with a breastfeeding or latching problem and are surprised  that there is more to a tongue tie than just breastfeeding.   Tongue ties cause a restricted growth of the upper jaw and lower jaw.  The tongue itself becomes an obstruction to the flow of air along with the pushed back position of the soft palate against the back and sides of their throat.  We also talk to parents of 1 year olds and up about sleep and breathing tendencies, because we want all our kids to grow to their full potential.  

This second study has limitations, but should really urge us to get the the bottom of snoring in children.  Snoring is not normal and is not healthy in children.  Why is the child snoring? Where is the obstruction?  When are they snoring?  How does this effect their learning and growth?  I am trained in how to ask the right questions and evaluate your child with fresh eyes. My practice offers the use of a CPC (cardiopulmonary coupling unit) to monitor sleep quality for kids as young as 6 months old up to adult.   This small device is worn for 2 nights and gives so much information of the quality of breathing and sleeping at night.   Our goal is to help these kids not become the generation of adults who sleep horribly and are on sleep meds, anti-anxiety meds and thyroid meds and eventually are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  How you breathe is very easy for me to see upon an examination.   How well we breathe directly relates to our health (oral included).  Ask me more about evaluating your child's or your breathing and sleeping.  

Sleep apnea and sleep breathing disorders

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"I am a terrible sleeper."

"My child is so grouchy when he wakes up and is hyperactive during the day."

"My wife says I snore."

"My daughter grinds her teeth."

"I am fatigued and stressed out"

What do these statements have to do with dentistry?  These statements point to poor quality breathing.   Your breathing isn't only causing problems when you are asleep, but 24 hours per day.  Chronic stress and inflammation, anatomical changes, and diseases are things that your body experiences because it is not breathing well.  A part of your routine dental exam at Life Smiles Family Dentistry includes questions and thoughts into breathing.  I have focused my continuing education to be accessing what is going on with your airway, and not just your teeth.  While you come in for just a routine check-up and cleaning,  you may leave with some answers to your health concerns that no one has figured out yet.  Dr. Geisler has a passion for helping babies, children, adolescents and adults with their overall health.  The first step in detective work is asking questions about your health, listening and asking more in depth questions.  We take photos, measurements, films to document what we see.  Is it possible that what a general dentist visulaizes could be related to how you breathe?  For instance, we may find that your teeth are worn and flat.  Or maybe you know you clench or grind your teeth during the day or night.  While that is easy for any dentist to see, not everyone knows why it is happening.  I used to like to show people their intra-oral photos and show the flat spots to prove they were clenching and grinding.  While I still love to show photos and discuss what I see, I am taking a step back from recommending a night guard immediately.   For most people, worn and cracked teeth are a sign that we need to delve into the etiology (the cause).  A night guard may be the best approach, but a diagnosis must proceed the cure.

Everyday I see areas by the gum-line that looked "scooped out."  They are often sensitive to touch and cold, sometimes are not aesthetically pleasing and accompanied with gingival recession . Recession and these concave spots are not a natural progression of teeth and gums as we age.  Worn teeth, recession, concave spots near the gum-line, and broken teeth are all signs that something is amiss.  Open wide and say "Aaahhhh."  As a part of your oral cancer screening, I see huge and inflamed tonsils red throats, post nasal drip and tonsilloliths everyday.  You may have missed a lot of work this year due to colds and sinus infections, ear aches.   Why do some people get Strep throat or colds often and others don't?  Why do you get sinus infection after sinus infection?   Is this the new "normal?"

In addition, I find other signs such as frequent new cavities and gum bleeding that doesn't respond to good therapy and home care.  While it's true that Mountain Dew may be a factor for some people getting cavities, what about those who haven't had a cavity in a really long time and eat really healthy foods?  Contrary to popular opinion, I find most people are honest about their brushing and flossing.   Why is it that some people never have bleeding gums, brush only one time per day and visit a dentist once per decade?  And others have periodontal disease that is more aggressive.  While a great number of disease processes are multi-factorial, I believe that healthy teeth and gums begins with the next breath you take.  Every 10 seconds you have an opportunity to take in air in a way to promote health or disease. 

 I am a doctor who knows and considers your airway, not just a tooth doctor.  I know what proper anatomy should look like for good airflow.  Everyday I see air passages that are very challenging.   When you close your mouth and take a large breath through your nose, do your nostrils collapse?  The tissue that hangs down off your palate can be part of a soft tissue problem, along with enlarged tonsils and adenoids that often create an obstruction.  Often physicians will report that a patient has a large tongue.  Dentists agree that most of these tongues are really normal sized, but just living inside a small space.   When I look at your profile, I will be able to see if your upper jaw or lower jaw are set back.   When your jaw isn't out as forward as it should be, your airway become compromised.  Did you have four premolars removed due to crowding when you had orthodontics?  Often teeth are retracted back, which makes the volume in your mouth smaller.  A smaller volume of your nasal or oral space will limit your breathing.  Through continued education after dental school, I know the signs and questions to ask about health, breathing, sleeping, stress, fatigue and habits.

It is rare that a child will admit that they cannot breathe well.  We adapt to survive and kids really adapt well.  They will find a way to breathe even if that means leaning their heads way forward in their awake posture, or sleeping with their heads cranked far back.  While, I have had some kids know that they are tired a lot or snore, many do not.  Parents are advised to video their kids sleeping for 5 + minutes so we can see what they are doing while sleeping.  I also recommend filling out some paperwork over the period of a few weeks to observe awake and sleeping behaviors.  I know that kids don't just "grow out of it" when they grind their teeth.  Kids actually grow into their grinding problems (they worsen).  I know that 95% of bad bites (malocclusion) is not caused by genes, but by how you grew when you were really young due to eating and breathing patterns.  I know better than to tell the parents of a six year old with a bad bite to "just start saving for braces now."  We can address the problems now.  We can improve health and change your child's anatomy of their airway now.  Grinding teeth can stop, growth delays and headaches can stop.  Sleep can improve and many times ADHD meds can be stopped.  When breathing is an issue, sleep is a problem.  When breathing is an issue, the shape of your face changes.  When breathing is an issue, your whole health is affected.  And the detective work starts when we review your health questionnaire and continues through a thorough exam. 

I am educated in and have a special interest in preventing childhood breathing disorders.  Why do so many kids now have ADHD, wet the bed, and are not able to sleep soundly through the night?  Did you know that 50% of children diagnosed with ADHD have sleep disordered breathing?   Improve their sleep, and many of the questions you checked "yes" to on the questionnaire about ADHD is now a "no."  My interest really peaked since seeing so many newborns with tongue ties.  I release the tongue and lip ties with a laser for correct functioning during swallowing, speaking, breathing.  While it effects feeding tremendously, it is just the tip of the ice berg.  Consequences of unreleased tongues actually affect the anatomy, or shape, of your face.  A long narrow face equals tight nasal airways.   A tongue tie leads to needing a lot of braces.   A tongue tie leads to mouth breathing which is the prime culprit causing asthma, frequent sinus infections, inflamed tonsils and adenoids.   You don't have to have a tongue tie to be a mouth breather.  It can be a life-long habit learned after having a really bad cold with a stuffy nose.   Did you break your nose playing football?  A deviated septum forces people to breathe through their mouth,  negatively impacting every aspect of health.

I also have a special interest in Upper Airway Respiratory Syndrome (UARS).  When you know you aren't sleeping well, but you don't snore, does that mean you are imagining it?  Is your job and busy life style to blame for your stressed-out feelings?  What if your sleep study doesn't show you stop breathing much?  Does that mean you are O.K.?   Why do you feel so stressed out when you wake up and why do you have extreme fatigue day after day?  It is very possible that little changes in your upper pharygeal anatomy caused some small restrictions to air flow.  You don't stop breathing, but your body may be working really hard, making little adjustments to let the air flow.  You were clenching and grinding and moving a lot.  This chronic managing of your airway prevented you from getting a good nights rest (for your body, brain, and emotions).   Lack of deep sleep leads to body aches and pains.  Lack of REM sleep leads to stressed emotions.  Night after night of poor sleep leads to chronic fatigue and can be given a diagnosis of insomnia ADHD, fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression.  Let's say you are a pre-menopausal woman, who really doesn't sleep well.  You likely are fatigued day after day, and may take anti-depressants or anxiety medications.   You have a hard time falling asleep and are a light sleeper, often waking at 3 am and cannot get back to sleep. When you go through menopause, your progesterone drops and you may gain ten pounds.  When your muscles aren't as toned with age,   sleep problems at night symptoms change from clenching at night to snoring.  The unhealthy yet eventual progression of UARS leads to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  You didn't just get OSA overnight, it happened progressively over many years.  You didn't just get high blood pressure overnight either.  The video below gives a general view of sleep apnea, which is very different than UARS when a sleep study is done.  A sleep physician may say that your REM is altered with UARS but don't have any moments where your oxygen dips greater that 4% for greater than ten seconds.   This sleep problem is often not known or diagnosed.  If physicians have to offer only medication, CPAP, weight-loss or sleep hygiene recommendations only as tools, often their investigation doesn't go any further to reach a diagnosis.  Obstructive sleep apnea gets all the press, but is not a sudden condition. Stopping breathing and then arousing to take a deep breath happens when your body has discontinued doing little "fixes" like it did when you were younger.  Your body has, in a sort, given up on fixing the problem independent of the brain.  In sleep apnea, your brain takes over and arouses you out of sleep to gasp for air, which leads to more deep gasping for air and high blood pressure all night.  For years before obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed, you were breathing poorly.   Wouldn't you like to know that now, and prevent yourself from having the morbidities associated with sleep apnea?  OSA increases the risk for dealthly motor vehicle accidents, high blood pressure, pulmonary vascular disease, cerebral vascular disease, ischemic heart disease , congestive heart disease and arryhthmias.  Let's rewind and prevent these horrible health problems.  Perhaps all the breathing problems started when you were a baby.   My current career passion is to prevent babies and kids from turning into the poor breathers that the adults of this day and age are.  When I look at my team, my family, my friends and even myself, I recognize the health problems that already exist and will lead to a diagnosis of UARS and OSA.   Let's pay attention, and fix breathing to improve health.  So here I am, a general dentist who never would have predicted this the day I graduated from dental school.  My job is bigger than just treating the teeth, it's helping the person.  Let's start breathing through our noses and feeling better.

Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia- Explained

 Dental

Going to the dentist isn't just a schedule interruption for many people. Whether adults, teens, or children, many Americans become anxious even thinking about dental visits. In these situations, we tend to hear the terms dental phobia or dental anxiety. Surprisingly, though, the two are not interchangeable and are separate conditions.

In an article published by dental supply company Colgate, it's been estimated that between 9% to 15% of Americans ( approximately 30 to 40 million people, by the way!) are so overwhelmed by the dentist's office that they just don't go. The British Dental Health Foundation found that 36% of those that don't regularly see a dentist won't go because of their intense levels of fear.

With so many people are at such unease about the dentist, let's discuss the differences between dental phobia and dental anxiety.

Dental Anxiety

Of the two, dental anxiety is less severe. Dental anxiety is still tricky, despite not being as intense. Those with this issue feel uneasy when it comes to appointments, whether scheduling, attending, or anything dentistry-related that's in between. For those with dental anxiety, dental visits or anything related to being in a dentist's office is stressful and usually causes high levels of stress. Many sufferers of dental anxiety are notorious for rescheduling appointments.

Dental Phobia

Dental phobia is more severe than dental anxiety. In the case of dental phobia, sufferers aren't just anxious but genuinely fearful of any activities revolving around the dentist or dental office. This tremendous fear can be so intense that those with dental phobia may not see a dentist for years, even if they have infections, broken teeth, or worse. Often, this strong fear can cause unintentional degradation of dental health.

TIPS : 5 DENTAL CARE TIPS FOR HEALTHY TEETH AND GUMS BY LIFE SMILES

What Causes Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia?

Both forms of dental displeasure can arise from varying factors. Here are the most common:

●     Loss of control: Patients may feel as if they don't have control over their situation and can become anxious or panic. They can't directly see what's going on inside their mouth but are on edge anticipating the possibility of pain.

●     Pain: This is probably the number one fear-inducer of dental anxieties and phobias. If a previous incident has left a patient in tremendous pain, or even any pain at all, even if they've recovered from that pain quickly, they still remember and fear a repeat situation.

●     Less than desirable past dental experiences: Much like pain, and even often caused by past pain, patients remember when we've been wronged or hurt. Whether they've had a traumatic encounter with an outrageous bill or a dentist that was far less than kind, patients tend to protect themselves by using fear as a mechanism to prevent these uncomfortable types of events from recurring.

●     Embarrassing dental situations: Sometimes, patients are embarrassed to have their teeth seen, even by professionals. They may think they haven't taken good enough care of their teeth; they expect there will be judgmental or laughing staff or are maybe even embarrassed that they haven't been in a dental office in years.

Do I Have Dental Anxiety or Dental Phobia?

Here are some of the signs that you may experience if you have dental anxiety or dental phobia:

●     You don't sleep or function as well as you usually when a dental exam is upcoming

●     You feel physically sick when you contemplate dental visits

●     You feel panicky or feel as if you can't breathe right when dental objects are used in your mouth during an appointment

●     Being in the waiting room of a dental office makes you feel incredibly nervous

●     The idea of dental staff or dental instruments make you feel like you might break down crying at any moment


If any of these explain how you feel about even the idea of a dentist office, you likely suffer from some degree of dental anxiety or dental phobia.
Don't worry. We can help.

ALSO READ : WHY IS ACID BAD FOR YOUR TEETH?

How We Can Make Dental Unease Better

If you're unsure about how you could feel better about your dental stresses, give us a call and talk to one of our warm-hearted, experienced staff members. If you tell us what about dentistry leaves you feeling the most fearful or upset, we can inform and provide you with the many options our clinic offers to make your dental experience safer and more pleasant. When you're in our office, our main priority isn't just the health of your teeth, but your comfort.

Whether you need a routine checkup or you're in need of emergency dental services in Plymouth, Minnesota, we at Life Smiles provide a wide array of options for all ages, including dental implants in our Plymouth location.

Remember that most of all, we want to help ease the unfortunate and sometimes exhausting discomfort of dental fear. We're here for you. Contact us today!

5 Dental Care Tips For Healthy Teeth and Gums by Life Smiles

Who doesn’t love the toothless smile of a baby? There is something about those first smiles that melts our heart and goes straight to our soul. However, no one wants to grow old with a gummy smile. Luckily, you can enjoy a lifetime of terrific teeth when you follow these five dental care tips.

Do you dread going to the dentist because you tremble with anxiety that the dentist will tell you that you need lots of dental work? Maybe you’re a little bit dental phobic? Don’t worry, these dental tips are easy to follow and will reduce your stress when you’re sitting in the dental chair.

 5 Dental Care Tips For Healthy Teeth and Gums by Life Smiles

Brushing

The number one dental tip is to brush your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. It suggests using a soft bristled brush on your teeth for at least two minutes at a time. The ADA also stresses that you should use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Many people mistakenly brush too hard and in the wrong direction. Improper brushing doesn't work and can lead to gum damage. Instead of vigorous brushing, gently move the brush side to side at a 45-degree angle to the gums.

Flossing

Brushing alone does not keep your teeth clean. Food gets stuck between teeth and leads to decay and gum disease if not removed. The easiest way to clean the tight spaces between your teeth is to floss every day. Flossing is an essential weapon in the ongoing fight against plaque. Plaque is that sticky stuff on your teeth that trap food and results in painful mouth problems like cavities and gum disease. People can floss with traditional floss or use a water flosser like Waterpik.

Does it matter when you floss? It does not matter if you floss before or after you brush your teeth. Pick the most convenient time to floss and keep it part of your routine. Flossing is one of the surest ways to ensure a pleasant dental visit. 

Rinse

While not a substitute for brushing and flossing, swishing some dental rinse around your mouth each day is an easy dental tip that reaps lots of benefits. Studies show that dental rinses prevent cavities and minimize the chance of gum disease when used as part of an overall dental hygiene plan.

All dental rinses are not the same. Some mouthwashes include fluoride to target cavities. Other gargles are designed to attack plaque. Still others fight plaque, dental caries, and bad breath. It’s a good idea to purchase products with an ADA Seal of Acceptance. The seal indicates that the American Dental Association believes the product is safe and effective. Your dentist can recommend the best dental rinse for you.

Diet

It is impossible to overestimate the importance of a proper diet in taking care of your teeth. Too much sugar in your diet contributes to tooth decay and gum disease.

Let’s be honest, most of us know that we consume too many sugary foods and drinks. It’s easy to cut down on eating candy, desserts, and sugar-rich sodas and fruit drinks. However, food doesn’t need to taste sweet to be loaded with sugar. Indeed, many processed foods contain vast amounts of hidden sugar.

What is the best way to fuel your body and protect your teeth? Dentists encourage you to try some of these strategies:

Drink water instead of soda and fruit juice

Limit sugar consumption

Select foods from all the food groups

Choose healthy snacks such as fruit and cheese

In addition to choosing healthy snacks, it’s beneficial to reduce your overall snacking. Research shows that the food you eat during a full-meal causes less damage to your teeth than when you snack. Your mouth makes more saliva during a meal, and the saliva washes your teeth free of much of the food particles. Snacking initiates less saliva production, so your teeth are less protected.

Also Read : Why do my teeth feel fuzzy?

Dental Visit

The last critical dental tip is to visit your dentist twice a year for a check-up and cleaning. Too many people avoid going to their dentist until they’re in pain. Delaying treatment is such a shame because much of the pain is avoidable if you make going to the dentist a regular part of your healthcare routine. Your dentist can discover potential problems before they flare into a painful crisis.

Along with keeping your teeth healthy, your dentist plays a significant role in making your smile shine. A thorough cleaning will take lots of that yucky sticky plaque off your teeth.

Finally, everyone wants a beautiful smile. Your smile says hello to the world. Fortunately, a beautiful smile is not challenging to maintain if you follow a proper dental care regimen. A consistent routine of brushing, flossing, rinsing, healthy eating, and visiting the dentist will help ensure that your smile lasts a lifetime.  

Smile!

Specialized room for care of infants

After opening my practice from scratch 7 years ago, it has been one of my babies.  I never anticipated being a dentist who treats newborns, it's been a journey since I graduated in 2002.  The path started a long time ago when I was trained using a WaterLase as an associate at another practice.  Looking back at 2009 when my first daughter was born, we spent more than our fair share of appointments with a pediatric ENT doctor.  Jump to five years later when my second child was born with a restricted lingual frenulum. "Hard to do" doesn't begin to describe what it was like to release my own child.  But I did it, and cried with happy tears after, since it improved our nursing dramatically.  Jump forward almost 3 years when I started opening my mind to the idea that I could be the provider for people with tethered oral tissues for others.  What a journey I have been on, a very exciting journey at that.   Well, my baby (practice) has just had a new development!   I am super happy to announce that I remodeled my office to open a infant frenectomy specialized room.  It's the perfect space for examining and treating the young ones.  Afterward, mom and dad can privately take their time feeding and soothing their little child without being rushed.   In addition, it is allowing us to accommodate more patients every week.   An investment in the part of my practice that has become a passion for me, well worth it!

Also Read : A day of learning with tongue tie professionals

HSA, dental insurance and benefits

                                         End of year approaching too quickly?

                                        End of year approaching too quickly?

The end of the year rush filling your calendar has begun.  We recommend you give yourself the gift of good oral health and ring in the new year with a great smile. Many people have realized they haven't used their dental insurance from their employer to maximize their benefit.  Others haven't used any of their dental insurance.  Is this you?  And, can we still see you?  We are saving space for new patients to enter our practice. Research by the National Association of Dental Plans, only 2.8% of people with PPO dental plan participants reached or exceeded their plans annual maximum.   That leaves a lot of money that the dental insurance company get to keep and is a waste for you.  Dental insurance companies count on making millions of dollars off of patients who never use their insurance benefits because many of these plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually.  We know insurance companies do not encourage customers to use benefits, and most patients are too busy to sift through their policies to determine what might remain on them. 

We can explain how your insurance works once we gather the specifics.  Dental insurance almost always has a maximum benefit per year.  It doesn't cover everything you need, but acts more like a coupon.  For instance, many plans cover two cleanings and exams per year and is covered at 100%.  The least expensive dentistry is always preventative.  Every plan is different so we call to verify specifics.  Pre-tax dollars in the form of an HSA or FSA card can be used to pay for treatment and to purchase electric toothbrushes and Waterpik flossers.

Also Read : 5 Dental Care Tips For Healthy Teeth and Gums by Life Smiles