The Future of the Dental Industry

The dental industry as a whole is an ever changing commerce that fluctuates with the ebb and flow of the economy, changing its method of delivery of services at a fairly frequent rate. For stakeholders and providers of dentistry to maintain relevancy, they must embrace the future, and all the changes that come with it.

One of the major positives to note in dental hygiene is the fact that more and more people are acknowledging the relationship between oral health and total health overall. Individuals are beginning to take better care of their teeth and gums now that more knowledge on the subject has been brought to light. With that said, a shift in the demographic has taken place. Older members of society are beginning to maintain healthy sets of teeth for longer periods of time, forcing developers of implants, dentures, and other oral substitutes to adjust their methods and improve the products’ lasting abilities.

A rather grim statistic the world of dentistry is facing is the dwindling number of students entering the field. Enrollment in dental schools has been declining within the last few decades, leading to a larger number of retiring dentists with fewer professionals to fill their spots. Because of this, the number of businesses seeking to hire dentists is shrinking as well. This proves extraordinarily difficult for those who reside in states that require hygienists to employed by licensed dentists.

These changes bring into question the traditional model of a team of hygienists led by a single dentist. While it is unlikely that this model will change entirely, innovation is bound surface in this area. For example, the areas in which dentists and their teams may practice is almost guaranteed to change within the coming years. Rather than working out of one office, these dental professionals may visit retirement communities, schools, health clinics, or even offer in-home visitations.

Due to constantly changing times, many hygienists are becoming entrepreneurs, in that they are designing their own ways to deliver the care needed by patients, and focusing on the “how” and “where.” One of the ongoing debates is improved portability that includes every tool necessary in a dentist’s or hygienist’s handbag. The more easily a dental professional is able to travel with his or her equipment, the further they can go, both literally and figuratively.

Customer service in the field of dentistry is perhaps as important if not more than the services provided themselves. Patients should be comfortable, and receive the best care possible by all dental professionals. A common cause for concern among patients is the pain that comes with certain procedures. A step in the right direction in terms of innovation would be developing tools, and processes that make one’s experience in a dentist’s office much more enjoyable and pain-free; something that is easier said than done with what little we know about anesthesia, for example.

 
Many dental professionals are constantly working at a diligent pace to improve their practices and standards and adapt with the changes that the future brings. As they do so, the challenges brought forth create an entirely new set of goals for all dentists and hygienists to strive for, possibly further improving the industry at a faster rate.

3D Printing in Dentistry

R. Kirk Huntsman 3D printing

Using additive processes, 3D printing allows for the creation of virtually any object in the modern world. In the dental industry, this has given dental professionals the opportunity to offer patients innovative designs that may improve several aspects of treatment.

Through the combination of oral scanning, computer-aided design and manufacturing, and 3D printing, dental labs can create extremely accurate representations of crowns, bridges, and even orthodontic supplies in large numbers. The speed at which these products are created is greatly increased through this strategy as well.

3D printers have the ability to use any number of materials when modeling objects; another technological aspect beneficial for those in the dental technology field. For implants, titanium can be utilized to fit the proportions of any patient’s needs. This the most frequently used metal in dentistry, and medicine in general, due to its strength-to-weight ratio and biocompatibility. However, in regards to dentures, bridges, and caps, titanium’s biocompatibility is less important due to the fact that these products do not come in contact with the tooth’s soft tissue.

Surgically tools constructed through 3D printing are tested vigorously in order to meet medical-grade standards for treatment and surgery. Because of the need to constantly sterilize these products, stainless steel if the most commonly chosen material in the designing phase. The fact that these printers have the ability to create tools can also bring about improved functionality, or even new instruments that have yet to be developed.

 
Overall, the introduction of 3D printing in the dental industry has provided innovations that may replace traditional processes of molding and creating dental impressions, as well as potentially changing the way professionals approach certain procedures. The higher level of production that 3D printing brings forth also makes the method much more affordable. As methods progress, dental professionals will test different materials that can be harnessed by 3D printers to enhance their products used, and possibly discover more effective tools and strategies along the way.

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Work Life

Choosing to go to bed very late at night or skipping a night’s worth of sleep entirely is, unsurprisingly, an unhealthy habit, and doing so during your work week can have a variety of negative effects. This can lead to decreased levels of productivity, forgetfulness, and general fatigue when entering your place of work the next morning, directly resulting in poor performance.

It’s no secret that getting anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep is vital for a productive day following. Not getting this much sleep can cause both short-term and long-term health problems, including a direct affect how efficiently you perform your job.

A common misconception today is that staying later at work displays determination and professionalism to one’s managers, and successfully completes more work than one would in a normal day. However, this habit tends to backfire frequently. Rather than seeing improved performance, a longer night in the office yields opposite results, due to lack of sleep building up over time.

Sleep deprivation is commonly seen as a necessary price that we have to pay in order to be successful in today’s world. This has led to a generation of late night crammers and early morning idleness. Choosing work over sleep will have the opposite results that you wish to see, and studies have shown that after being awake for more than 17 hours, your motor skills are equivalent to someone with a blood alcohol content of .05%.

Sleep deprivation can hinder your creativity and decision-making abilities, and staying mentally sharp is essentially a job requirement. With a full night’s sleep, your cognitive abilities are basically recharged from the day before, allowing you to spark more creative thought, and make smarter decisions throughout the day.

Another negative aspect that sleep deprivation has on one’s work life, which typically goes disregarded, is the number of sick days you will eventually rack up. Lack of sleep has a direct affect on our physical health. As your immune system weakens, you are more prone to colds and the flu, in addition to increasing your risk of blood pressure irregularities, and weight gain. Taking more time off can be a financial burden for your employer.

Your ability to retain information is another mental aspect that takes a hit from sleep deprivation. Attempting to process information from meetings, emails, or phone calls is made much more difficult after a poor night’s sleep. Rapid eye movement during sleep helps your brain solidify memories, and not getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep can cause brain cell damage. This can eventually develop into a long-term health issue as well.

Lack of sleep can negatively affect your mood as well, making your daily interactions with coworkers or customers fairly unpleasant. This can hurt business in more ways than one. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, stress, and short temperedness, which makes one’s day much more difficult for themselves, and their peers.

 
For a productive, successful work day, a proper night’s sleep is extremely important. Burning the midnight oil, though seemingly effective, can have adverse effects on the quality of your work, and your physical and mental health as well. While it may be required at times, avoid staying too late when possible. A decent amount of sleep is much more important for you, and your employer.

The Best Products for a Good Night’s Sleep

It’s no secret that getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night is key for one’s physical health. As discussed in a previous blog of mine, insomnia and lack of sleep in general can even lead to mental health problems. Yet still, more than 1/3rd of all American adults are not averaging a full night’s sleep. For those who have tried everything they can to combat these harmful habits, consider a few alternatives. Below are a few devices that just may benefit your sleeping patterns.

Sound Soothers

On average, a noise above 55 dBA can wake any sleeping person, and the more inconsistent the noise, the more distracting. Sound soothers are statistically proven to promote sleep by drowning out otherwise bothersome noises with a consistent, alleviating tone of your choice. This can be white noise, rainfall, fireside crackling, or even the soft humming of a city street.

Lark

Lark is an app with a wristband included that wakes sleepers with a gentle vibration after tracking your movements throughout the night. In the morning, you are given a full report of of your night including the quality of your sleep, how long it took you to fall asleep, and the number of times you woke up. Perhaps even better, Lark comes with a feature that allows you to set and maintain a consistent bedtime with reminders and alarms.

Light Adjusters

There are a variety of gadgets that harness the power of relaxing light to aid in a better night’s sleep. One of which is the Aura Connected Alarm Clock from Withings. This ingenious product records the environment in which you are sleeping, and adjusts its light according to noise, temperature, and light levels, attempting to mimic your body’s circadian rhythms with soothing frequencies. By utilizing sensors underneath your mattress, it can also measure body movement, heart rate, and breathing cycles.

Another great product is the Philips Wake-Up Light, which gently wakes you with a light mimicking the rising sun, along with songs or sounds from your own playlist. Should you have trouble falling asleep, this device also has a dusk setting, helping you fall asleep much like the Aura as mentioned above.

 
A poor night’s sleep can lead to a wide range of health problems and should be treated seriously. If your inability to sleep is more mild than others, and medications is not required, consider some of the products mentioned above. They just might be the answer to your sleeping problems after all.

Linking Insomnia with Mental Health

Sleep deprivation can have surprisingly serious effects to both our physical and mental health. In addition to fatigue, lack of sleep can cause increased levels of anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and even ADHD.

The relationship between insomnia and mental illness is a two-way street. Roughly 50% of adults who suffer from insomnia experience mental health issues, while 65% to 90% of adults who have depression experience some sort of sleep disorder. This can create a vicious cycle in that the inability to sleep can slow the recovery process of mental illnesses, while also increasing the chances of relapse.

While it is unclear how insomnia boosts the development of mental illness in those suffering from it, research suggests that it may hinder the ability to process negative emotions. A study at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that sleep-deprived patients who were shown unpleasant images reacted with much more emotion than those who were not sleep-deprived. Additionally, neuroimaging conducted showed that patients with insomnia had higher activity in the brain’s emotional processing area, suggesting that sleep deprivation can make it difficult to properly react to negativity.

Applying the proper treatment of mental illness to sleep disorders can provide some amount of improvement, but insomnia usually requires a specific type of treatment. While cognitive behavior therapy does effectively combat the symptoms of mental health issues, it has been shown that for patients suffering from both insomnia and some sort of mental illness, said mental illness was improved, though the insomnia remained.

Conversely, studies are being conducted to test whether or not treating insomnia can directly affect mental health outcomes. Previous evidence has been found linking sleep disorder medication with improved mental health, though no one form of treatment has been proven to guarantee success.

The good news about this ability to cross-study both mental illnesses and sleep disorders is that doctors are often able to treat both issues at once. Though there is a wide range of circumstances, some forms of treatment may provide relief for several symptoms. Antidepressants are often used to treat insomnia, as the sedatives can cause drowsiness in most patients.

 
The latest findings in research and studies of sleep disorders have added to the growing body of knowledge that these can cause impairments in the brain, contributing to emotional difficulties and some psychological conditions. Many people can attest to the fact that being tired can cause feelings of anger, short-temperedness, impatience, and mood swings. As research continues, professionals hope to uncover exactly why this is, and provide proper treatment with much higher levels of success.

How Oral Health Can Affect Your Sleep

Many people do not realize to what extent oral health affects the rest of the body. One such connection that people might be unaware of is the connection between dental health and a full night’s sleep, generally described as eight hours, though six or seven is also beneficial. If you have poor oral health, it can keep you awake at night, which in turn negatively affects your oral health. The main oral effect of lack of sleep is an increased risk of gum disease. It’s a circle that keeps going round and round unless you stay on top of your dental health and adopt regular sleeping habits.

Sleep, Stress, and Oral Health

While oral health could cause a lack of sleep, it’s also possible that another problem altogether is affecting your sleeping habits and dental health. If you’re experiencing a significant amount of stress, this anxiety will come through during your sleep. You may grind your teeth, be unable to fall into a deep sleep, or continuously clench your jaw. You might develop canker sores, which can be incredibly painful and make it impossible for you to concentrate throughout the rest of your day.

If you begin developing a habit of going to bed at a regular time and getting a full night’s rest, it’ll be more likely that you’ll experience less stress. Learn how to manage your stress and you’ll soon find that you get a more restful night of sleep, which benefits you because you feel well-rested and are being proactive about your dental health.

Obstructive Sleep Disorders

Obstructive sleep disorders are caused when your throat muscles relax unintentionally and your breathing becomes cut off for a short period of time. Sleep apnea may be the most common of these disorders and can lead to significant health problems if it is not treated properly. Some of these problems include: diabetes, obesity, gum or heart disease, and various others.

Luckily, either you or your partner will notice your pauses in breathing at night, so you’ll know when it’s time to see a doctor about your sleep apnea. There are various devices you can get to help with your symptoms and other lifestyle alterations you can make, like exercising more, that may help with your sleep apnea symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where the person affected stops and starts breathing throughout the night while asleep. It can be potentially serious and there are three different kinds: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs because the throat muscles relax while central sleep apnea is caused by the brain not sending the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is when the patient has both kinds of sleep apnea. Because this sleep disorder can be particularly serious, be on the lookout for signs of it!

Loud snoring

While not everyone who snores suffers from sleep apnea, if you constantly snore and it’s disruptive to others in your household, it very well could be a sign of sleep apnea. Because you’re asleep, you won’t notice your snoring and it’ll be more difficult to catch your sleep disorder in the beginning. If your family is complaining about your snoring, go to see your doctor and find out if there’s anything that can be done.

Constantly tired

Because you are not getting a fulfilling sleep, it’s common that you’ll wake the next day feeling fatigued. Those with sleep apnea do not get restful sleep due to their fitful breathing, so they’ll often have trouble staying awake throughout the day, even after being in bed for a full night’s rest. Constant fatigue is the most common side effect of sleep apnea that people experience, even before they’re aware they have a sleeping disorder.

Morning headaches

Next to chronic fatigue, this symptom is most common in those with sleep apnea. Patients often wake the next morning with a headache, due to the lack of oxygen to their brain throughout the night, which can cause a vascular headache. You may also experience mood swings and irritability due to the lack of sleep you’re experiencing.

Noticeable breathing irregularities

In addition to snoring, your breathing will start and stop throughout the night if you have sleep apnea. You may wake up, but not realize why, so it can be hard to diagnose the disease right away. However, if you live with a significant other, they’ll likely notice your snoring and irregular breathing, which will cause you to see a doctor sooner. Sleep apnea can develop into a pretty serious condition and some people with it will experience their breathing starting and stopping hundreds of times throughout the night. If you suspect you have a sleeping disorder, see your doctor before it becomes more serious.

R. Kirk Huntsman | 3 Urgent Myths About Sleep-Disordered Breathing

 

Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) comprises various chronic sleep conditions that cause some to many pauses in breathing throughout a person’s sleep cycle.  According to the American Thoracic Society (ATS), “A breathing pause of 10 seconds or more is termed an apnea.”  These apneas can cause moderate to severe health problems if not examined and treated by a physician.  SDB can result in chronic fatigue and tiredness, as well as much more severe symptoms such as a loss of life.  These symptoms can inhibit one’s ability to function fully during hours of wakefulness.

ATS goes on to say that one “must be evaluated by a polysomnogram (sleep test),… It has been suggested that 93% of women and 82% of men with signs and symptoms of moderate to severe SDB remain undiagnosed.”  This is why it is of the utmost importance that one knows the common misconceptions about SDB.  Below are three common misconceptions about SDB that need to be erased.

1) Sleep apnea does not affect someone’s ability to live a full life.

In the case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the most common SDB, it could be the difference between life and death.  “The most common breathing disorder of sleep is OSA, which is characterized by recurrent narrowing or collapse of the back of the throat because of the loss of muscle tone that occurs during sleep.”  OSA requires someone to get a machine that pressurizes the airway so that one can keep breathing when an apnea occurs.

2) Obesity, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, depression, diabetes, and other serious health issues do not relate to the quality amount of sleep someone gets.

By way of example, OSA affects the amount of insulin and growth hormones your body produces.  The first leads to diabetes, while the later leads to obesity.  When someone has had OSA for an extended period of time, such as the president, William Howard Taft, had, one can be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.  These diseases and ailments are no laughing matter and need to be addressed immediately.

3) SDB cannot be caused by problems with the jaw and teeth.

One can make themselves open to getting cavities and swollen adenoids and tonsils when one has SDB.  These restrict breathing.  If you have a, “bad bite,” in your teeth, meaning they are crooked or overcrowded, this can cause the jaw to be set back further than normal, causing further restriction to the airway.  These symptoms can contribute significantly to SDB.

Overall, it is vital to get possible SDB symptoms checked.  It can be the difference between a lot of energy during the day or chronic fatigue.  It can be the difference between life and death at times.  Symptoms such as snoring or extended periods of apnea, should be examined by a physician.  There is value is having a dentist check your bite, as well.  SDB is common, but it can be fixed with simple treatments.

Pioneers In Sleep-Disordered Breathing Treatments: Dave Singh

Dr. Dave Singh is the current president of BioModeling Solutions, LLC, who received his education and training in England, and has become a prolific figure in the field of Orthodontics and Dentistry.

In addition to being the Director of Continuing Education for the SMILE Foundation, Dr. Singh is also a senior instructor, consultant, and Fellow for the International Association for Orthodontics, a member of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain, and a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

Under all of these titles, Dr. Singh has conducted extensive research surrounding sleep disorders and how they are treated, specifically snoring and sleep apnea. Through this analysis, he has paved the way for a breakthrough in the field of sleep disorder treatment, and created a device known as the Daytime-Nighttime Appliance system, or DNA Appliance.

With a similar design to that of a retainer, the DNA Appliance provides improvement in snoring, sleep apnea, tooth alignment, and facial appearance in adults through a unique array of concepts, including Epigenetic orthopedics, which were first pioneered by Dr. Singh. This form of treatment requires no surgery, drugs, or injections of any kind, providing a safer, pain-free alternative to the remedy of sleep disorder.

Dr. Singh has developed this improvement by initially looking at standard procedures in curing sleep disorders. Rather than repositioning the mandible as most appliances/operations do, the DNA Appliance allows for the body to gently increase upper jaw size, which in turn increases the volume of the nasal airway. Not only has this invention provided a cure for snoring and sleep apnea, but in one case, it has resolved a patient’s history with migraines.

It has been concluded that with this innovation in the treatment of sleep disorders, the DNA Appliance could possibly be used in cosmetic dental practices as an alternative to invasive procedures, of which put patients at risk for further damage rather than repair or improvement. Dr. Singh has observed results in patients who underwent slight changes in their facial aesthetics, some being more prominent than others. Of these cases, certain people have regarded the change as a “non-surgical facelift.”

Dr. Singh’s invention has given a new sense of hope to not only those who experience troubling sleep disorders, but to people who also wish to see physical changes in the contours of their face. Without harmful surgery, medication, or injections, the DNA Appliance can give permanent results to patients without causing them further pain or discomfort, and pave the way for future medical breakthroughs.

Sources:

https://dnaappliance.com/

http://www.dentistrytoday.com/orthodontics/9866-craniofacial-enhancement-using-a-biomimetic-oral-appliance

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