Lansing's Dental Discussion

Posts for: February, 2015

By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
February 27, 2015
Category: Oral Health

You may think snoring is a minor problem, but it can be a lot more than that. Just ask hoops star Shaquille O'Neal, whose rambunctious snoring bothered his girlfriend enough for her to suspect a health problem. Her observations eventually led to Shaq's diagnosis of moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the soft tissue structures at the back of a person's throat, including the tongue, partially close off the upper airway and prevent air from moving into the lungs during sleep. Sometimes airflow can be blocked completely for 10 or more seconds.

When air flow is reduced, blood oxygen levels drop. This leads to brief waking episodes known as “micro-arousals,” which can happen sometimes more than 50 times an hour. The sleeper might not even be aware of this, even while gasping for air. Micro-arousals prevent the person from ever reaching deep, restful sleep.

Besides suffering from excessive daytime sleepiness, studies show sleep apnea patients are at higher risks of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, brain damage and strokes. People with sleep apnea also have a higher incidence of work and driving-related accidents.

OSA can be treated in a few different ways. On the advice of his doctor, Shaq opted for a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine, which generates pressurized air delivered through a face mask worn while sleeping. The force of the pressurized air opens the airway (windpipe) in the same way as blowing into a balloon does.

For people with milder OSA, or who find they can't tolerate wearing a mask during sleep, an oral appliance supplied by a dental professional might be the answer. Oral appliances are worn in the mouth and are designed to gently reposition the jaw and move the tongue forward away from the back of the throat. Success rates of 80% or more have been reported using oral appliances, depending on the severity of the OSA.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about sleep apnea by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Snoring & Sleep Apnea.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Sleep Disorders & Dentistry.”

By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
February 12, 2015
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

With their durability, versatility and life-likeness, there’s no doubt dental implants have revolutionized teeth replacement. If you’re considering dental implants, however, there are some issues that could impact how and when you receive implants, or if you should consider another type of restoration.

Cost. Dental implants are initially more expensive than other tooth restorations, especially for multiple tooth replacement. However, be sure you consider the projected cost over the long-term, not just installation costs. Because of their durability, implants can last decades with little maintenance cost. In the long run, you may actually pay more for dental care with other types of restorations.

Bone health. Dental implants depend on a certain amount of bone to properly situate them for the best crown placement. If you’ve experienced extensive bone loss, however, there may not be enough to support the implant. This can often be overcome with grafting — immediately after extraction, at the time of implantation or a few months before implantation — to encourage bone growth. In some cases, though, bone loss may be so extensive you may need to consider an alternative restoration.

Gum Health. While implants themselves are impervious to infection, they’re supported by gum and bone tissues that can be affected. Infected tissues around an implant could eventually detach and lead to implant failure. If you have periodontal (gum) disease, we must first bring it under control and render your gums infection-free before installing implants. It’s also important to maintain effective oral hygiene and regular dental cleanings and checkups for optimum implant health.

Complications from osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis — in which the bones lose bone density and are more prone to fracture — are often treated with drugs known as bisphosphonates. In less than 1% of cases of long-term use, a patient may develop osteonecrosis in which the bone in the jaw may lose its vitality and die. As with bone loss, this condition could make implant placement difficult or impractical. Most dentists recommend stopping treatment of bisphosphonates for about three months before implant surgery.

If you have any of these issues or other complications with your oral health, be sure to discuss those with us before considering dental implants. With proper planning and care, most of these difficulties can be overcome for a successful outcome.

If you would like more information on pre-existing conditions that may affect implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Osteoporosis & Dental Implants” and “Infections around Implants.”

By Holly A. Scott-Hetchler DDS, PC
February 04, 2015
Category: Dental Education
Tags: Bruxism  


If your dentist has ever told you that your clench or grind your teeth, you have a condition known as bruxism. While this might not seem like a serious problem, bruxism can damage teeth or dental crowns, and cause tension headaches and facial pain. If you are suffering from bruxism, read on to learn more about this common condition, and what you can do to alleviate your symptoms.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism involves grinding or clenching your teeth. Some people with bruxism only do this during the day, while others will clench Bruxismtheir teeth during the night. However, those who grind their teeth at night actually have a sleep movement disorder and may be more likely to develop other sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

What are the symptoms of bruxism?

Bruxism can cause aching pain and stiffness in the jaw, headaches, and even tooth damage. Over time you may notice that your teeth have flattened, or you may experience fractures and chips in your teeth. You may also notice an increase in tooth sensitivity.

When should I see my Lansing dentist about bruxism?

While not everyone will need treatment, particularly if your case is mild, you should see us right away if you notice any damage or sensitivity in your teeth, pain in your jaw, or a locked jaw.

How is bruxism diagnosed?

When you come in for your routine dental appointments, your Lansing dentist will look for signs that you may have bruxism. If we notice any red flags, we will continue to monitor the issue over the next few visits to see how things have changed, and to decide whether you may need treatment. If you are experiencing any symptoms of bruxism, please let us know at your next appointment.

How is bruxism treated?

If your bruxism is caused by poor alignment or malocclusion, your Lansing dentist may recommend braces to correct the problem. However, night guards and splints can be particularly helpful and effective at reducing the wear and tear of daily or nightly teeth grinding. Both of these appliances are placed over the top of your teeth to prevent damage due to grinding and clenching. Splints are worn for those who grind during the day, while mouth guards can help those whose bruxism is most prevalent while they sleep.

Muscle relaxants and stress management are also sometimes recommended for relieving your bruxism symptoms, depending on your case.

If you are suffering from bruxism and need relief from your symptoms, then it’s time to call your Lansing dentist, Dr. Holly Scott-Hetchler. Here at our office we specialize in treating bruxism cases, as well as offer a full range of other dental services. Let us stop your jaw pain once and for all.

Contact Us

Please do not submit any Protected Health Information (PHI).

Our Location

Holly A. Scott-Hetchler DDS, PC 919 Chester RdLansing, MI 48912