Dental Implants vs. Bridgework

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Your sleep impacts every aspect of your health and daily life. Sleeping well helps you look, feel and perform your best. But a sleep problem can be harmful to your health and well-being. One of the most common sleep problems is obstructive sleep apnea. Learn more about the warning signs and how you can get help.

About Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute.

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, repeated breathing pauses occur, which often reduce your oxygen levels. These breathing pauses are followed by brief awakenings that disturb your sleep.

Common signs of sleep apnea include snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep. Like snoring, sleep apnea is more common in men, but it can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway or misaligned jaw all increase the risk of sleep apnea.

Is Treating OSA Important?
Treating obstructive sleep apnea is incredibly important to your health. When left untreated, sleep apnea often causes excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea also is a threat to your safety as it increases your risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious health problems. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic acid reflux
  • Erectile dysfunction

Severe, untreated sleep apnea even increases your risk of death.

How is OSA Diagnosed?
Kleinheinz Dentistry is proud to offer a Free Sleep Study. Call our office for more information. 704-542-6003.

How is OSA Treated?

Dr. Kleinheinz can discuss treatment options with you. We will provide a FREE SLEEP STUDY at your convenience.

  • Oral appliance therapy uses a mouth guard-like device - worn only during sleep - to maintain an open, unobstructed airway.

Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. An oral appliance is worn in the mouth only while you sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances support your jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.

Many patients consider a sleep apnea appliance to be more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Oral appliances also are quiet, portable and easy to care for.

If you decide that oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option for you, then Dr. Kleinheinz will recommend a prescription for you to receive a custom-made sleep apnea appliance. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. We prescribe and make the FDA approved appliances. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans. We will do a complete benefits check upon your scheduled appointment.

Dental implants vs bridgework.

If you're missing a tooth, you're in good company: Some 70% of the U.S. population is also missing at least one, usually a back tooth (molar). Adult teeth are often lost due to decay, gum disease, failed root canal therapy, or fracture — particularly if they have already been heavily restored with fillings or crowns. When it comes to replacing a lost tooth (or even two or three adjacent teeth) there are generally two treatment options available: the old standby, fixed bridgework; or the modern, high-tech solution, dental implants.

While either one can offer an aesthetically pleasing and functional replacement, there are some important differences between the two methods of treatment. To help you decide which one is right for you, let's take a closer look at each technology.

A Bit of Dental History

Although an early type of dental bridge was used by the Etruscans around 700 BC, the modern bridge (also called a fixed partial denture) first became available in the early 20th century. The part which replaces missing teeth, called a “pontic” (French for bridge), is fixed in place by attachment to adjacent, healthy teeth, called “abutments.” The pontic is made to resemble a row of natural teeth joined together; how many teeth it will consist of depends on how many are missing.

For example, if just one tooth is gone, a three-unit fixed bridge will be needed. This consists of a replacement for the missing tooth (the pontic), plus a crown for each of the two teeth adjacent to the gap. If more teeth are missing, more units would be required in the bridge. A seven-unit bridge might be needed for three missing teeth; this would consist of three replacement teeth, plus four crowned abutment teeth — two on each side of the gap — to handle the extra stresses.

Caution: Failing Bridge

The crowns fit over the tops of the abutment teeth, which must be prepared (re-shaped by the removal of tooth structure) to receive them — and therein lies a problem. In order to securely attach the crowns, the enamel (and some dentin) must be removed from the abutment teeth. This renders these otherwise healthy teeth more susceptible to decay; it may also necessitate root canal treatment. Additionally, if existing crowns are present, they will have to be removed and redone.

The potential problems don't end when a bridge is in place. Because of the way bridgework “sits” below the gums, there is an increased potential for gum disease in the area. Plus, because a bridge requires that two teeth do the work of three (or more), the forces at work in the mouth generally cause the system to fail over time. Ten years is considered a good lifespan for a well-cared-for bridge.

The Modern Standard: Dental Implants

Beginning in the late 1970s, dental implants became available in the United States. This remarkable system for tooth replacement relies on the osteophilic (bone-loving) properties of titanium, the metal from which the below-gum part of the implant tooth is made. Placed directly into the bone of the jaw, an implant fuses with the living bone tissue, making it sturdy and long-lasting. The lifelike crown on top makes it virtually indistinguishable from the natural teeth.

If you have one missing tooth, you need just one implant — healthy adjacent teeth aren't affected. A greater number of lost teeth can often be replaced by a smaller number of implants, with no need to compromise the teeth nearby. Plus, while the chance of tooth decay is eliminated, the potential for gum disease isn't increased. In fact, with normal brushing and flossing, a dental implant can last a lifetime.

Implants generally cost more than bridgework initially — but they have been shown to be the most cost-effective long-term option. They also have other advantages, including one that no other tooth replacement system offers: the ability to stop the loss of bone, which invariably occurs after tooth loss. So when you're weighing your tooth-replacement options, it pays to consider the long-term value of dental implants.

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