The most important part of dental care is prevention. At PearTree Dental Care, Dr. Michael Zhou and our team help patients deter dental issues that cause oral-systemic health problems. We offer cleanings and exams, as well as non-invasive therapies for temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Dental Cleanings and Exams
To preserve good oral health and deter issues like tooth decay, tooth erosion, malocclusion, gum disease, and oral cancer, the American Dental Association suggests that adults visit the dentist twice each year for a professional dental cleaning and comprehensive oral, head, and neck examination.
Children should visit the dentist once a year after just one tooth erupts; by age three or four, kids need to see the dentist twice a year.
Dr. Zhou has invested in a few pieces of technology that make clinical diagnostics more accurate, while ensuring the safest environment for our patients.
- Digital X-rays: Subjecting patients to 80-90% less radiation than traditional X-ray machines, our digital X-ray captures the fine details of teeth and bone structure, so the dentist can accurately diagnose conditions.
- Intraoral Cameras: To further enhance diagnostic precision, we employ intraoral cameras that allow us to take photographs of the exterior surfaces of teeth and gum tissue. The dentist can zoom in for a close-up view to see minute cracks, cavities, and other imperfections that need to be addressed.
TMD Treatment and Jaw Pain Relief
The temporomandibular joints of the jaw depend upon upper and lower teeth fitting together properly, a relationship which we call occlusion. In the ideal situation, healthy teeth allow the jaw joints to find a comfortable resting position when the mouth is shut.
Muscles and nerves around the jaw and face can relax when occlusion is balanced. If the jaw joints become improperly aligned, often due to malocclusion, associated muscles and nerves never fully rest. They become overworked, resulting in pain in the jaw, face, and neck.
Some people experience numbness or tingling in their hands and feet, chronic earaches or ringing ears, or teeth grinding, known as bruxism. Over time, bruxism causes tooth wear, fractures, crazing, and breakage of teeth, which further damages occlusion.
TMD pain may also be caused by bruxism. Stressed muscles can spasm while a person sleeps, and daytime stress is often expressed by clenching and grinding teeth, though this habit often goes unnoticed.
To restore healthy occlusion, Dr. Zhou may apply dental crowns to build up molars that have endured wear or other damage. In some cases, orthodontic treatment may be advised to address poor occlusion.
A bite guard can be fabricated to prevent nighttime teeth grinding, and stress-relief activities may help relieve overworked muscles and nerves, as well.
Treatment for Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Snoring can cause interruptions in sleep for the person who snores and anyone within earshot. Many snorers do not know that their irritating night sounds can be a symptom of a more serious condition, known as sleep apnea.
While we sleep, the lower jaw relaxes and can shift to allow soft tissues of the throat and mouth to block airflow. When partial blockage occurs, our breath causes vibrations of the soft tissues, which produces the sounds of snoring.
In obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients, the airway becomes completely blocked. An OSA sufferer stops breathing for periods of 10 seconds or longer, many times throughout a sleep cycle.
With OSA, these breath cessation episodes are called apnea, this the term sleep apnea. During the episodes, blood oxygen levels drop, and the brain alerts the body to wake up and start breathing. REM, the deep and restful stage of sleep, is never fully achieved or completed, and the patient experiences adverse effects of sleep deprivation.
These can include daytime frustration, inability to focus, feeling drowsy, falling asleep throughout the day. OSA also contributes to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
If you snore or have been diagnosed with OSA, you may have a CPAP. While this device works well, not all patients can tolerate it. Dr. Zhou offers a simple oral appliance to alleviate both snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea.
Call Us Today
Are you looking for an excellent clinician who values one-on-one patient care? Dr. Michael Zhou’s education, experience, and commitment to excellent patient care are evident to our patients – that’s why they keep coming back! We are accepting new patients, so give us a call today .
Our Ellicott City dental office is conveniently located off Richard’s Valley Road and easily accessible to families from Columbia, Elkridge, and Catonsville.