Why Is My Heart Doctor Sending Me to My Dentist?

I’ve had an elevated heart beat and my doctor sent me to a heart specialist. I saw her and she said the problem is sleep apnea and I need to see a dentist. How could any of that affect my heart?

Emily P.

Dear Emily,

Sleep apnea does contribute to heart problems. What happens is you stop breathing over and over again throughout the night. Your body recognizes you’re no longer getting oxygen and wakes you up. It doesn’t wake you up all the way though. It just startles you awake enough to cause you to start breathing again.

Unfortunately, this can happen literally hundreds of time a night. The amount of time you lack oxygen then wake up puts stress on your heart.

I’m assuming your heart doc did some type of sleep study on you to confirm you actually have sleep apnea. If not, she’s making assumptions which aren’t safe for you.

Talk to your dentist. He or she can arrange for you to get a sleep study done. Often, it’s covered by medical insurance. Your dentist can work with your doctor to get you a prescription for one.

If the results show you have sleep apnea, then your dentist can fit you with an orthotic to help you breathe freely throughout the night.  You’ll likely find you’re a lot less tired and you feel much better throughout the day once this is dealt with.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.

Why Are My Porcelain Veneers Staining?

I thought porcelain veneers were supposed to last for years. I’m really discouraged. I saved up for years to get them.  When they were first put on I felt like I could smile without embarrassment for the first time in years. But, they only lasted until my first dental cleaning (six months later).  Just a few weeks after that, they’ve started picking up stains– stains I can’t get off with brushing. What’s going on?

Elisabeth T.

Elisabeth,

Because they started picking up stains right after your first cleaning, I suspect you had a run in with a power cleaning tool at the dentist. Is it possible you had a hygienist who is new and inexperienced with cosmetic dentistry? If she used anything like a prophy jet, then the glaze has likely been removed from your porcelain veneers. That would definitely lead to them picking up stains.

If that’s the case, they should replace them. You’re right that porcelain veneers should last for years, especially if you’re taking care of them.

Be careful not to use anything like a whitening toothpaste on them. Those contain micro-abrasive materials which can scratch the surface of your veneers causing gunk to build up in the scratches.

There is a special toothpaste you can use that’s designed specifically for cosmetic work. Supersmile is one of the best.  However, that won’t help you until your glaze is restored. Very few dentists know the diamond polishing technique that can restore it. In all likelihood, your dentist will need to replace them. He’ll also need to educate his staff on how to handle porcelain veneers during cleaning visits. The same thing can happen to other dental work, such as porcelain crowns.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Steve Bader.