My Blog

Posts for: November, 2017

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
November 23, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: sleep apnea   snoring  

Fatigue, irritability and family complaints about snoring — all tell-tale signs you may have sleep apnea. There’s more to this condition than being grouchy the next day — the long-term effect could increase your risks for life-threatening diseases.

But how do you know if you actually have sleep apnea? And if you do, what can you do about it?

Undergo an exam by a physician trained in “sleep medicine.” Sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes blocked while you sleep, dropping the body’s oxygen levels; your body awakens to re-open the airway. The event may only last a few seconds, but it can occur several times a night. Even so, sleep apnea is one potential cause among others for snoring or fatigue. To know for sure if you have sleep apnea you’ll need to undergo an examination by a physician trained to diagnose this condition. He or she may then refer you to a dentist to make a sleep appliance if you have mild to moderate apnea.

Determine the level of your apnea’s intensity. Not all cases of sleep apnea are equal — they can range in cause and intensity from mild to advanced, the latter a reason for concern and focused intervention. Your physician may use different methods for determining the intensity of your case: review of your medical history, examining the structures within your mouth or having your sleep observed directly at a sleep lab. Getting the full picture about your sleep apnea will make it easier to develop a treatment plan.

Match the appropriate treatment to your level of sleep apnea. If you have moderate to advanced apnea, you may benefit from continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, an electrical pump that delivers pressurized air through a mask worn while you sleep that gently forces the airway open. It’s quite effective, but uncomfortable to wear for some people. Advanced cases may also require surgery to alter or remove soft tissue obstructions. If, you have mild to slightly moderate apnea, though, your dentist may have the solution: a custom-fitted mouth guard that moves the tongue, the most common airway obstruction, down and away from the back of the throat.

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, see a trained physician for an examination. It’s your first step to a good night’s sleep and better overall health.

If you would like more information on sleep apnea treatments, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “If You Snore, You Must Read More!

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
November 16, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: TMJ   jaw pain  

There are several possible causes of jaw pain. For instance, a jaw injury or an abscessed tooth can both lead to jaw pain. There are jaw painpotential causes of jaw pain, as well, but a common cause of jaw pain is a condition known as TMJ disorder. With this condition, jaw pain develops when the joints connecting the jawbone to the skull become irritated. Fortunately, there are treatments for alleviating the pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorder. Dr. Charles Sours is your Woodbridge, VA dentist for the diagnosis and treatment of jaw pain related to TMJ disorder.

TMJ Disorder

TMJ is an abbreviation for the joint known as the temporomandibular joint. It is the joint where the jawbone and skull meet and there is one on each side of the face. TMJ disorder refers to a condition in which jaw pain occurs when the temporomandibular joints are inflamed or irritated. In addition to jaw pain, other symptoms associated with TMJ disorder include headaches or pain in the neck and shoulder areas, as well as a locked jaw sensation.

There are several potential causes of TMJ disorder and women tend to develop the condition more often than men. Possible causes of TMJ disorder include:

  • Arthritis
  • Injury to the jaw
  • Whiplash injury
  • Grinding the teeth
  • Clenching the jaw
  • Genetics
  • An abscessed tooth
  • Osteomyelitis (an infection in the jawbone)


Jaw pain caused by TMJ disorder can be treated through a variety of methods. Jaw pain and discomfort can be alleviated with prescription medications, over-the-counter pain relievers, muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medications and ice or heat therapy. If you are diagnosed with TMJ disorder, your Woodbridge dentist, Dr. Sours, can prescribe an appropriate treatment for relief of your jaw pain.

There are many potential causes of jaw pain. One of the most common causes is TMJ disorder, for which there are treatments that can help. For diagnosis and/or treatment of TMJ disorder, schedule a consultation with Dr. Sours, your Woodbridge dentist, by calling the office at (703) 491-2131.

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
November 08, 2017
Category: Oral Health

When is the best time to floss your teeth: Morning? Bedtime? How about: whenever and wherever the moment feels right?

For Cam Newton, award-winning NFL quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, the answer is clearly the latter. During the third quarter of the 2016 season-opener between his team and the Denver Broncos, TV cameras focused on Newton as he sat on the bench. The 2015 MVP was clearly seen stretching a string of dental floss between his index fingers and taking care of some dental hygiene business… and thereby creating a minor storm on the internet.

Inappropriate? We don't think so. As dentists, we're always happy when someone comes along to remind people how important it is to floss. And when that person has a million-dollar smile like Cam Newton's — so much the better.

Of course, there has been a lot of discussion lately about flossing. News outlets have gleefully reported that there's a lack of hard evidence at present to show that flossing is effective. But we would like to point out that, as the saying goes, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” There are a number of reasons why health care organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA) still firmly recommend daily flossing. Here are a few:

  • It's well established that when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth, tooth decay and gum disease are bound to follow.
  • A tooth brush does a good job of cleaning most tooth surfaces, but it can't reach into spaces between teeth.
  • Cleaning between teeth (interdental cleaning) has been shown to remove plaque and food debris from these hard-to-reach spaces.
  • Dental floss isn't the only method for interdental cleaning… but it is recognized by dentists as the best way, and is an excellent method for doing this at home — or anywhere else!

Whether you use dental floss or another type of interdental cleaner is up to you. But the ADA stands by its recommendations for maintaining good oral health: Brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste; visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups; and clean between teeth once a day with an interdental cleaner like floss. It doesn't matter if you do it in your own home, or on the sidelines of an NFL game… as long as you do it!

If you would like more information about flossing and oral hygiene, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.