Our entire team enjoys treating kids because we have the opportunity to give them a healthy, positive start with their oral health. Early dental visits for your little ones are essential, but they tend to be more about education than treatment.

The Chapel Hill, NC general dentist knows from experience that raising kids is hard work, and nobody expects you to be an expert in their oral health care. That’s our job! During these early visits, we focus on showing you how you can ensure that your child has a healthy smile.

Teach Your Child to Brush and Floss

We will show you the best ways for you to brush and floss your child’s teeth. If you have an older child, we will include them in the conversation so that they can learn proper oral hygiene techniques. These are lessons that, when reinforced at home, will benefit your child’s oral health long into adulthood.

The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is essential at every age, even for children as young as a year old. We want to make sure you have the information necessary to protect primary teeth because they play a very important role.

Even though they eventually fall out, baby teeth have a big job to do. They hold a place for the permanent teeth that are already developing in their gums. Losing a baby tooth too early because of decay can have serious effects on your child’s oral health.

Surrounding baby teeth start to shift position and drift into the space left by a missing tooth. Permanent teeth no longer have the space to grow in properly, leading to tooth misalignment and orthodontic treatment in the future.

Please Call to Schedule an Appointment

Let us help your children learn the importance of optimal oral health from a young age. Call the Chapel Hill, NC general dentist to arrange and appointment, and we will help you make the best choices for your child's unique and precious personality.


According to the Sleep Disorders Guide, 42 million American adults suffer from sleep-distorted breathing, a problem that can have serious effects on the lives of those suffering from it. While CPAP machines are common for helping resolve these issues, not everybody is able to make use of those machines for any of a variety of reasons. Some people get skin irritation from the masks, others have a hard time dealing with the pressurized air, and others still find that the mask just falls of accidentally during the night.

Whatever the reason, CPAP machines are not infallible in treating sleep apnea, which is where Diane Hourigan, DDS, potentially can help apnea patients relieve symptoms through use of an oral dental appliance.

What is an Oral Dental Appliance for Sleep Apnea?

The partner of anybody who ever has had sleep apnea will share stories about how scary it is to hear the person next to them in bed stop breathing, but that’s exactly what happens, often for 10-15 seconds at a time. The break can result in a loud gasp or choking sound as the person continues breathing normally, but that fight to breathe can cause big problems that an oral dental appliance can help solve.

While CPAP machines are necessary for severe sleep apnea, those with mild-to-severe apnea can use either mandibular advancement devices (MADs) or tongue retaining mouthpieces, both of which can be put together by a dentist.

How Do Dental Appliances Work?

The MADs look a lot like the sort of mouth guard an athlete would wear, as they fit neatly into the mouth by snapping over the upper and lower dental arches with metal hinges fixing the two pieces together. They push the lower jaw and tongue forward just enough to help keep the pharynx from collapsing so that air can flow through it more easily.

The other option is the tongue retaining mouthpiece, which looks quite a bit like a MAD but also features a small compartment intended to hold the tongue in a forward position using suction. Since a collapsing tongue can be a big part of the problem in causing sleep apnea, especially for back sleepers, this can be a huge boon in keeping obstructed sleepers from experiencing big problems.

What Are the Steps for Receiving This Treatment?

The first step in any sort of treatment is a sleep study, which is something your general practice doctor can recommend. These require an overnight stay at a clinic so sleep experts can study how you sleep and diagnose the severity of your sleep apnea to determine what form of treatment is going to be best for you.

If you learn that your sleep apnea is not severe, perhaps consider contacting Diane Hourigan, DDS, for a consultation regarding sleep apnea treatment right at your local dentist. Keeping patients happy, well-rested and healthy always has been a priority in this office, and if there is a way that we can provide those things through treatment of sleep apnea, we absolutely are happy to do it.


If you suffer from an overwhelming fear of dentists and dental procedures, you know how easy it is to miss regular appointments. Dental anxiety is a very common problem and affects millions of patients. Unfortunately postponing dental treatment almost always results in the need for invasive and costly treatment in the future.

Obviously, your comfort and well-being are of great importance to the Chapel Hill, NC general dentist. Our goal is to support your oral health by providing painless and efficient treatments. We use state-of-the-art technology and minimally invasive procedures that reduce your time in the chair and increase your discomfort.

But these factors alone may not give you the peace of mind you’re looking for when visiting your dentist. So what can you do to help alleviate this anxiety? Feeling a loss of being in control contributes to dental phobia. Here are three practical tips to help you feel more in control during your dental appointments and hopefully reduce your stress level.

  1. Talk to your dentist– You may find it embarrassing to talk about your fear, but your dentist needs to be aware of your anxiety to take the necessary precautions during treatment.
  2. Agree on a signal – Patients are often afraid that their dentist won’t know when and if they are experiencing pain or anxiety, and this contributes to their fear. Agree to a signal with your dentist beforehand. A simple “stop” hand signal can be used to alert your dentist to your discomfort immediately.
  3. Ask about sedation– Sedation offers an excellent solution for many patients who would not otherwise be able to endure the treatment. Discuss the different types of sedation options available with your dentist before the appointment, so you know what to expect beforehand.

The best way to combat dental phobia, however, is to gather information beforehand. Your Chapel Hill, NC general dentist is always available for a consultation to discuss procedures and treatments to help you understand what your appointment will involve.

Please call our office to learn more anxiety-reducing tips!