Sleep Apnea And Dental Health

park ridge sleep dentistry

OVER 18 MILLION ADULTS in the US alone, as well as up to 20 percent of habitually snoring children, have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that results in brief but repeated interruptions to normal breathing during sleep. Not only is this a potentially life-threatening disorder, it also has a significant impact on oral health.

The Three Types Of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can occur in three different ways. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the result of a blockage in the airway, typically the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which in turn collapses against the back of the throat, closing off the airway. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles of the respiratory system to keep breathing. Complex sleep apnea is a combination of the first two types.

Each time breath is interrupted, the brain causes the person with sleep apnea to wake up. It happens so quickly that they usually don’t remember it, but the interruptions severely impact their overall quality of sleep, as they can happen as often as hundreds of times in a single night.

What Does Sleep Apnea Have To Do With Teeth?

In addition to leaving you with all the usual symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, and morning headaches, sleep apnea has a number of effects on oral health. There is a significant association between OSA and moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease), but the most common dental health complications are temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or TMD).

Studies have shown that the jaw reflexively clenches to prevent the airway from becoming blocked when the throat relaxes during a sleep apnea episode. TMD leads to other problems like worn, cracked, or broken teeth, pain when chewing, chronic headaches, and neck and shoulder pain.

How The Dentist Can Help

The dental effects of sleep apnea are so common that your dentist might be the first one to spot the signs and diagnose the disorder.This is just one way your regular dental appointments will benefit your overall health. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, common treatment options include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines and nighttime dental devices that push the tongue or the lower jaw forward.

Healthier Sleep For Healthier Smiles

If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms described above, there’s no reason to continue living with interrupted sleep and the health problems that come with sleep apnea. Give us a call or drop by our practice today to schedule an appointment so that we can see if sleep apnea is the cause and get you on the path to more restful sleep and better oral health.

Wishing all our patients a good night’s sleep!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image by Flickr user Kevin Jaako used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

How Your Dentist Can Help With Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Dentist

FEELING A BIT TIRED at times during the day is completely normal, even with a good night’s sleep. Some people, however, struggle every night for a restful sleep, especially those with sleep apnea.

Did you know that one in five adults has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with 80 percent of cases going undiagnosed? This condition can disrupt your sleep and increase your risk of severe health problems.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. This can cause a person to stop breathing hundreds of times per night, immensely disrupting their sleep. Here are some indications of a problem:

  • Morning headaches
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Impaired mental or emotional functioning
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive snoring, choking or gasping during sleep
  • Waking with dry mouth or sore throat

We Can Help

Dentists are often the first professionals to become aware of a potential case of OSA and many are specially trained for the treatment of sleep apnea, and Davis & Engert Dentistry is one of them.

While the most common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, oral appliance therapy that dentists provide is the increasingly preferred form of treatment. This is due to the high rejection rate of CPAP therapy and the fact that oral appliances are much more convenient, portable, and easy to care for.

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy uses a mouth guard-like device to maintain an open, unobstructed airway while you sleep. They are typically as easy to wear as most retainers. There are two ways the oral appliance works to open up your airway:

  1. By repositioning your lower jaw, it keeps your throat muscles engaged as you sleep, preventing them from collapsing.
  2. Oral appliances can also move your tongue forward, keeping it from falling back and blocking the throat.

At Davis & Engert Dentistry, we are looking for the signs of sleep apnea each time you visit us. If any symptoms are identified, we let our patients know right away and recommend a sleep test. Sleep Apnea is not diagnosed until a sleep study is completed and a doctor can identify the number of times a patient stops breathing during the night.

A common misconception is that anyone who snores has sleep apnea, and this is not the case. A person who snores may or may not have sleep apnea. This is why we always recommend the sleep test.

After a test is completed and a patient has been diagnosed, the gold standard is to try a CPAP machine. Like we mentioned earlier, many people cannot tolerate a CPAP due to the noise and the size. In that case, Davis & Engert Dentistry can help! There are many different appliances, including an EMA appliance, and we will determine the best type for each patient and have it made.

Don’t Ignore Sleep Apnea

Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest! The quality of your sleep is extremely important to your overall health and well-being. Ask us today how you can better your life by treating sleep apnea through oral appliance therapy!

 

Image by Marcelo Braga used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.