Snoring is more than the annoying sounds you make that keep your spouse awake at night. Sometimes snoring is a symptom of sleep apnea. This common condition interrupts your sleep. Without proper rest, your mind, body, and daily life suffer in many ways.
There are treatments that help those with sleep apnea, but they often only treat the worst symptoms. They are dependent on awkward sleep masks and medications for the rest of their lives. But what if your sleep apnea could be treated permanently, right in your dentist’s office?
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to temporarily lose the ability to breathe. When this happens, the body wakes up so breathing is restored. The periods may be only a few seconds in duration, but these micro-periods have a dramatic effect on the sufferer’s health from lack of oxygen to the brain and body during periods of repressed breathing.
There are two types of sleep apnea. A central type disorder means the brain is unable to maintain appropriate communication with respiratory muscles during deep sleep cycles. This form of the disease is rare and must be treated by a neurologist.
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive. This means that the airways are physically blocked. The blockage is usually due to soft tissues in the back of the throat collapsing during sleep. Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Sore or very dry throat when waking
- Loud snoring
- Frequent choking or gasping during sleep
- Fatigue after a full night’s sleep
- Dental Interventions for Sleep Apnea
Your dentist may be the first person to see signs of a sleep disorder. When you aren’t getting enough oxygen during sleep, your body responds by causing you to grind your teeth. This action wakes you up long enough for your brain to restore breathing. During regular check-ups, your dentist will notice any signs of breakage, wear, and decay that may indicate a sleep problem.
Obstruction of the airway during sleep can be caused by several things.
- The muscles in the back of the throat are too heavy or loose, causing tissues to hang in the airway.
- The tongue is too large, causing it to push back against the airway in certain sleep positions.
- A jawbone that is too small may not allow enough air to pass through the airway.
Your dentist will recommend a sleep study to confirm your condition. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your dentist can do more than repair the damage to your teeth from grinding. They can help alleviate symptoms that cause you to lose sleep with an oral appliance called a mouth guard.
Mouth guards work by holding the tongue and jaw muscles in a position that keeps the airway clear. Your dentist will exam you and create a custom device specifically for your needs. Patients that do not respond well to CPAP machines often find relief with their oral appliance.
If you think your teeth are making you lose sleep, schedule an appointment with Moore Smiles Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today. They can help you determine if an oral appliance can help you get the rest you need to be your best.