Get Your Z’s — Visit the Dentist for Sleep Apnea

When you just can’t seem to catch your z’s, your first thought may not be to visit your dentist, but it should be! An oral examination of your mouth, neck and jaw speak volumes about your quality of sleep. Worn-down enamel can alert your dentist to teeth grinding. Jaw shape can also indicate if you are at risk for sleep apnea. Our dentists can help you with your sleep quality by fitting you for a mandibular advancement device. This is an oral appliance that looks similar to a sports mouth guard and opens up your airway while you sleep. Get better sleep now with this information!

Getting Adequate Sleep

Studies show that Americans cut out sleep to make time for other activities and obligations. However, your sleep is vital to good health. The recommendations are for adults to get 6-9 hours of sleep, teens 10-13 hours, children 12-14 and infants may sleep even more. Are you hitting the recommended amount of sleep? 

The National Sleep Foundation reports that 18 million Americans struggle with being able to sleep on a regular basis. One main cause is sleep apnea, and it can be difficult to hit any sort of sleep recommendation with this condition. Depending on the severity, it can be a deadly condition that not only compromises your long term health, but can end your life as you sleep. 

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is known as “obstructive” sleep apnea because your breathing is obstructed while you sleep. It is caused by the relaxation of the muscles around your tongue and throat. That relaxation can cause your tongue to fall back towards the throat instead of staying in its proper position. This blocks the flow of air to your lungs during your slumber. 

The “apnea” part of this name means that a person will stop breathing for 10 seconds at a time or more. Some patients with severe sleep problems may stop sleeping for a minute or so. This is causing damage to brain cells, nerves, and tissues all over the body. That damage—or lack of oxygen and nutrients—is what makes you feel so tired, ill or unmotivated in the morning. 

Signs and Symptoms

We may have all heard someone snore at one point or another during our lives. Did you know snoring is just one of the signs of sleep apnea? Though snoring is a common symptom, that alone is not a sufficient cause for alarm. People can snore for many reasons, but there is cause for concern if you exhibit the following symptoms as well:

  • Snoring, choking or gasping while you sleep. (Some may awaken by choking or snorting.)
  • Insomnia, disrupted sleep.
  • Frequent daytime sleepiness and fatigue that goes beyond normal tiredness.
  • Decreased mental and emotional functioning or moodiness caused by lack of proper rest.
  • Daily headaches or migraines, especially in the morning.
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening (from breathing through the mouth at night.)

Why Should You Seek Treatment? 

If you go to the doctor for problems with your sleep, they will commonly refer you to a dental office. This is because dentists have trained for 10 or more years to treat problems with the face, mouth, throat, and even sleep. This specialized knowledge is how we can treat sleep apnea, TMJ, bruxism and other issues that may disrupt your sleep. 

Nobody likes to feel like they’re asleep all day. Poor sleep can cause a host of problems in your day-to-day life such as: 

  • Chronic fatigue that doesn’t go away
  • Slow metabolism or an inability to lose/gain weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Daily or frequent headaches and migraines, seemingly without a cause
  • Mood changes and easy irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Memory problems, forgetfulness, and brain fog
  • High risk for developing other chronic conditions or diseases
  • Drowsiness, which can lead to injuries or accidents
  • A poor-functioning immune system
  • Poor balance or function with daily tasks

Sometimes, all of these symptoms can manifest, and they can all be connected back to obstructive sleep apnea. When you have severe obstructive sleep apnea, you also run the risk for seizures. Your brain isn’t receiving enough oxygen which can lead to this or to a high risk of strokes. Your body may feel terrible as well because you never get enough sleep for it to repair itself at night. 

Studies show that the body gets rid of toxins and waste products at night. It clears out the brain and rebuilds tissues, organs, and cells everywhere. If you don’t sleep, that repair never happens and toxins build up the body, causing chronic conditions and disease. Get into a dentist to see if obstructive sleep apnea is the cause of your problems, then get fitted for a device to help fix your sleep. 

Your Dental Visit and Sleep Device Options

Mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea can be effectively treated and managed with dental devices and prudent lifestyle changes. Recommended behavioral adjustments may include sleeping on your side, losing excess weight, and abstaining from smoking and drinking alcohol.

There are 2 types of dental devices used for sleep apnea therapy, which must be custom-made by your dentist or orthodontist:

  • Jaw Advancing Device (JAD)/Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD): This is the most commonly prescribed mouth device for sleep apnea. This works by moving the jaw forward, which increases the size of your airway. This is also effective for preventing snoring.
  • Tongue retaining device: This is recommended for milder cases of sleep apnea. The oral appliance works by holding the tongue in place as you sleep so it never has the opportunity to relax down your throat. 

We can custom-make these devices for you quickly so that you can finally start getting the sleep you deserve. If you are unsure if you have sleep apnea, but you know that you struggle with adequate sleep, call us for a consultation. We can help evaluate and treat your symptoms. Call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-6101!