Do I Have Sleep Apnea
For many patients, treating sleep apnea can improve their overall quality of life. The condition can be obtrusive and affect you in both your sleeping and waking hours. Sleep apnea may be treatable through dental care.
Solutions for sleep apnea are available at Sandston Comprehensive Dentistry in Sandston and the surrounding area. Maintaining your dental health can also benefit your sleep. We may be able to help. Call us today at 201-457-1010 to schedule an appointment and learn more.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition where patients have something blocking (or obstructing) part or all of their upper airway in their sleep, forcing the diaphragm and chest muscles to work harder to pull air into the lungs. This condition may cause the patient’s breathing to become very shallow or even briefly stop altogether. Eventually, when the patient begins to breathe again, it will be accompanied by a loud gasp, snort, or body jerk.
Many patients are not aware that they have this condition and may think they are only suffering from inadequate sleep. Dentists may be able to recognize and treat the signs of sleep apnea, as these symptoms often take a toll on the mouth and jaw.
Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders
There are several different types of sleep disorders. Each falls into six different categories: insomnias, hypersomnias, sleep-related breathing disorders, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders, parasomnias, and sleep movement disorders. While insomnia is a type of sleep disorder where the patient is unable to fall or stay asleep, hypersomnia is a group of sleep disorders that cause a patient to feel excessively sleepy.
Parasomnias are a group of sleep disorders that consist of having undesirable experiences while falling asleep, sleeping, or waking up. Sleep apnea can be an underlying cause of parasomnias, since intermittently losing breath inevitably puts stress on the body. The same can be said for circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders (where the sleep times are out of alignment) and sleep movement disorders (where movement during or before sleep interferes with sleep). Sleep apnea itself is a sleep-related breathing disorder, where there is difficulty breathing during sleep.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Many patients are surprised to learn about the link between sleep apnea and dental health. Often, the pauses in breathing associated with sleep apnea are caused by flaccid muscles in the back of the throat, a too-large tongue, or a too-small jaw. Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is the first sign of sleep apnea. This may cause tooth wear and breakage, along with inflamed and receding gums. Sandston Comprehensive Dentistry can conduct a thorough oral examination to determine whether or not a patient has sleep apnea.