Can Your Dentist Treat Your Sleep Apnea?
By: Dental House
Sleep breathing disorders (SBD) are airway issues that reduce the volume of air entering the body, which lead to a host of physical and hormonal consequences. Short term consequences of SBD’s may simply be dental problems and daytime fatigue, but in the long term entire organ systems may begin to show signs of disease. Sleep apnea is the most widely known SBD and is a condition where an individual stops breathing during sleep. This cessation can last anywhere between a few seconds to over a minute and can occur hundreds of times throughout the night! Apnea can cause a variety of significant health issues that are the result of prolonged reduced oxygenation of the blood (suffocation), as well as daytime fatigue that is the result of the brain being aroused out of its deeper sleep stages, which are important for health and optimal functioning. This can lead to symptoms ranging from relatively benign nighttime urination to fatal cardiac arrest.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive: the body is trying to breathe but the airway has collapsed preventing inhalation
- Central: the brain fails to signal the diaphragm to breathe
- Mixed: a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea
While obstructive sleep apnea is the most common of the three, central and mixed apneas are not rare.
In addition to sleep apnea’s serious consequences to one’s health, it also can wreak havoc on your dental health. Clenching and grinding your teeth is a very common response to choking in your sleep. Repetitive grinding over time can wear down teeth, break your dental restorative work (e.g., crowns and fillings), and cause inexplicable tooth and/or jaw pain. It is not uncommon for patients to have needless and costly trips to the dentist, but if one’s provider is not trained in recognizing sleep breathing disorders the patient may face frustration and unnecessary suffering.
Treating Sleep Apnea with Oral Appliances
It is common for patients to damage their own teeth if they have a sleep breathing disorder. This is due to the grinding and clenching that often is associated with sleep apnea. If patients are unaware they have the condition, or their doctor has not properly educated them about the disorder, they may be needlessly frustrated with their dentist for providing sub-par care. Fillings may pop out or crowns may break but the reality is that their sleep breathing disorder may be the true cause of their pain and breakage.
Oral appliances are customized for each patient and can reduce snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Like an orthodontic retainer with linked upper and lower parts, these appliances stabilize the patient’s lower jaw at the proper position to also stabilize the airway, preventing or reducing collapse. Regular use of an oral appliance can help you sleep more soundly, breathe better, and stop your tooth pain if its source is from clenching or grinding during sleep.
The benefits of oral appliance therapy include:
- It’s highly effective and simple
- The therapy is comfortable, quiet, and easy to wear
- Your oral appliance is portable and easy to travel with
- It’s easy to clean and care for
How Our Albuquerque Clinic Can Help
When you’re treated by the Dental House team, you can rest assured that you’re in good, knowledgeable, and dedicated hands. We will work with your physician to find the best possible options to treat your airway disorder.
Your oral appliance will be custom fabricated for you. Once it has been delivered, you will return to our clinic for a final fitting and instructions for use. It’s important that we maximize the comfort of your appliance so that you are encouraged to use it as prescribed. We will pay attention to all the details of your treatment so it can be an effective solution for your sleep breathing disruptions.
We do not simply deliver your appliance and push you out the door. We work with you in follow-up appointments to ensure your treatment is not only effective, but comfortable as well.
Have Questions? Ask Our Albuquerque Dentists – (505) 835-2322
At Dental House, we believe in a patient-centric approach to your wellness and approach oral health as a gateway to that wellness. The body operates as a unit and we do not treat your mouth as though it were disconnected from the rest of your body. Your body affects your mouth, just as your mouth affects your body. We consider more than simply your teeth when developing a strategy to effectively treat your dental issues.
Our office takes the time to educate our patients about how other conditions, including sleep breathing disorders, can affect oral health. It is our goal for our patients to be well in all aspects of their health, including in ways that may slip past other dentists.