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Have you ever wondered how sleep and your dentist could ever cross paths? How the quality of your sleep could be linked to the development of your teeth and jaws?
Well, the truth is, the two are very closely related. The proper development of the bones of the face results in better jaw alignment, improved head posture, and the strengthening of the muscles for swallowing and breathing. When improperly positioned, your jaw reduces the size of your airway and can result in breathing disorders such as sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a type of sleep-related breathing disorder, characterized by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep.
People with sleep apnea repeatedly have reductions or pauses in breathing for brief periods while they sleep. These lapses cause a person to awaken periodically and reduce their sleep quality. Individuals may not fully wake up during these pauses and remain unaware that their nighttime breathing is abnormal.
If it goes untreated, sleep apnea can cause loud snoring, daytime tiredness, or more serious problems like heart trouble or high blood pressure.
Why is Sleep Apnea a Problem?
Your health, well-being, and general quality of life are directly impacted by how well you sleep. You run a higher risk of developing serious health issues when your sleep is of poor quality due to conditions like snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
If left untreated sleep apnea may result in a number of health problems including:
- high blood pressure
- heart failure, irregular heartbeat, and heart attack
- worsening of ADHD.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two main types of sleep apnea, that are categorized by the cause of breathing disruptions
Obstructive sleep apnea.
The more common form of sleep apnea, which is a result of a blocked airway during sleep. This usually occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses while you sleep. Anything that could narrow your airway such as obesity, large tonsils, or changes in your hormone levels can increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.
Central Sleep Apnea.
Results from a problem with how the brain signals the breathing muscles. The airway is not blocked, however, in this case the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. This type of sleep apnea can occur with conditions such as heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.
So how does all this link with your dentist?
Sleep Apnea Treatment with A Dentist
The American Dental Association (ADA) states that dentists play a crucial role in the diagnosis of patients who have respiratory problems related to sleep.
For example, if your dentist suspects sleep apnea, he/she like Dr. Safavi will often suggest a sleep study to conclusively diagnose the condition.
A dentist trained in sleep medicine can recognize symptoms and recommend a patient to go for further treatment. This information is gathered or learned from the patient’s complete medical history, physical examination, diagnosis, and sleep test. From there the dentist can assist in determining whether an oral device might be a useful therapy option.
Oral Devices & Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which uses oral devices. These oral devices shift and support the jaw to prevent the airway from collapsing.
There are two primary categories of oral appliances, and each one prevents OSA in a somewhat different way:
The most popular oral appliances for treating sleep apnea are mandibular repositioning devices, which move your lower jaw slightly forward and downward to keep your airway open while you sleep. The second type are tongue retaining devices â€“ holds your tongue in place so that it does not block your airway
An oral appliance fits over your teeth like an orthodontic retainer while you sleep and supports your jaw in a forward position to keep your airway open. A custom-fit oral appliance can improve your sleep, restore your alertness, and revitalize your health.
Benefits of Sleep Apnea Treatment with a Dentist
Treatment with a qualified sleep medicine dentist is better because
- A dentist looks at the root cause of your sleep problems
- A dentist can provide easy at-home sleep tests
- A dentist can make a custom solution/ oral appliance that suits your needs.
- A dentist has less invasive methods of treatment i.e laser surgery
- A dentist has less invasive methods of testing i.e scans, Vivos ring
If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from sleep apnea, make sure to visit your local dentist. We at Aligned Healing of Denver, would be happy to be of service and help you get down to the root cause of the issue.
Give us a call on 303-226-6265 or schedule an appointment!