How your dentist can help improve sleep apnea

Choking, gasping, snoring, restlessness: Do you or a loved one struggle with these symptoms while you sleep? If you do, you are not alone. The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 18 million Americans suffer from disrupted sleep and oxygen deprivation, due to sleep apnea.

Surprised by the large number? What may surprise you more is that a call to the dentist is in order.

Sleep apnea 101

Sleep apnea is a condition where the muscles around your tongue and throat relax as you sleep, blocking the flow of air to your lungs. This common disorder causes pauses in breathing while you sleep. These pauses vary in length from a few seconds to minutes. For some, they may occur 30 times or more in an hour, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After a pause in breathing, the afflicted person will produce a choking or snorting sound as the body gasps for oxygen.

What causes sleep apnea?

The classic sleep pauses that sleep apnea creates occur because the muscles in the back of the throat are weak, the tongue is too large or the jaw is too small, leading to airway obstructions. Genetics, being overweight, advancing age and neck size are all risk factors. Smoking, excessive use of alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers can cause the onset. Nasal congestion (even just from allergies) can induce mouth breathing at night, provoking the condition. There are many origins, but you need not suffer, with proper diagnosis and treatment.

Why should you treat sleep apnea symptoms?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that shouldn't be ignored. It leads to chronic fatigue, which can cause workplace hazards and increased risks for car crashes, as well as serious medical problems, including the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Worsening of ADHD

The relationship between sleep apnea and your dentist

One of the leading signs of sleep apnea is teeth grinding. Your dentist can detect the signs of teeth grinding during a regular visit. Grinding leads to tooth wear, tooth breaks, inflamed/receding gums and a rise in cavities because of the grinding damage to your teeth.

But grinding isn’t the only oral health sign your dentist will use to diagnose your sleep apnea. A small jaw, a tongue with scalloped edges or redness in the throat from excessive snoring are also indicators.

Enlisting an oral expert for sleep apnea treatment

Sleep apnea starts at the mouth, and effective treatment starts there as well. Quality Dental Care, with locations in both Omaha and Bennington, specializes in all things mouth-related. You need expert services to improve the function and strength of your teeth and gums while bettering your overall mouth health. Retainers and other devices treat myriad conditions related to sleep apnea, such as teeth grinding and clenching.

Tongue-retaining devices, jaw advancing devices and mandibular advancement devices are effective treatments for sleep apnea that a skilled dentist can prescribe and install for patients. These specialized mouth appliances prevent blockage of your airways while you sleep. The JAD and MAD work by moving the jaw forward at night, which increases the size of your airway and the amount of air you receive during sleep.

Mouth appliances also help prevent snoring. Tongue-retaining devices do just what the name would suggest — they hold your tongue in place while you sleep, so it doesn’t fall back and block your airway.

Put your snoring and sleeplessness to bed with a visit to Quality Dental Care, with locations in both Omaha and Bennington, for a sleep apnea treatment consultation. Its custom-made, oral sleep apnea appliances will mold to the shape of your teeth and mouth for optimum comfort and effectiveness. Sleep apnea appliances are easy to wear and maintain.

It’s time to take back your zzz’s and restore your mind and body.

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