How your dentist can help you sleep better
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that can affect people from all walks of life. It may seem like something your doctor needs to treat, but your dentist can actually be quite helpful in designing a treatment plan as well. To understand why you should make an appointment if you think you have sleep apnea, keep reading.
What is Sleep Apnea?
People with sleep apnea actually stop breathing for short periods while they sleep because of soft tissue momentarily blocking the airways. This is a serious medical disorder that can cause all types of serious and even deadly complications. If you suspect that you have sleep apnea you need to seek professional treatment as soon as possible for your health and also for your general wellbeing.
Dr. Amrinder from Paramount Dental Sydney sees patients with sleep apnea all the time, and says they usually “…complain of waking up really tired, grinding their teeth at night and a sore jaw. Sometimes they grind their teeth so much that they even damage their fillings or teeth. They also have other associated health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and problems with their breathing.” Patients with sleep apnea usually snore as well, and this is often the first sign of a problem.
The Dangers of Sleep Apnea
It might seem like sleep apnea is a small problem, after all it’s just a bit of snoring. But leaving this condition untreated can have devastating effects on your health and wellbeing. The following are a list of the health consequences of ignoring sleep apnea over the long term:
- High blood pressure
- Increased risk of injury or accident during the day because of sleep deprivation
- Decreased quality of life
Sleep Apnea Treatments
To treat sleep apnea, you need a multi specialist approach. This disorder is primarily a medical issue, so your regular doctor needs to be aware of your symptoms and any discussions you have with your dentist about treatments. If you go to your dentist for treatment, they will first send you to have a sleep study done. As Dr. Amrinder says. “…we send the patient off to get tested because we need to make sure it’s actually sleep apnoea and not something else. The study can be done at home or in the hospital.”
There are a variety of ways to treat sleep apnea depending on the severity of your condition and your own preferences. Sleep apnea can be treated surgically if necessary, and during the surgery the jaw is broken to make more room for the tongue. This is a fairly effective way to go, but it’s also invasive and painful. And if your condition isn’t severe, there are a number of other treatments you can try that can be just as effective.
If you have mild or moderate sleep apnea your dentist may suggest a Mandibular Advancement Splint (MAS). This is a sleep apnea device that is worn in the mouth at night when you sleep. The device is specially made by your dentist to fit your mouth and it holds the jaw forward, making more room for the tongue. This prevents the soft tissue from falling into the airway and disrupting the normal breathing patterns. This is one of the most popular and common devices for treating sleep apnea and it works well to keep the airways open and eliminate snoring.
What you can do about Sleep Apnea
If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea there are a number of things you can do to ease your condition. The first is to decrease your weight. Although sleep apnea can and does affect people in every weight range, it is more common and more dangerous in people who are overweight. That’s why you should try to stay within the healthy weight range if you have this disorder. Maintaining a good diet is also important, as it will improve your overall health, and you should also make sure to set up good sleep hygiene habits. This includes making sure that your pillow is the right height and firmness, that the air in your room is as clean as possible, and that your bed is comfortable but not too soft. These measures will help improve your sleeping patterns and improve your health overall as well.
Paramount Dental Sydney Says
If you have concerns about sleep apnea make an appointment with us at Paramount Dental Sydney. Our caring and expert staff will help you get the right diagnosis and work with you to make sure you get the treatment you need.