Dental Care Blog

Doug Klein DDS, Grandville MI

How Can Your Dentist Help Treat Sleep Apnea?

There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep, but it’s estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with 80 percent of the cases of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea going undiagnosed.

What many people don’t realize is that a dentist is often the earliest diagnostician of sleep disorders.

How a dentist can help your sleep apnea - Klein Dentistry in Grandville MI 49418

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that causes people to stop breathing at different times throughout their sleep cycles. These breathing pauses usually last for around 10 seconds and are often followed by snorts or gasps as a person’s body starts to resume breathing again. They can occur as often as 30 or more times per hour.

Why does this happen?

When the muscles in your mouth and throat relax during sleep, some people’s muscles — along with soft fatty tissues — relax to the point where they fall back into the upper airway and block the flow of oxygen from coming in.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Health

Snoring and gasping for breath often causes people to wake up repeatedly, which causes chronic lethargy. Sleep apnea is also linked to high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Other symptoms include headaches in the morning, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, and a hard time concentrating during the day.

Dental Signs Of Sleep Apnea

One sign of sleep apnea is bruxism, most commonly known as tooth grinding, which a dentist can diagnose by noticing worn tooth surfaces. Grinding can wear on teeth and increase breakage, as well as cause inflamed and receding gums. The force of grinding damages the teeth, which makes them susceptible to cavity-causing bacteria, something your dentist can discover during an oral exam.

Ways Your Dentist Can Help With Sleep Disorders

After undergoing a recommended sleep study and receiving a diagnosis of sleep apnea, a dental appointment with Klein Dentistry can help educate the patient about their treatment options. For patients of normal weight with mild to moderate sleep apnea, wearing an oral appliance may be a suitable option — they’re relatively inexpensive and have few side effects.

The most commonly used oral appliances are mandibular advancement devices, which look like mouthguards, but push the lower jaw forward. This helps the muscles that collapse during apneas tighten so that they can’t fall down. Most mandibular advancement devices are adjustable, so dentists can move the position of the jaw to make sure it’s working as effectively as possible.

Further Dental Sleep Apnea Treatments

If a patient is unable to adequately have their jaw re-positioned forward, a tongue retaining mouthpiece may be used. They’re similar to mandibular advancement devices, but have a small compartment that fits around the tongue using suction to keep it held forward. This prevents it from collapsing back into the airway.

To learn more about how Klein Dentistry can help you with your sleep apnea, contact us today! We’d love to learn more about your unique situation and find a treatment plan that’s right for you.

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