Did you know that dentists are usually the earliest detectors of sleep disorders? Dentistry and sleeping don’t seem to have an obvious link, but the science is there.
For example, if you struggle with snoring or have trouble sleeping, you might have obstructive sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects over 18 million Americans. This condition causes interruptions with your breath; pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and may happen multiple times an hour. This stop in breathing results in people gasping for air and waking up, which naturally diminishes your quality of sleep and results in fatigue. Sleep apnea is linked to multiple health problems like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and more.
What is your dentist’s role?
Your dentist is in a unique position to identify symptoms of sleep apnea during routine cleanings. At our dental office in Brentwood, TN we are trained to look for telltale physical signs. We will also help diagnose through a comprehensive list of questions.
Often a sleep study is needed to confirm the diagnosis.
Why does sleep apnea happen?
During sleep apnea you cease breathing for a small amount of time, resulting in interruptions in sleep. You might stop breathing because the muscles in the back of your throat are slack, the tongue is too large, or the jaw is too small – all these reasons can cause obstructions in your airway.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
One of the first signs of sleep apnea manifests in tooth grinding. Your dentist will inspect your teeth to see if there are signs of wear and tear. Grinding in an of itself is a cause for multiple concerns. Grinding causes tooth wear, cavities, and breakage and affects the health of your gums.
Chronic snoring is a common sign of sleep apnea. Other symptoms include waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat, indicating breathing through your mouth. Look for constant fatigue or daytime drowsiness.
What is your next step?
If you have any of these symptoms, bring them up to your Brentwood, TN dentist. At Sullivan Dental Partners, we have a specialized department called Sleep Better Tennessee where we assist patients who suffer from sleep apnea. Please contact our dental office to schedule a consultation. You deserve a better sleep!