Sleep Apnea and Your Oral Health
For our bodies to remain strong, healthy, and functional, restful sleep is necessary. However, when your full night’s rest is continuously disrupted, keeping up with the natural flow of daily life is nearly impossible.
Although common, sleep apnea is a serious disorder that interrupts breathing during sleep and should not be taken lightly. While recognized as a sleep issue, it can cause a variety of problems and, if severe enough, lead to complications regarding your mental and physical health.
Do you wake up to headaches, have prolonged drowsiness throughout the day, and hear from others that you snore loudly during sleep? If so, it’s crucial to seek a trusted dentist for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Dr. Anna Lee and her Glendora dental team are here to help you address your sleep apnea with expert care, customized oral appliances, and professional recommendations about lifestyle changes. Contact us today!
CALL US: (626) 335-5114 REQUEST APPOINTMENT
How Will I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
The tricky thing with sleep apnea is that it only occurs while asleep, so it’s more common for individuals with the disorder not to realize they have it. However, there are still quite a few telltale signs you may be suffering from the condition.
Most common warning signs of potential sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Frequent breaks or pauses in breathing
- Waking up occasionally with a choking or gasping sensation
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Drowsiness or lack of energy during the day
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
Understanding Sleep Apnea in All Its Forms
Each form of sleep apnea demonstrates the same main characteristics, but each type differs somewhat. Those who have it all experience episodes of pauses in breathing, and, the term “apnea” actually means breaks in breathing that last 10 seconds or more.
Although these episodes last only seconds, they wreak havoc on the sleep cycle, which prevents those with sleep apnea from reaching the restful, deep sleep needed to remain healthy, functional, and focused.
The three types of sleep apnea include:
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The most common type, occuring when the muscles in the back of your throat that support your soft palate relax so much that they block or narrow the airways as you breathe. Because you’re unable to get enough air, this can lower the oxygen levels in your blood and brain.
As your brain senses the struggle, it causes you to rouse briefly so you can try and reopen your airways. The awakening is so brief you rarely remember it, causing you to snort, choke, or gasp.
2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): This occurs when your brain fails to signal the muscles responsible for controlling your breathing temporarily. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is considered more of a mechanical issue, CSA is more of a problem of communication between your muscles and your brain. This form of sleep apnea is much less common and is often caused by pre-existing medical issues.
3. Mixed or ‘Complex” Sleep Apnea: A combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea symptoms. Many of those first thought to have OSA actually had mixed sleep apnea.
The Side Effects of Sleep Apnea: Affecting More than Your Sleep
Sleep apnea is more than nights filled with annoying, loud snoring, and insomnia. The condition can do much more than make you sleepy throughout the day.
Anyone who has lost sleep can tell you that the absence of it has a significant influence on your mind. Changes in mood, mental fogginess, memory loss, depression, and forms of anxiety have been closely associated with both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
The continual loss of sleep can also affect you by slowing your reaction times and focus, making it hard to drive and carry out everyday activities.
The Systemic Side Effects
The lack of proper oxygen reaching the bloodstream due to interrupted breathing is the primary danger of sleep apnea and can also present severe issues to your overall health and well-being.
Sleep apnea has been found to cause complications with the following:
- The Respiratory system, worsening symptoms of asthma and causing trouble with exercising.
- The Endocrine system, increasing resistance to insulin and developing type 2 diabetes.
- The Digestive system, worsening acid reflux, and increasing heartburn.
- The Circulatory and Cardiovascular systems, with links to obesity, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, and increasing the risk of heart failure or stroke.
- The Nervous system, disrupting in everyday brain signals.
- The Reproductive system, reducing sex drive, and contributing to erectile dysfunction.
How Do I Seek Treatment?
If you have even the slightest suspicion you may have sleep apnea, Dr. Anna Lee highly encourages you to seek the expertise of her team. This will allow you to gain invaluable peace of mind knowing your concerns will be addressed, your questions answered, and you’ll be given an accurate diagnosis to begin proper treatment.
How We Address Sleep Apnea
If you are diagnosed with the disorder, we invite you to our office to begin effective treatments immediately. Our recommended therapies can help restore comfortable sleep and promote clear-headed daily function.
Dr. Lee takes a series of intraoral images during your consultation that help us evaluate the health of your dental anatomy accurately. This is necessary to gain a full understanding of all potential and definite contributing factors that could be affecting your sleep patterns. Surprisingly, these can include existing restorations, dental decay, and gum recession.
Our dentist then takes digital impressions, which allow us to see the density of your airways. We will also ask you a series of questions to help in the referral process and get you started with the right method for treatment.
Improved Sleep Quality with Oral Appliances
When your sleep test findings have confirmed you have sleep apnea, we use your impressions to create an oral appliance that opens your airways during sleep. Your oral device can also treat the uncomfortable symptoms of temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD, as it repositions the jaw for ideal comfort and alignment.
These mouthguard appliances are a popular alternative to the CPAP machine, which distributes air directly into passageways and can be difficult for some individuals to tolerate.
Can I Do Anything to Improve My Chances for Better Sleep?
Besides professional care, if you have or are at a higher risk for developing sleep apnea disorder, you should also look to improve your general health by introducing beneficial lifestyle habits.
Below are seven ways you can help reduce your sleep apnea symptoms yourself!
- Maintain a healthy weight for your age and body type
- Change your sleep position to keep your neck and head even
- Avoid caffeinated drinks after 12 pm
- Limit your alcohol intake
- Avoid tobacco products
- Get plenty of exercise
- As always, eat a healthy, nutritious diet
In addition to these positive lifestyle habits, try to lower your levels of stress throughout the day by incorporating relaxing activities, especially before bed. Be sure to put away all sources of blue light - this includes cell phones, tablets, and laptops at least one hour before sleeping. This helps let your mind and body wind down naturally.
Treat Your Sleep Apnea Today!
With a long-standing commitment to serving the smiles and overall well-being of individuals and families throughout the Glendora and Los Angeles County communities, Dr. Anna Lee wants to help you achieve restful sleep. For more information about our sleep apnea treatments, contact our practice today!
CALL US: (626) 335-5114 REQUEST APPOINTMENT