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7 Sep, 2019

How Is Dentistry and Sleep Apnea Connected?

Are you struggling with the problem of snoring and sleeplessness? These disturbances are often signs of obstructive sleep apnea that can be blamed on your oral health. When affected by this problem, you should be searching for a dentist near you that can diagnose the issue.

Dentists from New York that specialize in dental sleep medicine are often surprising their patients by asking them about their sleeping pattern. The surprise of the patient can be justified because he or she would not know that a dentist is capable of diagnosing sleep disorders in the early stages.

It is estimated by the National Sleep Foundation that approximately 18 million Americans suffer from the problem of sleep apnea. Repeated breathing interruptions are caused by this condition throughout the night and the pauses can last between a few seconds and can occur more than 30 times in an hour. Patients suffering from this problem have muscles in the back of the throat that are flaccid which could be a reason for the tongue being too large or the smaller size of the jaw. Regardless of the reasons the condition causes airway obstructions that are the prime reason for the interruptions.

How Do Dentists Diagnose Sleep Apnea?

The condition of bruxism which also causes patients to grind and clench their teeth is often the first sign of sleep apnea. Dentists look for tooth surfaces that are worn to indicate that the patient is grinding his or her teeth. The grinding causes wear as well as breakage leaving the patient with inflamed and receding gums. The damage to the teeth also causes a spike in cavities because it becomes a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria. The grinding of the teeth also sends a message to the brain to wake the patient up for breathing.

The regular gasping for breath causes people to wake up repeatedly and diminishes the quality of sleep to induce fatigue. Such patients are at a higher risk of problems like hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. When dentists believe a patient has sleep apnea they often recommend him or her to a sleep study. It must be understood that dentists are well-versed in the symptoms and treatments of this condition but only a physician qualified in sleep medicine is capable of making an official diagnosis of the condition.

Sleep apnea could also be a result of extensive periodontal disease that could be prompting people to grind their teeth when sleeping.

Can Patients Diagnose Sleep Apnea Themselves?

Patients that are displaying sleep apnea symptoms like chronic snoring can consider visiting even a dentist open on Saturday to understand whether they are affected by a problem that needs intensive treatment. If the dentist believes the patient is making the right move they will refer him or her to sleep apnea treatment in Huntington Beach, CA, for an evaluation. Patients by themselves cannot diagnose the condition of sleep apnea without help from a qualified individual in this subject such as an expert in sleep physician or the Huntington Beach dentist. Therefore it is suggested that people obtain expert advice rather than attempt to diagnose a problem that they always believed was natural.

Apart from the regular sleep apnea symptoms like chronic snoring people will also be exhibiting signs of daytime drowsiness, morning headaches, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat. These symptoms must be brought to the notice of the dentist for an evaluation.

How Will Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea?

Dentists are acknowledged as the pioneers of dental sleep medicine and have developed an oral appliance similar to a mouthguard for treating sleep apnea. The oral appliance will not be provided to every individual that complains about snoring. The patient will be required to undergo an evaluation with a specialist in sleep medicine after which the dentist will consider developing a custom-made oral appliance for the patient. This device will help patients to overcome many issues such as teeth grinding, jaw pain, cavities, and headaches along with the problem of snoring and sleep apnea. The appliance is unlike over-the-counter mouthguards that are available and are customized for the unique needs of the patient.

The Huntington Beach dentist has received additional training in dental sleep medicine and is capable of not only diagnosing the condition of sleep apnea with help from a board-certified sleep physician but can also provide the oral appliance that will help patients to get rid of the problem from a dentist without having to visit sleep clinics or cardiologists for intensive tests.