Not getting an adequate amount of sleep each night can wreak havoc with your life. It can make you sleepy at inappropriate times during the day, make it hard to concentrate on your work or school tasks, and can even have a negative effect on your overall health. If you suffer from sleep issues, it might not immediately occur to you to call your dentist. But, as it turns out, your dentist might be exactly the right person to resolve your sleep problems. Issues such as sleep apnea or chronic snoring are often relatively easy to resolve with some help from your dentist.
Sleep Apnea: A Common Cause for Disrupted Sleep
If you snore loudly – loudly enough to keep you awake or disturb other people in your household – you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Patients with this condition experience interrupted breathing while they sleep. If you suffer from any of the following symptoms, you could have one form of sleep apnea:
- Chronic, loud snoring
- Headaches in the morning
- Waking up to the feeling of choking or gasping for air
- Forgetfulness during the day
- Inability to concentrate on tasks during the day
- Feeling sleepy during the day
- Waking up with a dry or sore throat
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea – Occurs when soft tissue in the patient’s throat relaxes during sleep and obstructs the airway
- Central sleep apnea – Occurs when the patient’s brain fails to signal normal breathing patterns during sleep
How Your Dentist Can Treat Sleep Apnea
Dentists who treat sleep disorders are typically trained in this area and are able to diagnose and treat these issues. They may recommend oral sleep appliances that hold the patient’s jaw in a certain position – where the lower jaw is held slightly forward – which prevents the collapse of tissue in the neck, thus keeping the airway open. Although sleep apnea may also be treated using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) mask, many patients find these masks extremely uncomfortable and difficult to wear at night. On the other hand, oral sleep appliances have been shown to not only be effective, but more comfortable for the patient.
If you suffer from sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, it doesn’t have to ruin your waking hours. Fortunately, there are several treatments that have proven effective in treating these disorders. Talk to your dentist about how he or she may be able to help. You can never underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep, or the ability of your dentist to alleviate sleep disorders.