Is Sleep Apnea Related to Dental Health?
Sleep apnea is a serious, potentially life-threatening condition in which an individual repeatedly stops breathing while he or she sleeps. Apnea literally means “without breath.” This condition can occur at any age, though there is a higher risk for patients over 40 years old. Surprisingly, sleep apnea is sometimes linked to dental problems. Total Care Dental provides the most comprehensive dental health care services in Madison, including the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.
The Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea has a number of causes, depending on the type: central (CSA), obstructive (OSA), and mixed.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
Central apnea is the result of unstable brain function where the brain fails to signal the respiratory system.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive apnea is caused by some sort of blockage in the airways, such as soft tissue, inflamed tonsils, or mucus.
Mixed Sleep Apnea
Mixed is a combination of CSA and OSA. In obese patients, sleep apnea may be caused by the narrowing of the airway due to the excess amounts of tissue in the throat and neck.
Sleep Apnea and Bruxism
Some patients diagnosed with bruxism may actually have obstructive sleep apnea. Bruxism is a tooth-grinding condition that can wear away at your teeth while you sleep. If you have been diagnosed with bruxism in the past and have not seen improvement, check with our dentists to see if the cause of your teeth grinding is sleep apnea.
How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
A diagnostic sleep study by a board-certified sleep physician is the main way to receive a sleep apnea diagnosis. The study will include a series of tests to reach a diagnosis. For most patients, this means going to a sleep lab where they will be monitored throughout the night to confirm if and when they encounter breathing difficulty.
Total Care Dental offers an alternative to being tested in a traditional sleep lab. Our at-home sleep study will measure your sleep latency and effectiveness, oxygen levels, breathing, snoring, REM sleep, and heart rate in the comfort of your own bed! Using various forms of noninvasive equipment we will be able to relay all of your necessary sleep data to a certified medical professional for them to accurately evaluate your condition.
Questions You May Be Asked To Diagnosis Sleep Apnea:
- Do you snore?
- Do you fall asleep at unusual times or need naps?
- Are you excessively tired during the day?
- Do you have morning headaches?
- Do you experience frequent sore throat or dry mouth?
- Do you have high blood pressure?
- Has anyone ever said you stop breathing in your sleep?
Answering yes to more than one of these questions is a sign you should have our Madison dentists test for sleep apnea.
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Sleep Apnea Treatment Options with Total Care Dental
Mild sleep apnea may be treated with minor behavioral adjustments, such as sleeping on your side or losing weight. Diet, exercise, and weight loss can all reduce the amount of constriction on the airways, and this will cause your sleep apnea to reduce drastically in severity if not disappear completely. Oral appliances or CPAP can help many sufferers seek relief from symptoms of snoring and paused breathing. More severe sleep apnea may require surgery by an ENT or oral surgeon.
At Total Care Dental Madison, we start with a sleep study and consult with a medical doctor on your results to make a diagnosis. We then develop treatment plan options for you depending on the severity of your sleep disorder. A common solution is a small oral appliance worn in the mouth during sleep to keep the tongue and soft tissue from collapsing and interrupting normal breathing patterns. These oral appliances will help you sleep safely through the night.
Snoring: A Symptom of Sleep Apnea
Snoring occurs when your throat muscles relax to the point where the airway is narrowed and partially obstructed. As the air passes through the obstruction, the structures in the throat vibrate and produce snoring.
Facts About Snoring
- 67% of people who snore have a sleep disorder
- Snorers are 3 times as likely to have a motor vehicle accident
- Snorers are 6 times more likely to have blockage of a carotid artery
- If you snore, your bed-partner may be getting 15% less sleep per night
- Snoring is the #1 symptom of sleep disorders
- 85 million people snore, 35 million people have insomnia
Many people confuse simple snoring for a more serious condition like sleep apnea. Snoring is merely a sign a person may have sleep apnea, it does not necessarily mean they have the condition itself. Sleep apnea should be diagnosed by trained medical professionals.
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Risks of Sleep Apnea
It is important to note severe sleep apnea is extremely hazardous to your health and may require surgery to correct. We will work with you in order to set up a safe, effective, and convenient solution for you to sleep comfortably through the night with no disturbances. Common types of treatment include using continuous airway pressure (CPAP) machines to regulate breathing while asleep. Other options may include specialty night mouth guards or retainers.
Sleep apnea has been linked to:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
In addition, mental clarity and overall health can be impacted by lack of sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea sufferers are much more likely to face sudden cardiac arrest resulting in death. These are all important reasons why it is essential for you to see a TCD Madison specialist for a quick, in-office evaluation.
Common Questions About Sleep Apnea
Q: What is CPAP?
A: CPAP stands for “continuous positive airway pressure.” CPAP treatment is utilized by people with breathing problems like sleep apnea. The CPAP machine has three main parts: mask, tube, and motor. The mask is held on your face by straps. The motor blows air through the tube, into the mask, and into your airways, keeping them open while you sleep. If you are suffering from sleep apnea, contact our Madison dentists to see if a CPAP machine is a good solution for you.
Q: Are CPAP machines a disturbance for other people trying to sleep in the same room?
A: Generally, no, CPAP machines are not a disturbance for other people trying to sleep in the same room. They can be a disturbance if the other sleeper has difficulty sleeping without complete silence (earplugs are an easy solution in these situations). The noise a CPAP machine makes is similar to that of a white-noise machine - it is quiet, rhythmic, and steady. If they can sleep with a white-noise machine, they can most likely sleep with a CPAP machine.
Contact our Madison Dental Clinic for complete oral health care or Request a Dental Appointment online!