How Your Dentist

How Your Dentist Can Diagnose Sleep Apnea

TeamSleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in America, affecting approximately 39 million people. Could you be one of them? Getting a sleep apnea diagnosis is easier than ever, and so is treating it. 

Who should you call if you think you may have sleep apnea? The answer may surprise you. 

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing in your sleep. When you are laying down, especially on your back, your tongue and mouth tissues slide back toward your throat, blocking your airway. Your throat tissues may also collapse as your body relaxes in sleep, which can obstruct your breathing. When this happens you may stop breathing for a few seconds to a minute. As your brain registers the lack of oxygen, you will rouse from sleep enough to change positions and resume breathing. This may occur hundreds of times over the course of a single night, preventing you from achieving a deep, restful sleep. 

Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The following signs and symptoms are often indicative of sleep apnea: 

  • Loud snoring. 
  • Waking up gasping for air. 
  • Dry mouth. 
  • Headache.
  • Teeth grinding. 
  • Feeling tired. 
  • Lacking energy. 
  • Irritability. 
  • Difficulty focusing. 

Experiencing Sleep Apnea Symptoms? Talk To Your Dentist 

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk to your dentist. Dentists have the expertise to identify signs of sleep apnea by examining your teeth and mouth. They are looking for: 

  • Signs of teeth grinding, such as worn down or cracked teeth. 
  • The size of your jaw. A small jaw can increase the likelihood of sleep apnea. 
  • Scalloped tongue. The tongue may develop rough or uneven edges over time from sleep apnea. 
  • Signs of irritation or inflammation in the throat, such as redness. 

Treatment for Sleep Apnea: An Orthodontic Referral 

Dentists may be able to diagnose sleep apnea and provide some treatment, but your best course of action is to see an orthodontist. An orthodontist can assess the signs of sleep apnea and determine the cause. In many cases it is the size or shape of the jaw that is the cause of sleep apnea symptoms. Orthodontic treatment may be able to provide a permanent cure through any of the following: 

  • Snoring mouth guard. An oral appliance can be worn at night that positions the jaw in such a way that prevents the tongue from sliding back toward the throat. This can stop snoring and prevent sleep apnea. 
  • Palate expander. One possible cause of sleep apnea is when the upper jaw is too small for the tongue to fit comfortably against the roof of your mouth while you sleep. A palate expander can widen your upper jaw to make more room. 
  • Braces. Braces can straighten the teeth and even change the shape of your jaw to reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. 
  • Invisalign. Invisalign also straightens teeth and may reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms. 
  • Jaw surgery. An orthodontist may recommend jaw surgery to make a larger adjustment in the shape of your jaw. An oral surgeon will perform the surgery, but an orthodontist will provide the necessary before and after treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea

How do I know if my sleep apnea is severe enough to need treatment?

Many people snore, but not everyone has a severe case of sleep apnea. Seek treatment if you have symptoms that interfere with your health or your daily life. If you feel constantly tired and lacking energy, it may be worth seeking treatment. Quality sleep is necessary for your overall health and wellness. 

Is Orthodontic Treatment Better Than Using a CPAP Machine? 

Most cases of sleep apnea are treated with a CPAP machine, a mask you wear over your nose and mouth that is connected to a machine that blows air into your airway to keep you breathing effectively. Orthodontic treatment in some cases can provide a permanent cure for sleep apnea by treating the source of the problem. You won’t have to wear a mask or bring a machine whenever you travel. 

Demko Orthodontics Provides Sleep Apnea Treatment 

If you’ve noticed any of the common signs and symptoms, talk to your dentist or see an orthodontist. Demko Orthodontics provides sleep apnea treatment according to the cause of your specific case. Our goal is to provide a permanent cure for your sleep apnea, not just manage the symptoms. 

To learn more, contact us today and schedule an appointment at the office location that is most convenient to you.