What does sleep apnea have to do with your dentist?
A sleep apnea dentist can help you obtain a diagnoses of sleep apnea. That’s because there are several dental signs of sleep apnea your dentist can check for while inspecting your mouth.
First of all, sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax and obstruct breathing. Sleep apnea can be exacerbated by a large tongue or small jaw. That’s why your dentist should be on the lookout for things like scalloped edges on your tongue, a petite jaw, or a red throat (commonly caused by frequent snoring, a sign of sleep apnea).
Teeth grinding (bruxism) is another common sign of sleep apnea. Your dentist can tell if you grind your teeth at night by looking for worn and broken teeth, along with inflammation of the gums and receding gum lines.
Additionally, a sudden increase in cavities can serve as another dental sign of sleep apnea. Simply because teeth grinding puts a lot of pressure on your teeth and makes them more prone to cavities. Your body may instinctively start grinding your teeth to send a message to the brain to wake up and take a breath.
What Happens If Your Dentist Thinks You Have Sleep Apnea?
At Macleod Trail Dental, we take an open and honest approach to working with each patient. We will talk to you about the potential for sleep apnea and any reasons we think it might be impacting you. We may ask you several questions to better determine if that’s the issue, as well as go over the common signs and symptoms to look out for. If sleep apnea seems like a possible condition after discussing it, your dentist will recommend a sleep study to determine an official diagnosis.
Dental Sleep Solutions
Sleep apnea oral appliances such as a Jaw Advancing Device (JAD) or a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) are commonly used to treat sleep apnea and help you get a better night’s sleep. These devices are custom made by dentists using a plastic-like mold that forms the perfect match to your teeth and mouth. Many patients are pleased to discover oral appliances can help stop snoring as well.
How do sleep apnea oral appliances work?
Oral appliances work by gently moving your jaw forward. As a result, this slight change in jaw positioning increases the size of your upper airway. This allows air to pass through and prevents the muscles in your throat from over-relaxing and closing up. Because oral appliances reduce airway instability, they often work to curb snoring as well. Oral appliances are most effective for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea.
What about DIY “boil and bite” oral appliances?
The Internet sells just about everything, including “boil and bite” oral appliances you can make at home. These over the counter, or over the Internet, devices are not usually effective for sleep apnea patients. Plus, they can worsen the problem or create an entirely new problem. Your oral appliance should be approved by your dentist, sleep physician, or primary care doctor.