Sleep Apnea Clinic

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Calgary Sleep Apnea Dentist

Did you know sleep issues & dental health are often interconnected? It’s true.

Luckily, our team of experienced dentists and dental professionals are here to help.

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The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Dentistry

Learn how a sleep apnea dentist can play a vital role in diagnosing & treating sleep apnea.

We commonly ask our dental patients about their sleeping patterns and quality of sleep. Why? Because dentists are often the first medical professionals to recognize sleep apnea in patients. It is so important to diagnose and treat sleep apnea as early as possible to prevent some of the more serious health risks associated with this sleep disorder.

According to the Sleep Apnea Rapid Response survey, it is estimated that around 5.4 million Canadian adults have been diagnosed with sleep apnea or have shown signs of obstructive sleep apnea. Furthermore, 3% of adults 18 and older have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, while 5% of Canadians 45 and older are impacted.

Some signs you may have sleep apnea include waking throughout the night, chronic snoring, and making gasping or choking sounds when you’re sleeping. Keep in mind, most people who snore do not have sleep apnea, but most people with sleep apnea snore. Your risk of sleep apnea increases if you are overweight, have narrow airways, or a misaligned jaw.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing while you sleep. Apnea means “no breathing.” Generally, breathing ceases for 10 to 30 seconds as the brain scrambles to react to the issue. As a result, blood oxygen levels dip and your body will wake you up in an attempt to resume breathing. Usually, you do not wake up all the way and may not even realize you are waking up throughout the night despite feeling tired and groggy.

Sleep Apnea and Dentistry

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.

Dental Signs of Sleep Apnea

  • Grinding your teeth at night
  • Increase in cavities or dental decay
  • Receding gum lines
  • Inflamed gums
  • Periodontal disease
  • Red and irritated throat
  • Waking up with a dry mouth

Side effects of sleep apnea:

  • Waking up with a dry mouth and/or sore throat
  • Feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep
  • Excessive sleepiness throughout the day
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Increased risk of work-related or motor-related injuries
  • Memory loss and poor concentration

More serious long-term side effects of sleep apnea include:

  • Irregular heart beat
  • Heart failure
  • Depression
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Chronic acid reflux

Calgary Sleep Apnea Dentist

Woman smiling thanks to sleep apnea dentistConnecting the Dots Between Sleep Apnea and Dentistry

From teeth cleanings to treating cavities and recognizing the symptoms of sleep apnea, Macleod Trail Dental offers a detailed look at your overall oral health. If there’s a chance you have sleep apnea, our experienced dentists vow to discuss the possibility with you and go over next steps to help diagnose and treat the issue with dental sleep solutions.

We welcome you to enjoy your next trip to the dentist. Did we mention we offer same-day walk-in appointments? You can also schedule your next appointment online. We look forward to treating your mouth with the care and consideration you deserve.

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