Sleep apnea refers to the medical condition where one’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night — with the breathing interruptions lasting from a few seconds to minutes. Affecting over 18 million Americans according to the National Sleep Foundation, this disease can be treated by a sleep apnea dentist.
In the field of dentistry, the dental practice that utilizes oral appliance therapy to treat conditions like sleep apnea is called dental sleep medicine. Practitioners in this area work hand in hand with sleep physicians in order to determine the best treatment possible for each of their patients.
This condition is typically characterized by loud snoring, excessive teeth grinding or bruxism, and daytime fatigue. Suspecting someone you love of having this disorder? Here are nine signs you need to watch out for.
Heavy snoring. One of the most common indications of sleep apnea is loud snoring. Nonetheless, not all heavy snorers have this medical condition. If your loved one snores — and this is accompanied by frequent waking up at night — you should have him or her diagnosed.
Poor quality of sleep. If someone has sleep apnea, the back of his or her throat relaxes and the airway narrows. As that person encounters inability to breathe, his or her brain is promoted to wake him or her up in order to reopen the airway and regain breathing. Breathing interruptions can take place around 30 times per hour.
Bruxism. One in four people with sleep apnea has bruxism (the medical term of excessive teeth grinding). Apart from lifestyle changes, a sleep apnea dentist can also recommend a mouth guard to prevent the condition from damaging your teeth.
Sore throat or dry mouth. As a patient tries to breathe more oxygen while sleeping, the tendency is for him or her to sleep with his or her mouth open.
Memory problems. When someone has sleep apnea, he or she doesn’t get enough REM sleep or deep sleep. Medical studies found out that lack of this kind of sleep is linked with memory problems.
Morning headache. As mentioned above, sleep apnea can cause poor sleep quality. With the tiredness that comes from lack of sleep — along with the low level of oxygen in the patient’s brain — it comes as no surprise while people with this condition experience headaches when they wake up.
Daytime fatigue. Sleep apnea doesn’t only cause morning headaches, feelings of fatigue can also be experienced throughout the day. If someone you know feels overly tired most of the time, and he or she also complains about having trouble sleeping, it’s important to have his or her conditions checked by a professional immediately.
Obesity. If a person is obese, it can aggravate his or her sleep apnea condition. With the presence of fat deposits in the upper airway, that person will find it harder to breathe properly while asleep.
Mood changes. With lack of sleep, mood swings are also inevitable for people with sleep apnea. When left untreated, it can even lead to more serious issues like depression. If someone you love exhibits this and the above-mentioned symptoms, it is highly recommended for him or her to seek medical attention from a sleep apnea dentist.
If you or a family member struggles with sleep apnea, Riverside Dental can help you. Contact us today and set an appointment with our sleep apnea dentist.