Who do you call if you’re battling sleeplessness and snoring? You can call your family physician, but you can always call your dentist! Your oral health is often the culprit of sleep apnea, a disorder that causes sleep disturbances and snoring. In fact, dentists are often the first person to diagnose sleep disorders.
Sleep apnea occurs due to repeated interruptions in breathing throughout the night. WebMD explains that these pauses happen because the muscles in the back of the throat are flaccid and either the tongue is too large, or the jaw is too small. Both issues cause airway obstructions, leading to paused breathing that can last up to minutes while sleeping.
Dental Signs of Sleep Apnea
At The Dental Office of Dr. August De Oliveira, we provide every patient with high quality and high-tech care to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment. However, one look into a patient’s mouth and we can physically see signs that point to sleep apnea. Bruxism, or tooth grinding, is the first sign of apnea. There are a few ways we observe tooth grinding:
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Receding and inflamed gums
- More cavities than normal
Aside from grinding, we also examine the size of your jaw, take a look into your throat for redness, and inspect your mouth for dryness and tongue for scalloped edges. All of these symptoms can help lead us to suspect sleep apnea and we always advise patients to consult with their family physician to make an official diagnosis.
Dental Practices for Sleep Apnea
Before our professional staff can perform sleep apnea treatment, our patient must undergo a sleep study conducted by a medical professional. The study will show the severity of symptoms and from there, a treatment plan can be determined. The standard method of therapy is using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine while sleeping. For mild to moderate apnea, we can recommend a dental appliance that can be worn with a CPAP device to help lower blood pressure.
There are two types of dental devices that help with sleep apnea; Mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue retaining mouthpieces. MADs are very similar to retainers and mouthguards, while tongue retaining mouthpieces provide extra support around the tongue. Tongue mouthpieces are commonly used with patients who cannot position their jaw forward. There are plenty of options available over the counter, but that is just a band-aid to a larger issue that can affect your health down the road.
Got a Snoring Problem? Let Us Help
If you’ve noticed a change in your sleeping habits, or you’ve been told you snore, it may be time to contact your physician and your dentist. Did you know that your medical insurance can cover a large portion of the costs of a Snore Guard after your deductible? Our staff will work with a medical biller and can check to see if you are covered! If you live in Encino, California and want to speak with a staff that treats you like family, contact us to request an appointment. In addition to helping patients with sleep apnea, we also specialize in dental implants and same day crowns. For more information on what you can expect during your first time here, visit our patient info page and know that you’re in great hands!