Do people tell you that you snore? Or maybe you wake up in the mornings feeling tired and like you didn’t sleep a wink? You may have sleep apnea, a potentially dangerous condition where you stop breathing in your sleep. Your breathing stops off and on while you’re sleeping, causing disruptions to your sleep patterns and cycles.
While sleep apnea can have multiple causes, some are related to your oral health. Because sleep apnea can be linked to your oral health, your dentist in Ballantyne near Charlotte, NC can provide sleep apnea dental treatments to alleviate your symptoms.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Since sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing while you’re asleep, your body’s reflexes also wake you up. Your reflexes are what help you resume breathing, but they can take you out of deep, light, or REM sleep cycles. The disruptions to your sleep cycles are what make you feel tired despite being in bed for a full eight hours.
If you have sleep apnea, you could be the obstructive or central form of the condition. With obstructive sleep apnea, your throat’s muscles block your respiratory tract when they relax. Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn’t properly regulate your breathing. Besides disrupting your normal sleep cycles, sleep apnea can strain your heart.
Signs of Sleep Apnea to Look For
The next time you visit your dentist, they may ask you if you have any symptoms of sleep apnea. That’s because some of the symptoms and causes of the condition relate to your oral health. Teeth grinding is one of the known symptoms of sleep apnea.
While our dentists will often recommend night guards for teeth grinding, sleep apnea calls for oral appliance therapy. A night guard protects your teeth from damage and enamel wear during the grinding process. However, an oral appliance for sleep apnea helps keep your airway unobstructed.
Before your dentist recommends sleep apnea treatment, they’ll ask you whether you’re experiencing these additional symptoms. This list is not all-inclusive.
Snoring is sometimes difficult for you to detect on your own, but you can ask your family and friends if they’ve ever heard you snore. If you live alone, you might try recording yourself while you sleep if the recording picks up any snoring sounds.
Sleep doctors and dentists will tell you that snoring alone doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. It’s when snoring happens alongside other symptoms that the chances increase. Some people with sleep apnea don’t snore and vice versa. However, if you snore and have sleep apnea, you may benefit from a dental appliance for snoring.
2. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Being tired during the day after a full night’s sleep is more likely to indicate sleep apnea. Feeling constantly fatigued and like you need to take a nap can indicate a problem. You might not remember waking up several times during the night. Nonetheless, the restriction to your airway is activating the survival portion of your brain.
This survival instinct is what makes you wake up and gasp for air. You might also notice you only seem to fall asleep for a few hours at a time. You wake up slightly before drifting back off for another couple of hours. You might think you have insomnia when you actually have sleep apnea. If you’re constantly consuming caffeine to stay away, keep a sleep diary before your next visit at our dental practice in Ballantyne.
3. Gasping for Air or Choking While Sleeping
Gasping for air or choking during sleep isn’t something you want to ignore. Yes, this can happen because you’re sick with a severe cold. Nonetheless, if you don’t have a known respiratory condition, you might want to see if you’re a candidate for sleep apnea treatment near Charlotte, NC.
Your partner is going to notice if you’re gasping for air or choking during sleep. If it’s severe enough, the reflex will wake you. You’ll notice you’re coughing or unable to fully breathe. The symptom isn’t a reason to see an emergency dentist. You can make a regular appointment.
It’s important to note some people may be more sensitive to a retainer for sleep apnea, a night guard, or an oral appliance for snoring. Wearing these devices can feel uncomfortable at first and stimulate a strong gag reflex. If this applies to you, you might want to ask your dentist about CPAP treatment instead.
4. Teeth Grinding
We discussed teeth grinding a bit previously, but this symptom is similar to snoring. A lot of people who grind their teeth in their sleep also have sleep apnea. Research shows a strong association between teeth grinding and sleep apnea.
The thought is that when breathing stops, the jaw muscles increase their activity. It’s this increased jaw activity that leads to teeth grinding. When you grind your teeth, it can wear away the enamel, making your teeth more sensitive and vulnerable to cavities. You can also chip and break your teeth during your sleep. If severe enough tooth damage happens, you could need to ask our Ballantyne practice about dental implants.
It’s not uncommon to experience some of these signs of sleep apnea occasionally and not have the condition. That’s why your dentist may have you complete a sleep study before they recommend sleep apnea treatment.
How Sleep Apnea Impacts Your Health
If our dentists in Ballantyne suspect you have sleep apnea, they’ll review the potential health impacts with you. Some of the more serious consequences of untreated sleep apnea include hypertension, heart attacks, diabetes, and strokes. You could also live a shorter life because of the condition.
Beyond the gravest of consequences, letting sleep apnea go untreated can impact your ability to focus. It can make you feel too tired to exercise and maintain social relationships. You might notice an increase in severe headaches, which can impact your ability to function. You could miss time from work, school, social activities, and your favorite hobbies.
Dental Treatments for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea dental treatments are designed to alleviate the condition’s symptoms and keep your airway unobstructed. These treatments include oral appliances for snoring, retainers for sleep apnea, and oral appliances for sleep apnea. Your dentist might also recommend CPAP therapy.
1. Dental Appliances for Snoring
These devices are custom-made for your mouth and jaw. They help prevent snoring, which can be a sign your airway is obstructed. Snoring may also be a sign of a deviated septum. A deviated septum can cause nasal congestion and problems with breathing through your nose. If you have a deviated symptom, you may also experience teeth grinding.
Like with a mouthguard, our dentist in Ballantyne near Charlotte will take impressions of your teeth. They’ll ensure an oral appliance for snoring fits your jaw and bite correctly.
2. Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy addresses obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. An oral appliance for sleep apnea is also custom-made to fit your unique jaw and bite.
They can replace or substitute for CPAP therapy in some cases. Our dentists will review the pros and cons with you before you decide. In some cases, compliance with CPAP therapy can be low. Since oral appliance therapy can be less complicated and more comfortable, compliance rates can be higher.
Effective Sleep Apnea Treatment in Ballantyne, NC
Sleep apnea can have serious health consequences and impact everything from your mood to your lifespan. If you have any of the symptoms, don’t hesitate to discuss them during your next dental appointment. Even if you come in for a teeth whitening procedure at our office in Ballantyne, NC, we’re ready to listen.
We can evaluate your symptoms, look for signs of teeth grinding, and recommend dental sleep apnea treatments. Our Ballantyne dental practice is dedicated to keeping your oral health and overall well-being in good shape.
Whether you need an emergency, general, or cosmetic dentist near Ballantyne, NC, we can help. Contact us today to start your journey toward snore-free and restful nights.