Are you snoring a lot and find yourself exhausted and tired in the day? If so, it might be time to consult your dentist.
Snoring and issues with sleep should be something you consult your GP about, but your local dentist can help too.
Lots of patients are surprised when they come to the dentist and are asked about their sleep. However, a dentist is often one of the first people to suggest a sleep disorder such as snoring, bruxism or sleep apnoea.
Sleep Apnoea – A Common But Potentially Deadly Condition
Lots of people have sleep apnoea, it is very common and actually quite well known. It causes shallow breaths whilst sleeping, or it causes the person to stop breathing over 25 times an hour in some cases. This happens because the muscles in the throat relax so much that the airway temporarily becomes obstructed. The person is then woken up by their partner, or by a choke or snort from the body reacting to the lack of air.
Sometimes, bruxism comes before sleep apnea or is a common sign of sleep apnea. This is where the person grinds their teeth which can cause all kinds of problems like receding gums or broken teeth. Long-term the issue can cause jaw pain and even headaches and other problems. This grinding is a key oral health sign of sleep apnoea and there are other symptoms that are characteristic of a sleep disturbance too such as:
The constant gasping for breath associated with sleep apnoea eventually causes the body to work harder getting oxygen everywhere, which can eventually increase your risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. So although the issue of sleep apnoea is initially very annoying and tiring, eventually it could contribute to a really serious and life-threatening condition.
How It Feels To Have Sleep Apnoea
Listing the symptoms of sleep apnoea allow us to see how it can affect a person’s day-to-day quality of life, but they don’t truly illustrate how difficult living with the condition can be for many who suffer from it. More often than not, the partner of the person is really taking a lot on because of the condition. Primarily the lack of sleep they get through constantly being woken up from the snoring is really hard. But also the worry of a partner stopping breathing can be very very scary indeed!
For the person with the sleep apnoea, it can even ruin careers. They may be diagnosed with extreme sleep apnoea and if that happens the hospital has to let the DVLA know because it means they could be a danger on the road. They may lose their license and depending on their career, may lose their job if it depends on having an active license.
The lack of sleep can also be incredibly damaging on the mood and how you feel throughout the day. You may feel depressed or very low, you might feel physically depleted and it could affect your love life or your social life. Your family life at home may also suffer because you feel so tired.
So sleep apnoea can be really hard on the person suffering, and their family too.
See Your GP First
Although your dentist may be the first to notice signs of sleep apnoea, snoring or bruxism (or all three) they are not your first port of call for treatment. Your GP will be the person you need to see to refer you for a sleep study where specialists can find out the issue and diagnose your level of sleep apnoea. It may be that you are in a danger-zone with the condition in which case you need urgent treatment and help. It may be that you need to lose weight, and your doctor may issue a CPAP machine which pushes oxygen into your throat and lungs as you sleep, depending on the severity of the condition.
In all instances you require the help of your GP to get a sleep study and get a diagnosis so that you can understand what the appropriate treatment for your condition will be.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Following a diagnosis, your dentist can help with the management of your condition. A dental device like a mouth guard custom made by us could be exactly what you need to help reduce teeth grinding and to help relieve sleep apnoea. Your dentist can also help address issues resulting from bruxism, for example worn or broken teeth.
Most importantly, they can be aware of your condition so they can check any potential side effects, helping to maintain the health of your teeth and gums.
Book An Appointment With Your Kent Smile Studio Dentist For A Consultation
If you suspect you have sleep apnoea or teeth grinding, we can help with the diagnosis and refer you to your GP. In the meantime we can do a lot to help manage the condition and to protect your dental health.
Once you have a diagnosis we can work with that information and support you, whether that is with special dental devices or with additional checkups to ensure your oral health is in the best possible condition.
At the very least we recommend that you let us know about any sleep disorder when you visit us for a checkup. If we know about your health overall, we know about any special attention we need to pay to specific areas of the mouth. Please call us on 01634 683123 (Chatham) or 01622 754662 (Maidstone) to book an appointment at a time to suit you. Our experienced and dedicated team are here to help you manage or prevent oral health issues or symptoms related to common sleep disorders.Back to Blog
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