There are many things that may keep you from getting a good night’s sleep, whether caused by internal stress or the external environment. One common cause of poor sleep that many people overlook is Sleep Disordered Breathing, which includes both snoring and sleep apnea. These conditions can have wide-ranging and dangerous effects if left untreated, which is why we encourage patients to be familiar with symptoms and the treatment options that we provide.
Breathing and Sleep Disruption
Snoring can lower your quality of sleep, leading to exhaustion and poor immune system function. Worse, people who snore have a higher risk of developing sleep apnea, which is characterized by interruptions in breathing lasting longer than 10 seconds. During these disruptions, which may occur more than 100 times per night, blood oxygen levels drop, causing a stress response in the body. In the short term, sleep apnea can affect emotions, cause fatigue, and increase the risk of accidents. In the long term, it can raise blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.
Symptoms of These Disorders
The symptoms of snoring are fairly obvious, but many people with sleep apnea may be unaware that they have the condition. Often, you may only discover it when your partner complains about your snoring or notice lapses in your breathing. Symptoms that someone afflicted with sleep apnea might notice include:
- Waking up at night short of breath
- Experiencing morning headaches
- Waking up in the morning with a dry or sore throat
- Struggling to stay awake and attentive during the day
If you notice any of these signs you should see a physician, who can diagnose the sleep disorder by conducting a sleep study.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Snoring and sleep apnea may not seem like conditions a dentist would treat. However, both occur because of airway obstruction, which happens when muscles in your mouth and throat become too relaxed during sleep. Although relaxation seems like a good thing, your tongue may fall backward or throat tissue may collapse inward, narrowing the airway or blocking it. At Desired Smiles, we provide patients with custom oral appliances, which fit on the teeth and keep the lower jaw in a forward position. This prevents the tongue from falling back and blocking the airway.
Many patients may not realize that sleep-related issues like snoring and teeth grinding are things they should bring up during dental visits. Unfortunately, disrupted sleep can seriously affect daily quality of life and general health, especially when it occurs on a nightly basis. This is why we encourage patients to pay close attention to their health and come to us early on with any concerns.