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Sleep Dentistry

Do you have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep? Do you think that you may have sleep apnea? At Cedars Family Dental, our team is here for all your dental needs, including treating sleep apnea.

Can a Dentist Diagnose Sleep Disorders?

Oral health has links to a surprising number of health factors, including the quality of your sleep. Your dentist may be the first person that detects what seems like unrelated health issues, including sleep problems.

Dr. Salamy can collaboratively diagnose a sleep disorder along with a sleep physician or your primary care provider. It may be the case that the first one to notice if you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea is your dentist. If they suspect that you may have sleep apnea, they can send you to a sleep specialist.

You may think that sleep disorders aren’t a big deal, possibly because you aren’t aware you have a sleep disorder. But millions of Americans suffer from sleep disorders, often without realizing it. Undiagnosed sleep disorders can be serious. Having an undiagnosed sleep disorder can lead to much more than just daytime drowsiness, including:

What is Sleep Apnea?

Millions of people across the country suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing regularly throughout the night.

Patients with sleep apnea may also snore or suffer from exhaustion during the day, even after getting a whole night’s sleep. There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. OSA occurs when the upper airway becomes partially or entirely blocked while sleeping.

The chest muscles and diaphragm work harder during an OSA episode as pressure increases to open the airway. Patients with obstructive sleep apnea usually start breathing again with a loud gasp or their body jerking.

Having one of these episodes can make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. It can also reduce how much oxygen flows to vital organs and even causes irregularities in heart rhythm.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is a less common form of sleep apnea. It’s also more challenging to diagnose.

Central sleep apnea does not involve any blockage in the upper airway. Instead, your brain fails to send a signal to your muscles to breathe.

The failure to send this signal is due to the respiratory control center being unstable. Like OSA, you experience a pause in breathing, but it happens because your brain and muscles that control your ability to breathe aren’t working.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

Although central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea are two different conditions, it is possible to have them simultaneously. If this occurs, it’s called mixed sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Risks and Warning Signs

The main symptoms of sleep apnea are snoring, gasping, and grunting regularly through the night. A constant feeling of fatigue or not feeling rested, even after sleeping through the whole night, could also indicate a sleep disorder. 

Other sleep apnea symptoms to watch out for include: 

Children may display different symptoms than adults if they have sleep apnea. These may include poor school performance, unusual sleeping positions, daytime mouth breathing, bedwetting, and difficulty swallowing. It can even be con

Other risks and warning signs of sleep apnea include being overweight, having a large neck, or having throat problems like an enlarged thyroid gland.

Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea with Dental Appliance Therapy

If Dr. Salamy thinks you may have sleep apnea, she will conduct a comprehensive exam. She will ask you about your stress levels and various lifestyle factors during this exam, including diet and disease.

Th exam includes checking your throat, tongue, neck, and jaw area, we arelooking for signs of various health disorders, including sleep apnea. If you have unusual symptoms like sleep apnea, you may benefit from keeping a health diary.

A health diary can help you keep track of your symptoms and explain them accurately to your dentist and other health professionals. If your dentist suspects you may have a sleep problem, they may send you to a sleep study or a sleep clinic. Only a sleep specialist can officially diagnose sleep apnea. If you’re diagnosed with sleep apnea, your treatment may include several steps, including lifestyle changes. The most common treatment for a sleep disorder is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

CPAP Therapy for Sleep Apnea

If you have sleep apnea, your sleep specialist may prescribe CPAP therapy. CPAP machines work by delivering pressurized air into your mouth to keep your breathing passages open.

By keeping these passages open, the CPAP machine reduces choking or gasping episodes due to sleep apnea while sleeping. A CPAP machine uses a face mask that seals the nostrils and often the mouth to give pressurized air. A hose connects the face mask to the motor of the CPAP machine.

CPAP Alternative: Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)

If you find it hard to sleep while using a CPAP machine or experience

challenging side effects from various devices, you may want to consider oral appliance therapy (OAT). Oral appliance therapy is something that your doctor can prescribe for you.

They will refer you to a dentist that can create a custom-fit oral appliance. Most oral appliances fall into two types: mandibular repositioning devices and tongue retaining devices.

Mandibular Repositioning Devices

Mandibular repositioning devices move your lower jaw forward and down. Moving your jaw helps to keep your airway open while you’re sleeping.

When using oral appliances, mandibular repositioning devices are the most widely used in patients.

Tongue Retaining Devices

Tongue retaining devices hold your tongue in place while you’re sleeping. Keeping your tongue in place keeps your airway open.

For the best results, do not purchase sleep devices that reduce snoring on your own. Your oral appliance device is custom-fit for you, ensuring that it works as it should.

Oral appliance therapy works best when treating patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

Our Dentist Can Help with Sleep Disorders

Dr. Salamy has advanced specialized training in sleep dentistry and is a qualified dentist through the AADSM. It’s vital that you share any health concerns with your dentist. Although it may seem unrelated to your mouth, share things like if you’re constantly fatigued, have a chronic sore throat, have sinus problems, or regularly wake up with headaches.

Experiencing these could indicate a sleep disorder. If you suspect or know that you have a sleep disorder, it’s necessary to tackle this problem early on before it leads to serious health problems.

Relying on medication to help you sleep will only mask the problem rather than solve it. Your dentist has the knowledge and resources to help you get to the root of the problem.

At Cedars Family Dental, we are committed to helping you understand and improve your health, including sleep disorders. If a sleep disorder is suspected, we’ll work together with your doctor and a sleep specialist to develop a comprehensive care plan and tackle the source of the problem.

Do you suspect you may have sleep apnea? Schedule an appointment at Cedars Family Dental in Plainville, MA, to get the help you need!

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