We are constantly surprising our patients with what we can do! You might think that a dentist is just focused on teeth, but it should come as no surprise that we are interested in many different aspects of your mouth, jaw, and facial structures. We can even help with your snoring problem!
You see, just because our main focus is your teeth does not mean that that’s our ONLY area of expertise. We know this part of your body really well, so it only makes sense that we would have solutions for many different ailments, like pain in your temporomandibular joint and problems breathing while you sleep.
We mentioned snoring above, and we can help with a simple snoring problem, but what do you do when you realize that your snoring is more than just an obnoxious noise? Snoring is a common sign of a much more serious concern called sleep apnea, which affects your ability to breathe while you sleep.
Do you wake up gasping for air? Has your spouse noticed that you actually stop breathing while you sleep? Maybe you snore a lot and also wake up with headaches? These are all signs that your snoring is more than just noise, and you need to be seen right away!
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
When we talk about sleep apnea, we are usually referring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is the most common form of apnea. In this case, the episodes are caused when your throat closes while you sleep, cutting off your air supply. Your muscles in your throat just aren’t able (or willing) to keep that airway open, so you struggle for a matter of seconds before your brain pulls you far enough out of sleep that you begin breathing again before falling back asleep.
Most people don’t know that these episodes are happening throughout the night, but some patients will wake up several times an hour! This causes serious problems for your body because you aren’t getting the rest of the oxygen you need to function well. Now that you know what you’re up against, let’s discuss things you can do!
What Can I Do?
The first step is to have your diagnosis confirmed by a doctor. We might recommend a sleep study to help us and you get the information we need to make sure you are getting the treatment and care you need! Once we know for sure that sleep apnea is the cause of your problems, we might recommend some of the following changes.
Lose Weight – Studies suggest that by losing 10% of your body weight, you can cut your sleep apnea severity by 30%! That would be a huge benefit without too much work to lose weight. Plus, you’ll look and feel better, too!
Break Bad Habits – Smoking and drinking alcohol can both make sleep apnea worse as well. Smoking because it causes the swelling of your airways. Drinking because it relaxes the muscles that you need to be alert! If you are taking a sleep aid, this can also relax very important muscles.
Change Sleeping Position – The way you choose to sleep can have a big impact on your sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back lets gravity work against you, and you are more likely to experience the closing of your airway. Try sleeping on your side or stomach to help that airway stay open.
Can the Dentist Help?
Sleep apnea symptoms are very serious! This isn’t something that we want you to deal with on your own. It’s not just a matter of losing weight or breaking bad habits. Those things can help, but ultimately, you need a way to ensure that your airways are staying open and clear as you sleep! We can help you with that with the use of CPAP and oral appliances.
CPAP – A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine sits next to your bed as you sleep and pumps air through your airways by way of a mask that you wear over your nose. This air pressure holds your windpipe open so that you continue breathing and achieve a very comfortable rest. Many patients struggle to wear this type of device, though. The sound of the machine bothers some patients, and others don’t like to wear the mask while they sleep!
Oral Appliances – For patients who cannot tolerate the CPAP, we also offer oral appliances. An oral appliance is a small plastic piece that you wear in your mouth as you sleep. The appliance will push your lower jaw forward ever so slightly to force your windpipe open, which will allow you the freedom to breathe!
Health Concerns to Think About
Getting help for your sleep apnea symptoms is very important. This condition is dangerous, and it can lead to many other problems along the way. Sleep apnea patients are much more likely to also suffer from heart disease and depression. They are also at a much higher risk for sleep-related automobile accidents because they simply aren’t getting enough rest at night!
End Your (and Your Family’s) Suffering
Don’t wait until the symptoms become more serious. Find out NOW if sleep apnea is something you need to treat. We can help you begin that process right here at Overmeyer Family Dental. Contact us today to set up a consultation or appointment. We would love to see you so that we can help you live a happier, healthier life starting today!