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The Link Between Dentistry and Sleep Apnea

The Link Between Dentistry and Sleep Apnea

If your partner tells you that you’re snoring loudly at night, you may not think much of it. However, if you find yourself feeling drowsy all of the time or waking up gasping for air, you could have a condition known as sleep apnea. But did you know that the dentist could be your biggest asset in treating this disease?

At Bucktown Wicker Park Dental, our team are experts in treating a myriad of dental disorders, along with sleep apnea. Dr. Melissa Daza and Dr. Michelle Schwartz are our two dental specialists. They can help you figure out the right treatment when you’re suffering from sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a very serious medical disorder that causes problems during your sleep due to pauses in breathing. It’s often accompanied by periods of loud snoring, and excessive fatigue during the day. 

There are actually two separate forms of sleep apnea, each with its own symptoms and problems. These forms of sleep apnea are:

Obstructive sleep apnea

This is the most prevalent variety of sleep apnea, and it happens when your airway is obstructed by soft tissues in your mouth while you’re sleeping. Factors that play into this form of sleep apnea include obesity or enlarged features in your mouth.

Central sleep apnea

This form of sleep apnea is less common, and is the result of your brain failing to tell your muscles to breathe. In central sleep apnea, the airflow isn’t blocked at all, you just aren’t getting the proper brain impulse to breathe. A stroke, brain tumor, or heart failure can lead to central sleep apnea.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a condition that happens when you suffer from both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is very dangerous, as your overall health can be seriously affected.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

Not everyone who snores definitely has sleep apnea. However, there are a number of symptoms that you may experience when you have a form of sleep apnea. Some of the most common symptoms of this condition include:

Your partner may also tell you that you make loud gasps for air during sleep. Because of the trouble that sleep apnea causes with actual rest, you may also notice that you have trouble concentrating or paying attention to things during the day.

How can the dentist help?

Dentists are sometimes the first provider to recognize the signs of sleep apnea when it comes to your oral health. This is because bruxism, or grinding your teeth, is one of the initial signs that you might have sleep apnea.

If during an exam, our providers notice that your teeth are worn down or you have inflamed gums, they may ask you about your sleep. However, bruxism isn’t the only dental sign of sleep apnea. If you have a smaller-than-normal jaw or redness in your throat, it could signal sleep apnea as well.

When our Dr. Schwartz or Dr. Daza suspects an issue with sleep apnea, they order a test known as a sleep study to get a proper diagnosis. Once you have a definitive diagnosis, they can get you the treatment you need for your condition.

The great aspect about seeing our team for sleep apnea is they offer more than just CPAP therapy. Although a CPAP machine is a great tool in treating sleep apnea, it’s bulky and often uncomfortable and not well tolerated.

Instead, Dr. Daza and Dr. Schwartz offer custom mouthpieces that help you combat sleep apnea. These devices are custom fitted to your mouth, and work by slightly moving your jaw forward to keep soft tissues from collapsing over your airway.

These devices often work very well, and can be monitored through routine visits with Dr. Schwartz and Dr. Daza.

If you’re struggling with sleep apnea and need the expertise of a dental specialist, don’t hesitate to call our office at 773-252-2303 to schedule an appointment. You can also book a consultation today by sending a message on our website.

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