You may not be aware that snoring is a symptom of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, nor that there’s good reason to discuss it with your dentist. Dr. Danielle Greene of Fabulous Smiles of Atlanta has treated many patients with sleep apnea. She’s well-acquainted with the symptoms and treatments of sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to stop breathing while you’re asleep. As its name implies, obstructive sleep apnea develops from an obstruction, such as the tissues of your throat collapsing over the opening of your windpipe. Sleep apnea can become dangerous in several different ways when left untreated.
Because you’re not getting restorative, healthy sleep, but rather waking again and again through the night to regain your breath, you’re likely to be fatigued during the day, increasing your risk of having an accident. You’re also more likely to be moody or short-tempered, and you may have trouble focusing.
Each time you stop breathing, the oxygen level in your blood drops suddenly, and that puts you at a much greater risk of developing hypertension. Commonly called high blood pressure, hypertension, in turn, raises your risk of other cardiovascular problems. Sleep apnea is also associated with a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.
Why talk to your dentist?
It may seem odd that we’re urging you to discuss your snoring with Dr. Greene. However, dental professionals are well-positioned to recognize the symptoms of sleep apnea and recommend that you visit a sleep specialist. Further, an oral appliance can be the best treatment for your sleep apnea, and your dentist is professionally trained to fit you with such an appliance.
Besides snoring, another early sign of sleep apnea is grinding your teeth. You may not be aware you do it, or you may wonder why your jaw aches sometimes. During your exam, Dr. Greene looks for worn areas on your teeth that indicate grinding.
Treating sleep apnea
The most appropriate treatment for obstructive sleep apnea depends on many factors that vary from person to person. Often, the first line of treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). However CPAP isn’t suitable for some people, and it might not be the most effective treatment.
Another treatment for sleep apnea is oral appliance therapy (OAT). In OAT, you sleep with a specially designed and custom-fitted appliance in your mouth. The appliance keeps the tissues at the back of your mouth from collapsing and blocking your windpipe.
Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that can have serious complications. Dr. Greene knows the symptoms, can provide a referral to a qualified sleep specialist, and can fit you with an oral appliance if that’s the best treatment for you.
If you snore, sometimes wake up gasping, feel more fatigued than you should during the day, or suspect you may be grinding your teeth, book an appointment at Fabulous Smiles of Atlanta and discuss your concerns with Dr. Greene.
You can request an appointment online easily, any time of the day or night. Or you can call us at 404-720-5381 between 8:30am and 5pm Monday through Thursday or from 8:30a.m.to 3pm on Friday, and we’ll be happy to get you on the schedule.