Sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing can present themselves in a variety of different ways. Our dentist in San Diego is a trained provider of sleep dentistry techniques proven to manage certain types of sleeping disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring. Here’s how to know if you need to get screened or talk to a professional about your sleep concerns.
Recognizing the Signs of Sleep Apnea
What are the warning signs of sleep apnea? When it comes to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), some of the most common red flags include:
- An enlarged neck circumference
- Large tonsils
- Flat, worn, or chipped teeth
- TMJ pain or disorder
- Headaches, migraines
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Depression or mood changes
- Difficulty concentrating
During your routine dental exam, we can screen for signs of sleep apnea because of how prevalent they present themselves in the mouth. You might not even realize there’s a problem until you put two and two together. For instance, if you have airway blockage caused by enlarged tissues-and it’s cutting off your airflow at night-you might also be clenching your teeth together when your brain is deprived of oxygen.
The Impact of Untreated Sleeping Disorders
There’s more to be concerned about with a sleeping disorder than just feeling tired every day. When you have untreated OSA, it can significantly raise your chances of suffering from a life-threatening cardiovascular event. Heart attacks and strokes are fairly common in people with untreated sleep apnea, but it’s often realized once it’s too late. Getting screened could actually save your life.
Aside from metabolic issues caused by sleep deprivation, you’ll also see an impact on your mouth. When our body is oxygen-deprived, we tend to automatically lock our jaws shut and clench our teeth together. Over time this instinct will gradually wear down tooth enamel and fracture existing dental work. Functionally and aesthetically, it’s a major concern for your mouth.
How a Sleep Dentist Can Help
How can sleep apnea be treated by a dentist? When you’re working with a trained sleep dentistry provider like Dr. Davey, a holistic approach is taken to managing your airway.
Dental sleep apnea treatment in San Diego utilizes special oral appliances that physically enhance oxygen flow while you’re sleeping. By positioning your jaw in a slightly anterior position, we can limit airway obstruction caused by the collapse of soft tissues in the back of your throat. In fact, oral appliances for sleep apnea can actually replace a CPAP machine in certain cases. And they’re FDA-approved, meaning they’re proven to work for airway obstruction and usually covered by medical insurance.
What’s Involved in Getting Screened?
If you’ve never been diagnosed with a clinical sleeping disorder, the first step is to see someone for a screening. During your exam, Dr. Davey will walk through a physical assessment of your anatomy and then review the symptoms you’re experiencing. If we suspect a sleeping disorder, we may be able to order a take-home sleep study that you conduct in the convenience of your own home.
These tests use a small machine that you operate to record your sleep patterns, then return to the lab to have it read by a pulmonologist or sleep specialist. Depending on the readings, a diagnosis is made. From there, it’s possible to get a prescription for an oral sleep appliance (substitute for a CPAP machine) to help manage your symptoms. But an oral appliance can only be fitted and delivered by a trained sleep dentist.
Reserve a Consultation
If you suspect a sleeping disorder, schedule a screening with our dentist in San Diego. We can discuss a take-home sleep study option and diagnosis to help you get started on the path toward healthier, quality sleep. Contact us today for more information.