Can Your Dentist Help You Sleep?

woman being kept awake by her husband's snoring

Do you find yourself frequently zoning out? Perhaps you’re having difficulty concentrating at work? Or falling asleep behind the wheel? Do you often wake up with headaches and sore throats? Feel forgetful, irritable, or depressed?

Let your dentist know!

While dentists are teeth experts, they are also there to help with your overall health and well-being. Many people suffer from sleep deprivation, which over time can deteriorate their quality of life. This lack of sleep can cause all the symptoms mentioned above and is the root of these daily conditions.

Your Dentist Can Improve Your Sleep

If you are having trouble sleeping, then reach out to your dentist or mention it during your next checkup. In some cases, your dentist may be able to help you sleep better than a new mattress or supplements. After an “open wide” guidance and quick glance inside, your mouth, teeth, neck, and jaw can show signs of your sleep quality.

For example, teeth grinding or bruxism is usually a sign of stress or anxiety, which causes people to gnash or clench their teeth while sleeping unknowingly. Your jaw’s shape can also show your dentist that you are at risk for sleep apnea or OSA (obstructive sleep disorder). Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes the starting and stopping of breathing, which interrupts sleep. Loud snoring and constant exhaustion can be symptoms of sleep apnea.

When it comes to irregular breathing caused by sleep disorder such as snoring or OSA, dentists are well-versed in the symptoms. In addition to your jaw’s shape, your dentist can examine its position to see if your sleeping issues are related to snoring or sleep apnea.

After having this assessment, you should also talk to your dentist about your overall health. Do you often wake up with a dry mouth or a sore throat? Are you feeling tired during the entire day? Are you experiencing insomnia? By having an open conversation covering these topics, you may give your dentist some insight into the other non-physical signs of sleep apnea.

If you do show signs of a sleep disorder, your dentist will likely refer you to be tested by a sleep physician. This test could involve a general physical exam or even polysomnography–sleep study— which can measure your heart rate, breathing, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep. If you are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, then you can return to your dentist to discuss treatment options for a better night’s sleep.

Sleep Apnea

While there are sleep specialists available to help, dentists are also specially trained to manage and treat those suffering from sleep apnea. They can help you improve your quality of life by fitting you for an oral appliance such as a mandibular advancement device. Similar in appearance to a sports mouth guard, this appliance can help open up your airway as you sleep. Your dentist can also suggest lifestyle changes for a better night’s sleep like avoiding harsh electronic screens before bed and eating a low-fat diet.

Other options for treatment include CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machines which can be extremely helpful. Unfortunately, many of those who suffer from sleep apnea do not find CPAPs to be a comfortable option and are especially not viable for those who aren’t obese. Patients with mild to moderate OSA can seek other treatment options from their dentist that don’t include the CPAP.

Oral appliances can help improve ventilation during sleep. They are a lot more comfortable to wear than the CPAP and are super portable. These devices are also less noticeable, fitting snugly into your mouth and less costly than an expensive machine.

If you are experiencing trouble sleep or constant exhaustion, then let Dr. Maniscalco know your concerns he can put you on the path for a better sleep. Reach out to us in Birmingham to find out what your teeth truly need. To schedule your appointment, call us at 205-967-9100, or contact us online.

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