Royal Oak and Birmingham, MI
Dentists play a vital role in identifying cases of sleep-related disorders. After all, your dentist sees the inside of your mouth more than any other physician. Dr. Nancy Hartrick offers airway screenings at her Royal Oak dental office. These screenings are available for patients of any age, including infants. Since sleep-related disorders often involve the airway, find out how Dr. Hartrick can help you sleep better.
What are sleep-related disorders?
One of the most common sleep-related disorders is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and it affects 18 million Americans. Unfortunately, many of these sufferers are unaware that they have this condition, which means they aren’t doing anything to manage it. Sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing or low breathing while asleep. It also results in snoring, although you could have OSA and not snore.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
Untreated sleep apnea leads to chronic daytime fatigue, frequent headaches, irritability, and dry mouth or throat upon waking up. Managing sleep apnea reduces these symptoms and helps you rest better. Because sleep apnea sufferers may have pauses in their breathing hundreds or more times a night, it is crucial to manage this disorder.
What does my dentist have to do with my snoring?
Sleep apnea screenings or airway assessments can easily be conducted during a routine dental exam or checkup. Dentists are most familiar with structures inside the mouth, including soft tissues of the throat and airway. While a dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea, a screening proves useful in identifying the disorder. Dr. Hartrick can then collaborate with a sleep specialist to ensure you get the care that you need.
Dental Signs of Sleep Apnea
A sleep apnea assessment may include looking for these changes in a patient’s oral health. Here is what Dr. Hartrick assesses when conducting a sleep apnea screening.
Bruxism is clenching and grinding your teeth while asleep. Lots of people do this, even children, and aren’t aware of it. But, if your teeth look flat on the chewing surface, you suffer from jaw pain or unexplained dental pain and have frequent headaches, you could have bruxism. It not only damages your teeth, but you are more likely to have a sleep-breathing disorder. A customized oral appliance protects your teeth from the damage caused by bruxism.
Enlarged Throat Tissue
Tonsils and adenoids sometimes are enlarged, which formed this way naturally as a person developed. However, the enlarged soft tissue of the throat may easily block or restrict airflow while sleeping. Dr. Hartrick assesses throat tissue for any obstruction.
The best way to breathe to maximize oxygenation in the blood is through the nose. Many people mouth breathe, although this is detrimental to your overall health. Mouth breathing also indicates that you may have sleep apnea. Dr. Hartrick will observe how you breathe to determine if you are a mouth breather and could benefit from myofunctional therapy to correct this orofacial myofunctional disorder. Simple exercises can help train your mouth and tongue to function properly and rest in the correct position to facilitate breathing through the nose.
Addressing these dental concerns is part of managing sleep apnea. While a CPAP machine can be worn at night to force air into the airway, it is merely a band-aid and doesn’t address the underlying cause of a sleep-breathing disorder. Once your sleep apnea is well controlled, you will sleep better and feel rejuvenated. To find out more or schedule a sleep apnea screening in Royal Oak, call Hartrick Dentistry at (248) 549-0950. We provide airway screenings to the Royal Oak and Birmingham areas of Michigan.