Many patients think they know everything they need to about going to the dentist. But it’s a common misconception that dental treatments have stayed the same for decades. You may...
Feeling exhausted every morning, no matter how early you go to bed? Finding it more and more difficult to pay attention and stay focused during your workday? Waking up your family members at night with loud snoring, and facing familial strife? There could be a single cause behind all your sleep-related struggles. Sleep apnea is a common problem that can go undiagnosed because it only occurs while the patient is asleep – and your dentist could help you start feeling like yourself again.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be improved with a custom mouth guard – but how do you know whether you’re facing this specific sleep disorder? Learn more about common sleep concerns below, and how we may be able to help you breathe easy.
Common Sleep Disorders – Telling Sleep Apnea Apart
- Circadian rhythm disorders – We typically become sleepy and fall asleep at night, following instructions from our internal clocks. This clock (a small part of the hypothalamus within the brain) can malfunction and lead to sleepiness at inappropriate parts of the day. If you’ve been sleepy during the day when traveling, working occasional night shifts, or experiencing general periods of untimely sleepiness, this is likely due to circadian rhythm problems and not sleep apnea.
- Insomnia – Insomniacs struggle to get enough sleep – they may not fall asleep easily, may wake up often during the night, or wake up too early in the morning. There are many causes of insomnia, and if you’re noticing that you struggle to sleep, there is a possibility that sleep apnea could be related. Get your symptoms checked out with a doctor.
- Snoring – While sleep apnea sufferers may snoring, snores don’t always mean sleep apnea. Check whether your snoring is accompanied by other sleep apnea symptoms to determine whether you have a breathing problem (as opposed to problematic sleep habits or congestion).
- Nightmares/night terrors – These are frightening dreams or anxiety attacks that take hold during REM sleep. These issues are typically memorable once you’re awake and are accompanied by stress, and are easily distinguishable from sleep apnea.
Why Treat Sleep Apnea?
The annoyances that we mentioned in the introduction might seem like they’re just negative moments you have to put up with. But sleep apnea can have very serious long-term consequences, ranging from heart problems to diabetes. The popular conception is that sleep apnea treatment involves a CPAP machine, which is large, unwieldy, and forces significant changes to your nightly habits. But that’s only necessary for patients with CSA, or central sleep apnea. This is far less common than obstructive sleep apnea, and likely not the one you’re facing.
If you have OSA, your dentist can help you prevent tissue from obstructing your throat and stopping your breathing. A specialized mouth guard pulls your tongue slightly forward and leaves your airway open throughout the night. Just get in touch to learn more.