Do you commonly feel tired during the day? Do you snore? Do you have symptoms such as:
• Acid reflux disease, also known as GERD
• TMJ (jaw joint) pain
• Depression and anxiety
If so, you may want to consider being screened for sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep-disordered breathing is a condition in which breathing is restricted during sleep, thus lowering oxygen levels in the body and placing stress on the cardiovascular system.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disease that falls within the larger category of sleep disordered breathing. Estimates are 20 percent of U.S. adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, yet 90 percent of those people remain undiagnosed.
Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are available, and working closely with a physician and specially trained dentist to find the best option for patients is imperative. Sleep dentistry is a growing field and comprehensive dentists now understand how to treat symptoms and repair the damage to the oral cavity caused by sleep apnea.
Along with the diseases listed above, sleep-disordered breathing is associated with nighttime grinding of one’s teeth. Dentists term this grinding and clenching as sleep bruxism, which can cause permanent damage to tooth structure and weaken teeth.
In adults, snoring is associated with sleep apnea. In children, snoring, along with sleep bruxism and tooth wear, is a clinical marker for pediatric sleep disordered breathing. Children who snore at night, are restless sleepers, or exhibit signs of attention deficit disorder and should be evaluated by a well-trained dentist and pediatrician, and a sleep study should be considered.
In both children and adults, breathing through one’s nose during the day and night is critical to one’s health. When a person is unable, he or she compensates by breathing through the mouth. Mouth breathing places strain on the body, including the oral cavity. Dentists can see signs of mouth breathing in both children and adults, and intervention to correct it is important in restoring a patient’s health.
Worn, chipped, yellowed and sensitive teeth may indicate an underlying issue. Sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea, may be contributing. A comprehensive and thorough dental evaluation can help determine what is causing teeth to break down.
Dr. Margaret Richards Frankel’s family dental practice, Richards Frankel Dentistry, is in Lyndhurst.
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