In 1985, the Better Sleep Council designated May as “Better Sleep Month.” Sound silly?Maybe so, but there’s no shortage of data demonstrating the importance of sleep in a person’s health, longevity and productivity. Everything from weight loss to heart health is affected by sleep, according to recent studies.
Two of the most troublesome sleep impediments — sleep apnea and bruxism — are related to oral health. Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed for years. People who snore, and their loved ones, often laugh off frequent and intense snoring. But if you have this condition, it’s not a laughing matter. The snoring results from a breathing problem that deprives you of oxygen, putting you at risk for serious health problems like heart disease and stroke.
There are also many misconceptions about sleep apnea. For example, not everyone with the condition snores. And although apnea and obesity are often linked, many people with the condition are not overweight at all. In fact, many athletes have apnea — even Shaq!
Future of Dentistry is able to provide an oral appliance for sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer and is worn only at night. Covered by many health insurance plans, these oral appliances work by supporting the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.
Other symptoms of OSA include high blood pressure; choking or gasping for breath during sleep; long pauses in your breathing; and daytime sleepiness despite how many hours you’ve slept. If you think you may have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. The sooner you diagnose or rule out the problem, the healthier and better rested you’ll be.
Bruxism is better known as teeth grinding or clenching. It can happen at any time, though it’s common during sleep, when we are unaware and unable to control the grinding behavior. On the dental side, it can decay enamel, wear down the biting surfaces of teeth and create cracks that lead to broken teeth. Bruxism may also be a factor in TMJ/TMD, a chronic and painful jaw condition.
Studies link bruxism to stress, anxiety and sleep disorders. Lifestyle factors may also lead to bruxism, including diet, smoking, alcohol, drugs, caffeine and even excessive use of chewing gum.
If you’re living with soreness and poor sleep due to clenching or grinding your teeth, you don’t have to. We provide custom-made night guards that protect your teeth and mouth. Our appliances are more personalized than what is available over the counter. They are shaped to the nuances of each individual’s teeth and mouth, allowing you to position your jaw and tongue comfortably.
Ask your dental insurance provider if night guards are covered, or if you’re uninsured, ask about our Membership Program to save on this service.
As with many health matters, early intervention is the best thing you can do. Not all bruxism needs to be treated, but a medical professional should determine whether there is a problem and whether it needs to be monitored or treated immediately.