Figuring out whether or not you have sleep apnea can be quite difficult since the issue happens when you're unconscious. However, if you have been feeling incredibly sleep deprived it's worth looking into seeing how your dentist can help.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Fatigue is the obvious symptom, but since so many other ailments have this broad symptom, you'll want to consider other signs as well. For instance, people with sleep apnea often experience dry mouth and dry throats upon waking. Not only will you be fatigued, but your sleep cycle may be messy, with bouts of insomnia and nightmares. Since you aren't getting good rest, your mental health may suffer and manifest itself as depression. If you sleep with a partner or spouse, ask them to let you know if you snore. If you live with a roommate, try taking a nap on the couch and asking them if you snore in your sleep. Snoring is a clear indicator that you are having difficulty breathing; and if your sleep apnea is bad, your body may repeatedly wake up during the night since you're not getting enough oxygen.
Could a Dentist Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
A dentist will most likely send you to a specialist for a sleep study to confirm sleep apnea. However, your dentist can spot one big telltale sign of sleep apnea: bruxism (teeth grinding). Many patients who grind their teeth also have sleep apnea. Your dentist will be able to tell you whether or not you bruxism since it can cause microfractures on your teeth and wear down the cusps--especially on your premolars and molars. If the bruxism is bad, you may have a higher rate of cavities. Your dentist may also ask you about tight jaw muscles or headaches since these are also signs of sleep apnea.
How an Oral Appliance Could Help
Many sleep apnea patients have difficulty adjusting to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices. The masks are awkward to sleep in, and some people don't like the continuous air blowing on their face. But your dentist can set you up with an oral appliance that will be easier to adjust to. These oral appliances look very similar to mouthguards; however, they go on both the top and bottom teeth. When you are fitted with one, it will move your lower jaw forward a bit so that your airway stays open while you sleep. These appliances can be costly since they are custom-fitted. Thankfully, however, they are covered by many insurance policies.
Talk with a dental office like Jerry C Hu DDS Family Dentistry LLC today if you suspect sleep apnea. He or she can tell you more about oral appliances and how they can help you.