Treating Sleep Apnea with Dental Care

Understanding the Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Dental Care

Sometimes patients are surprised that dentist ask them about the quality of their sleep. Many Americans don’t get enough sleep they need, and some don’t know why. Snoring and sleep disturbances are often signs of obstructive sleep apnea, and these are usually blamed on oral health. The dentist is often the earliest diagnostician of sleep disorders.

What happens if I have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea will cause the patient to have repeated breathing interruptions throughout the night. These interruptions last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 or more times per hour. This is due to the muscles in the back of the throat becoming flaccid, the tongue is too large, or the jaw is too small, causing airway obstructions. The patient experiences restless sleep and feel unwell or fatigued waking up in the morning.

If sleep apnea is the root cause, there are several options to care for it, including oral appliance therapy, such as the CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is considered the “gold standard” for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and has been available for 30 years. While it is the primary option for care, it’s a mask that must be worn at night, and some patients don’t want to sleep wearing one.

The director and some of his colleagues at the Dental Sleep Medicine and Orofacial Pain at the UTHSC (University of Tennessee Health Science Center) are coming up with a solution to stabilize the whole mechanism, the jaw and everything else, to prevent the jaw from dropping back.

The appliance is custom fit to the patient’s mouth and holds the lower jaw in a slightly forward position, much like a retainer or a sports mouth guard. Some are attached a little, some are not attached at all, but they still have some mechanism to prevent that collapse. The device can also help to prevent snoring in some of its patients. The patient is fitted with the device that best suits the mouth shape and the breathing issue. Follow-up visits ensure it sits properly and is relieving the problem.

Sleep Apnea Treatment Options in Bellingham

Learn more about sleep apnea from your Bellingham dentist and know that the condition can be managed by oral appliance therapy. Sit down with us and let’s talk your sleeping disorder.

How Teeth and Gums Can be Affected by Stress

Under Stress? Examine Your Mouth

Stress is prevalent and is encountered in different ways. Short-term stress is more common and often viewed as helpful. It can stimulate creative thinking and enhance problem-solving skills and poses little risk to the overall health. Chronic stress is often more problematic and has been linked to significant changes in hormonal and nervous systems. It can also adversely affect the health of the mouth and its structures. Here are some ways it can do that.

Your teeth can chip. You might be grinding away your enamel with constant grinding, especially at night time when you are not even aware of it. It can also happen in the day time. Do your teeth edges seem to appear of the same length, or do you notice jagged edges? Any existing fillings may chip or break caused by grinding and suddenly you’d feel tooth sensitivity. It can end up as extreme erosion, exposing dentin and nerves, and can be painful.

Grinding your teeth can also lead to headaches, neck pain and upper back pain, possibly even developing into migraines. If you consistently wake up with headaches or neck pain you may well be grinding your teeth in your sleep. It can also cause jaw pain when you wake up, as your temporomandibular joint bore the tension of constant grinding in the night.

Chronic stress can affect gum health. Chronic stress lowers your immune strength and can result in sore, inflamed gums that bleed every time you brush. It also likely raises your chances of getting canker sores inside your mouth, small spots with a white or grayish base that have red borders. They show up in pairs or in greater numbers. Also, when you’re feeling upset, it can trigger an outbreak of cold sores on or around your lips. They’re filled with fluid, sometimes called fever blisters.

How can stress lead to bad breath?

Stress can result in dehydration, leading to lack of saliva flow. With less saliva, acid and sugar interact on the enamel and can cause tooth decay and cavities, which means bad breath. Apart from these, people under extreme stress tend to forego oral cleaning habits. With their moods affected, they may tend to skip brushing, flossing, and rinsing. This raises the chances of getting cavities or gum disease.

Dental Care in Bellingham

If you’ve got any of these oral manifestations, talk to our Bellingham dentist soon. Early intervention can stop the progress of these conditions. For stress, we might have to advise you to consult with your doctor.

Teeth Talk: Signs that Something is Wrong

Know What Your Teeth are Telling You

Beginning cavities are notoriously difficult to spot by the untrained eye, hence, they are considered a wide-spread condition. Unattended cavities can cause the spread of tooth decay and tooth loss with attendant gum disease and bone destruction.

So it is important that the first signs be recognized right away and treatment sought. Dentists were asked what signs should alert common folks that they have a tooth cavity or cavities. They agree that these five common signs point to the presence of a cavity in your mouth.

You have a toothache, and you don’t know why. You suddenly experience a toothache and nothing else about your health has changed, it could be due to a cavity. A cavity starts at the outer surface of teeth, the enamel, considered the strongest material in the body. It can bore down to the next layer, which is the dentin. If it reaches the pulp chamber with its rich nerve supply, you may feel pain already.

You feel sensitivity or pain with certain food and drinks. When you eat or drink acidic, cold, hot, sticky, or sweet items, you may have sensitive teeth. When a cavity finds its way down to the dentin, hollow canals known as microscopic tubules within can allow these foods to stimulate the nerves and cells inside. Dentin is yellowish tissue and makes up the bulk of teeth. It is harder than bone but softer than enamel. It is sensitive to pain, pressure, and temperature as the tubules connect to the pulp chamber.

You see a hole or pit on your tooth. If you see a small white spot on the surface of your tooth, a cavity is just forming. As the erosion gets worse and the cavity begins to burrow into your tooth, it forms a hole or pit that might be visible to the naked eye.

You notice a spot that has stained brown, black, or white. A discolored spot of a different hue from the rest of your teeth, can be a sign of tooth decay. Although cavities typically first look like little white marks, they can eventually pick up stains from the foods and beverages you consume, turning them a different color.

You feel a sharp jolt of pain when you bite down. This is another sign that your tooth’s pulp is inflamed or has actually died due to infection and is pressing down on the root underneath enclosed in bone. Any pressure downwards would hurt. There might be a crack in the tooth, allowing entry of outside elements.

Not Ignoring Warning Signs in Bellingham

Know the warning signs of cavities on your teeth. If you encounter any of these symptoms, do not delay seeing us at Dr. Tetrick’s. Early intervention is key.