Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects approximately 22 million Americans. This condition causes you to stop breathing several times each night. Many of those cases are undiagnosed because the symptoms look like something else…often a dental problem.
Grinding and Sleep Apnea
Teeth Grinding or Bruxism can cause facial pain and headaches, but it can also be an indicator of Sleep Apnea.Scientists now believe that tooth grinding is one method the body uses to wake itself up enough to reopen the airway and resume breathing.
The link between bruxism and sleep apnea makes it more important than ever to see your dentist if you are experiencing these symptoms:
- Morning headache or facial pain
- Chronic headaches
- Unnatural tooth wear
- Regular, loud snoring
What to Do Next for Sleep Apnea?
Many people think about dentists as teeth doctors. However, dentists are really the expert doctors when it comes to treating a variety of conditions that involve the face and mouth. That is why dental treatment for sleep apnea is becoming more and more recognized.
- If you suspect you are grinding your teeth, the first step to take is to see Dr. Schraw (or if outside the Charlotte area, then your local sleep apnea dentist) for an appointment. An examination will be able to determine if you are indeed grinding your teeth.
- You should see a sleep specialist who can determine whether you have sleep apnea or not. Not everyone who grinds their teeth at night and snores has sleep apnea, and treatment may be different if you don’t have sleep apnea. If your sleep specialist diagnoses you with obstructive sleep apnea, you should discuss your treatment options, including whether a MAD mouth guard is an appropriate treatment for your particular medical situation.
How Dr. Schraw can Help
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, chances are your sleep doctor will recommend use of a CPAP machine to force oxygen into your lungs all night long. Except, most people can’t sleep well using CPAP machines. In fact, studies reported by the New York Times show 50% of patients stop using the CPAP machines within 3 weeks.
The problems with CPAP machines is they are:
- Too loud for a spouse to tolerate in the same room
- Uncomfortable to the point many people rip them off during sleep
- Not portable. A problem when you travel.
Special mouth guards or oral appliances are now considered a good alternative to CPAP machines for moderate to severe sleep apnea or a less invasive treatment for those with mild sleep apnea. Other than weight loss or surgery, the American Sleep Apnea Association lists mouth guards as the only viable treatment for those with severe sleep apnea.
Dr. Schraw can fit you with a special mouth guard (called a Mandibular Advancement Device or MAD) to keep your airway open at night. This mouth guard fits over the upper and lower teeth and pushes the lower jaw forward. It also helps prevent snoring and grinding. To learn more about MAD mouth guards, please call our office or request an appointment online.