Improve Your Sleep in 2020 with Help from Your Dentist


Getting better sleep in 2020 is a team effort if you suffer from sleep apnea. A visit to our office may be just what you need to get your Z’s back! Our dentists have been trained in treating obstructive sleep apnea. For mild to moderate OSA, patients can benefit from a custom-made oral appliance that fits in your mouth while you sleep. Prevent obstructions and open your airway with our sleep apnea help! 

Sleep Apnea: What Is It? 

Did you know that some people stop breathing at night? This can happen for up to a minute at a time if a patient has obstructive sleep apnea–yikes! This is a sleeping condition where you stop breathing for two reasons: the muscles around your tongue and throat relax, blocking the flow of air to your lungs, or your tongue falls too far back into your throat. This cuts off oxygen from the lungs, which can happen for a few seconds or minutes at a time. When that happens, you can have tissue damage in the brain from lack of oxygen, and you’ll feel it through symptoms such as: 

  • Decreased mental and emotional functioning
  • Moodiness or irritability from lack of rest
  • Insomnia and disrupted sleep
  • Snoring, choking, or gasping while you sleep
  • Pervasive lack of energy or fatigue
  • Daily migraines or headaches
  • Frequent daytime sleepiness 
  • Problems with memory

Excessive snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, and this condition tends to run in families. Being overweight, older, and having a thicker neck contribute as well. Your onset may also be caused by alcohol, tranquilizers, smoking, and sedatives if you use these. 

Improve Your Sleep with Dental Help

Your primary care physician may see the signs of sleep apnea in your medical history and current symptoms from day-to-day. Some patients get referred to us for a comprehensive exam to make sure sleep apnea is happening.

We have found that tongue-retaining devices, jaw advancing devices (JAD) and mandibular advancement devices (MAD) are effective treatments. These are fancy words for mouth appliances (like retainers) that are used to prevent blockage of your airway while you sleep. The JAD and MAD devices work by moving the jaw forward at night, which increases the size of your airway and the amount of air you receive while sleeping. It also helps prevent snoring. 

Tongue-retaining devices do just what the name would suggest—they hold your tongue in place while you sleep so it doesn’t fall back and block your airway. With severe cases of sleep apnea, you may need to sleep with a breathing machine that fits over your mouth and nose at night. This will ensure that your brain and body are getting enough oxygen so tissue damage doesn’t happen. For many patients, the JAD and MAD devices are enough for proper sleep and resolution of the issues. For others, they may need the full system of appliances for sleep apnea. These devices will help you breathe easy at night, helping you get a full night of rest.

Dental Help through Mouthguards

You may not have sleep apnea, but a different condition that is affecting your quality of sleep and how productive you are during the day. When you come into our office for biannual exams and dental cleanings, we can examine your teeth for signs of dental conditions such as: 

  • Bruxism – This is the official term given to describe grinding your teeth. Generally, this happens during the night. Your teeth will hit each other over and over and will grind together. It’s often a sign of stress, and you do it when you’re asleep or napping. A mouthguard can stop this from happening, so that you get proper sleep. 
  • TMJ – This is a similar condition that involves clenching the teeth together during the night. You can do this hard enough that it causes pain in the joints on either side of the face. Daily headaches, migraines, facial and tooth pain can all go away with a proper sleep appliance. 

Why Is This Important? 

Did you know that the recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is 7-9 hours every night? Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep each night and children need up to 14 hours a night. When you don’t hit these recommended sleep goals, your productivity, energy, memory, and body functions don’t work as well. Your body may become fatigued, especially over time, and you will be prone to injuries more easily. Plus, sleep is the only time that the body can remove toxins, rebuild damaged tissues and create new cells. When you don’t get sleep due to dental issues, your physical health can really take a toll!

So far, studies have shown that 1 in 15 Americans have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, which equals about 18 million Americans. 2-4% more Americans have undiagnosed sleep apnea, which can be life-threatening if it’s obstructive sleep apnea. When your airways are blocked, you literally stop breathing, and the condition can worsen over time. If your condition is not sleep apnea, then your teeth can wear away when bruxism is the issue. Persistent headaches, jaw and tooth pain, dental injuries and more can happen with both bruxism and TMJ. A simple mouthguard can correct all of these issues, improving your sleep in 2020. 

Get a Dental Evaluation

When it comes to breathing, we only breathe either through the nose or the mouth. If a dental issue prevents that from happening, it can seriously damage your breathing and daily function. If you know you grind your teeth, experience tooth or jaw pain, or sleep apnea runs in your family, have a dental evaluation! Call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies today at (970) 223-8425!

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