Do you snore? Maybe you've woken yourself up with your loud snoring, or your partner has told you that it is causing sleepless nights for others in your home.
While snoring is a frustrating condition on its own, it can also be a sign of a much larger problem—obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a serious general health condition caused by several factors, including weight gain, large tonsils, a deviated septum, and even genetics. Males are more prone to sleep apnea than females, and people over age 40 are also at higher risk.
When you fall asleep, the soft tissues in your throat relax and cause the vibration that results in snoring. They can also relax to the point that they completely obstruct your airway, so you have to struggle to catch your breath. This causes you to wake up multiple times during the night and prevents you from getting the restful sleep your body needs.
If your partner reports that your snoring is uneven or that you start and stop snoring abruptly, you should schedule an appointment to determine if you have sleep apnea. A sleep study may be necessary to determine the severity of your condition.
Other common symptoms that can point to obstructive sleep apnea include:
- A dry or sore throat when you wake up
- Daytime drowsiness
- Headaches throughout the day
- Mood swings and irritability
- Difficulty concentrating
Untreated sleep apnea is linked to numerous other significant health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure
Additionally, poor sleep caused by sleep apnea can lead to fatigue during the day, leading to drowsy driving accidents and problems at work and home.
Treating Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Unfortunately, common treatments for sleep apnea can be uncomfortable or invasive. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are highly effective but noisy and difficult to get used to, and surgery does not have a very high success rate.
Call our office and make an appointment to discuss an oral appliance that may be the solution you need to breathe freely and get a good night's rest.
We customize your oral device for a perfect fit that allows you to wear it comfortably while you sleep. The appliance works by moving your lower jaw slightly forward and helps keep your airway open. Since air can flow freely, it also helps reduce the vibration that causes snoring. And unlike a noisy CPAP machine, the appliance won't disturb your partner's sleep.
If you wake up with headaches or are your teeth sensitive? Are they starting to crack or look worn down? You may have problems with your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) or bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching).
TMJ disorders (TMD) affect over ten million Americans and are more common in women. These disorders can be painful and, in some cases, seriously affect your quality of life. Often, TMJ disorders prevent patients from opening their mouths fully, making dental exams and oral hygiene difficult. Such severe symptoms put your oral health at risk.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
While TMJ symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person, some of them include:
- Clicking or popping in your jaw joints
- Being unable to open or close your mouth fully
- Your teeth don't come together completely
- Pain in your jaw joints
- Facial, neck, or shoulder pain
- Headaches or migraines
- Grinding and clenching your teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Worn or shortened teeth
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
Jaw problems can also be caused by accidents, trauma, or sports injuries. But in many cases, there is no definite cause.
How your teeth come together (occlusion) also plays a role in TMJ and may cause dysfunction in your jaw joints. Because more women are diagnosed with TMJ disorders, scientists are investigating a link between TMJ disorders and female hormones.
How Are TMJ Disorders Treated?
How TMD is treated depends on the type and severity of your symptoms. Treatment can include splint therapy, surgery, neuromuscular treatments, deprogrammers, or muscle relaxers.
Most cases of TMJ can be treated without surgery, though it may be necessary for severe cases.
If you suffer from symptoms of sleep apnea or TMJ disorders, call our office to schedule an evaluation. At that time, we will recommend the appropriate treatment to keep you comfortable and protect your teeth from damage.