At Louisville Dental Associates, we’re not only committed to providing comprehensive treatment for oral health issues; we want to see your overall health flourish as well. To that end, there is a growing body of research showing connections between oral and systemic health— the link between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease, for example.
Well, there’s another connection between our mouths and our bodies: sleep.
The importance of sleep
Sleep affects almost every aspect of our lives. High quality sleep gives us energy, keeps our immune systems strong and our minds sharp– it even affects our outlook on the day.
When we have problems sleeping, the results can be huge. Poor sleep can lead to depression or anxiety, poor performance at work and a higher risk of on-the-job injury, car accidents, problems with interpersonal relationships, among many more negative effects.
Obstructive sleep apnea
There are a few common causes of poor sleep; one of them is obstructive sleep apnea. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the person actually stops breathing while they are asleep. This means they literally are not getting oxygen to their brain, sometimes for long periods of time. When the afflicted person wakes up, no wonder he or she feels tired! According to WebMD, some signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are:
- Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening
- Morning headaches
- Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, depression, or irritability
- Restlessness during sleep
- Sexual dysfunction
- Sudden awakenings with a sensation of gasping or choking
- Difficulty rising in the morning
Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in older individuals, in those who are overweight, and in individuals with thick necks.
Here’s where dental medicine comes into the picture
Dentists who offer dental sleep medicine recognize the critical nature of a good night’s sleep on oral health, and the importance of the mouth in maintaining health sleep. To meet this need, Dr. Skinner received training and certification from a renowned dental sleep medicine specialist, Dr. John Tucker, and Louisville Dental Associates has been offering treatment for obstructive sleep apnea for about a year.
How can Dr. Skinner help treat obstructive sleep apnea?
At Louisville Dental Associates, we now offer oral appliances that can help with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Most resemble a mouth guard– like the kind that you might wear while playing a sport– and they work by preventing soft tissue in the back of your mouth from collapsing in your sleep– thus keeping the airway open. Most people find oral appliances easy to wear; moreover, this approach to amending sleep apnea is non-invasive and completely reversible.
Diagnosis of sleep apnea needs to come from a qualified physician, who will most likely examine your personal and family medical history and ask you to do a “sleep study,” which may involve– among other things– monitoring of your oxygen levels and sleep cycles. When you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor and Dr. Skinner will work together to find the best oral sleep solution for your needs.
More questions about sleep apnea and how Louisville Dental Associates, your family dentist in Louisville, can help you? Give us a call or schedule an appointment; we’ll be happy to talk to you!