As much as 40% of the American population snores, and around 16% of the US has a diagnosable form of obstructive sleep apnea. Between 50 and 70 million people in our country has a sleep disorder. Many people feel that they are not getting enough sleep, but what most people do not know is how visiting a dentist can help.
Your mouth, neck, and jaw show indicators of how well or poorly you are sleeping. For example, worn-down enamel is a sign of stress or anxiety. This causes someone to grind or gnash their teeth at night. Another way a dentist helps is by looking at the shape of your jaw. Your jaw may indicate whether or not you are prone to having sleep apnea.
Many people find snoring to be nothing more than annoying. While it may be irksome if your partner drones on at night, it has a deleterious effect on your sleep. Sleep apnea disrupts your rest. This has an impact on you not only while you sleep, but it decreases your brain’s executive functioning, limits your ability to pay attention, and impairs your memory. In general, a reduction in the quality of sleep also leads to a decline in general health.
How dentists can help
Dentists are equipped with a few means of improving your sleep. One of the least intrusive means is a mandibular advancement device. During your visit to the dentist, he or she takes a mold of your mouth, so the device is unique to you. Then he or she can show you how to put it in, and make it comfortable. This device will pull your jaw forward, which forces the tongue forward and clears your airway. When your airway is clear, the quality of sleep is greatly improved.
In addition, a dentist may prescribe you a continuous positive airway pressure machine, otherwise known as a CPAP. You place a mask over your head before you sleep, and the device establishes a pressure which is conducive to helping you sleep. This is considered one of the best ways to help you sleep if you have sleep apnea.
Unfortunately, these devices have an incredibly low adherence rate. This means that many patients do not use the CPAP as much as they should. CPAPs require electricity, and are not portable. The masks are often bulky, and as much as half of users stop using. This is not recommended. These devices are the best means of fighting moderate to severe sleep apnea.
There are additional disorders that dentists diagnose. Upper airway resistance syndrome, hypopnea, and bruxism are all noticed upon a visit to the dentist. Sleep apnea is one of the most common dental-related sleep disorders, but it is far from the only one.
To answer the question, yes. Dentists really can help you sleep. If you have any questions about how dentistry and sleep are related, contact us at (212) 752-6537. The dentists at SmilesNY will use their decades of experience to assist you in any way they can.