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Get a Better Night's Sleep by Visiting Your Dentist

Posted on 5/30/2016 by Dr. Janice Pliszczak
A woman sleeping peacefully after her last dental visit.Did you know that about 7% of Americans suffer from sleep apnea?

This condition can make a big impact on your ability to sleep deeply at night, and if left untreated, the condition could actually be dangerous.

While sleep apnea is definitely something that you need to be concerned about, you may not know what it has to do with your dentist.

However, studies have actually shown that teeth grinding can be a major predictor of sleep apnea. When you are living with sleep apnea, the muscles of your airway will relax to the point where they can obstruct your airway while you are asleep.

When your brain senses this obstruction, your body will often respond by grinding or clenching your teeth in an effort to reopen the passageway. This process can even occur more than 50 times every night!

Fortunately, frequent checkups with your dentist might be able to detect signs of a clenching and grinding problem. There are several symptoms that can indicate that you have an issue with bruxism, including a jaw that is often sore or clicks when you open and shut your mouth.

If your teeth appear to be worn down and flat, or if you experience frequent headaches - especially in the morning - you also may be dealing with clenching and grinding.

By identifying a bruxism problem, your dentist may recommend that you visit with your physician to see if you might also have sleep apnea. To get tested, you'll likely need to complete a sleep study in a hospital setting, and a careful evaluation will help your physician to come up with the best treatment option.

For this reason, regular appointments with your dentist are essential, as your dentist will be able to periodically evaluate your mouth for the symptoms of bruxism that could indicate a problem with sleep apnea.

Please contact us if you have any questions about sleep apnea.
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