Flipping through the radio on my way to work the other morning, I heard something important that I wanted to share with you all. It was about how our sleep can affect our heart health — and they concluded that poor sleep habits, even at a young age, can put you at a higher risk for heart disease later on. Good sleep habits, on the other hand, can help develop a healthy heart. You may be wondering why you’re reading about sleep and heart health on your favorite dentists’ blog, but I want you to know that the connection between sleep, the mouth and your heart health are all closely intertwined. It’s estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep apnea — a condition which can cause severely interrupted sleep — and the problem, perhaps surprisingly, actually lies within the mouth. Read on to learn more about the condition from your San Antonio sleep apnea dentist.
Cause of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is caused by soft muscle tissues in the mouth — like your tongue and throat muscles — that, when super-relaxed during sleep, collapse and block the airway. When that happens, the sufferer stops breathing repeatedly during the night, often jerking awake in order to resume breathing. Very loud snoring can also occur as a result of this air blockage.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Because the warning signs of sleep apnea are also the symptoms of other conditions, like depression, the disorder often goes mis- or undiagnosed. In fact, approximately 80 percent of sufferers don’t realize their exhaustion is due to sleep apnea. It helps for you to know the symptoms to help your health professionals make a correct diagnosis. They include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
- Suddenly jerking awake with a gasp, or a choking sensation
- Morning headaches
- Sleepiness while driving
Treatment of Sleep Apnea
Like with almost any other health condition, you can find something at the drugstore that claims to cure your sleep apnea. Many adults choose one-size-fits-all treatments for better sleep, but they’re mistaken. Your dentist can provide an custom-fit oral device to treat sleep apnea.
Oral Devices for Sleep Apnea
Removable oral devices are worn only during sleep and work by holding the tongue and other muscles in place, preventing them from collapsing and blocking the airway during sleep. Think of it as the type of mouthguard you see athletes wear — it’s removable, comfortable and a successful solution to disrupted sleep. Your dentist can create an oral device that’s custom fit to your mouth, ensuring the maximum in comfort and ease of use.
Call Your Dentist Today
If you believe you or a loved one are suffering from the debilitating effects of sleep apnea, don’t wait another day to seek treatment — your heart health, and your sanity, depend it. Schedule your appointment today. We’ll help you enjoy a full night’s sleep again.