Getting a good nights sleep is a difficult thing for many people. When someone wakes up during the night, he or she often finds it difficult to fall back asleep and stay asleep. This is a sure sign that a sleep disorder of some sort may be present. Other symptoms include loud snoring at night and drowsiness during the daytime. There are so many types of sleep disorders that symptoms alone make self-diagnosis near to impossible. Professional help is needed to make an accurate assessment of ones condition.
The most common sleep disorders include restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and insomnia. Restless leg syndrome is a rather odd condition where a patient feels it necessary to constantly move his or her legs because of an itching or crawling sensation in the lower extremities. Narcolepsy makes a person very tired throughout the day, and many times causes the person to fall asleep while performing ordinary activities. This can be dangerous if a person is driving a motor vehicle or operating heavy machinery. Both of these sleep disorders can be treated successfully with prescription medication. Sleep apnea, and in some cases insomnia, require the help of a dentist, orthodontist, or M.D., depending on the exact nature, severity, and root cause of the disorder in question.
For example, insomnia is a sleep disorder that is often related to lifestyle choices. Smoking cigarettes, drinking caffeine after 2PM, using other stimulants, or just plain stress all cause a person to sleep irregularly, or not sleep at all. While personal choices are beyond the control of a dentist, a very severe side effect of insomniaBruxism (tooth grinding) is something a dentists can treat. Many people with insomnia do not know they grind their teeth unless a partner hears it during the night. People who are suffering from intermittent insomnia, and particularly people with sore jaws in the morning, need to schedule a dental appointment to check for evidence of worn teeth.
If bruxism is ignored, it will only lead to more severe dental problems later down the line. With enamel worn away, the tooth is more vulnerable to decay and more likely to crack or fracture. The dentist will check case history and question the patient to see if teeth grinding is related to any other sleep disorder. If it is determined that bruxism is indeed caused by insomnia, the dentist can make a night guard that is specially molded to fit the upper and lower teeth of the individual. This is the only reliable way to treat Bruxism. The many over-the-counter night guards do not fit properly and actually do more harm than good.
One of the reasons dentist are careful to check case history and thoroughly consult with each patient is to see if insomnia really is the culprit. If loud snoring, waking up, and sudden cessation of breath are occurring, sleep apnea is more than likely the problem. The most common form of this sleep disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, is caused by throat muscles collapsing the airway. Dentists can do a lot to help correct this situation by using making a special oral appliance that puts tension on the lower jaw. At night, when the throat muscles begin to relax to the point of collapse, the added tension on the jaw causes them to remain open enough for normal breathing to occur.
If OSA is too severe, it may be necessary to perform some kind of oral surgery, which requires an experienced expert to conduct. Procedures such as Radio Frequency Tissue Ablation (RFTA), also known as Somnoplasty, may need to be performed. A non-surgical alternative is the use of a CPAP machine, which uses a mask to force compressed air into the trachea, keeping it open and maintaining oxygen flow at prescribed, pre-set levels.
Serious problems can develop from untreated sleep disorders. Neglecting any medical problem only makes things worse. If you are having trouble sleeping, or feel unusually tired during the day, call our office and schedule an examination as soon as you can.
Cosmetic Dentistry is a specialized field that requires extensive knowledge and experience to be done correctly. The Medical Center Dental Group in Houston, Texas brings all of that and more to the direct benefit of each and every patient we treat. Although we are located in the world famous Houston Medical Center at Scurlock Towers, we routinely see dental patients who travel from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Beaumont Midland and Houston, Texas to see Dr. Dale Brant, Dr. Charles Campbell or Dr. Elizabeth OSullivan-Winslow for their cosmetic denistry services.
For any other questions related to cosmetic dentistry, you can Contact Us at 713.795.5905, visit our Dental Blog or Ask the Dentist