Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can affect both children and adults. It can cause some concerning overall health issues and, in children, behavior concerns. Recognizing the signs of sleep apnea is one of the most important ways you can help spot a problem and seek treatment. In this blog, your dentist in Sparks will cover some of the most common signs of sleep apnea as well as some of the complications it can cause.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when a person stops breathing while sleeping. This can happen for a few seconds or longer, and you may not even know it’s happening. Interruptions in breathing during sleep can cause oxygen levels to drop and carbon dioxide levels to rise, making sleep and rest difficult to achieve.
Know The Signs
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may appear during sleep as well as when you are awake. Pay attention to your sleep habits and how you feel while awake, and keep an eye out for:
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Pauses in breathing or gasping for breath
- Morning headaches
- Waking up with a dry mouth
Sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax so much during sleep that they block the airway, making breathing difficult. This can happen for a number of reasons:
- Family history
- Nasal congestion
- Large tonsils or adenoids
Other risk factors that can make someone more prone to developing sleep apnea include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and smoking.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
The first step in getting a proper diagnosis is to see your dentist in Sparks for an evaluation. The next step can vary depending on your symptoms and exam. The following step may include tests such as a sleep study, measurement of oxygen levels overnight, or an electrocardiogram. Your dentist may also examine the size of the tonsils.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Treatment varies from patient to patient and can range from:
- Medications such as nasal spray or allergy medicine
- Tonsil or adenoid removal
- CPAP machine
- Oral appliance
Sleep apnea can be scary, but treatment is available. If you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea or you share a bedroom with someone who has symptoms, consider talking with your dentist. Come prepared with symptoms and a log of when you notice them as well as any family history of sleep apnea.
Even if you see your dentist in Sparks twice a year for exams and cleanings, it’s crucial that you also take excellent care of your teeth at home between visits. Following a good oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing can also help your oral health and overall health. So how often should you brush your teeth, and what happens if you don’t?
Two Times a Day is What They Say
The American Dental Association and your dentist in Sparks recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once before you go to bed. Brushing two times every day is essential for a few reasons.
Think about all of the things you eat and drink throughout the day. Everything from your morning cup of coffee to your spaghetti dinner is exposed to your teeth. If you don’t brush away the food particles, bacteria, and plaque, your teeth are at increased risk for problems. Additionally, the longer food and bacteria linger around, for example, while you sleep, the more issues it can cause.
What If You Skip Brushing?
Even though you should do everything you can to brush your teeth twice a day, things happen, and there are times when you may miss a brushing. If this happens occasionally, it’s probably not that big of a deal. But if you skip brushings regularly, it can put your oral health at risk for:
- Bad breath
- Gum disease
But that’s not all. There’s also a connection between oral health and overall health, and other parts of your body can become affected by poor dental hygiene.
Oral Health & Whole-Body Health
Many studies have linked poor oral health with several whole-body health concerns, which makes brushing your teeth regularly even more important. Some of the conditions that have been tied to oral health are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Kidney disease
The Right Way To Brush Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth seems like a pretty simple thing to do, but there is a right way to make sure you’re thoroughly cleaning your teeth and not causing damage in the process.
- Don’t scrub, use gentle circles
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to clean the gumline
- Brush each area of every tooth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces
- Proper brushing should take two minutes
- Don’t forget the floss
Preventive dentistry like brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist every six months is the best way to protect your oral and overall health from problems. These steps can also keep larger, more expensive dental issues from popping up. Don’t forget that your dentist is here to help, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have about how to best take care of your smile.