About Me

Dental Health and Food: Learning to Eat Better

My intense love for candy, cakes, and everything in between started as a child. I simply couldn't go one day without something sweet to eat. But my love for all things sweet took a toll on my teeth. My dentist diagnosed me with seven cavities, each one a different size and depth. After sitting through four long dental appointments, I decided to make a change. I now monitor my diet and only eat things that benefit my oral health. I'm here to help you take better care of your teeth. My blog offers tips on how to improve your diet, maintain good oral hygiene, and many other topics. Hopefully, you can learn to overcome your bad habits just as I did. Good luck with your future dental health.


Latest Posts

Dental Health and Food: Learning to Eat Better

Need Some Zzzz? Understanding And Treating Sleep Apnea

by Eric Bailey

Sleep is an imperative part of your physical and emotional well-being, but certain disorders may reduce your ability to get a sufficient amount of rest. Considering sleep apnea affects an estimated 18 million Americans, understanding the signs and treatment options is key to improving your quality of sleep. Using this guide and the help of your doctor and dentist, you can diagnose and treat this common disorder to improve your quality of sleep.

Sleep Apnea 101

Patients with sleep apnea experience periodic episodes of breathing loss while asleep. The pauses most likely stem from relaxed muscles in the back of your throat. When these muscles are overly relaxed, your airway narrows, preventing proper breathing.

These breathing lapses not only cause you to wake up repeatedly through the night to catch your breath, but the lost oxygen can also lead to hypertension, heart disease, and depression.

Unfortunately, determining the root cause of your sleep apnea can be difficult, since every patient is different. However, certain factors increase your risk of developing this serious disorder

  • Excessive Weight/Neck Size – If you are overweight or obese, you may have an excessive amount of fat deposits around your airway. This increases your risk of developing sleep apnea. Even individuals who are at a healthy weight but have a larger neck circumference may suffer with the disorder.
  • Genetics – You are more likely to have sleep apnea if you have family members who suffer with the condition.
  • Alcohol/Tobacco Use – Alcohol is a sedative, which can relax the muscles of your throat. Also, smoking increases inflammation and swelling of the airway, which puts you more at risk for breathing lapses while sleeping.
  • Nasal Issues – If you suffer with allergies or other conditions that can cause nasal issues, you will have a more difficult time breathing while asleep.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Waking up through the night to catch your breath is an obvious symptom of sleep apnea. However, you may experience other symptoms including the following:

  • Loud Snoring
  • Dry Mouth or Sore Throat after Waking
  • Headache after Waking
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Irritability and Mood Changes

If you are experiencing the above symptoms, your doctor will ask you to participate in a sleep study to monitor your breathing while asleep. Most of these studies are conducted overnight, so you will need to sleep at a hospital or testing center for one night.

Treatment Options

In most cases, your doctor will suggest continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, therapy to treat your sleep apnea. This common form of treatment utilizes a machine to provide you with a continuous flow of air directly into your airway through a nasal, mouth, or full facial mask.

While effective for opening up the airway with forced air, CPAP machines can be challenging to wear while trying to sleep. However, most people will adjust, since it will improve the quality of your sleep eventually.

Visiting your dentist is also a smart option for treating your sleep apnea with OAT, or Oral Appliance Therapy. After an initial consultation, your dentist will provide a customized plastic mouth guard, which is similar to the one worn by sport's payers. Wearing the appliance will ensure your airway remains open while sleeping, since it prevents the tongue and tissues in the back of the mouth from closing.

The custom-fitted appliance is comfortable to wear, but you may need some time to adjust to sleeping with the plastic guard in your mouth. Fortunately, OAT is convenient to use, easy to maintain, and a less invasive option compared to CPAP therapy or surgical procedures.

Sleep apnea can wreak havoc on you physically and mentally, but treating this condition is possible. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Family Dental Center TriCities, PC