When someone is suffering from sleeping problems, visiting their dentist is probably one of the last places they would expect to visit to find treatment. However, dentists are taking on a larger role in identifying and treating sleep apnea cases. According to a study, an estimated 22 million Americans have sleep apnea while nearly 75% of them have not been diagnosed. Obstructive sleep apnea blocks the airway and since dentists look at their patient’s mouths and airways all the time, it only makes sense that they’re involved in the sleep apnea treatment process.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea or a sleep-disordered breathing condition, scheduling an appointment with our sleep dentist in Fort Atkinson can benefit your health. Find out why you should visit a sleep dentist. 

mature married couple sleeping peacefully next to one another

Teeth Grinding is One of the First Signs of Sleep Apnea

One of the reasons so many people have an undiagnosed sleep apnea condition is because they don’t’ know what symptoms to watch out for. One of the symptoms of sleep apnea is teeth grinding and clenching. Dentists can easily identify whether or not you grind or clench your teeth based on a few different factors. One, they will look for worn and cracked teeth, and two, they will look for receding gums. Patients who clench or grind a lot may also experience more cavities than other patients.

When someone has sleep apnea, they wake up repeatedly throughout the night since the condition causes them to stop breathing. When someone is unable to breathe, they will clench or grind their teeth until they get oxygen. Most patients aren’t even aware they grind or clench their teeth until they wake up with a sore jaw.

When you visit a sleep dentist, they can identify whether or not you’ve been clenching or grinding your teeth which might prompt you to get a sleep test. Clenching and grinding is also a symptom of TMJ, which is also linked to sleep apnea.  

Sleep Dentists Can Address TMJ Disorders

Nearly 43% of people with TMD also experience sleeping problems. So, what’s the link? When the airway collapses with obstructive sleep apnea, the body naturally pushes the lower jaw forward to open the airway back up. This motion repeats itself hundreds of times throughout the night. With enough repetition, the jaw joint becomes strained and this causes a temporomandibular joint disorder.

When you visit a sleep dentist who also specializes in TMJ treatment, they will create a treatment plan that doesn’t just address your sleep apnea, but also TMJ symptoms. Dr. Stafford will create a comprehensive treatment plan to improve each of your conditions and your quality of life. 

Sleep Dentists Can Identify Airway Problems

When you visit a sleep dentist, they don’t just evaluate your airway, they look at what surrounds your airway. Oftentimes, airway problems are linked to underdeveloped jaws, over or undersized jaws, as well as oversized tongues. These are often associated with poor tongue resting posture, incorrect swallowing, or mouth breathing during adolescence. When your sleep dentist identifies these types of problems, they can include myofunctional therapy to correct the underlying problems and improve your sleep condition.

Sleep apnea is more than just stopping breathing at night. Using CPAP doesn’t help improve TMJ disorders or correct jaw development. When you visit Dr. Stafford in Fort Atkinson, she can work alongside your physician to create a comprehensive sleep apnea treatment plan that addresses each contributing factor to your condition.

If you think you have sleep apnea or already have a diagnosis, please contact Bite Align at (920) 563-7323 to schedule a consultation with our sleep dentist in Fort Atkinson.