Do you always feel you’re functioning on too little sleep? Does a restless sleep leave you dragging yourself out of bed in the morning? There are many reasons why a person’s quality of sleep can be less than ideal. Factors ranging from heavy alcohol use, taking certain medications, physical illness and even your bite, can cause and contribute to a bad night’s sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Even if you’re pretty sure what’s causing the problem, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor about regular daytime tiredness. While Google and WebMD are great tools, establishing an accurate diagnosis and formulating an appropriate course of treatment should be left to the medical professionals.
A common cause of sleep issues in Canadians is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, sleep apnea affects 3% of adults over the age of 18, and 5% of adults over the age of 45.
With those kinds of numbers, there are more than a few sleepy heads spending the day in a mental fog, suffering from anxiety and irritability, and dealing with health concerns like high blood pressure and impotence.
What’s Your Bite Got to do With Sleep?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway gets blocked (obstructed) during sleep. The obstruction can be the result of soft tissue at the back of the throat collapsing, relaxed throat muscles, a narrow airway, an enlarged tongue, or fatty deposits in the throat. A person who presents with a recessed chin, small jaw, or large overbite is also faced with airway challenges, and as a result, they can suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
How Do You Know if You Have Sleep Apnea?
Family members are often the ones to notice the signs of sleep apnea. They are frequently woken from sleep to the sounds of their loved-one’s loud snoring, gasping for air, or choking. The person afflicted with sleep apnea is generally not aware of these nighttime signs, which is why following up with a medical doctor regarding daytime sleepiness and other symptoms like irritability and depression is important. During moments of ‘apnea’ (pauses in breathing), a person can stop breathing anywhere from ten to thirty seconds several times during the night. The pause in breathing hampers oxygen intake, the lack of O2 can then lead to hypertension, mood disorders, memory loss, and heart disease. Sleep apnea can also cause additional health concerns and a general feeling of poor health.
How Can an Orthodontist Help With Sleep Apnea?
A person’s bite can sometimes hinder their ability to breathe fully due to the position of the lower jaw and the narrowness of dental arches. By correcting and improving arch formation and alignment and by ensuring the lower jaw is positioned optimally, airways can be opened up and breathing improved. Once obstructive sleep apnea has been confirmed by a physician, a consultation with an orthodontist is recommended, so bite corrections can be made and you can begin sleeping (and breathing) well again.