Waking Up Tired? Your Dentist Can Help
By : S. Lee
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common medical condition in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or reduced breaths while you sleep. These stoppages can last a few seconds or a few minutes. Usually normal breathing starts up again with a snort or a choking sound. Sleep apnea for many years was thought to be a condition that only affected older overweight men. Recent studies have found that although age and obesity do play a factor in who does or does not have sleep apnea, sleep apnea can affect men and women alike, all shapes and body types, and can even affect children.
Complications of Sleep Apnea
A number of complications can result from sleep apnea including:
• Memory loss
• Daytime Fatigue
• Trouble concentrating
• Gastric reflux (heartburn)
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Erectile dysfunction
• Type 2 Diabetes
• Liver problems
• Abnormal cholesterol
• Sleep deprived partners
Why the Dentist?
You may be wondering why a dentist would be concerned about sleep apnea. One of the signs of sleep apnea is tooth grinding or bruxism. That’s not to say that all grinding is due to sleep apnea but when someone has sleep apnea, one of the protective mechanisms for the body to achieve a more open airway is to move the lower jaw back and forth. Secondly, your dentist or hygienist usually spends a fair bit of time looking in your mouth and down your throat or airway so we can give a fair assessment if we see anything suspicious.
Sleep Apnea in Children
Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when your child’s breathing becomes partially or completely blocked repeatedly during sleep. The condition is due to narrowing or blockage of the upper airway during sleep.
There are some differences between pediatric obstructive sleep apnea and adult sleep apnea. Children often have only partially narrowed airways rather than a complete blockage as often seen in adults.
Obesity is a common factor underlying obstructive sleep apnea in adults. But in children the most common condition leading to obstructive sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils and adenoids. If your child suffers from any or all of the following symptoms, talk to your dentist or family doctor:
• Snoring. Approximately 10% of children who snore have sleep apnea
• Mouth breathing. Children with enlarged adenoids tend to breath with their mouths open.
• Breathing pauses during sleep
• Daytime sleepiness
• Difficulty with concentration
• Poor attention span
• Behavioral issues
• Poor performance at school
• Night time Bedwetting.
Sleep apnea is one of the most UNDERdiagnosed medical conditions which has very serious health concerns. We now know there is no one body type or only one segment of the population that prone to sleep apnea. If you or your child experiences any of these signs and symptoms and would like more information, please do not hesitate to call us at 905-278-4297.