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Visit the dentist before sleep apnea ruins your health
Updated: 4/23/2013 11:30:06 AM
 

Visit the dentist before sleep apnea ruins your health

There are so many important reasons to visit the dentist at least twice a year that it would almost be impossible to fit them all in one article. This is why people without insurance need to look into discount dental plans that will help them get the dental care they need at an affordable price. While most people think that the dentist will just be able to tell them whether their teeth are healthy, they are wrong, since dentists are now being trained to spot a wide range of health problems that extend beyond the mouth. 

For example, dentists may be able to spot early signs of diabetes, and recently, more dentist have begun screening for sleep apnea. This is a condition where the airway closes regularly throughout the night, leaving the body deprived of oxygen. This condition can be difficult for people to notice, since the only clear symptoms are snoring and feeling sleepy in the morning - issues that many people have. However, missing the signs of this condition may cost people more than just a good night's sleep. 

Sleep apnea is a serious problem
Recently, CNN published an article by Mark Burhenne, D.D.S., who explained a little more about why people should be heading to the dentist to check for sleep apnea. According to the dentist, people shouldn't just be asking themselves how much sleep they get each night, but what the quality of that rest is. He explained that it's not normal to feel tired throughout the day after getting nine hours of rest, and if people still feel wiped out even though they slept through the night, that may be a sign of sleep apnea. 

Burhenne explained that as many as one in 15 Americans have sleep apnea, but many of them do not know it. This is a problem, since this condition can come with serious consequences. He went on to state that when the airway collapses, breathing is obstructed and oxygen is deprived to the brain and organs. A person with sleep apnea can have his or her airway blocked up to 70 times each night. Over time, this prolonged issue can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, depression, mood disorders, suppression of the immune system, diabetes, cancer, obesity and Alzheimer's disease. 

Because of this, the dentist stressed that people who have been told that they snore throughout the night, or those who feel tired all day, should visit their dentist. A dental health professional can look for some of the other symptoms of sleep apnea - like teeth grinding - and make a recommendation about whether you need to go see a sleep specialist who can properly diagnose you. 

What can be done?
People who do discover that they have sleep apnea should not panic, because there are treatment options. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute states that people with this condition are often treated using a continuous positive airway pressure mask, which delivers a steady stream of oxygen throughout the night to keep the airway open. However, some people can't tolerate the sound of a CPAP machine or the feeling of wearing the mask at night. These individuals can ask their dentist to make them a mouth device that they can wear to keep the airway open at night. 

Furthermore, being overweight or obese may worsen sleep apnea symptoms, so people with this condition may want to try to shed some pounds. Also, smoking poses a risk to your teeth and aggravates sleep apnea, so be sure to quit to get a better night's sleep and improve your overall health. 

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