Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Questions From Our Members - Why Did My Dentist Ask About My Sleeping Habits?

Questions From Our Members

D. Harberstone of Miami, Flordia asks: 

“During a recent dental exam the dentist asked me about my sleep habits, (how many times a night do I wake up).  I didn't question her about her question but since I'm not in any pain, why do you think she would care about how well I sleep?” 

Savon’s Answer

During a dental exam the dentist looks for many different indicators of oral and physical health.  If your dentist notices certain things like worn tooth surfaces, a small jaw, tongue with scalloped edges or redness in the throat, it could conceivably trigger a question about your sleep habits.

What the dentist is looking for with a question about your sleep habits is a condition known as “Obstructive Sleep Apnea1”.  The condition causes repeated breathing interruptions throughout the night; the pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 or more times per hour.

The first sign of sleep apnea is often bruxism (tooth grinding).  If you grind your teeth while you are sleeping, your jaw tenses up and it sends a message to your brain to wake you up and take a breath.

Bruxism is just one sign the dentist sees.  The small jaw, tongue with scalloped edges or redness of the throat may indicate that you snore which is another symptom of sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is linked to a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Although dentists are trained in the symptoms and treatments of sleep apnea, only a medical doctor can make an official diagnosis.

1.  http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/link-sleep-apnea-dentist#1

(The content of this blog was originally posted in our October 2016 newsletter in the article "Here's Your Answer")

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