Archive for November, 2018

Questions to Ask Your Dentist About Your Sleep Apnea Treatment

Do you suffer from constant fatigue during the day? Does your sleep partner complain of chronic snoring? These issues can both be caused by untreated sleep apnea. Consider visiting your dentist to chat about your sleep quality. Your dentist can do an evaluation and recommend appropriate treatment options if you do have sleep apnea.

Do all sleep apnea patients have to use a CPAP?

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the standard therapy for sleep apnea. It consists of a mask connected to a machine. Patients wear the mask at night and the machine regulates the air pressure to keep the airway open. Patients with severe sleep apnea do need to use a CPAP, and some patients with moderate sleep apnea may need it as well. But if you have mild sleep apnea, there may be another option for you—oral appliance therapy.

What is oral appliance therapy?

Ask your dentist about oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea. Your dentist can fit you with a special oral appliance that you’ll wear inside your mouth during sleep. It’s small, lightweight, and comfortable, and many people strongly prefer it compared to treatment with a CPAP machine. The oral appliance works by gently repositioning your lower jaw. This prevents the soft tissues from blocking the airway.

Will I need to wear it every night?

Yes. In order to keep your sleep apnea symptoms under control, you do need to wear the oral appliance every night. This includes when you travel. Fortunately, it’s far easier to travel with an oral appliance than with a bulky CPAP machine.

What else can I do to take care of myself?

In addition to wearing your oral appliance every night, you can identify your risk factors for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is commonly linked to obesity and alcohol intake. If either of these applies to you, consider losing weight or abstaining from alcohol.

At the dentistry office of John Carson, DDS, you can receive a thorough sleep apnea evaluation and an effective treatment plan. Residents in the Tucson area can call (520) 514-7203 to request an exam.

What Are Some Common Causes of Jaw Pain?

If you have chronic or severe jaw pain, and haven’t recently sustained an injury to the area, then it might be caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Temporomandibular disorder (TMD) causes pain and tenderness at the jaw joints. You have two jaw joints, located on either side of your head underneath your ears. Aside from TMD, other possible causes of jaw pain include bruxism and oral abscesses.

TMD

To find out if your jaw pain is really caused by TMD, your dentist may ask you some questions about your other symptoms. In addition to jaw pain and tenderness, TMD can cause the following:

  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Difficulty biting and chewing
  • Aching facial pain

The muscle tension and pain of TMD can spread to other areas as well. Some people with severe TMD may experience the following:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Earaches
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Muscle spasms

If left untreated, TMD may even affect the way the upper and lower teeth fit together.

Bruxism

Another possible cause of jaw pain is bruxism. Bruxism is another word for teeth grinding. Many people habitually grind their teeth together without realizing it. This might happen during the day or during sleep. Severe bruxism may lead to temporomandibular joint disorder. It can also cause the following complications:

  • Tension headaches
  • Damage to the teeth or dental crowns
  • Severe facial pain

If you have bruxism, your dentist might recommend wearing a mouthguard.

Oral Abscess

An abscess is a sealed off collection of pus. It’s caused by a bacterial infection. An abscess may form in your mouth, causing symptoms like:

  • Jaw pain
  • Facial swelling
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Throbbing toothache

Oral abscesses won’t go away by themselves. And it’s possible for the infection to spread and lead to life-threatening complications. If you suspect you might have a tooth abscess, you’ll need dental care right away.

You shouldn’t have to suffer from acute or chronic jaw pain. Call the office of John Carson, DDS at (520) 514-7203, and request an appointment at the Tucson location.

Signs You Need a New Sleep Apnea Treatment Plan

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) has long been considered the gold standard in treating sleep apnea. And for people with moderate to severe sleep apnea, CPAP is often preferable. But if you’re having trouble with CPAP treatment or it isn’t controlling your disorder well enough, it might be time to consider making a change. Visit a dentist to discuss your options.

You’re still snoring.

Snoring is one of the main signs of sleep apnea. If your sleep apnea treatment is working, you should no longer be snoring. If you have a sleep partner, ask him or her whether you still snore. You can also ask your partner to be on the lookout for other red flags, like gasping for air, making choking sounds, or coughing during sleep. If you don’t have a sleep partner, check your CPAP device for an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) digital readout. This is a measurement of the number of sleeping disturbances you experienced per hour.

You’re experiencing daytime symptoms.

The most obvious signs of sleep apnea occur while you’re asleep, but there are a few more subtle symptoms that can occur during the daytime. You might be feeling excessively tired during the day, even if you got to bed at the same time as usual. Or, you may experience problems concentrating on your work. Irritability and headaches in the morning may also indicate that your sleep apnea isn’t well controlled.

You’ve been diagnosed with new medical problems.

When sleep apnea is left untreated or isn’t properly controlled, it may increase the risk of health complications. These complications may include:

  • Weight gain
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Coronary artery disease

The Tucson dentistry office of John Carson, DDS offers comprehensive radiology services that allow us to visualize the airway and jaws to develop a better informed treatment plan. The dentist may recommend an oral appliance. Call (520) 514-7203.