Help me… I can’t sleep with all this noise!

     In our mission statement, we have a goal of helping you obtain optimal health.  A big part of staying healthy is a good night’s sleep.  However, many of us don’t get the rest we need every night.  Yes, I know bathroom urges and the occasional middle of the night wandering hits us all upon occasion, especially as we get older.  However, there are some sleep issues we can do something about.  I’m talking about clenching or grinding the teeth, snoring and sleep apnea.

     Clenching and grinding fall under the heading of what we call bruxism.  There are many causes of bruxism from poor bite to missing teeth to stress.   Symptoms of bruxism include:

  1. Waking up with a sore or tired jaw.
  2. Difficulty in opening or closing your mouth.
  3. Sensitive teeth.
  4. Headaches or earaches.
  5. Pain in your jaw joints.

When you brux, the forces on your teeth are many times greater than during normal chewing.  These forces may cause:

  1. Flattened or worn-down teeth.
  2. Loss of tooth enamel near the gum line (called abfractures).
  3. Fractured, cracked or loose teeth.
  4. Damage to your jawbone or jaw joint.
  5. Sore or stressed muscles in your face and jaw. 

     Snoring is another issue that can cause sleep problems.  Snoring is the sound the soft tissues make when they vibrate.  Snoring is actually a partial airway obstruction that reduces airflow to the body but does not cause arousal from sleep, at least the sleep of the snorer.    Studies show that 67% of all adults snore.  That’s 2 out of every 3.  If your spouse does not snore, chances are you do! If the decrease in airflow to your body doesn’t bother you, maybe the inability of your partner to get a good night’s sleep should. 

     The most dangerous of the sleep disorders is sleep apnea.  Apnea is a closing of the airway while sleeping that causes an 80% decrease in airflow for at least 10 seconds, often ending in arousal from sleep.  About 20% of adults have some signs or symptoms of sleep apnea and less than 10% of those have been diagnosed.  Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  1. Restless sleep.
  2. Snoring with intermittent pauses.
  3. Excessive daytime sleepiness.
  4. Awakening due to gasping or choking.
  5. Fragmented, not-refreshing sleep.
  6. Poor memory and clouded intellect.
  7. Decrease sex drive.
  8. Headache and sore throat.
  9. Depression.
  10. Cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack.

     The sobering statistics are that 45% of patients with sleep apnea have hyper tension (high blood pressure).  People with sleep apnea have a 5 times greater risk of having a heart attack.  Those with sleep apnea have a 3 times greater risk of dying during sleep and have a 15% decrease in life expectancy.

     Grinding, clenching, snoring and sleep apnea all affect our ability to get a good night’s sleep.  The good news is that there are safe and effective treatments for all of those conditions.  If you or someone you love experiences any of the signs or symptoms listed here, or if you have any questions about any of these conditions, ask your hygienist or dentist.  They can work with you and put you on the track to a good night’s sleep and optimal health now and for the rest of your life.

Thanks for reading!

Dr Bruce

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