Dr. Nammy Patel of Green Dentistry talks about sleep apnea, how it relates to dental problems, and how to get tested.
One of the most important things that dentists really need to look out for their patients is really sleep apnea. Sleep apnea just basically means that you’re not able to breathe at night. And from research, we know that you basically live eight to 10 minutes without oxygen. So it’s really important to make sure that dentists are looking for signs of sleep apnea. The way, you know, you might have sleep apnea is that you’re actually not able to get to sleep. You’re not able to stay asleep, a lot of times you have to wake up to have to go to the restroom. And that’s because if you’re not getting a lot of oxygen, your diaphragm’s going to lift up and it’s going to actually put pressure on your kidney and you’re going to need to pee. So that’s usually what happens over there. And then also if you’re snoring, that is a good sign or a high percentage that you have sleep apnea.
What dentists look for is we can actually see scalloping around the tongue. When we see scalloping her on the tongue, that’s a good indicator for apnea. Also people with sleep apnea tend to clench and grind a lot. So we’ll see a lot of patients with broken teeth, also orthodontia that, they had perfect teeth at one point and then just went away because the teeth would crowd again. The tongue actually pushes the teeth because it’s trying to get airway. So those are the things that we actually find in patients with apnea.
So the things that when you do need to get tested is go to their medical doctor and say, “Hey, my dentist thinks I may have sleep apnea. Can I get a sleep study?” So that’s the first way to do it. If not, if you want to just go ahead and just do it yourself, you can go to something called sleeptest.com and get a sleep study. It’s a couple hundred dollars and they’ll mail you a test kit and you try it out. You sleep… You attach these electrodes to yourself and you sleep overnight. And it’ll actually tell you how many times you’re sleeping. And what is your oxygen saturation. Also, how many times you’re waking up, how many times you’re not breathing. So those are some key things too, to be looking at.