Many times, a sleep apnea disorder is discovered first by our dentist long before your primary care physician makes the diagnosis. This is because a related disorder that is closely associated with sleep apnea is bruxism, the habit of grinding your teeth at night or clenching your jaw. Our dentist may discover wear on your teeth, wounds in your mouth, muscular soreness in your face or neck, and other telltale signs that alert her to bruxism. Then, our dentist may recommend that you get an appointment at a sleep clinic for testing.
Because bruxism is an involuntary physical movement of the jaw during sleep, it is classified as a sleep-related disorder as much as a dental issue. Grinding and clenching may happen at any time of the day or night, but typically they occur during nighttime sleeping hours. This fact makes bruxism hard to recognize. Some factors that help spot potential bruxism are sensitive teeth, feeling soreness in the muscles of the jaw, neck, and/or face, and being prone to headaches—especially in the morning.
Taking a sleep test is one of the first things you should do to determine whether or not sleep apnea is a serious problem. Our dentists can request this for you from a local clinic where you can be monitored in your sleep.
If you are worried about your pattern of sleep, feel exhausted all the time, or have neck or jaw pain, come and see Dr. Donna Gentry for an evaluation. Please contact SeaSide Dentistry to make an appointment at: 252-764-2784, or come by our office in Cedar Point, North Carolina.