Sleep Apnea and Dental Health

Sleep Apnea and Dental Health

Sleep Apnea and Dental Health 

Sleep apnea, dental health and how your dentist can help select a treatment plan that works.  Sleep apnea does more than disturb sleep.  It negatively impacts your energy level, concentration, oral and overall health.

According to the Sleep Apnea Organization approximately 22 million Americans are affected by the condition with only one in five having been formally diagnosed. 

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the upper airway narrows or is blocked during sleep. This causes a cycle of sleep interruption and abnormal breathing. Studies show that this cycle may harm the parts of the brain that control feeling awake or sleepy.

Why Does It Wake Me Up?

When your airway becomes blocked during sleep and your body doesn’t get the required amount of oxygen, the brain sends a startle response and even though you don’t wake, your body does. This allows the muscles in your throat to contract and air to pass.  

This cycle can happen as often as every 30 minutes, never letting your body fall into that deep, regenerating sleep.  

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea:

  • Snoring loudly
  • Waking suddenly from choking or gasping
  • Waking with a sore throat or dry mouth
  • Feeling tired even after a full 8 hours of sleep

How Can My Dentist Help?

Breathing issues are often difficult to diagnose. The main reason for this is that people aren’t aware of what is actually causing the problem, they’re only aware of the symptoms. 

This puts dentists in a unique position to diagnose airway issues. A general practitioner may not have any reason to pay particular attention to your airway, whereas a dentist has far more opportunities to check up on it. Choosing a dentist trained to identify and diagnose airway issues could save you from a whole host of health issues that may otherwise go undiagnosed. Two issues of particular interest to highly trained and qualified dentists are sleep apnea and mouth breathing.

Untreated sleep apnea can damage overall health in a number of ways. It causes a drop in blood oxygen levels during the night, which disrupts the natural REM cycle of the sleeping brain. Sufferers of sleep apnea can feel unfocused and have low energy levels. It is even speculated that some childhood ADHD diagnoses are actually misdiagnosed sleep apnea. It can exacerbate cardiovascular disease, leading to heart attack or stroke. It can contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol, depression, and even car accidents due to drowsiness. What’s more, it can do all this without the sufferer even being aware of the condition, as they typically will not wake during the apneas.

If you have any of the above symptoms please contact (505) 293-7611 to schedule your New Patient Experience with Dr. Abeyta.  She can help you find the right treatment for your sleep disorder.  

“Life is full of new beginnings, and a new day tomorrow brings, sleep well.” Catherine Pulsifer


Take a Deep Breath

Take a Deep Breath

Take a Deep Breath

Take a deep breath to change the way you feel physically, emotionally and mentally as well.  Deep breathing releases anxiety in stressful situations such as work, busy schedules and dental visits. Dr. Abeyta and her staff offer you the tool of deep breathing as an extension of caring about your overall well-being.

Benefits of deep breathing include: 

  • Relaxation
  • Improved ability to handle stress.
  • Improved ability to regulate emotions.
  • Better posture which will allow the lungs to expand more which in turn will relax muscles.
  • Balance brain chemistry by increasing the levels of ‘feel good’ hormones while decreasing stress hormones.

But I Have Trouble Taking a Deep Breath

If you have trouble taking a deep breath it may be because you are a mouth breather vs. a nose breather.  People who breathe through their mouth tend to take quick, shallow breaths.  Whereas, people who breathe through their nose tend to take deep breaths, filling and expanding the belly.

Sometimes, breathing through the mouth is necessary when you are experiencing nasal congestion or during strenuous exercise.  However, breathing through the mouth all the time, including when you sleep, can lead to:

  • Cavities
  • Gums disease
  • Narrow jaws
  • Crowded teeth
  • Sleep apnea
  • Snoring
  • Shortening of airways
  • Overall poor health
  • Elongated facial structure

Treatment of mouth breathing

If you are a mouth breather, talk to your dentist. Dentists are in a unique position to diagnose mouth breathing issues. A general practitioner may not have any reason to pay particular attention to your breathing patterns, whereas a dentist has far more opportunities. Choosing a dentist trained to identify and diagnose airway issues could save you from a whole host of health issues that may otherwise go undiagnosed.

While you are working through treatment to repattern your breathing, maintain good oral hygiene by brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily to remove plaque and cavity-forming bacteria. Regular check-ups with your dentist will also help catch and fix problems early on when they are small, before they become bigger, more painful, and costly.

Call today to set up your appointment with Dr. Abeyta at (505)-293-7611.

Everyday is a new beginning, take a deep breath, smile and begin again…


How Can A Dentist Help with Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

How Can A Dentist Help with Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

How Can A Dentist Help with Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

How can a dentist help with obstructive sleep apnea and teeth grinding? Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is when the tongue relaxes and slides backward during sleep, blocking or obstructing airway passages.  This results in snoring and waking up gasping for air.  It also prevents the lungs, brain, heart and other organs from receiving life sustaining oxygen.  Untreated OSA can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, acid reflux, diabetes and has been linked to teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism.

Teeth grinding, affects millions of people and normally occurs while you sleep.  This makes it difficult to diagnose. 

Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw, headache, tender teeth or stiff neck? 

The National Sleep Foundation has found that approximately 25 percent of people with OSA also show signs of sleep Bruxism.

Similar results were found in studies using polysomnography, a type of in-depth sleep study completed in specially designed clinics. The clinics closely monitor the subjects as opposed to other studies that depend on surveys of self-noted sleep apnea or teeth grinding subjects.

So, how does your dentist fit into the picture?

Specially trained dental professionals, like Dr. Abeyta, can be a valuable asset in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.  Once diagnosed, a dentist can help you understand the disorder and treatment options.

A dentist can check the patient’s mouth, teeth, and jaw to determine whether they are a good fit for a mandibular advancement device.

A comprehensive dentist can recommend life changes such as diet and exercise to help improve the quality of sleep and the patience overall health. 

A dentist can work closely with their patients to make sure their oral appliance is working and improving their condition.  Patients who are regularly monitored have proven to get the best results.

If you are experiencing bruxism symptoms or are struggling to sleep soundly at night, don’t wait to schedule an appointment for yourself or a family member.  The team at Dr. Abeyta’s office will sit down with you and discuss the best plan to get you on the right track to a healthy mouth and body. Call today to make your appointment 505-293-7611.

Holistic dentistry – treating the whole patient – Part 1

What is holistic dentistry?

You may have heard the phrase, “the mouth is the gateway to the body.” This is true in an obvious sense – our mouths allow us to intake food, water, and sometimes air. But it is also true in a deeper sense. Many problems that affect the entire body can be detected first in a patient’s mouth. However, they can only be detected if someone is looking for them. Enter holistic dentistry. When you choose a holistic dentist, you’re choosing a professional with the training and expertise to detect early warning signs and symptoms of problems that run far deeper than your pearly whites. In this article, we’ll discuss sleep apnea and other airway issues, TMD, and OMDs.

Dr. Abeyta recently appeared in ABQ Magazine discussing sleep apnea and airway issues

Dr. Abeyta recently appeared in ABQ Magazine discussing sleep apnea and airway issues

Airway issues

In survival school, they teach the rule of 3s. You can go 3 weeks without food and 3 days without water, but only about 3 minutes without air. For something so crucial, most people don’t spend much time thinking about breathing. Fortunately for her patients, Dr. Abeyta does. She is an expert in craniosacral airway issues, and knows what signs and symptoms to look for in her patients. Two of the most common airway issues in America are sleep apnea and mouth breathing.

Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a very common condition, with tens of millions of Americans suffering from it every year. Unfortunately, a vast number of these cases go undiagnosed. Sleep apnea starves the patient’s sleeping brain of oxygen, both causing and contributing to a myriad of health issues. To learn more about it, check out our sleep apnea page.

Mouth Breathing

Humans breathe in two ways – through our nose and through our mouths. So, what’s wrong with breathing through your mouth? Nothing, as long as you’re doing it at the right time. It’s natural to breathe through your mouth during exercise, or other times when your body is running short on oxygen. However, some people get into the habit of breathing through their mouths at inappropriate times, most notably during sleep.

Check back soon for Holistic dentistry – treating the whole patient Part 2

Sleep Apnea – Detection and Treatment

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What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is very common. Around 20 million Americans have it, many cases of which are unfortunately undiagnosed. Many with the disorder experience only mild symptoms, so much so that they may never notice. However, many other sufferers experience severe, even debilitating symptoms.

The word apnea comes from the Greek apnoia, meaning “breathless”. People who suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing in their sleep, often many times in a single night. Since the pauses are brief, they never reach full consciousness, and therefore are often unaware of any problem.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and a combination of the two. Obstructive is by far the most common – obstructive and mixed together account for around 99.6% of cases. For more information about the differences between obstructive and central, check out our sleep apnea page.

The big problem with sleep apnea is that it cuts the amount of oxygen reaching the brain during sleep. This has serious and wide ranging consequences. Sufferers often wake up feeling unrested, even when they believe they got a full night of sleep. It diminishes focus, raises blood pressure, contributes to depression, worsens diabetes and ADHD, and can cause headaches and even a stroke.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”2378″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_shadow_3d”][vc_column_text]

Treating Sleep Apnea

The most common treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Just as the name implies, a CPAP raises the pressure in your airway just enough to prevent your throat from closing during sleep, thereby preventing apneas. There are other treatments that may be appropriate depending on the severity of the disorder, ranging from appliances worn during sleep to surgical procedures designed to open the airway.

Recognizing Sleep Apnea

Before you can treat it, you have to know it’s there. With this in mind, Dr. Abeyta is a member of a growing group of dental professionals who have training in recognizing the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in their patients. Dentists are in a particularly good position to detect the disorder, since they’re already examining their patients’ mouths on a regular basis. Choosing a dentist with this kind of training could save you from very serious health issues down the road.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]