The term “apnea” refers to a cessation in your breathing that lasts for 10 seconds or longer. When a person has sleep apnea, their airway becomes blocked and experiences pauses in their breathing during sleep. This occurs repeatedly throughout the night, waking them from a deep sleep, even if they do not remember it, and causing lingering fatigue the next day.
There are three types of sleep apnea but the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. The blocked airway is a result of the muscles surrounding the tongue and throat relaxing too much, causing tissues to block the passage of air.
The most notable sign of sleep apnea is constant fatigue even though you’re seemingly sleeping for an appropriate amount of time each night. Most of the other symptoms are a byproduct of this fatigue, such as mood swings, memory difficulties, headaches, and sluggishness.
You may experience sudden awakenings in which you gasp for air or feel like you’re choking. Dry mouth, sore throats, snoring, and teeth grinding are also correlated with sleep apnea.
When you stop breathing for longer than 10 seconds at a time, your blood's oxygen levels drop, causing your brain to wake you up and restart your breathing. A patient with sleep apnea may not realize that their sleep is being continually disrupted because it happens so fast and most people don’t remember it.
Believe it or not, dentists are often the first to notice signs of sleep apnea in a patient. Signs such as worn-down teeth from teeth grinding, TMJ, tooth sensitivity, and dry mouth are all signs of sleep apnea that a dentist can spot during a routine checkup.
X-rays can also reveal enlarged tissues that may be blocking your airway while you sleep. Dentists can also refer you to a sleep study or specialist for a diagnosis. At North Billerica Smiles, we offer home sleep tests that track your breathing while you sleep to determine if you stop breathing in your sleep, for how long, and how often.
While Obstructive Sleep Apnea is usually treated with the use of a CPAP machine that pumps continuous air through your airway, this device has many flaws. For one, they’re very expensive, they’re also very loud, uncomfortable to wear, and can cause feelings of embarrassment and claustrophobia.
At North Billerica Smiles, we offer an alternative treatment to sleep apnea that doesn’t require hooking yourself up to a loud, claustrophobic machine. We offer Mandibular Advancement Devices, which are a specific type of mouthguard for sleep apnea patients.
You simply wear the mouthguard over your upper and lower teeth while you sleep at night and it holds your jaw in the correct position by pushing the lower jaw forward. This helps keep your airway open so you don't experience pauses in breathing.
Don’t wait to get a diagnosis or pursue treatment. Sleep apnea increases your risk of developing serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, contact us at North Billerica Smiles today to schedule a consultation with your dentist in Billerica.
A dental implant includes two parts: an abutment and a restoration. Together, these two pieces create a permanent replacement tooth that looks and functions just like a natural one would.
The first step of the dental implant process is a consultation at North Billerica Smiles. During your visit, we’ll assess your smile to see if you’re a good candidate for dental implants. If so, we’ll move onto the treatment planning phase.
One of our dentists will take x-rays and scans of your mouth, then use the detailed images of your teeth, gums, jawline, and surrounding bone structures to come up with a precise treatment plan. Once this is complete, you will come in for your oral surgery and your abutment will be placed in your gum. When this heals, this is the part of your implant that will function as an artificial tooth root.
3-6 Months after your abutment is places and your gums are fully healed, you’ll come back in for your final appointment. During your last visit, we’ll attach a dental crown or other restoration to the abutment, and this will create a replacement tooth that looks and feels natural. You’ll be able to chew, speak, and smile with ease - with no gaps in your teeth!
Since dental implants are an invasive oral surgery, you can expect to feel some pain. However, we use powerful numbing agents and anesthetics to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible during your procedure. What’s more, we also send you home with a prescription for medication that will help ease your pain, if necessary. We do everything in our power to provide a smooth, pain-free implant treatment.
With proper care and oral hygiene, your dental implant should last the rest of your life. We also offer maintenance appointments to help ensure that your implant stays in good shape throughout the years.