Dr. Nick Cicortas, DMD
Lifeway Dental of Boca
9101 Lakeridge Blvd., Unit 9
Boca Raton, FL 33496
Sleep constitutes approximately one-third of life, and it is integral to physical and mental wellbeing. Our bodies regulate sleep by building up ‘sleep pressure’ during the day like an inflating balloon resulting in an urge to sleep by nightfall. Optimal sleep patterns involve REM and Non-REM cycles, alternating 4-6 times throughout the night, and tend to be deeper in the first half of the night. Deep, non-REM sleep is quintessential to waking up refreshed and in a good mood.
One of the growing causes of low-quality sleep is sleep breathing disorders. These can manifest as snoring, or as more serious obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Approximately 1 in 15 adults in the United States have OSA, of which 80% are not diagnosed. During a sleep apnea episode, the airway becomes blocked, and the brain and body are deprived of oxygen.
Dentistry has become one of the leading professions to screen for OSA, and can make special appliances to improve breathing. During episodes of heavy snoring or apnea, stress in the body will frequently lead to bruxing, or grinding of the teeth. Did you know that during the day your teeth normally only touch for about 6 minutes? Grinding an hour at night will, over the course of one year, lead to 11 years in wear damage to your teeth! Night-time grinding can lead to a typical presentation of: joint popping or clicking, joint pain (TMJ), morning tension headaches, worn down teeth or short teeth, and frequent cracking or chipping teeth.
Untreated sleep apnea can negatively impact your health, and contribute to: high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. If you or someone you know snores loudly, is chronically fatigued, stops breathing during sleep, and has high blood pressure, talk to a healthcare provider today.