Constant travel for business and leisure is a familiar feature of expat life in Singapore. Some of us with families even feel exhausted after the summer holiday.
With time zone differences and constant sleep interruption it’s easy to feel you are not getting enough sleep. Emerging research is abundant and spells out how sleep is important for adults and especially for teenagers.
The research has been clear that lack of sleep can cause a variety of problems. In adults some of these issues include hypertension, heart disease, fatigue, anxiety, stress, and a lack of mental clarity.
In children, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, bedwetting, allergies, and stunted growth and development have been associated with a lack of sleep and disordered breathing. And these problems may go on to affect school performance.
Related to this, dental ‘bruxism’ is the medical term used to describe habitual clenching or grinding of the teeth and jaw. Stiff or fatigued jaw muscles when you wake in the morning, headaches, neck aches, sensitive teeth, jaw pain, noises when opening or closing your mouth; all of these can be signs of dental bruxism and TMJ disorder.
Previously dentists were trained to think that grinding issues were just stress related and that the ultimate fix was to wear a night-guard for the rest of your life. Now practitioners believe that by retraining habits like tongue position, breathing techniques, and swallowing techniques, we can stop grinding and help patients sleep better. But, depending on the individual circumstances, oral appliances, medication or surgery may be required.
Oral Appliance Therapy can often be used to treat both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in adults.
An oral appliance is a device similar to orthodontic retainers joined by a flexible connector and worn while asleep. The device allows your airway to remain open by supporting the lower jaw in a slightly forward position and providing forced air through flexible tubes. These devices are best designed and fitted by experienced dentists trained in sleep disorder therapy. In some severe cases, surgery may be an option for treatment.
When treating children, if caught early enough, providers may be able to prevent the need for braces and allow them to live a healthier life without a grinding habit and a sleep disorder in adulthood.
If you feel you or someone in your family may have sleep disordered breathing or sleep apnea, the sooner you can fix the problem the sooner you will be on the path to a much fuller life, free of the health issues that come with poor sleep. Ask yourself these questions and if you answer yes to a few you may want to find out more.
- feel irritable or sleepy during the day?
- have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television or reading?
- fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?
- have difficulty concentrating?
- often get told by others that you look tired?
- react slowly?
- have trouble controlling your emotions?
- feel like you have to take a nap almost every day?
- require caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going
Written by: Lydia Astill from Expat Dental