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Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea

Feeling tired? We can often pinpoint the reason: a late night out, disruption of a normal schedule, small children, daylight savings time, and other tangible circumstances. Consistently poor sleep can lead to problems with daytime concentration and other health conditions. If you find yourself feeling tired all the time without any known triggers, it may be time for a visit to the doctor or, surprisingly, the dentist.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Chronic sleepiness and waking up tired can be a strong indicator of sleep apnea, a condition affecting more than 20 million Americans in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. This isn’t an issue of having trouble falling or staying asleep. Rather, sufferers from sleep apnea may be logging their 8 hours every night and not even know that the quality of their sleep is severely compromised. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder stemming from the throat muscles intermittently relaxing and blocking the airway.

The most noticeable (and loudest) sign of this condition is a very distinctive snoring pattern. Deep snores are followed by short periods of not breathing, after which there is a gasp/snore that starts the pattern over again. This cycle can go on as many as a hundred times per night. It’s no wonder that those who suffer don’t get a decent night of sleep. 

In adults, excess weight and obesity are common causes. During sleep when the throat and tongue muscles are more relaxed, excess soft tissue can cause the airway to become blocked.

Other warning signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
  • Decreased blood oxygen levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Decreased libido

There’s even evidence that sleep apnea can worsen conditions such as fibromyalgia and trigger conditions that can lead to a stroke.

Why See a Dentist?

These all sound like issues to address with a doctor, so how is the dentist involved? Believe it or not, your dentist may very well be the first one to notice early warning signs of sleep apnea.

Grinding teeth (bruxism) can lead to sleep apnea. While you sleep, tension in the jaw as you grind your teeth signals your brain to wake up and take a breath, thereby breaking your sleep pattern. Your dentist can see the manifestations of teeth grinding through worn tooth surfaces and inflamed or receding gums. A spike in cavities can also be a sign of grinding because the force damages teeth, making them susceptible to bacteria and increased periodontal disease.

Dentists can also notice things like a small jaw, a tongue with scalloped edges, or redness in the throat which may be caused by snoring. If you live alone, there may not be anyone to make you aware of your snoring patterns, so the dentist may be the first one to recognize the problem.

A Path to Relief

The first course of action recommended by doctors and dentists is a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. While breathing assistance devices such as a CPAP machine are available, they can be costly and cumbersome. A simpler, more cost-effective dental solution exists (oral appliances made to address sleep apnea), and many can find the relief they seek without the use of complicated medical equipment.

Oral appliances fitting much like retainers are often  prescribed by dentists for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. These devices are worn in the mouth only during sleep and are designed to prevent the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position. This leaves the airway open and unobstructed during sleep. Devices are custom-fit by a qualified dentist and can be an effective form of therapy, allowing users to sleep with fewer interruptions and wake up feeling more refreshed and able to lead a more focused and productive day.

Get Help for Sleep Apnea Now

Dr. Mitchmore has advanced training in sleep issues and oral misalignment. He and the staff at LifeSmiles stay at the forefront of dental practices and technology, giving their patients world-class cutting-edge treatment. Oral appliances custom-made to address grinding and airway obstruction are just one of many services they provide from their Montrose office in Houston. Call today for your appointment.

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Sally May-Frankum
Dental Hygienist

Sally’s favorite part about working with the team at LifeSmiles is the fun she has with her co-workers. Additionally, she appreciates working with Dr. Randy Mitchmore because much like her, he values whole-body health for his patients. She’s proud to be part of a team that does such high quality work.

Outside of the office: Sally enjoys being with her children and grandchildren and uses writing as a creative outlet. On the weekends, she can be found doing all things outdoors including hiking and biking.

 

Bucket List: Going to Europe, exploring every US state, and zip-lining.

Hero: The Highest Power of them all!

Toni Wilson
Queen of Charisma

 “Every great dream begins with a dreamer.”

Toni’s favorite thing about working at LifeSmiles is the beautiful scenery. When patients are having anxiety about their dental appointments, she creates a fearless atmosphere with her charisma and warmth. She is passionate about helping every patient achieve their dental health goals. She says she truly loves being part of a team where she can grow professionally and personally.

Outside the office: Toni loves spending time with her husband and their sons. She also likes to show off her green thumb with her work in her garden.


Bucket list item:
Travel around the world and learn about other cultures and regions.

Your hero: Harriet Tubman because she was passionate and a fearless leader unafraid of any of life’s challenges.

Mike Mireles
Elite Care and Education Specialist

Smiling is contagious

Mike began his career at LifeSmiles seeking an opportunity to expand his skillset and advance his career. Today he works at Dr. Michmore’s side through dental procedures and surgeries. He loves working at LifeSmiles because the entire team is continually learning and keeping up to date with the newest advancements in dentistry.

Outside the office: Mike enjoys barbecuing on his patio, traveling, and spending time with his family. He’s a dog dad of two: Tati and Tito.


Bucket list item:
To visit Thailand and Dubai and to try skydiving!

Your hero: Mike looks up to his parents and is forever grateful for the life lesson they taught him; respect, manners, strength, and to be a go-getter. He continues to carry these things with him with everything he does.

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Sandra Smith
Ambassador

Sandra is 44 years old and is a star athlete for the Special Olympics. At LifeSmiles, Sandra stocks patient rooms and the coffee bar. She does all kinds of special projects like decorating for holidays and preparing awesome gifts for our patients.

Sandra loves being around all her friends and is proud to wear a LifeSmiles shirt, jacket, and name badge. You’ll always find her smiling and helping make our patients smile too.

Outside the Office: Sandra likes to go fishing with her family, swim, go to dances, and walk the mall with her friends. She is very active in the Special Olympics and won second place in the state volleyball tournament (go, Sandra!) in 2020. She sings in her church choir and attends international performances with them.

Spirit Animal: Butterfly. She likes them because they are pretty.

Andie Willis
Director of Details

Andie is married with one son, Logan and now lives in The Woodlands. She grew up in Sugar Land and has followed in her mother’s footsteps – she has been in dentistry for over 35 years. Andie actually started out working in the office with her mom and learned many things from the way she worked.

Andie has been a Lead Dental Assistant for most of her career. She has worked for many specialists including oral surgeons and periodontists. She has extensive training in all facets of dentistry but especially enjoys the surgical and cosmetic side. As a science nerd, dentistry fascinates Andie and gives her a sense of accomplishment.

At LifeSmiles, she is our “Director of Details”. Andie is known for being a perfectionist because she likes to gather as much information as possible and go the extra mile to match Dr. Mitchmore’s high standards. She truly loves being part of our dedicated team of professionals who go above and beyond for our amazing patients.

Outside of the Office: Andie is addicted to Lagree fitness and loves to go off-shore fishing.

Your Hero: Her Mom. She is the most selfless person Andie knows.

John Copous
Chief Enthusiasm Officer

John became a new patient of LifeSmiles in 2008. He likes to tell people he was not allowed to leave. John worked down the street for 14 years before joining the team. He has a passion for meeting new people and extending genuine hospitality.

Often the first person people meet on the phone and when they walk in the door, you can count on John for a warm welcoming smile. You can even ‘hear’ it over the phone. He says, “I believe everyone deserves the red carpet treatment and love seeing other people smile.”

John hears stories every day how someone’s smile is holding them back. He can barely contain his excitement when shouting the praises of Dr. Mitchmore and the entire team. He shares passionate stories of how the transformations people have received at LifeSmiles, changed their lives.

Outside the Office: John loves being outside. He enjoys sharing a beach house with friends and family. He loves entertaining, throwing a party and cooking at home. He can start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. He’s an amateur stand-up comic.

Bucket List Item: To live in a foreign country for one year, somewhere near the beach. Take some time to write an epic love novel loosely based on my large Italian family.

Your Hero: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. While fictional, the character incorporates admirable qualities from real life people. She believes in the goodness of everyone, keeps on going and moves forward despite any obstacle. She is able to find humor in other people’s quirks, accepts them and makes sense of it all. Plus, she’s a little outrageous too.