My Wife’s Worried I’m Going to Die in My Sleep

Can you help put my wife’s mind at ease? She’s convinced I’m going to die in my sleep because she says I stop breathing. Obviously, I’m not or I wouldn’t be alive, but I can’t convince her. The last two nights she didn’t sleep because she kept watching me breathe and shaking me awake when she thought I’d stopped. I can’t keep going like this and neither can she. She wants me to see a dentist for sleep apnea but I think I’d know if something like that was going on.

Alan

Dear Alan,

man snoring keeping wife awake
One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring

Let’s pause a second and think about the fact that our wives love us so much they’re willing to lose sleep out of fear we’re not okay. Though, their worry can drive us what my daughter calls “banana balls”, the intent is something to be grateful for.

As to whether or not you can stop breathing in your sleep without realizing it, you actually can. In fact, patients with sleep apnea can do that many times a night without knowing.

Here’s what happens. When someone lays down, especially on their backs, the muscles in the back of their throat can sometimes relax, partially blocking the airway. This often results in snoring because you end up vibrating the muscles. You may ask your wife if you sometimes snore. Though, I’m pretty sure she’d have complained about that by now so you’d know.

What you’re likely dealing with is something known as obstructive sleep apnea. This is when those muscles completely block the airway. You stop breathing, but your brain realizes that and then jolts you awake. Though, you don’t wake up all the way, which is why you don’t realize it’s happening. Instead, you wake up just enough to adjust your mouth and thereby your throat and start breathing again.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

mandibular device

Many patients have found relief from sleep apnea by using a CPAP machine while they sleep. But, they’re loud and bulky so just as many patients hate them. Instead of a CPAP, I prefer to start with using a mandibular advancement device, such as the one pictured directly above. They fit a lot like a sports mouth guard and have much better patient satisfaction.

It gently glides your lower jaw into proper position while you sleep, thereby keeping your airway unobstructed giving you a great night’s sleep. If this works for a patient, there’s no reason to try something else.

So, while you don’t feel there’s a problem there could be. It wouldn’t hurt to have a sleep study done because as you’re not likely to die in your sleep from it, sleep apnea does cause heart problems.

This blog is brought to you by Newton Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.

Worried about Porcelain Veneer Repair

I had porcelain veneers done. I like them, but once I got home I noticed one had a scratch on it. I called the office because I was worried it would break. He told me not to worry but come in the next morning and he’d smooth out the scratch. I did and he fixed it right away. I think I may be panicking but now it seems dull to me where he repaired it. Am I imagining things? Am I being too picky?

Jessica

Dear Jessica,

Porcelain veneers being placed on a tooth

Sadly, you’re probably not imagining things. It sounds like your dentist smoothed out the scratch but didn’t polish the glaze back up. This tells me he’s not a dentist who’s invested a lot of time learning cosmetic dentistry.

It’s important you get this repaired right away. He’s removed the glaze on your porcelain veneer. This is what gives your porcelain veneers their shine. Even more importantly, it’s what keeps them from picking up stains. Soon, that dull spot will start to become stained and will be an obvious blight on your teeth.

Repairing Porcelain Veneers That Lost their Glaze

You have two choices. There is a diamond polishing kit which can work to repair the glaze on your damaged veneer. Unfortunately, I don’t think your dentist is aware of this procedure, nor will he have the equipment needed to perform it. If you want to go this way, you’ll likely need to find an expert cosmetic dentist.

Look on the mynewsmile.com website to see what cosmetic dentists they recommend in your area. Anyone on their list will be able to do a good repair.

Your second option is to have your dentist just redo another veneer for that tooth.

Whichever you decide, you’re within your rights for him to pay for the repair or replacement. Just make sure you let him know as soon as possible. Otherwise, he could try to blame you for the problem. This way his “repair” is still fresh on his mind.

Cleaning Porcelain Veneers

One other thing to note. As your dentist isn’t an expert cosmetic dentist, his staff is not likely well trained on how to deal with them during cleaning. Whatever you do, do not let your hygienist use any type of power polishing equipment, such as a Prophy Jet.

That will take the glaze completely off every veneer you have.

This blog is brought to you by Newton Dentist Dr. Steve Bader.