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Is Sleep Apnea a Dental Health Issue? 

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Is Sleep Apnea a Dental Health Issue? 

is-sleep-apnea-a-dental-health-issue

Did you know that there is a condition between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and oral health? This is why dentists like our own Dr. Robert Berry and Mountain Aire Dentistry are trained to treat sleep apnea disorders. If you want to learn more about the connection between dental health and OSA, keep reading. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

If you feel tired during the day even after getting a full night’s rest, that could be one key sign that you are suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder caused by pauses of breathing during sleep. If you think you might be affected by this condition, Dr. Berry is trained to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Common signs of sleep apnea are:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability and personality changes
  • Frequent loud snoring
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Choking or gasping sensations during sleep
  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Awakening with a very dry or sore throat
  • Difficulty concentrating 

The Oral Health and OSA Connection

The connection between oral health and sleep apnea, Verywell Health explains, is that good, quality sleep keeps you healthy. It reduces bad breath, mouth ulcers, and development and progression of gum disease. Dental problems that have been associated with OSA include:

TMJ Disorders 

Evidence has shown that temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders and sleep apnea are closely connected. This joint connects the lower jaw to the upper jaw and can be found on each side of your face. Those who were more likely to have sleep apnea were also found to have a higher risk of developing a TMJ disorder. Signs of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Jaw pain
  • Pain throughout the head, neck, and shoulders
  • Problems chewing
  • Jaw joints that make clicking or grinding sounds
  • Locked jaw 

Bruxism

Grinding or clenching teeth, clinically known as bruxism, can frequently occur during sleep. Bruxism is a sleep disorder because it can cause involuntary movement of the jaw during sleep. It can lead to loose teeth, broken teeth, muscle pain in the head, neck, face, and jaw, as well as mouth dryness. Verywell Health further explains that bruxism can affect up to 31% of adults. Out of that number, 1/4 of people have sleep apnea. 

Mouth Breathing 

Sleep apnea causes a person to breathe through the mouth. Mouth breathing can lead to dry mouth and even tooth decay. Further side effects of mouth breathing include plaque, mouth sores, gingivitis, and gum disease. There has also been a connection at high rates linking gum disease to people with OSA at higher rates. 

VeryWell Health continues by mentioning that some signs of OSA are specific to dental problems. Dental symptoms to look out for in adults and children are:

  • Clenching and grinding your teeth during sleep, sometimes loud enough to wake yourself or your partner up
  • Tightness and pain in jaw joints
  • Sore and raw spots from chewing the inside of one or both cheeks
  • Dull headaches that start at the temples

If you haven tired any of these signs in yourself or in a loved one, we recommend that you make an appointment to see Dr. Berry who is trained to treat dental conditions like sleep apnea. 

Sleep Apnea Treatments

One possible treatment for mild-to-moderate OSA is a custom-made oral appliance. This appliance fits in your mouth and is only worn at night while you sleep. It works by preventing obstructions in your airway throughout the night, allowing you to breathe continuously. The American Sleep Apnea Association says the advantages of this therapy include it being:

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to wear
  • Quiet
  • Portable
  • Convenient for travel
  • Easy to care for 

They, however, explain that since these appliances are adjustable, your dentist will have to work with you to maintain your jaw position by continuously monitoring your progress. You will need follow up appointments to ensure the device is working, fitting properly, and that you are noticing an improvement in your symptoms. Getting comfortable with your device only takes a couple of nights of wearing it while sleeping. 

 Other treatment options from the American Sleep Apnea Association include positive airway pressure devices. These machines go with a variety of breathing masks that fits snugly over the nose. They then supply pressurized air that flows continuously. 

Make an Appointment with Mountain Aire Dentistry

If you notice that you have signs of OSA, make an appointment today to come see Dr. Berry for a OSA consultation. We will help you get a better night’s sleep and maintain your oral health, all you have to do is make an appointment.