Some people experience the unfortunate symptoms of sleep apnea without realizing that there is a cause. Your Delta dentist may be able to help spot the signs that you are experiencing sleep apnea during your routine visit and suggest that you follow up with your physician for diagnosis.
The most common symptom reported in those that suffer from sleep apnea is that they wake up still exhausted after sleeping a full night. Your dentist may very well be the first person to notice the signs and share this information with you as sleep apnea can have a detrimental effect on your teeth.
When someone is experiencing the signs of sleep apnea they will learn that as they are sleeping their breathing will be regularly interrupted while they are trying to rest. These pauses can be caused by a lack of respiratory effort, physical blockage of airflow, or a combination of both. The frequency and duration of these pauses can vary greatly.
The Obvious Signs Of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can have an effect on your oral health. Your dentist may notice these common signs during your routine exam:
- Receding or inflamed gums
- Tongue with scalloped edges
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Teeth grinding (bruxism), which may cause wear and breakage
- Spike in cavities due to damage to teeth as a result of grinding
- Redness in the throat (caused by excessive snoring)
The most common form of sleep apnea is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a physical blockage of airflow when sleeping. Common symptoms of OSA include choking or gasping while attempting to sleep, waking frequently during the night, night sweats, morning headaches, loud snoring, high blood pressure, and dry mouth when waking.
A person that is experiencing these symptoms can spend the day feeling exhausted even though to them they would have slept a full night. Sleep apnea is also linked to a greater risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What Steps Will My Dentist Take If They Spot The Signs Of Sleep Apnea?
Dentists cannot diagnose sleep apnea. However, they are often some of the first people who can spot symptoms or let you know if you have an increased risk of developing the condition since your jaw and related structures can contribute to OSA.
Your dentist can conduct a dental exam and take X-rays of your neck and mouth, which might reveal abnormally large tissues in the throat or other blockages in the airway. If they notice any physical blockages they will recommend you visit your doctor.