Sleep apnea is a hard-to-detect condition that can leave you feeling groggy and restless even after sleeping the entire night. But it does more than leave you sleepy. Our Delta dentists talk about the effects of sleep apnea on your teeth and what you can do to help combat this condition.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Oral Health
While the main symptom of sleep apnea is that it leaves you tired, there are other less obvious signs including cavities and teeth grinding. If left untreated these issues can lead to serious complications.
When you sleep well it can help to prevent dental conditions from occurring and progressing as well as providing your body with the sleep it needs to stay healthy. If you have sleep apnea, the Implications might include:
You sleep with your mouth open.
When you sleep with your mouth open it can lead to your mouth drying out. Unfortunately, the reduced amount of saliva can lead to an increase in cavities.
This is because saliva plays an integral role in our mouth, which means a lack of it can be an issue as mouth sores and plaque develop and the gums become inflamed. Gum disease, otherwise known as periodontitis may also become more likely if you breathe with your mouth open while sleeping.
Your teeth are developing cavities more frequently.
Dental decay is not the only concern when it comes to dental concerns with sleep apnea. Some people who experience sleep disorders such as sleep apnea may also grind their teeth. Teeth grinding can be a major contributor to the occurrence of tooth decay. As with most dental issues, oral hygiene, or a lack thereof, can contribute to this concern.
Depression, anxiety and exhaustion are other conditions that sleep apnea sufferers often experience. When you are physically and mentally drained, you may also put less effort into caring for your body which can increase your risk of developing these concerns.
You experience teeth grinding while sleeping.
Another term that you may hear if you have a teeth-grinding habit is bruxism. Bruxism can include the grinding of your teeth along with jaw clenching. While some people do this when they are sleeping it is quite common in those suffering from sleep apnea. Grinding can have a negative impact on your sleep. You may notice you wake feeling unrefreshed. Teeth grinding affects more than just the teeth as it can also cause pain in the neck and shoulders due to being tense all the time.
Generally, when a patient experiences symptoms such as bruxism, they likely have no idea it is happening. You may hear about it for the first time when your dentist sees the signs during your routine oral exam. Signs can vary from chipped, cracked or fractured teeth to teeth with eroded surfaces or loose teeth. If your dentist sees symptoms, you may be asked if you experience muscle pain in your jaw, neck, head or face and dryness in your throat, lips and mouth when you wake.
Combating Dental Issues Caused by Sleep Apnea
Your dentists in Delta are here to help with a number of dental-related needs. With regular dental exams and cleanings, we can help prevent tooth decay. The routine examinations that are performed by your dentist can help to spot any potential issues, including sleep apnea. In addition, we offer restorative and cosmetic services from bridges, fillings and root canals to veneers and teeth whitening to help your smile look and function better.
While our dentists do not offer treatment options directly for sleep apnea, we may be able to offer referrals and recommendations for medical professionals and dental specialists who can help diagnose your condition and provide the necessary treatments.