Your Dentist And Sleep Apnea: Caring For You Beyond Your Teeth


Do you frequently wake up in the mornings with chronic headaches, feeling as if you hardly slept at all? Or have you noticed an unexplained increase in dental issues including cracked teeth or pain while chewing food?


These are just a fewof the symptoms commonly associated with obstructive sleep apnea. This condition affects over 18 million Americans and has varying levels of severity. People who suffer from sleep apnea experience blockages in the back of the throat that cause breathing interruptions to occur throughout the night. In an attempt to encourage you to breathe again, your body will wake you up, forcing you to catch your breath after a momentary lapse in breathing.


What makes sleep apnea so dangerous?

When you aren’t breathing, even if it is only for a small period of time, your brain is forced to take over. Your heart rate becomes elevated so that your body can maintain the oxygen levelsit needs to survive, which causes an increase in carbon dioxide levels. These constant changes make it more likely that health concerns will arise in the future, including: high blood pressure, stroke, or heart disease. If not treated at all, it is estimated that sleep apnea could end up stealing 18 years from someone’s life.


Sleep Apnea And Oral Health

Your dentist is often the first person who can detect that you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea shows itself in dental issues as well. Grinding your teeth is a common symptom of sleep apnea, which wears down the surfaces of a patient’s teeth and has the potential to cause tooth breakage and inflamed gums. If there is a significant amount of breakage, it is also likely that these patients will also see a spike in cavities.


If your dentist notices one or all of these issues during a routine appointment, they may suggest you reach out to a medical professional so they can conduct a sleep study to determine whether or not you actually have sleep apnea.


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