Can Sleep Apnea Affect Your Oral Health?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by the frequent cessation of breathing during sleep. There are three different types of sleep apnea including obstructive sleep apnea (physical structures block the airway), central sleep apnea (nervous system disorder that results in paused breathing), and complex sleep apnea (a combination of the two).
Regardless of the type of sleep apnea a person has, there is an inextricable link between this sleep disorder and oral health because the disorder is associated with a variety of oral health concerns.
3 Oral Health Problems Linked to Sleep Apnea
1. Sleep Bruxism
Sleep bruxism is characterized by a person clenching their jaw and grinding their teeth during sleep. It wears down tooth enamel and can result in chipped teeth, receding gums, soft tissue damage, and pain like headaches and muscle tension during the day. Individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to also suffer from sleep bruxism.
2. TMJ Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD) refers to a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joints (i.e. the joints that connect the jawbone to the skull). TMJD can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms such as jaw pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, lockjaw, popping and grinding sensations in the TMJs, and frequent headaches and/or migraines. Individuals with sleep apnea are much more likely to suffer from a TMJ disorder than those without.
3. Mouth Breathing
Sleep apnea also causes individuals to breathe through their mouths while asleep, and this causes a condition called dry mouth. Dry mouth, marked by the absence of saliva, puts an individual at a heightened risk for tooth decay and cavities in addition to mouth sores, gingivitis, and periodontal (gum) disease.
Sleep Apnea Treatment With Our Dentist in Kenmore
Depending on the type of sleep apnea you are diagnosed with, Dr. Mott at Kenmore Smiles Family Dentistry might be able to help you address your sleep apnea with a custom-designed mouthguard worn at night. This mouthguard is designed to prevent your oral structures from collapsing and blocking your airways while you sleep.
No matter which type of sleep apnea you are diagnosed with, Dr. Mott can help you address any potential oral health problems that you have as a result of the condition. While these problems should start to improve once your sleep apnea is properly managed, we can work with you to address issues with TMJ, bruxism, and mouth breathing.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact Kenmore Smiles Family Dentistry today.