Sleep Apnea

Those who are suffering from obstructive sleep apnea may be surprised to learn that it could have something to do with your oral health. A dentist can identify that sleep apnea may be occurring with warning signs like bruxism (tooth grinding), cavities, and even receding gums.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing starts and stops several times during sleep. When this happens due to a blockage, the condition is referred to as obstructive sleep apnea. The problem of sleep apnea is that it can impede oxygen from reaching the brain, resulting in:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Failure

Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Dentistry

Grinding teeth during sleep, otherwise known as bruxism, is a common sign of sleep apnea. Over time, grinding damages your teeth and gums, and can create cavities where bacteria has been allowed to set in.

CPAP machines are common for managing sleep apnea by pushing air down the lungs. For obstructive sleep apnea, however, there are also dental devices available to prevent obstruction.

This includes the mandibular advancement device (MAD), which functions much like a night guard. It is attached to your upper and lower teeth and positions your jaw correctly.

More simple, but less popular, are tongue retaining devices (TRD), which keep the tongue in place during sleep.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

  • Obesity
  • Family History of Sleep Apnea
  • Smoking
  • Over 40 Years of Age
  • Being Male