Sleep Apnea and Your Oral Health

 sleep-apnea-and-your-oral-healthSleep apnea is a very common disorder that may cause a disruption in breathing or cause shallow breaths while you are asleep. The pausing between breathing can last for only seconds but could last for several minutes. While there are many possible causes of sleep apnea, one of the more common causes would be excess weight and obesity which is also associated with the soft tissue of the mouth and throat.

While you are sleeping, the throat and tongue muscles become more relaxed than usual, and because of this, the airway can become blocked due to the soft tissue. So, what role does your dentist play when it comes to sleep apnea?


A Dentist’s Role


Dentists are usually one of the first professionals to become aware of the problem because a dentist may see his patients more often than a general practitioner. Therefore, it is also important to note that many people can be referred back to their dental health professional for treatment.




The treatment for sleep apnea really depends on the severity of the symptoms. Treatment may involve losing weight, following a new diet, altering sleeping positions, and may even include the introduction of a dental appliance while you are sleeping.

Similar to a mouth guard, this dental appliance for sleep apnea will help to reposition the jaw and the tongue, which in turn will help improve airflow while you are sleeping. They will often require adjustment but should be relatively easy to wear once they are fitted.


Signs of Sleep Apnea


One of the signs associated with sleep apnea is tooth grinding or bruxism. If your dentist suspects sleep apnea, they will then look for worn tooth surfaces and other wear and breakage of the teeth that would suggest that you are grinding your teeth at night. You may also experience a heightened presence of cavities as well because of the damaged teeth.

Once your dentist has determined it may be related to sleep apnea, they will more than likely recommend you for a sleep study to be sure and so you can get a proper diagnosis before continuing with treatment.