Sleep Apnea, Jaws, and Gums

IN JUST THE UNITED STATES, sleep apnea affects over 18 million adults and up to 20 percent of children who habitually snore. Sleep apnea is a disorder involving brief, repeated interruptions to normal breathing during sleep. In addition to being potentially life-threatening, this disorder can be very harmful to oral health.

The Different Types of Sleep Apnea

There are different ways sleep apnea can occur. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), caused by a blocked airway — typically the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which then collapses against the back of the throat, leaving no space for air to get through. A rarer form is central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to signal the respiratory muscles to keep breathing. Some people experience a combination of the two, which is called complex sleep apnea.

In any type of sleep apnea, the brain reacts with alarm to the lack of air and forces the person to wake up and take a breath. Even though this process is over in seconds and they usually remember nothing, it can happen hundreds of times in a single night. We need uninterrupted sleep in order to be fully rested, so even tiny interruptions can have a very detrimental impact on quality of sleep.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_shMGanKHfo

Okay, But How Does That Affect Oral Health?

On top of struggling with the effects of sleep deprivation like exhaustion, morning headaches, and trouble concentrating, sleep apnea affects oral health in a number of ways. People with OSA are more likely to struggle with moderate to severe periodontitis (gum disease), but they are even more likely to develop temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).

A sleep apnea episode happens when the throat relaxes, and studies have shown that the jaw tends to reflexively clench in an effort to keep the airway open. This TMD issue leads to other problems, including pain when chewing, chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and even damaged teeth.

The Dentist Is Your Best Ally

Dental side-effects are so common in sleep apnea cases that the dentist is often the first one to recognize the signs and diagnose it. That’s only one way keeping up with your regularly scheduled dental appointments can benefit your overall health, not just your oral health. Common treatment options for sleep apnea patients include nighttime dental devices that push the tongue or lower jaw forward and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines.

Sleep Healthy, Smile Healthy!

We all need good sleep in order to feel our best, so if you’ve been living with sleep apnea symptoms, your next dental appointment could change your life. Stop by our practice today or give us a call to schedule a dental exam, and we’ll be able to discover if sleep apnea is the cause. Then you’ll be on the path to a better night’s sleep and a healthier smile!

Sleep tight, wonderful patients!

Top image by Flickr user anoldent used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

What Our Clients Say

“I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I broke my front tooth. I figured I would get a post and crown but found out it was broken too high above the gum line so I needed an implant. Dr. Hosters cleaned everything out and installed the implant in about 50 minutes. Completely pain free as were all the follow ups with Agnes who is awesome. That was 3 months ago. Today was the X-ray to see if the bone healed around the implant and it was perfect. Next I go to my dentist to get the permanent crown. Dr. Hosters did a great job and I would absolutely recommend him!”

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Norwood Park Periodontics | 5212 North Le Claire Avenue, Chicago IL 60630 | 773-774-4888 | ©2024, All Rights Reserved | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

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Norwood Park Periodontics
5212 North Le Claire Avenue
Chicago IL 60630
773-774-4888

©2023, All Rights Reserved
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy