The Dental Concerns of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea RichmondObstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which a person stops breathing for brief periods repeatedly during sleep, can result in dental issues as the mouth and jaw may try to shift their positions to maintain an open airway. Other oral health issues may have a relationship with sleep apnea, as well. Here is an overview of some of the ways that sleep apnea can cause oral health concerns.

Increased risk of gum disease: Obstructive sleep apnea causes general inflammation, which can affect the gum tissue and cause gum disease. Therefore, this condition may make patients more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Increased wear and tear on the teeth and restorations: Obstructive sleep apnea appears to have a relationship with issues like bruxism and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can damage the teeth.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: This condition that causes discomfort in the jaw, along with other symptoms, can be caused or exacerbated by sleep apnea side effects.

Impact on oral surgery: The inflammation associated with sleep apnea can interfere with a patient’s ability to heal after surgery.

Dental development: In children who are afflicted by sleep apnea, the development of the jaw can even be affected negatively. When a child is breathing through the mouth due to an obstruction of some sort, the tongue will not remain forward in the mouth to assist in expanding the arch, which can become too narrow as a result, creating the need for orthodontic treatment.

If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, such as loud snoring, daytime drowsiness and frequent headaches or sore throats upon waking, you should undergo a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea. Then you can consult with an oral surgeon to learn about your treatment options. Treatment for sleep apnea may involve wearing an appliance during sleep to keep the jaw or tongue forward or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask in order to force air into the airway to keep it open. Surgical interventions may be recommended to correct jaw deficiencies that contribute to sleep apnea.

Do you suspect you might have sleep apnea? Complete a sleep study and then schedule a consultation at our office to learn about your treatment options. Your oral health and your overall well-being will benefit tremendously.

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