Millions of people are affected by sleep apnea, the condition where the muscles in your jaw, throat, and mouth relax during sleep, causing the airway to become obstructed and making breathing difficult. This impairment in your breathing can result in you waking up many times throughout the night. Sometimes, it can be subtle enough that you’re not aware you’re waking up. Though it might sound surprising, there is a strong connection between sleep apnea and your oral health. Here, we’ll explain how the two are related.
People who suffer from sleep apnea are also more likely to grind their teeth at night. This is because your body is sending your brain the message to wake up. Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, can lead to headaches, jaw pain, worn tooth surfaces, inflamed and receding gums, and even broken teeth.
Cavities & Tooth Loss
When you grind your teeth, you wear away your enamel, which is your teeth’s first line of defense against decay. Without this outer layer, your teeth become more susceptible to cavities. If decay is left untreated, it can potentially result in tooth loss, so it’s important to see a dentist right away.
Bruxism can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), which can cause a lot of pain and a host of other painful jaw issues such as lockjaw, headaches, and more.
Sleep apnea and the snoring that often accompanies it causes a decrease in saliva production. Saliva is vital to a healthy mouth because it washes away food particles and neutralizes bad acids. Dry mouth develops due to a lack of saliva and can lead to bad breath, oral bacterial infections, and cavities.
Overall Health Issues
In addition to the oral health issues that it can cause, sleep apnea may also lead to a host of serious health issues such as high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, heart disease, and stroke.
We Are Here to Help!
If you are suffering from sleep apnea or you’re unsure, please contact our Southwest Smiles Family Dentistry team to schedule a consultation. Dr. Chittajallu can recommend a facility that tests for sleep apnea and potentially recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you so you can finally get a good night’s rest!