It is not every day that you visit a dentist for a sleeping disorder. We all assume that dental-related issues can only amount to gum or tooth complications. The difficulties amount to snoring and insomnia when it comes to sleep apnea. To understand why visiting a dentist is essential, you must understand sleep apnea and its relationship with dental health.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that results in stopping and restarting one’s breathing for short periods throughout the night. Sleep apnea can be very distressing and is often accompanied by snoring. In some cases, the affected may not snore but still experience symptoms such as insomnia.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- One of the primary symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring, resulting from breathing interruptions.
- Swelling in the throat and around the airway can also contribute to severe snoring, attributed to sleep apnea.
- Other symptoms include fatigue, daytime sleepiness, mood swings, and depression.
Types of Sleep Apnea
The type of sleep apnea that you have will depend on the severity of the condition. Sleep apnea can be classified into mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild Sleep Apnea
A mild case is characterized by breathing interruptions that last only a few seconds. In some cases, mild sleep apnea also includes snoring and daytime fatigue. Sleep apnea is that it frequently goes untreated as people are unaware of its effects.
Moderate Sleep Apnea
A moderate case is characterized by breathing interruptions that last longer than 20 seconds. In some cases, moderate sleep apnea also includes mouth dryness, headaches, and rapid heartbeat. However, the condition does not cause extreme fatigue.
Severe Sleep Apnea
A severe case is characterized by breathing interruptions that last more than 30 seconds. In some cases, severe sleep apnea includes fatigue, which can hinder safety when driving or operating machinery. Fortunately, sleep apnea isn’t a fatal condition.
Effects on Dental Health
Those who suffer from sleep apnea usually notice that their teeth are not as strong and healthy as expected. It could be because the nightly interruption in breathing causes the body to lose its ability to replenish its oxygen supply. As a result, teeth can suffer from many problems and decay quickly.
The first problem that the teeth can face is an increase in caries. The amount of oxygen supplied to the teeth makes it more likely for cavities to form. Cavities also tend to be larger than usual as there is not enough oxygen during sleep to enable the tooth enamel to repair itself.
The second problem is the weakening of the teeth. Sleep apnea causes the muscles in the jaw to fatigue, and as a result, teeth can start to crumble. It is because, during sleep, the muscles in your body relax. If you experience insomnia because of sleep apnea, it can lead to bunions or facial sagging as these muscles also become weak.
Aside from these issues, sleep apnea can cause gum disease. It is because saliva production slows down during rest. If you experience sleep apnea, it will be more difficult for your mouth to maintain a healthy pH balance. When the mouth cannot balance pH levels, bacteria can build up on the teeth and gums. If you do not treat gum disease early, it can become life-threatening and lead to heart problems, blood clots, and stroke.
How Will Your Dentist Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
A sleep apnea dentist will conduct several tests to determine whether you have sleep apnea. These include checking your levels of morning and evening cortisol. These levels will not be elevated in the case of sleep apnea and will normalize if you are suffering from this condition.
What Is the Treatment for Sleep Apnea?
Your dentist will offer several solutions to treat the symptoms associated with sleep apnea. These include fitting you with a dental appliance. There are several types of dental appliances that can treat sleep apnea. However, the most common is a mandibular advancement device (MAD).
It is fitted to the lower jaw to shift it forward to keep the airway unobstructed. Another method of treating sleep apnea is the use of a CPAP machine. It is an alternative to oral appliances and will blow air into your throat during sleep to keep it open and prevent breathing interruptions. Also, read Health Benefits of Pre-Workout Supplements and many more on Viral Sant.