Sleep apnea is an often undiagnosed issue that can negatively affect both your oral and overall health. Today, our Surrey dentists explain what sleep apnea is and why treatment is essential to promoting your overall well-being.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep-related breathing disorder that can cause a person to repeatedly stop breathing for short periods of time over the course of the night while they're asleep. In severe cases, a patient may stop breathing up to 30 times an hour.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea manifests as OSA when there is a physical obstruction of airflow. Snoring is frequently a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. Extra-tiredness during the day, sudden awakenings with gasping or choking, morning headaches, dry mouth or sore throat, and sudden awakenings are other symptoms of sleep apnea.
As you can imagine, this sleep disorder can greatly affect a patient's quality of life. Besides feeling fatigued after a full night's sleep, sleep apnea can have negative effects on both your oral and overall health, so it's important that sleep apnea be diagnosed and treated.
How can sleep apnea affect your oral health?
Numerous symptoms related to oral health are linked to sleep apnea. A person with sleep apnea breathes through their mouth, which leaves their mouth dry. Patients may have worse breath, more plaque accumulation, and an increased risk of developing gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease as a result of this.
Sleep apnea can also cause:
- Teeth grinding (which may cause wear and breakage)
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Increased cavities
- Mouth sores
- Tongue with scalloped edges
How can sleep apnea affect your overall health?
Hypoxia is the result of sleep apnea (a low oxygen level in the body). Your body naturally becomes stressed when this occurs, and it may respond by tightening your arteries and raising your heart rate. Numerous cardiac problems, such as elevated blood pressure, a faster heartbeat, and more heart stress and inflammation, may result from this.
Sleep apnea may lead to or worsen several serious conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
As you can see, sleep apnea is a serious condition that should be diagnosed and treated to prevent further complications. If you notice any of the symptoms of sleep apnea you should contact your doctor as soon as possible to begin the diagnosis process.
What can your dentist do about sleep apnea?
While dentists cannot diagnose sleep apnea, they are often the first healthcare professionals to notice the condition due to its effects on your oral health.
If during a routine examination, your dentist notices signs of sleep apnea, they will recommend you visit your doctor for an examination and diagnosis.
Some dental offices also provide dental appliances that can be used to help keep your airway open while you sleep and alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea.