How Can Sleep Apnea Impact Your Oral Health

Sleep apnea is a common condition that plagues many people. In fact, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that roughly 26% of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 years suffer from sleep apnea. Besides lowering your quality of sleep (among other issues), this condition can also have a detrimental effect on your oral health. We’ll outline just how sleep apnea can affect your oral health and why the team at Phillips & Schmitt can help with your sleep apnea concerns.

Dry Mouth Leads to Many Dental Issues

One of the biggest problems with sleep apnea is that it can cause dry mouth, which in turn can fuel bacterial growth. Bacteria play a central role in many oral health problems, including cavities, gum disease, and the formation of mouth sores. Sleeping on your back, whether you mean to or not, causes your jaw to fall due to gravity which will dry your mouth out. Without the presence of saliva in your mouth, the bacteria will thrive and stick to your teeth creating more plaque and tartar.

If you believe you’re suffering from a cavity, gum disease, or another type of infection, whether caused by sleep apnea or something else, it’s important to see a local dentist right away. If infections are caught early, they are often much easier to treat. Sadly, if an infection isn’t treated promptly, it greatly increases the risk of complications, including tooth loss.

Sleep Apnea Has Been Linked to Bruxism

Bruxism, or tooth grinding, often occurs alongside sleep apnea. The act of your jaw moving out and grinding on adjacent teeth is your body’s subconscious way of getting more oxygen into your system. This can result in damage to the teeth, jaw, and other tissues. A sore jaw could impact your ability to eat, which in turn may prove detrimental to your nutrition. It may also be linked to gum recession and other dental issues. Fortunately, our dental team has several ways we can help whether that be a guard you wear at night, a discussion of a CPAP, or we can make a specialized appliance that holds your jaw out to allow your body to receive additional oxygen.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders May Become More Common

Often referred to simply as TMJ, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are a common but painful oral health problem. Essentially, your jaw and specifically the joints that allow it to move (including the temporomandibular joint) become damaged or start to malfunction. This can result in chronic swelling and pain.

We’re still not exactly sure why, but people who suffer from certain types of sleep apnea are more likely to experience TMJ. Chronic aches can lower your quality of life. Among other things, pain can make it difficult to talk and eat.

The good news is that we can use various dental devices and other treatment methods to address sleep apnea. If you’re suffering from dry mouth, TMJ, or sleep apnea, feel free to get in touch with our dentists at Phillips & Schmitt. We’ve helped countless people with these conditions already.

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