According to the National Sleep Foundation, an estimated 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that means you stop breathing for short periods while asleep.
Sometimes these episodes can occur dozens of times during the night, leaving you feeling exhausted and headachy the next day. Sleep apnea can even cause dry mouth, sore throat, and jaw pain. If not treated, sleep apnea also increases your risk for more serious conditions like high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
You’re probably wondering how this is related to your dental health. The answer is simple; dentists can prescribe things like mandibular advancement devices to help you breathe better, and they are often the first care providers to notice the signs of sleep apnea.
Here are three of those signs:
If your significant other has mentioned you’re snoring, it might mean sleep apnea since snoring is usually the first sign. In this case, you can ask your dentist to look at your throat while they are examining your teeth. They will be able pick up on the telltale signs of apnea-related snoring, such as a red or irritated throat. From there, your dentist can check for other symptoms.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Many sleep apnea sufferers grind their teeth, wearing down the enamel. This is something your dentist will notice right away, usually before you or your GP does. If teeth grinding is an issue, your dentist will sometimes suggest a night guard, a mouth device you wear while sleeping to prevent further damage.
This symptom falls in line with teeth grinding. When you grind your teeth down at night, compromising the enamel, bacteria are free to enter these teeth. Suddenly you have new cavities. At this point, your dentist might recommend a sleep study, which will tell you definitively if you have sleep apnea.
If you are diagnosed with this disorder, we at MD Smiles can steer you quickly toward the best sleep apnea treatments, saving your teeth and your overall health! If you’re interested in sleep apnea treatment in Ellicott City, MD, please don't hesitate to contact Jennifer Sokolosky, DMD today!