Sleep apnea is a very serious condition – one that can cause major health problems. It can even lead to death, if not diagnosed and treated early.
But obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, can cause even more damage that many people aren’t aware of – dental issues.
What is the link between snoring, OSA, and dental problems? And is there anything that can be done besides wearing a CPAP mask every night to remedy the problem?
What Is Sleep Apnea and Do You Have It?
What exactly is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
OSA is a condition in which people stop breathing multiple times while they sleep.
Even people who don’t stop breathing but breathe shallowly throughout the night are considered OSA patients. These pauses in breathing can last up to a few minutes and can happen as much as 30 or more times within a single hour.
You can typically tell if someone has sleep apnea because they often snore very loudly. Or, when their breathing stops, it will start back up with a choking or snorting sound.
This condition can result in a whole slew of medical and dental problems. It can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, memory problems, and dental pain.
How is OSA Related to Dental Pain?
When sleep is chronically disturbed, this causes stress on the body, which can result in clenching and grinding of the teeth during the night. Patients often wake up with muscle pain in their face and neck, and even experience migraines.
Are you concerned that you might have OSA?
If so, take a look at the following list of symptoms. If you display these, it would be best for your health to contact your doctor or my dental team as soon as possible.
- Chronic loud snoring
- Breathing cessation throughout the night
- Waking up abruptly with shortness of breath
- You wake up choking
- Dry mouth or sore throat in the morning
- Feeling tired throughout the day
- Difficulty staying awake while working or driving
- Difficulty paying attention
Obstructive Sleep Apnea – How My Dental Team Can Help
In order to treat this condition, we must first know what causes it. If you have any of the following conditions, you may be at risk for OSA.
- Excess weight or obesity (the most common causes)
- Large tonsils or adenoids, or a deviated septum
- A large dental overbite
- A tumor obstructing your airway
- Down Syndrome
- Pierre-Robin Syndrome (a birth defect)
- Genetic anatomical factors such as a thick neck or narrow throat
Other risk factors can include the use of sedatives, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption.
What Role Does Your Dental Health Play in Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
If your teeth or jaw are misaligned, which means that your bite is off, you can have a higher risk of OSA.
When you lay down at night, the jaw slips backward and the soft tissues in the back of the throat relax.
The result: an obstructed airway.
Most doctors will tell you the best things you can do to treat OSA is lose weight and wear a CPAP machine every night.
But you have other options.
When sleep apnea patients come into my office, they learn about a variety of treatments that I offer to remedy this condition.
There are three, in particular, that I recommend:
- Orthodontics – to correct your bite and reduce the likelihood of sleep apnea.
- NightLase – a treatment that tightens the tissues of the throat and airway.
- MicrO2 – a dental device that advances the lower jaw so it doesn’t fall back when you’re relaxed and asleep.
Contact Our Office If You’d Like to Stop Snoring and Protect Your Health
Do you suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea? If so, you have options.
You don’t have to wear a cumbersome CPAP machine or deal with a snoring partner for the rest of your life.
Instead, I welcome you to schedule an evaluation with my office.
When you come in for your appointment, we’ll discuss your symptoms, as well as what your medical doctor has suggested.
Then, we’ll go over some other options you may have.
I’ll explain in detail what can be done to remedy your OSA so that you can make an informed decision.
Together, we will find the best solution for your snoring and sleep apnea – one that will keep you healthy and give you a great night’s sleep!
Have you been given a CPAP machine for OSA? Would you like more options? Contact our office to learn more about the OSA treatment options we provide.