Because dentists see into their patient’s mouths more than physicians, they have an important part in identifying sleep related disorders.
What is sleep apnea?
More than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses is breathing, or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep.
This can lead to daytime sleeplessness and fatigue, snoring, restless sleep, dry mouth and/or throat and teeth grinding. Sufferers can start and stop breathing up to hundreds of times per night.
So, how is sleep apnea related to your mouth?
While dentists aren’t licensed to formally diagnose sleep apnea in patients, during a common dental exam there are certain indications that could point to a possible sleep disorder. The dentist can then refer the patient to a sleep specialist.
Dental Signs Indicating Sleep Apnea
Enlarged tongue and/or tonsils in addition to teeth indentations along the tongue.
Grinding and clenching of the teeth (Bruxism) is often caused by stress and it can cause teeth to break, cause pain in the jaw and even result in headaches and migraines.
One of the ways Dr. Korenman of Loveable Smiles in Richardson, TX helps patients is by utilizing night-time tooth guards which not only protect the teeth from stress, but also protects the muscles.
In addition to the elimination of teeth grinding, many patients who wear the NTI mouth guard have found an improvement with their headaches and have also found that they sleep better.
Dry mouth results from open-mouth sleeping, which is common among individuals suffering from obstructive sleep apnea or OSA.
Saliva contains beneficial phosphates, minerals and calcium that protect tooth enamel from being eroded by bacteria. Without the continuous flow of saliva, the mouth becomes a horrendous breeding ground for bacteria that can lead to extensive tooth decay, gum disease and mouth sores.
Gum disease not only leads to severe oral health disorders, but can exacerbate overall health conditions, such as diabetes or respiratory disorders.
Patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea often benefit from wearing an oral appliance at night. This helps keep the airway open during sleep.
We urge you to call Loveable Smiles for your Total Health Dental Care appointment. 972-231-0585