Did you know that a dentist can tell if you have sleep apnea? It’s true! From the grinding of teeth to a spike in cavities, sleep apnea and your oral health are closely linked.
There are many factors that can cause sleep apnea, such as an enlarged tongue or a small jaw. However, when sleep apnea is present there seems to be one common denominator: patients tend to grind their teeth. Teeth grinding is one way our brain attempts to wake us up so we can take a breath. Some dentists who practice dental sleep medicine tend to focus on how to alleviate a form of sleep apnea called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
There are common dental health signs that indicate sleep apnea, such as jaw pain and pain in your head, neck, and shoulders. Difficulty chewing is another common symptom that connects sleep apnea to your overall oral health.
There are certain ways to help curb the effects of sleep apnea in patients that exhibit OSA. Here are two popular devices to focus on:
Mandibular Repositioning Devices
These devices reposition the lower jaw forward and slightly downward to keep your airway open while you’re asleep.
Tongue Retaining Devices
These devices simply hold your tongue in place while you sleep to alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea.
Mouth guard devices are also effective in keeping patients from grinding their teeth while they sleep. Excessive grinding at night can cause problems such as severe headaches and increased cavities. Paired together with sleep apnea, patients may also experience dry mouth and throat problems, which aid in creating harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Do you have suspicions you may have sleep apnea? Not to worry! Bring up your sleep concerns to your dentist or general doctor during your next visit so they can refer you for a sleep study.