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If you want to function optimally in your day-to-day responsibilities, you need a good night’s sleep under your belt. People who don’t get enough sleep may have poor dental health as one of the contributors. Your smile can affect the quality of your sleep as well as the quantity. For this reason, dental care can help determine and treat sleep issues like sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder focused on the inability to properly breathe and get the oxygen you need to keep your organs healthy. Long-term lack of sleep can result in depression, anxiety and damage to your oral health. It is one reason that dentists can detect your Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) before you might!

OSA arises when your breathing is suddenly and often paused throughout your sleep cycle. Your breathing may be halted on and off all night long, leaving you exhausted the next day, even if you got a full night’s sleep. You or your partner might also notice that you wake up gasping or snoring loudly. Waking up with headaches, a dry mouth, sore throat or jaw pain are also indicators that you might have sleep apnea.

Dental Signs Indicating Sleep Apnea

If you have any of the following oral health conditions, you may be experiencing sleep apnea.

  • Bruxism: This involves grinding and clenching your teeth in your sleep, wearing them down and causing pain in your mouth, throat, and jaw. It can also lead to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), causing you to experience pinched nerves, migraines, or oral pain.
  • Cavities: As you grind your teeth night after night, you wear down essential tooth enamel, allowing bacteria to enter and create cavities.
  • Jaw Pain & Headaches: Both conditions affect jaw movement, potentially leaving you in pain, especially if your jawbones and muscles feel strained or misaligned.
  • Small Lower Jaw: It is more difficult to properly breathe when your lower jaw is smaller than your upper jaw.
  • Palate Shape: This part of your mouth can interrupt your breathing while you are in a prone position.
  • Upper Airway Constriction: As you fall asleep, your upper airway narrows and interrupts your breathing, diminishing your sleep quality.
  • Misalignment of Your Facial Structures: If your face, jaw, or throat areas are misaligned, the resulting sleep apnea can affect vital oxygen saturation, cause your upper airway to collapse, and leave you with chronically interrupted sleep.
  • Dry Mouth: Snoring can leave you with dry mouth making your teeth and gums more susceptible to hardening plaque buildup and making it a prime suspect for OSA.

Treating Your Sleep Apnea

If you have had a sleep study done – and depending on the severity and cause of your OSA – there are a variety of treatment options that can change your life with a great night’s sleep! If the problem is related to your jaw, jaw realignment surgery may be recommended to help your body’s airways stay open so you can easily breathe. Wearing a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD) that pushes your lower jaw forward – so you can breathe easily – may also be a good choice.

The bottom line is ignoring sleep apnea symptoms is never a good idea. Over time, you can end up with chronic depression or anxiety from lack of sleep. A night of peaceful sleep will give you the energy you need to take good care of your body and your smile. A healthy smile contributes to a happier life and better wellbeing so that you can function normally and maintain your work, school, or other obligations with confidence. If you are looking for answers to your OSA, we welcome you to give our team a call today and reserve an appointment with our sleep professionals.