Getting a good night’s sleep has numerous benefits for our overall health. Unfortunately, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can make this a challenge. The poor quality of sleep caused by sleep apnea can negatively impact both your physical and mental health, and it can even have an effect on your oral health. Read on to find out more about sleep apnea and how it might be linked to your oral health and hygiene.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea refers to an irregularity in breathing while you sleep. People who suffer from this sleep disorder frequently stop breathing momentarily and then restart their breathing. This can happen over and over again during a night’s sleep. This disrupts your sleep and can also reduce the amount of oxygen that your brain and other organs or tissues get while you are asleep.
How is sleep apnea linked to your oral health?
People with sleep apnea are more likely to experience involuntary grinding and clenching of the teeth while they sleep, a condition known as bruxism. This repeated grinding and clenching can cause a great deal of damage to the teeth. Your teeth will become worn down over time and can even become cracked or damaged.
Those with sleep apnea are also more likely to breathe through their mouth while they sleep rather than their nose. Breathing through your mouth results in dry mouth, or xerostomia, which has a number of knock-on effects including bad breath and an increase in plaque, cavities, and tooth decay. This is because your saliva usually helps to protect your mouth and teeth from plaque-causing bacteria.
Diagnosing sleep apnea
It’s not always easy to figure out that you have sleep apnea because you only experience it while you are unconscious. If you’re often tired during the day despite getting a full night’s sleep, then this could be a sign that you have a sleep disorder. Look out for other warning signs such as jaw pain and sensitive teeth.
If you wake up gasping for breath in the night, then this could indicate you suffer from sleep apnea. Your breathing difficulties may not even wake you up, in which case it’s even more difficult to diagnose your problems. If you sleep with a partner, they may be able to tell you if you snore heavily or gasp for breath in your sleep.
If you’re having sleep difficulties and have any of the signs and symptoms listed above, then your dentist may be able to determine whether you suffer from sleep apnea. Contact Advance Family Dentists for a dental check-up in Bermuda Run, NC.