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At Geelan Dental Care, we want to equip you with the information you need so that you can maintain the best dental health. It is because of this that we want to call more attention to our patients who have difficulty sleeping and suffer from sleep apnea. Though the connection may not seem immediately clear, sleep studies have shown that sleep apnea can have negative effects on your dental health. If you have this problem, we will help you get behavioral and medical treatment for it so that you can continue to have the best oral hygiene possible.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Otherwise known as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, this is a disorder where your breathing briefly stops over and over again as you sleep. This pause in breathing can last ten seconds or more. The consequence of this repeated sleep interruption can be loud snores, gasps, choking, and sleep fragmentation. As it pertains to your dental health, sleep apnea may have you sleep with your mouth open at night. This means that your mouth will have less saliva than normal, which can lead to an increase of germs in your mouth and tooth decay.
How Can I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
If you sleep alone, it can be more difficult to determine whether you have sleep apnea. This is because the most obvious symptom is loud snoring, which is usually found to be disruptive by sleep partners. Frequently waking up with headaches can be another symptom, as your interrupted breathing results in less oxygen making it to your brain. Less oxygen to the brain also leads to hypertension and increased blood pressure. Lastly, if you are overweight, the excess tissues in your neck and throat means you will have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
Sleep Studies Reveal The Effects of Sleep Apnea
Low oxygen levels, also known as episodic hypoxia, has been linked with potentially irreversible cellular damage to the brain. Cognitive changes have been observed in laboratory animals and humans who have suffered from sleep apnea, along with negative effects on memory functions and learning. When it comes to your dental health, hypoxia changes the properties of your cell walls in a way that allows plaque to bind more easily. This can lead to ill effects such as atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular issues.
Further Sleep Apnea Problems
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nocturnal teeth grinding, or bruxism, can be a common issue that follows sleep apnea. Multiple sleep studies address how to counteract this problem. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute finds that mouth guards can aid with some cases of sleep apnea. A mouth guard can both let your airways stay open and address the issue of teeth grinding.
Respiratory conditions such as sleep apnea can have adverse effects on your oral health but, at Geelan Dental Care, we call upon a wealth of sleep studies that keep you informed and our dentists up to date on any issue that can affect your mouth and teeth. If you suffer from sleep apnea or need any assistance with your dental health, call us today at (971) 323-1990.