Sleep Apnea's Effects on Dental Health

Sleep Apnea is a common medical disorder affecting more than 18 million Americans today. It happens when the muscles at the back of the throat over-relax during sleep and block the airway passages. This reduces the amount of oxygen that is delivered throughout the body. When the oxygen level drops low enough, the body is roused and the person gasps for air, often without him or her even realizing that sleep was disturbed. Sleep Apnea can occur hundreds of times each night.

Aside from daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea has also been linked to serious medical conditions such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke and heart failure. As experienced Tulsa dentists, we know that obstructive Sleep Apnea can also have adverse effects on a person’s oral and dental health.

Dry Mouth

Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay. It washes away food debris, neutralizes destructive acids caused by bacteria and helps keep the soft and hard tissues of the mouth in good condition. Sleep Apnea (and the snoring that often comes with this condition) can dry out the mouth. When this happens, there is not enough saliva to provide and distribute much-needed disease-fighting organisms in the mouth. When allowed to continue untreated over time, dry mouth can lead to oral bacterial infection, bad breath and other dental problems.

Teeth Grinding

Most people who suffer from sleep apnea also have a tendency to grit and grind their teeth while they sleep. Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can damage the enamel (outer surface) of your teeth, which weakens them and can hasten tooth decay. Bruxism has also been known to lead to other medical problems such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ disorder can cause tension headaches, pinched nerves and spontaneous or increased pain from carrying out normal activities.

Tooth Loss

When left untreated for an extended period, sleep apnea can dry out the sockets of your teeth. This, especially when coupled with teeth grinding, can loosen your teeth and cause tooth loss over time.

If you suffer from Sleep Apnea, know that this condition affects your oral health as well. Treating sleep apnea goes a long way in improving your overall dental health.

There are several dentists in Tulsa to whom you can choose to entrust your dental health. As successful Tulsa dentists, we have helped hundreds of people attain and sustain excellent dental health. We are also a leading practitioner of cosmetic dentistry in Tulsa. Call us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding teeth whitening, cosmetic surgery and dental implants in Tulsa.

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