Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a severe sleep disorder characterized by recurrent interrupted breathing during sleep. People with OSA experience pauses in breathing for 10 seconds or more during sleep. These pauses can occur hundreds of times a night and last from a few seconds to a minute or longer.
OSA symptoms include loud snoring, gasping, choking during sleep, difficulty staying asleep, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even death if left untreated.
Certain individuals may be more prone to developing OSA. These include obesity, age, particularly those over the age of 65, as well as smokers, users of sedatives, and people with medical conditions such as hypothyroidism and craniofacial abnormalities.
Dental Health and Sleep Apnea
Since OSA involves the soft tissues in your mouth, your dentist may be the first medical professional to diagnose the problem. The telltale signs of obstructive sleep apnea your dentist may notice include:
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding and Clenching)
Bruxism and jaw clenching are common among people with sleep apnea. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the jaw, face, and neck and problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
A study in the Journal of Dental Research found that people with obstructive sleep apnea were twice as likely to have TMJ disorders as those without.
Habitual teeth grinding also damages your teeth and the soft tissues in your mouth, causing worn, fractured, or chipped teeth and mouth sores or ulcers from biting your cheeks.
Dry Mouth, Tooth Decay, and Gum Disease
People with sleep apnea often experience dry mouth because they breathe through their mouth during sleep. This can lead to a range of oral health problems, including an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease because they have insufficient saliva to wash away bacteria from the surface of the teeth and gums.
Scalloped and Irritated Tongue
Sleep apnea can cause the tongue to obstruct the airway and contribute to the cessation of breathing. This causes the tongue to become sore and irritated with scalloped edges, which can be uncomfortable and even painful.
Issues in Your Jaw, Tongue, and Throat
Other physical signs that may be an indication of sleep apnea include:
- Red, inflamed throat from snoring
- Small jaw bones and square jawline from teeth grinding
- Large tongue, tonsils, and neck that obstruct the airway
- Deviated septum that blocks the airway
Silent Nite: A Sleep Apnea Solution
The Silent Nite is a mandibular advancement device (MAD) that helps patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea achieve a more satisfying night’s sleep. It is designed to shift the lower jaw forward, so the tongue and soft palate don’t obstruct the airway during sleep.
Our dental professionals at TruBlu Dentistry can prescribe and calibrate your device to ensure you have a custom fit. Your bespoke appliance comes with paired connectors of varying lengths so you can achieve the desired level of comfort while you sleep.
Comprehensive Dental Services at TruBlu Dentistry
Regular dental checkups are the best way to maintain optimal dental health. This enables your dentist and their team to care for your teeth and gums and identify health conditions like OSA early, so you can get the treatment you need to improve your quality of life.
To schedule your dental exam, contact us in Burbank at (708) 424-5650 and Hegewisch at (773) 525-5545.