Sleep apnea causes millions of Americans to miss out on quality sleep. It also creates a variety of more serious dangers, including a risk of stroke. But did you know that sleep apnea affects your teeth as well?
At My Family Dentistry, we often notice when patients have damaged teeth or other oral health problems associated with sleep apnea. If you have this sleep disorder, it’s important to seek out all the available treatments. We find that many patients benefit from a custom snoring therapy appliance, which helps you breathe better while asleep and ultimately protects your teeth, too.
Here is why sleep apnea affects your teeth:
Over time, sleep apnea affects your teeth by encouraging dry mouth conditions. Saliva contains acids that neutralize the bad bacteria in your mouth, so dry mouth can lead to enamel damage and infections of the teeth and gums.
Sleep apnea makes many people sleep with the mouth wide open. This tends to dry out the mouth, especially when abnormal breathing patterns disrupt normal oxygen flow.
Sleep apnea devices can move your jaw into a comfortable position and help keep the breathing passages open. You may still breathe through the mouth while sleeping, but your mouth will only be slightly open and your breathing patterns will normalize. That helps reduce the dry mouth. And because your breathing passages will remain more open, you may also breathe through the nose more comfortably.
By helping regulate your breathing, you can prevent the dry mouth and discourage bacteria from damaging your oral health over night.
Patients with sleep apnea tend to grind their teeth while asleep. This is partly due to discomfort and poor sleep quality, and partly out of the body’s unconscious attempts to get the breathing passages open.
For a dentist, this is the most obvious way that sleep apnea affects your teeth. In fact, many people realize they have sleep apnea only after a dentist has noticed the symptoms of teeth grinding.
Possible effects of teeth grinding start with worn down teeth and crowns, and may progress to a cracked, broken, or chipped tooth. All these problems create extra places where bacteria can grow, so you may end up with infections and cavities.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, come to My Family Dentistry and we can look for evidence of teeth grinding and other damage related to the condition. While there are many other lifestyle choices you can make to reduce the occurrence of sleep apnea, you may be a prime candidate for a custom-fitted therapy device that comfortably positions your jaw for proper breathing.
Schedule an appointment with My Family Dentistry—we’d love to help you get better sleep and protect your teeth!