Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and oral health are more related than you’d think. In fact, a person who suffers with sleep apnea may be at a higher risk for numerous oral health issues. It is important to educate yourself about how sleep apnea is affecting your well-being so you can breathe better, sleep better, and live better. Here are some of the connections between sleep apnea and oral health.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a complete cessation of breathing while you are sleeping for more than 10 seconds at a time. Your body struggles to survive during these episodes because it is deprived of oxygen. This can lead to daytime sleepiness, headache, automobile accidents, heart disease, arterial disease, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, GERD, and even death.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Evidence shows a link between sleep apnea and TMJ disorders. The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the upper jaw. A study conducted in 2013 in the Journal of Dental Research found people who have sleep apnea were also three times more likely to suffer from a TMJ disorder. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder include jaw pain, locked jaw, pain throughout the head, neck and shoulders, problems chewing and jaw joints that make clicking sounds.
Otherwise known as simply grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw while asleep, Sleep Bruxism has been shown to have a negative effect on your teeth and jaw joints. Research from The Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache suggests bruxism may affect up to 31% of adults, and those with sleep apnea make up at least a quarter of them.
Sleep apnea causes a person to breathe through their mouth which results in dry mouth and tooth decay. Additional side effects that result from mouth breathing include plaque buildup, mouth sores, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. According to the Journal of the Indian Society of Periodontology, periodontal disease affects 62.3% of people with sleep apnea and gingivitis affects 34.1%.
Cardiovascular and Respiratory System
OSA deprives your body of oxygen while sleeping. It strains the heart and cardiovascular system by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and the likelihood of atrial fibrillation. As oxygen levels in your bloodstream drop, the heart, lungs, and blood vessels suffer.
OSA leaves you more likely to develop insulin resistance, a condition where cells don’t respond as well to insulin. Blood sugar levels may rise and therefore increasing your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of heart disease risk factors including high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, and a larger-than-normal waist circumference, OSA can make you very ill.
Most commonly, OSA often times is associated with GERD…gastroesophageal reflux disease. GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the muscle between your esophagus and stomach which occurs when acidic stomach acids or food and fluids get backed up. This disorder affects people of all ages from infants to adults.
Sleep apnea can also reduce sex drive in both men and women. In men specifically, sleep apnea can contribute to erectile disfunction and even affect your ability to have children.
Interested in more effects sleep apnea has on the body? Click here.
What are the treatment options for Sleep Apnea?
There are many options for treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and the one best suited to your situation should be discussed with your physician. One option is Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) that is carried out under the guidance of your physician by us. Many patients with OSA prefer OAT due to its ease and flexibility of use and it’s efficacy.
It is vital to understand the effects that Obstructive Sleep Apnea can have, not only on your oral health, but on your body as well. At Maestro Dental Wellness, your well-being is our utmost concern. Optimal health and vitality begins with a good night’s rest. If you feel that you may suffer from sleep disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnea, working in collaboration with your physcian, we may be able to help to you. Request an appointment with us today so you can begin to sleep well and be well.