Some people experience the unfortunate symptoms of sleep apnea without realizing that there is a cause. Your Richmond dentist might be able to help spot the signs that you are experiencing sleep apnea during your routine visit and suggest that you follow up with your physician for diagnosis.
The most common symptom reported by those suffering from sleep apnea is waking up exhausted after a full night's sleep. Because sleep apnea can harm your teeth, your dentist may be the first to notice the symptoms and share this information with you.
When attempting to sleep, a person with sleep apnea has frequent breathing interruptions. These pauses could be caused by a lack of respiratory effort, a physical obstruction of airflow, or both. The length and frequency of these pauses can vary greatly.
The Obvious Signs Of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can have an effect on your oral health. Your dentist may notice these common signs during your routine exam:
- Receding or inflamed gums
- Tongue with scalloped edges
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Teeth grinding (bruxism), which may cause wear and breakage
- Spike in cavities due to damage to teeth as a result of grinding
- Redness in the throat (caused by excessive snoring)
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep disorder. The cause of OSA is a physical restriction in airflow while sleeping. OSA symptoms include choking or gasping while sleeping, frequent nighttime awakenings, night sweats, morning headaches, loud snoring, high blood pressure, and dry mouth.
A person who is experiencing these symptoms may spend the day feeling exhausted despite having slept a full night. Sleep apnea has also been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
What Steps Will My Dentist Take If They Spot The Signs Of Sleep Apnea?
A dentist cannot diagnose sleep apnea. However, because your jaw and related structures can contribute to OSA, they are often the first people to notice symptoms or tell you if you are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
Your dentist can examine your teeth and take X-rays of your mouth and neck, which may reveal abnormally large throat tissues or other airway obstructions. If they discover any physical impediments, they will refer you to your doctor or a specialist.