While you may know that sleep apnea can prevent you from feeling rested in the morning are you also aware that it can cause other potentially serious health concerns? Today, our Richmond dentists talk about what sleep apnea is, how it occurs and how it can affect your overall health.
What happens when you experience sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep-related breathing disorder that causes a person to repeatedly stop breathing for brief periods of time during the night. In more severe cases, patients have been observed to stop breathing up to 30 times throughout the night.
While there are different types of sleep apnea, the most common type is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a physical obstruction of the airway while sleeping.Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Other common symptoms of sleep apnea include excessive tiredness during the day, abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking, morning dry mouth or sore throat, and morning headaches.
This condition can have a negative effect on many parts of you not just on your oral health but also on your overall health as well.
How can sleep apnea affect your oral health?
Sleep apnea can lead to a number of oral health issues. When a patient has sleep apnea, breathing through their mouth all night causes the symptom of dry mouth. This can result in bad breath and increased plaque buildup, putting patients at risk for gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease.
Sleep apnea can also cause:
- Teeth grinding (which may cause wear and breakage)
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Increased cavities
- Mouth sores
- Tongue with scalloped edges
In what ways can suffering from sleep apnea affect your overall health?
Sleep apnea is known to lower patients' oxygen levels. When this occurs, your body reacts instinctively by increasing your heart rate and narrowing your arteries.This can result in a variety of cardiac complications, such as high blood pressure, an increased heart rate, increased inflammation, and heart stress.
Some of the serious conditions that could result from sleep apnea are:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
Because of the ability of sleep apnea to cause these other serious conditions, it is very important that you contact your dentist immediately if you notice any of the signs. By contacting your dentist as soon as possible you can receive the appropriate testing and diagnosis quickly to begin managing the effects as early as possible.
Are there ways that you can manage the effects of sleep apnea?
Dentists are often the first medical professionals to notice sleep apnea because of the common effects it has on oral health, despite the fact that they are unable to diagnose the condition.
If your dentist notices any of the common signs of sleep apnea during your routine dental visit, they will recommend your visit your doctor for an examination and diagnosis.
Some dental offices also provide dental appliances that can be used to help keep your airway open while you sleep and alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea.