The Link Between Dental Issues and Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Effective Treatment Methods
According to SNORE Australia, close to 10% of all women and 25% of Australian men are diagnosed with a clinically significant obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), with additional 4% of people struggling with symptomatic OSA, a partial or complete stoppage of airflow during sleep.
The most common symptoms include everything from snoring, episodes of choking, gasping or snorting during sleep, lack of daytime energy, headaches, and dry mouth, to insomnia, weight gain, fatigue, and feeling lethargic during the day. People exhibiting any of these symptoms are strongly advised to pay a visit to a sleep professional, as obstructive sleep apnea can cause severe damages to your dental, as well as overall health.
It is crucial to note that several dental issues can result from OSA. Due to our years-long experience working in the industry, Oceanic Dental Laboratory has had the opportunity to help a number of patients cure obstructive sleep apnea with top-quality dental devices. Some of the most common dental problems we have encountered over the years include:
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD/TMJ)
Should you notice an unusual pain in your jaw, it might mean that you reflexively clamp down your jaw to prevent your throat from blocking during an apnea episode. This subconscious activity puts immense stress, not just on your jaw and mouth, but your neck and shoulders as well. Since a number of dental issues like gum disease or tooth decay might result in similar pain, it is imperative to visit a dental professional and have your teeth checked and scanned using state of the art technology.
If the condition of your teeth suddenly deteriorates and results in a greater number of cracked and worn teeth, they might be the bruxism side-effect. In layman’s terms, bruxism can be described as teeth grinding which scrubs the protective surface of your teeth and increases their sensitivity. Over time, your teeth will start to damage, while you may experience trouble sleeping and severe headaches.
Causes of bruxism are versatile, stress and teeth misalignment being the most common ones, but the biggest risk factor is obstructive sleep apnea.
People who struggle with obstructive sleep apnea are known to sleep with their mouth open. As a result, the protective saliva can dry out and cause excess enamel erosion and cavities.
According to the Korean Genome and Epidemiology study, periodontitis is common with people suffering from sleep apnea. Consequently, this dental disease can trigger gum inflammation causing the teeth to recede and detach. Here’s why: as sleep apnea forces you to sleep with your mouth open, they tend to dry overnight, thus creating an environment in which bacteria breed and thrive more quickly.
Effective treatments with dental appliances
After a sleep study is performed to determine the severity of OSA, it is possible for a sleep professional to refer the patient to a dental professional for the treatment. Namely, dental devices are commonly prescribed to patients diagnosed with mild to moderate sleep apnea, or can be prescribed in combination with a CPAP device to lower the patient’s apnea index.
Depending on a specific type of a dental appliance, they can be designed to fit the upper and lower dental arch, pushing the tongue and lower jaw slightly forward. They prevent throat muscles from collapsing and obstructing the air passage, facilitating regular breathing patterns. On the other hand, certain dental devices are intended to fit around the tongue, keep it forward, and prevent it from collapsing back into the airway.
At Oceanic Dental Laboratory, we create custom-made dental devices that perfectly fit the patient’s mouth. Our aim is to deliver a product that will keep the tongue and the jaw in the most optimal position, ensuring the airway is unobstructed during sleep. The final product must be fabricated from appropriate and high-quality materials that ensure safety and comfort for the patient.
The benefits of dental devices
What many patients who are diagnosed with a mild to moderate sleep apnea highlight are that dental devices provide greater comfort in comparison to CPAP masks. Furthermore, the air pressure from the mask can cause your nose to go dry and get itchy, while there are no such side-effects from a dental device.
People who move during their sleep also benefit more from dental appliances which securely fit their mouth and as such don’t bother the wearer during the night. They also allow you to move the jaw to some extent so you can speak and yawn even after placing a dental appliance in the mouth.
Detect OSA in its Early Stages
Have you noticed any of the symptoms or issues listed above on you or your family member? Don’t postpone scheduling an appointment with the sleep clinic to determine whether or not it is obstructive sleep apnea. Even in mild and moderate cases, OSA can cause your oral and overall health to deteriorate, if left untreated.