Oral health and sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder marked by interrupted breathing while sleeping, are linked in various ways. Certain oral health factors have been shown in studies to contribute to the development or worsening of sleep apnea, while sleep apnea can also have implications for oral health.
Oral Health Factors Associated with Sleep Apnea:
Some oral health factors can contribute to developing or exacerbating sleep apnea. Here are some important factors to consider:
- Dental and craniofacial abnormalities: Oral cavity and craniofacial structural abnormalities can narrow the airway and increase the risk of sleep apnea. A small or retruded jaw, enlarged tonsils, or a large tongue, for example, can limit the space available for airflow during sleep, resulting in breathing difficulties. Airway obstruction can also be caused by dental malocclusions such as overbites or underbites.
- Obstructive factors: Dental problems that cause airway obstruction or blockage can contribute to sleep apnea. For example, conditions such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which affect the proper alignment and functioning of the jaw, can cause sleep breathing to become obstructed. Furthermore, excessive or hypertrophic oral tissues, such as enlarged tonsils, can obstruct the airway and contribute to asthma.Excessive or hypertrophic oral tissues, such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids, can also obstruct the airway and contribute to sleep apnea.
- Periodontal disease: Sleep apnea may be linked to periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory condition affecting the gums and supporting structures of your teeth. Oral inflammation and infection can cause systemic inflammation, contributing to airway dysfunction and increasing the risk of sleep apnea.
Effects of Sleep Apnea on Oral Health:
Sleep apnea can have serious consequences for oral health, affecting many aspects of oral health. Here are some of the consequences to take note of:
- Bruxism and tooth erosion: Bruxism, or the involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth while sleeping, is common in people with sleep apnea. Repeated episodes of interrupted breathing can cause bruxism as the body tries to reopen the airway. This can result in tooth wear, fractures, and restoration damage, affecting oral health and necessitating dental intervention.
- b) Dry mouth and oral infections: Sleep apnea, which causes people to breathe through their mouths while sleeping, can contribute to dry mouth (xerostomia). In addition, salivary flow reduction raises the risk of oral health issues like tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections. Saliva is essential for neutralizing acids, remineralizing teeth, and preventing harmful bacteria from growing.
- c) Sleep apnea frequently results in habitual oral breathing rather than nasal breathing during sleep. Continuous oral breathing can potentially disrupt the oral microbiome and contribute to an unbalanced oral environment. This can increase the risk of oral health problems such as halitosis (bad breath), oral thrush, and altered taste sensation.
Oral Health Interventions used at A sleep Center Near You for Sleep Apnea Management
Oral health interventions can help with sleep apnea management. Here are a few examples of key interventions used to manage sleep apnea in McDonough:
- Oral appliance therapy: Oral appliances such as mandibular advancement devices (MADs) or tongue-retaining devices (TRDs) can be used to treat sleep apnea. These custom-made deviceshelp position the jaw and tongue to open the airway and prevent obstruction while sleeping. The most commonly used oral appliance is a MAD, which moves the lower jaw forward to increase airway space. TRDs, on the other hand, hold the tongue forward to keep it from falling back and obstructing the airway.
- Orthodontic treatment, like braces or aligners, can help correct dental malocclusions that may contribute to sleep apnea. In addition, orthodontic treatment can help open up the airway and improve breathing during sleep by repositioning the teeth and jaws.
- c) Surgical interventions: In some cases, surgical interventions may be required to address structural abnormalities in the oral cavity or craniofacial region contributing to sleep apnea. Tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy, for instance, may be recommended by your sleep clinic near you if enlarged tonsils or adenoids are causing airway obstruction. In addition, jaw surgery or maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) surgery may be considered to reposition the jaws and improve airway space.
- d) Oral hygiene and preventive measures: Good oral hygiene and preventive measures can also aid in managing sleep apnea and preventing oral health complications. Individuals with sleep apnea can benefit from regular dental checkups, professional cleanings, and oral health education at Palmetto Sleep Dental to maintain optimal oral health and avoid dental problems.