What Does Dental Care Have to Do With Sleep Apnea?

When most people consider the causes of sleep apnea, “proper dental care” usually doesn’t come to mind. However, caring for your teeth plays a huge role in the quality of your sleep each night. Let’s explore just how dental care and sleep inform each other.

Early Detection of Sleep Apnea

Can you spot sleep apnea at the dentist? Surprisingly, the first healthcare providers to notice signs of sleep apnea are often dentists.

During regular dental check-ups, dentists can observe anatomical features that may predispose an individual to OSA. A narrow airway, large tonsils or an oversized tongue can all be spotted by a dentist and are common indicators of potential breathing obstructions during sleep. Signs such as a small jaw or evidence of teeth grinding (bruxism) may be also evident, suggesting a greater risk of sleep apnea.

When dentists suspect sleep apnea, they can connect their patients with sleep specialists for further study. A sleep study, or polysomnography, can help with diagnosing sleep apnea. Patients who receive this diagnosis may decide to pursue oral appliance therapy.

Improved Treatment Through Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliances similar to mouthguards can be custom-fitted by dentists to keep your airway open during sleep, reducing snoring and making it easier to breathe. Some patients find CPAP supplies uncomfortable or difficult to tolerate when used alone due to the constant air pressure. Integrating an oral appliance can sometimes allow for lower pressure settings on the CPAP machine, making it more comfortable to use and increasing overall treatment adherence.

For individuals with severe sleep apnea or those who have positional sleep apnea (more severe when sleeping on their back), the combination of both treatments can provide a significant improvement in reducing the number of apneic events.

Why Treating Sleep Apnea Matters

Addressing sleep apnea is about more than just improving sleep quality—it’s about enhancing overall health. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a variety of serious health issues, including hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Moreover, the daytime fatigue caused by disrupted sleep can significantly impair an individual’s quality of life and increase the risk of accidents.

A Healthy Smile and Great Sleep Go Hand in Hand

Make sure you visit the dentist regularly, not only to care for your oral health but to keep an eye on your sleep health.

If you are experiencing sleep disturbances Whitney Sleep is here to help. From in-home and onsite sleep studies to CPAP supplies, we are dedicated to helping our patients achieve their best sleep.

Contact Whitney Sleep Center today to get the rest you deserve.