What's the Link Between Dentistry and Sleep Apnea?

What's the Link Between Dentistry and Sleep Apnea?

When you come to the dentist, you may expect to leave with a whiter smile and a new toothbrush. But you might not expect to leave with a warning about a sleep disturbance. 

Dr. Ryan J. Fait and our team at Southern California General & Cosmetic Dentistry don’t stop at cleanings and filling cavities. We’re trained to address conditions that threaten both your oral and overall health, such as sleep apnea. Here, we explore sleep apnea, its link to dentistry, and how we can help.

An overview of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious disorder in which your breathing stops and starts as you sleep. It typically stems from structural issues in your mouth that restrict your airways, including flaccid throat muscles and a large tongue or small jaw. 

Other risk factors for sleep apnea include:

Without proper treatment, sleep apnea can lead to complications ranging from fatigue and headaches to type 2 diabetes and liver problems. 

Your first instinct might not be to consult a dentist, but Dr. Fait has 20 years of experience identifying and treating sleep apnea. Here’s how you can find help for your sleeping troubles in the dentist’s chair. 

Dentists are often the first to identify sleep apnea

Snoring is often the primary warning sign of sleep apnea. But bruxism — or teeth grinding — is another early indicator. When your jaw tenses as you grind your teeth, it alerts your brain to wake you up so you can take a breath. 

Bruxism not only causes worn-down teeth, but it can also result in inflamed, receding gums and increase your risk for cavities. 

Because many of the symptoms impact your oral health, Dr. Fait may be among the first to identify sleep apnea. He can recommend a sleep study with a medical doctor to receive an official diagnosis. 

Dentists have the skill to provide treatment

There are a few therapies that work to open your airways and help you breathe easier at night. Among them are oral appliances that Dr. Fait custom makes to fit your mouth. You place the device in your mouth as you sleep to keep your jaw in place and your airways open. 

Dentists can address related oral health complications

When you have sleep apnea, you’re forced to breathe through your mouth. That can lead to dry mouth, which in turn, leads to tooth decay, plaque build-up, mouth sores, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. 

You can sleep even easier knowing that Dr. Fait has all the services necessary to treat and reverse the effects sleep apnea has on your oral health. 

If you’d like more information about sleep apnea and how it impacts you, don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at either our Long Beach or Avalon, California, locations. 

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