How to Protect Your Teeth If You Have Sleep Apnea

How to Protect Your Teeth If You Have Sleep Apnea

If you have sleep apnea, you know about the restless nights and various health concerns, but did you know that it can also have serious long-term effects on your teeth? 

There are a number of ways that sleep apnea can damage your pearly whites, including bruxism, TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), and cavities. In order to understand how to prevent and treat these problems, it is important to understand how they start.

What is Bruxism?

In addition to loud snoring and the inability to feel well-rested, bruxism – or grinding your teeth at night – is a condition associated with sleep apnea. 

While anyone can be diagnosed with bruxism, it is more common in people who have sleep apnea. Symptoms include jaw pain, sensitive teeth, and the appearance of worn-down teeth. Your dentist will be able to notice these things on your next dental exam. Left untreated, bruxism can lead to damaged and cracked teeth which will require dental crowns or other restorations to fix.

What is TMJ?

The temporomandibular joint connects your lower jaw to your skull. It is how you are able to do everyday things like speak and eat. If you suffer from sleep apnea, your throat relaxes at night and your jaw naturally clamps down to prevent airway blockage. This puts excess stress on the mouth, neck, shoulders and jaw. In addition to a sore mouth, people who have TMJ also experience jaw popping, severe jaw pain and frequent migraines. If you notice any pain in your jaw when you open or close your mouth, you might have TMJ.

Cavities Caused by Sleep Apnea

One of the most common dental problems associated with sleep apnea are cavities. If you have sleep apnea, you are more likely to breathe through your mouth, causing it to become dry. This prevents your mouth from being able to wash out the cavity-causing bacteria in a timely manner. 

In other words, the less saliva you produce, the more enamel erosion, cavities and tooth decay you will experience. 

How to Treat Sleep Apnea

Just because you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea does not mean that you are doomed to a life of poor oral health. There are ways to stop these dental problems in their tracks! If the traditional CPAP machine is not for you, Dr. Andrea Stevens can provide you with an oral appliance that repositions your jaw so that your airway is not blocked. It also protects your teeth from the constant grinding and clenching. Treating your sleep apnea can also lead to your TMJ pain disappearing within weeks.

If you’d like to get started in the fight against sleep apnea, use Dr. Andrea Stevens as your first line of defense. Contact her today to schedule a sleep apnea treatment consultation.

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