The Connection Between Your Dentist and Sleep Apnea

The Connection Between Your Dentist and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening illness that substantially influences dental health. In addition to fatigue and mental fogginess that can impair judgment and increase the probability of a vehicle accident, it can induce stroke, cardiovascular problems, and other health issues. During your routine dental checkups, your dentist can spot sleep apnea symptoms. They will then refer you to specialists for proper diagnosis and treatment.

But how can your dentist help with this problem? Find out more about the relationship between your oral health and sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

According to, over 25 million adult Americans have sleep apnea, a prevalent sleep problem. It is a severe disorder where your breathing is interrupted during sleep, making it difficult to get a full night’s rest. A person with sleep apnea repeatedly stops breathing during the night, lasting anywhere from 10 seconds to 2 minutes or more. Most of these events go unnoticed by the patient, but they cause oxygen levels in the blood to drop and deprive the body of restful sleep.

A wide tongue, weak airway muscles, being obese, or other risk factors can all contribute to tissue collapses of the airway.

The Three Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can occur in three distinct ways.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most frequent type of sleep apnea in the United States, comprising around 80% of the total population of individuals with this condition. It is often brought on by the tongue collapsing against the soft palate, which blocks the airway. The causes might be anything from excessive weight to sinus, allergy problems, or dental abnormalities.

Central Sleep Apnea: This neurologic condition develops when the brain fails to instruct the respiratory system’s muscles to continue breathing. Parkinson’s disease and stroke are frequently linked to it.

Complex Sleep Apnea: This condition combines central and obstructive sleep apnea, characterized by breathing concerns that continue even after treating airway obstruction.

Relation to Dental Health

Sleeping peacefully prevents periodontal disease from developing and spreading, as well as oral sores, bad breath, and other health issues (gum disease). Dental conditions such as tooth decay, bruxism, and TMJ problems are all linked to sleep apnea.


Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders are often observed in close association with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Patients report migraines, neck stiffness, ear discomfort, and popping or clicking sounds when moving their mouth when the jaw joint or the muscles around it are misplaced or dysfunctional. According to one study conducted by Taiwan NHI, those with OSA were twice as likely to experience TMJ concerns as people without sleep apnea. Check out this sleep apnea treatment in Ocean, NJ.


The body’s natural response to obstructive sleep apnea, which can wake people up with headaches or neck and jaw pain, is bruxism. Dentists can detect tooth grinding by gum recession, tooth wear, and inflammation. Some sleeping postures are associated with bruxism and OSA; specific mandibular advancement device mouthguards reduce both.

Routine dental appointments can help identify and address oral health-related symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, migraines, and teeth grinding. Even if the dentist can not provide treatment, they can direct you to the right specialist. Navigate this page for dental concerns.

Tooth Decay

Sleep apnea patients often breathe through their mouths while sleeping, causing dry mouth, plaque buildup, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. This is due to saliva’s role in washing the teeth’s surface, which removes germs and food particles. While gingivitis and tooth decay alone are not conclusive signs of sleep apnea, their combination may lead to an OSA diagnosis.

Frequent dental consultations are essential for oral health since rotting and decaying teeth can become painful and shift independently, altering your smile. One of the most substantial advantages of routine appointments is that they prevent this.  

How Can a Dentist Help With Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is frequently diagnosed by a medical practitioner, after which it can be treated with a dental mouthpiece, orthodontic therapy, dry mouth remedies, or behavioral modifications. Custom-made mouthpieces are available from dental offices, and they can drastically improve sleep quality and lower dental issues. Before making a purchase, examining these possibilities with your dentist is vital.


As mentioned earlier, talk to your dentist about the symptoms immediately. They could provide solutions to make them better. A sleep study is frequently recommended when a dentist suspects a patient has sleep apnea. Although dentists know the signs and treatments, a medical doctor is the only one who can formally diagnose sleep apnea. Yet, having excellent oral health is vital.

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