Sleep Apnea and its effects on the teeth

Sleep Apnea and its effects on the teeth

Posted by Dr. Zin on Jul 9 2019, 10:38 PM

Sleep Apnea and its effects on the teeth

Getting a good night’s sleep can be so very relaxing and refreshing. The average human requires 7 to 8 hours of sleep every day for the body to rest, though it varies from person to person. But, not being able to get quality sleep the previous night can make you feel tired throughout the whole day.

Sleep apnea is a condition that can seriously upset your sleep cycles. It is characterized by shortness of breath and the inability to inhale during sleep, which causes the patient to suddenly wake up in the middle of sleep gasping for air. Just the thought of going through something like it can make one feel uncomfortable!


What exactly happens to patients with sleep apnea?

When we sleep, almost all muscles of the body relax, including the ones in the throat. In patients with sleep apnea, the muscles in the throat loosen and relax a little too much, which can make them collapse abruptly and block the airway. Due to this, the patient, midway through their sleep, would be left unable to breathe. This denies the regular supply of air to the lungs, due to which the brain signals the body to wake up. Patients would often wake up feeling traumatized and gasping for air, which can be quite a disturbing experience.


What is bruxism?

Bruxism is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. In fact, it is one of the first symptoms that dentists check for while diagnosing sleep apnea. It is the subconscious grinding of teeth, especially when the patient is asleep. This can be very harmful to the teeth as the rate of wear of the enamel would drastically increase, reducing them to just their stumps. Patients who suffer from bruxism often complain of not being able to bite and chew food like they used to before, hypersensitivity in the teeth, and displeasing appearance of their smile due to deformed teeth.


How would the TMJ be affected?

The Temporomandibular Joints (TMJ) are the joints that help to hold the lower jaw in positions. They are responsible for the jaw movements whenever the patient has to bite, chew, talk, yawn, etc. As seen in patients diagnosed with sleep apnea and bruxism, the TMJ suffers inflammation and pain due to excessive jaw clenching. The joints would be put under severe stresses as they are most often be in a tensed and contracted state. Some of the symptoms of TMJ disorder are persistent pain in the facial joints, jaws, morning headaches, lockjaw, limited movement of the jaws, etc.


How can sleep apnea and bruxism be treated?

Knowing that sleep apnea and bruxism can, in fact, be treated is a huge relief to patients. Along with a few changes in the lifestyle, certain dental appliances and devices help to treat and reduce the severity of the condition. A mandibular advancement device is one of the simplest and prominent ones. It helps to bring the lower jaw forward and prevents the collapse of the roof of the throat, thereby keeping the airway open at all times during sleep. Another device called the CPAP provides a continuous supply of oxygen to the lungs through a mask (that has to be worn before going to sleep). To prevent the wear of teeth due to bruxism, a custom-fabricated night-time bruxism guard can be used.


Reach out to us and we would suggest the right treatment method to help you get rid of the condition.


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